Smartphone data is being used to create an unprecedented view of how well people are following mandates to isolate in their homes amid an ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, a company called Unacast released a series of maps, a ‘scoreboard’ so to speak, that uses GPS data pulled from people’s phones to assign a letter score on how well people are adhering to government mandates regarding coronavirus – specifically how closely they’re adhering to isolation guidelines.
The grades, which are created by comparing current GPS location data to a typical day of the week, are granular enough to be viewed county-by-county and are pulled from the many apps on one’s device that use location data.
Unacast gave the whole United States a ‘B’ score (pictured) for its efforts in social distancing during a worldwide coronavirus pandemic
Those include games, maps, messaging apps and other tools typically downloaded to one’s device.
Using Unacast’s method, states like Nevada, Alaska, and New Jersey have all scored an ‘A’ grade while states like Wyoming and Montana have scored poorly, receiving an ‘F’ and a ‘D’ respectively.
Major reductions in distance traveled were also seen in areas that have been particular affected by the virus like New York City, which saw a 57 percent reduction in distance traveled.
Likewise California’s Santa Clara county saw a 54 percent reduction.
As reported by the Washington Post, Unacast assigns ‘A’ grades to locations that show at least a 40 percent decrease in average distance traveled.
Anything below a 10 percent grade was given an ‘F’ grade while the US as a whole has been awarded a ‘B.’
It’s important to note that the scores haven’t been evaluated by outside health experts or epidemiologists and don’t assess what distance people have from one another when they do go outside.
The Washington Post reports that Unacast is currently looking into additional ways to improve its analysis.
Unacast says that it hopes the maps will be able to judge compliance with stay-at-home orders and also judge whether they work.
‘We can start to see and learn what states are getting this right,’ CEO Thomas Walle told the Washington Post.
‘Over weeks now, we can identify what are the states and counties that are putting measures in place, and see if the number of cases stabilizes or drops.’
The US government is talking to tech giants like Facebook and Google to see if users’ location data could help track and slow the spread of COVID-19.
This isn’t the first case of such data being used to track the ongoing pandemic.
Last week, the US government was in talks with tech giants like Facebook and Google to see if users’ location data could help track and slow the spread of COVID-19.
The data would be anonymous and could allow officials to see whether groups of people are keeping enough distance from each other.
Officials wants to see if private-sector companies could compile the data in a way that would allow them to map the spread of the deadly virus.
Data collected on users’ locations would be used to track patterns and groups, rather than monitor any single individual, according to a report by the Washington Post.
STATE-WIDE CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWNS
In the most extreme measures to date, 17 states have ordered 100 percent of non-essential workforces to stay home to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
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