News Article

Apple and Google Construct Open Data to Track Mobility

By Alejandro Enríquez | Fri, 05/08/2020 - 13:34

Apple updated its Mobility Trends Report to include more regions and cities across the world. The Californian tech giant released this tool in early April to help cities around the world to cope with the effects of COVID-19 situation and evaluate the effectiveness of lockdown measures. 

The dataset displays the mobility trends reflected by the requests made by users through Apple's Maps App. Data is not associated with any demographic or personal user data, nor with any request history. Dataset is available in CSV format for individuals and organizations to explore mobility trends in their regions. 

Apple highlights the user's right to privacy. "Privacy is a fundamental human right. It, too, is one of Apple's main values. This is why Maps does not associate your data with your Apple ID and Apple does not keep a history of where you have been," says the company's on the official Mobility Trend Report's site. 

The recent update includes data from all 50 US states. For Mexico, country data and Mexico City and State of Mexico data is available. All mobility trends are compared to the mobility behavior showed on Monday January 13, 2020. This is, at any day, how much mobility has increased or decreased compared to that time reference.

In Mexico, mobility requests by walking have diminished by 59 percent. By driving they diminished by 52 percent and by public transportation decreased 75 percent as of May 6. The trend remains at levels above 40 percent since early April and the trend goes upward while Mexico reaches the peak of the pandemic.

Google has also released a similar tool. The Community Mobility Report "aims to provide insights into what has changed in response to policies aimed at combating COVID-19," says the company. The reports are made on a daily basis and keep track of movement trends over time across different location categories. The company affirms it has released this tool in a common effort with public health officials to contribute to combat contagion. 

Google constructed a different baseline for measuring mobility changes. It is set as the median value for the corresponding day of the week during the period between January 3 and February 6, 2020. Unlike Apple, Google disaggregates mobility based on destinations. Thus, there are six categories: retail & recreation, grocery & pharmacy, parks, transit stations, workplaces and residential. In Mexico City, as of May 2, mobility to retail & recreation places diminished by 59 percent, followed by a 57 percent decrease in transit stations and 52 percent in parks. The only category that increased its mobility trends was the residential one. 

Google Community Mobility Reports will be available for a limited time: "so long as public health officials find them useful in their work to stop the spread of COVID-19," the company says.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Apple, Google
Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst