Google data shows how COVID-19 changed behaviour in your city | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Google data shows how COVID-19 changed behaviour in your city

September 04, 2020 - 6:00 AM

We all know that some parts of day-to-day life have become a little smaller since COVID-19 spread across the globe, but did you know that Google has been collecting data that can show how much?

“Since global communities respond to COVID-19, we've heard from public health officials that the same type of aggregated, anonymized insights we use in products such as Google Maps could be helpful as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19,” Google said in a community mobility report released last week. “These community mobility reports aim to provide insights into what has changed in response to policies aimed at combating COVID-19.”

Thompson Nicola.
Thompson Nicola.
Image Credit: Google Community Trends report.

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. 

The company uses aggregated, anonymized sets of data from Google users who have turned on the location history setting, which is off by default. And, they kind of highlight exactly what most already knew — fewer faces and wider spaces have defined 2020.

North Okanagan.
North Okanagan.
Image Credit: Google Community Trends report.

In the Central Okanagan, for example, the biggest change was in parks, which saw a 220 per cent increase in July and August compared to the baseline.

Google also said groceries and pharmacies saw 30 per cent more traffic, and retail and recreation establishments saw a two per cent increase.

Where traffic has dropped off is transit stations, which saw a 37 per cent drop in mobility, and workplaces which saw a 27 per cent decline. Also, residential addresses only went up by three per cent.

Data was less plentiful for the North Okanagan, but Google said that there’s been a 24 per cent decrease in workplaces, while activity at grocery and pharmacies went up by 15 per cent. 

The Columbia Shuswap area had a similar situation, with parks seeing a 298 per cent increase compared to the baseline.

Retail and recreation went up by 38 per cent and grocery and pharmacy went up by 51 per cent.

Central Okanagan.
Central Okanagan.
Image Credit: Google Community Trends report.

There was no data for transit stations and workplaces saw a 15 per cent decline.

In the Thompson Okanagan, workplaces saw 31 per cent less traffic, while all other categories were bolstered.

Retail and recreation saw an 11 per cent increase compared to the baseline, grocery and pharmacy grew by 21 per cent, transit stations increased by two per cent and residential saw a two per cent increase.

The Okanagan Similkameen didn’t have as much data, but it showed a 16 per cent decline in workplaces.

Retail and recreation increased by 43 per cent while grocery and pharmacies increased traffic by 66 per cent. Workplaces saw 16 per cent less traffic.

The biggest change in the Thompson Nicola was parks, which saw a 203 per cent increase. 

Google said the baseline for traffic is the median value, for the corresponding day of the week, during the five-week period, Jan. 3 to Feb. 6.

“The reports show trends over several weeks with the recent data representing approximately two to three days ago,” it reads. “This is how long it takes to produce the reports.”

To read the whole report go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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