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Google will show you if people in your region are actually staying home

Google's mobility reports show changes in movement in 131 countries and regions.

Published onApril 3, 2020

The Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports website.

Authorities around the world have mooted the use of location data in order to monitor COVID-19 patients and social distancing. Now, Google has offered another solution of sorts in COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports.

These reports show the change in visits (represented as a percentage) to different types of location categories, such as transit stations, grocery stores and pharmacies, parks, and residential areas.

For example, the report for Korea shows that visits to retail and recreation locations are down 19%, while visits to parks are up 51%. Meanwhile, the report for the UK shows that visits to workplaces are down 55% and visits to transit stations are down a massive 75%.

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The Community Mobile Reports cover 131 countries and regions, but only the US gets reports for states as well. Nevertheless, Google says it’s working to add more languages, countries, and regions “in the coming weeks.”

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“Insights in these reports are created with aggregated, anonymized sets of data from users who have turned on the Location History setting, which is off by default,” Google explained on the tool’s website.

The search giant says this tool can also be used to help officials make less obvious decisions. For example, frequent visits to transit hubs “might indicate the need to add additional buses or trains” in order to facilitate better social distancing.

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