It’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting travel and mobility on many levels. But how can we quantify that disruption? A number of tech leaders are trying to do just that.
Google, for example, has started sharing “Community Mobility Reports,” which use the aggregated, anonymized insights behind products such as Google Maps to track where people are — or, more accurately, are not — going these days. Reports are available for a wide number of countries. In the U.S., the most recent data tells us that:
- visits to retail and recreation locations are down 26 percent
- trips to transit stations are down 40 percent
- commutes to workplaces are down 42 percent
Other tech companies are providing similar resources. Apple compares mobility (based on requests made to Apple Maps for directions) in different countries and highlights a stark drop-off beginning around early March. Others have used aggregated cell phone data to produce heat maps that illustrate movement, such as this one for the U.S.
While these data tools and others online revolve around personal mobility trends and not formal relocation metrics from corporate mobility programs, they still illustrate a few key points. First, it’s clear that movement and mobility in general — whether that’s a trip to a retail store, a flight or most everything in between — is down. People are simply staying home more often, a result of various shelter-in-place restrictions across the world.
Second, these tools highlight just how impactful data can be for mobility leaders. It’s more important than ever before to have your finger on the pulse, and as activity begins to slowly pick back up, it will be critical to be able to track emerging trends within your program and adapt accordingly.
For more on checking the pulse of your program and navigating through challenging times, check out our latest report, “Challenge, Accepted: How to Overcome Obstacles and Support Your Relocating Employees.”
In Google Maps, we use aggregated, anonymized data showing how busy certain types of places are—helping identify when a local business tends to be the most crowded. We have heard from public health officials that this same type of aggregated, anonymized data could be helpful as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19.