Statistics Estonia’s planned mobility analysis will not be based on real-time data

Posted on 26 March 2020, 10:00

The preparation of analytical output using anonymous data from electronic communications, with the purpose to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which was assigned to Statistics Estonia by the order of the crisis commission of the Government of the Republic, will not be based on real-time data. There is no plan and it is not possible to use the data to analyse the movement of individuals.

Statistics Estonia’s planned mobility analysis will not be based on real-time data

According to Mart Mägi, Director General of Statistics Estonia, discussions on the planned mobility analysis are currently underway with telecommunications enterprises. “Once we come to an agreement with the telecommunications enterprises, we will start to analyse people’s movements before and after the declaration of the emergency situation, using anonymous aggregate data. Only anonymised data will be transferred to Statistics Estonia, and during the transmission, the privacy of all network operators’ clients will be ensured. We will respect the data protection rules in force in Estonia. Also, the Data Protection Inspectorate has given consent to the study. The movement patterns of individual people will not be analysed, and it is not possible on the basis of these data – it is a statistical mobility study reflecting general trends. The only task is to use the anonymous aggregate data to analyse the movement patterns of people before and after the declaration of the emergency situation. The output of the analysis would be along the lines of, “For area XXX, 87% of mobile phones remain in the same area””, explained Mägi.

The mobility analysis project would last until the end of the emergency situation. The data will not be used to solve any other tasks.

Statistics Estonia will not receive real-time data of telecommunications enterprises. “We will not look at whether people are currently calling or texting, using data, where they are going or where they are at. Statistics Estonia will only receive non-personalised data for the past, i.e. not in real time. I also want to stress that telecommunications enterprises will not transfer information as to which countries Estonian people have been to or are at,” added Mägi.

The data scope and processing principles necessary for the mobility analysis have been approved by the Data Protection Inspectorate as well as the Ministry of Justice. When the telecommunications enterprises agree to share the anonymous data, the processing will start by strictly scientific methods and only in Statistics Estonia’s secure environment. Statistics Estonia is the only processor of data, the obtained data will not leave the office and will be deleted after processing.

For the mobility analysis, Statistics Estonia is cooperating with the Government Office, the Health Board, the Data Protection Inspectorate, the IT Centre of the Ministry of Finance and with telecommunications companies. Only Statistics Estonia will be involved in data processing.