Moves towards reopening the country

Using anonymized cellphone data from SafeGraph, Reade Levinson and Chris Canipe for Reuters mapped the change in foot traffic for different types of businesses over time.

Orange represents more movements since the first week of March. Blue means less. Yellow means about the same. We’re working towards all orange. Fingers crossed.

Sidenote: Now isn’t really the time, but when it is, we’re gonna have to come back to this mobile data stuff. Clearly it has its uses, but with so many offerings, there’s bound to be a less than useful leak.

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Mobile phone data shows decreased movement nationwide

Stuart A. Thompson and Yaryna Serkez for New York Times Opinion on decreasing movement, based on mobile phone data:

The impact of social distancing and work-from-home measures has been captured using data on smartphone movements, an analysis of which was provided to the Times Opinion section by Descartes Labs, a geospatial analysis company.

The data shows how states hit hard by the virus, like New York, California and Washington, have seen travel plummet. But other states with fewer confirmed infections have seen smaller declines, presenting challenges for controlling the spread of the virus.

If you can: stay at home, stay at home, stay at home. Keep going.

As an aside, this is an interesting juxtaposition to privacy concerns over mobile data used for less than honorable purposes. From Descartes Labs, who analyzed the data for NYT:

Location data, as reported by mobile devices, is a powerful resource to understand our world and monitor aggregate change in human behavior in times of crisis. While there are legitimate privacy concerns associated with location data, Coronavirus demonstrates that there are important applications for this data to address some of the more vexing challenges we face in a world where society and economies are more complicated than ever before. Consistent with industry norms, we source data that is de-identified, and we do not use it to identify an individual. All resulting analysis is then statistically aggregated, removing the ability to characterize the behavior of any single device.

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Why People Move

The Current Population Survey tracks mobility and migration in the United States. Since 1999, its asked for the reasons people moved from one place to the other. Here are the estimates for the most recent time segment between 2017 and 2018.


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Mapping global accessibility to cities

From The Malaria Atlas Project, a global map of estimated accessibility to cities:

In the present study, we quantify and validate global accessibility to high-density urban centres at a resolution of 1×1 kilometre for 2015, as measured by travel time. The last global mapping effort to measure accessibility was for the year 2000, a time that predates both substantial investment and expansion of transportation infrastructure and an extraordinary improvement in the data quantity and quality of accessibility measures. The game-changing improvement underpinning this work is the first-ever, global-scale synthesis of two leading roads datasets – Open Street Map (OSM) data and distance-to-roads data derived from the Google roads database – which resulted in a nearly five-fold increase in the mapped road area relative to that used to produce the circa 2000 map.

The dark areas are the most fascinating.

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