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Google is using your location data to see what you’re doing during lockdown

Google is working on a series of ‘Community Mobility Reports‘ – using the location data its apps collect to inform policy-makers and members of the public about where people are travelling and spending their time during Covid-19 lockdown.

It’s a little bit 1984, but Google’s report already shows off some interesting findings.

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In a statement on its website, Google said: “As global communities respond to Covid-19, we’ve heard from public health officials that the same type of aggregated, anonymised insights we use in products such as Google Maps could be helpful as they make critical decisions to combat Covid-19.

“These Community Mobility Reports aim to provide insights into what has changed in response to policies aimed at combating Covid-19. The reports chart movement trends over time by geography, across different categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential.”

So, what can Google’s reports teach us?

Most notably, trips to retail and recreation sites were down by 85%  compared to Google’s baseline figures. While that is to be expected, given current regulations around workplaces and retailing, the high figure remains a dramatic reminder of how severe the Covid-19 crisis has become.

Here are some other key figures from the UK report:

  • Transit station trips down 75%
  • Grocery and pharmacy trips down 46%
  • Park trips down 52%
  • Workplace trips down 55%
  • Residential trips up 15%

Take a look below at the figures for the Greater London area. By and large they mirror the nationwide changes, with a slightly sharper decline in workplace and transit station trips. Also notable is the fact that Londoners have made more residential trips.

A picture with greater London heading showing different graphs

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This data doesn’t only offer an interesting insight into UK life during Covid-19 lockdown – it also shows us how much data Google is collecting, day-in, day-out.

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