Australia’s public transport hubs and major retail outlets have seen huge declines in foot traffic, as measured by Google’s mobile data. Transit stations are down 58 per cent while retail and recreation locations are down 45 per cent, according to the data.
By contrast, grocery is only down 19 per cent, while workplaces generally are down 33 per cent.
According to the company, “Google prepared this report to help you and public health officials understand responses to social distancing guidance related to COVID-19. This report shouldn’t be used for medical diagnostic, prognostic, or treatment purposes. It also isn’t intended to be used for guidance on personal travel plans.”
However, it cautions, “Location accuracy and the understanding of categorized places vary from region to region, so we don’t recommend using this data to compare changes between countries, or between regions with different characteristics (e.g. rural versus urban areas).”
The Australian figures are remarkably consistent around the country.
Google was also careful to stress that the reports were created in a way that adhered, “to our stringent privacy protocols and protecting people’s privacy.”
“Insights in these reports are created with aggregated, anonymized sets of data from users who have turned on the Location History setting, which is off by default. People who have Location History turned on can choose to turn it off at any time from their Google Account and can always delete Location History data directly from their Timeline.”