Google uses location data to show how social distancing has changed movement behavior

Google stresses several times in the post that the data being collected is anonymous, aggregate data. This means that neither the whereabouts of specific individuals, nor any other identifiable characteristics are pinpointed in the data. (Google)

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) Google is using location data to determine how behaviors have changed since social distancing measures have begun taking place.

In a blog post, Google explained that this is the same data they use to determine how busy businesses or other places are at a given time. They have heard from public health officials that this data may be useful in helping make critical decisions about responding to COVID-19.

Google stresses several times in the post that the data being collected is anonymous, aggregate data. This means that neither the whereabouts of specific individuals, nor any other identifiable characteristics are pinpointed in the data. Rather, percentage points are used to indicate movement trends in “high-level categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential.”

The data shows trends over several weeks, and the most recent information will be between 2-3 days old.

Since February 16, Alaska’s overall movement data shows a 48% decrease in retail and recreation areas, a 27% decrease in grocery stores and pharmacies, a 55% decrease in transit stations, and a 33% decrease in workplaces.

There has been an 18% increase in park visitations (including national parks), and a 10% increase in residential areas.

For the Fairbanks North Star Borough, decreases include a 48% decrease in retail and recreation (matching the state’s figures), a 34% decrease in grocery store and pharmacy visits, 76% decreased activity at transit stations, and a 32% decrease for the workplace.

Only residential areas in the borough experienced a 12% increase.

There is not enough data for this time period to demonstrate movement behaviors for parks in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

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