Google, Apple and Facebook all provide data on how much people are moving during this epidemic – in comparison to their normal movements before the emergence of coronavirus. The mobility reports published by all three of the tech giants suggest that around the world people are beginning to show less discipline in restricting their movements. This trend seems particularly apparent in the United States.

Vector Maps: The World is on the Move Again

Apple’s daily published Mobility Trends Report provides a useful insight into how well different countries around the world are managing to maintain their lock-downs. The Mobility Trends Reports shows the level of requests made on Apple Maps for walking, driving and transit directions. For each country Apple plots the number of direction requests made per day on a chart. The charts allow you to compare the requests made in different countries. These requests provide an insight into how successful individual countries have been in restricting the movements of their populations during the current epidemic.

In the screenshot above you can see how movement behavior in the United States appears to have changed significantly less than in Germany, Italy and the UK. The graph also reveals that in all four countries requests for travel directions are trending upwards, presumably as people are beginning to ignore their country’s lock-downs and / or as confinement restrictions are beginning to be relaxed.

Vector Maps: The World is on the Move Again

Google’s Covid-19 Community Mobility Reports use aggregated, anonymized data gleaned from mobile phones to chart movement trends over time. They show how visits to different categories of venues (retail & recreation, groceries & pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential) have been effected by the spread of Covid-19 and by government lock-downs.

The Google mobility report for the United States shows that there has actually been a 28% increase in the number of visits made to parks since the beginning of this epidemic (comparison is to the median average on the corresponding day of the week, during Jan 3–Feb 6, 2020). However the report also show that there has been a 34% drop in visits to retail & recreation venues (places such as restaurants, cafes, shopping centers, theme parks, museums, libraries, and movie theaters). Although even here there is a general trend upwards as people appear to be venturing out more.

In comparison the UK has seen a 78% drop in visits to retail & recreation venues and an 18% drop in visits to parks.

Vector Maps: The World is on the Move Again

Facebook’s Movement Trends uses a number of different metrics to estimate mobility rates for people in the USA. The United States Movement Trend map shows that since April 12th there has been an upward trend in movement across the United States. The ‘relative mobility rate’ in the US is still -21%, showing a drop in movement since the start of the epidemic. However this is a rise of over 20% since April 12th when the ‘relative mobility rate’ was -43%. There is also a huge difference in the mobility rates between different states. In fact states such as Wyoming and Montana don’t appear to have shown any drop in their mobility rates since this epidemic began.

It is clear that the lock-down has been a lot less disciplined in the United States than it has been in many other countries. It is also clear that the lock-down is increasingly being ignored. It will be interesting to see how successful the United States will be in reducing the number of Covid-19 deaths in comparison to the rate of reduction in other countries around the world.

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