WASHINGTON — We know our location data is easily tracked by companies and apps. Now, Google is using that data to see if you are doing the right thing and helping fight the spread of the coronavirus.
The information comes from the “location history” setting in Google Maps and other Google services. The company tracked people anonymously across 131 countries; that includes the state and county levels in the U.S.
It’s measuring how well we’re all doing at social distancing, showing the concentration of people at six locations:
1. Retail and recreation
2. Grocery and pharmacy
4. Transit stations
6. Residential areas
It tracks these data points over the course of weeks.
For the most part, numbers across these categories are down, given the stay-at-home orders and other measures across the country.
A look across the D.C., Maryland and Virginia region highlights mostly positive numbers with a couple of key differences.
The DMV is seeing decreases in retail and recreation, grocery and pharmacy, transit stations, and workplaces.
Additionally, people are all spending much more time at home. That’s the set of data across all three locations that had growth.
The only spot where there’s a difference is parks. Maryland had a 26 percent increase and Virginia had a 46 percent increase. D.C., meanwhile, is down 41 percent.
Compare all of that to a state like Arkansas, where the numbers also decrease, but not as significantly.
Overall, no category in Arkansas dropped more than 29 percent. Grocery and pharmacy stand out the most – only decreasing by 7 percent, while parks exploded to an 81 percent increase as more people flock to get some exercise and fresh air.
Google says in the coming weeks, it will add additional countries and regions to these reports and adds that this kind of information could be particularly important as people in various countries start to return to school and work.