Google Is Rewarding Users for Sharing Coronavirus Symptoms

Google Is Rewarding Users for Sharing Coronavirus Symptoms
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This story originally appeared on PC Mag

Tech companies are stepping up to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, and Google is even rewarding users for sharing information about their symptoms.

Google has a very popular app called Opinion Rewards, which asks users to answer quick surveys in return for Google Play credit. As Reuters reports, the latest survey to be shown to Opinion Rewards users asks them, "Do you or anyone in your household have a fever of at least 100 degrees along with a sore throat or a cough?"

When asked why such a survey had appeared, Matt Bryant from the Communications team at Google, explained, "At the request of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers working to help forecast the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S., we recently began running a Google Survey questionnaire asking people if they have flu-like symptoms ... People have to opt in to take the survey and the information the researchers will receive is aggregated and completely anonymized."

The coronavirus-focused survey wasn't just limited to the Opinion Rewards app, though. Google also made it available through partners by way of websites and other apps, so the potential for gathering data from across the whole US is much greater.

As to what the information will be used for, CMU is attempting to stay one step ahead of the virus and predicting where and how fast it will spread. If that can be done with a greater degree of accuracy, action can be taken to limit how fast the spread happens and lower the curve of total infections and ultimately reduce the number of deaths.

The DELPHI team at CMU has been focused for years on epidemiological forecasting, which studies the pattern of disease through populations and helps us better prepare and deal with outbreaks. This month, DELPHI stated, "We are focusing our efforts at this point on COVID-19 nowcasting and forecasting. We are adapting our existing systems, and developing new ones. Some of our regular activities may be halted as a result."

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