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Google’s COVID-19 report shows whether Sri Lankans are staying at home

Google has outlined data gathered from smartphones offering insights into the changes in public movement in response to work-from-home, shelter in place and other policies aimed at flattening the curve of COVID-19 outbreak.

The tech giant said the COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports, covering 131 counties and regions including Sri Lanka, were prepared to help understand the responses to social distance guidance related to the pandemic.

“As global communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasing emphasis on public health strategies, like social distancing measures, to slow the rate of transmission. 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.”

Google has calculated the location-based data from the users who opted-in to Location History for their Google Accounts. Hence, the data represents a sample of Google users, the company said adding that this may or may not represent the exact behaviour of a wider population.

These reports show how visits and length of stay at different places change compared to a baseline. “Changes for each day are compared to a baseline value for that day of the week.”

Each report contains six categories of information about public movement patterns; retail and recreation, grocery and pharmacy, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residences.

In order to protect the privacy of the users, “personal identifiable information” such as individual’s location contacts and movement has not been made available in these reports, Google said.

The tech giant’s Community Mobility Report for Sri Lanka shows data on mobility patterns relevant from the period of Sunday 16 February to Sunday 29 March.

It points out that the country has seen an 86% reduction in retail and recreational activities, which represents mobility trends for places such as cafes, museums, restaurants, shopping centres, theme parks, libraries and movie theatres.

Insights into groceries and pharmacies suggest that activities have decreased by 87%, with a steep decline presumably on March 20.

With regard to mobility trends for places like national parks, public beaches, marinas, parks, plazas and public gardens, a slight uptick is shown compared to the baseline value, supposedly on March 9.

Mobility trends at transit stations have implied a gradual reduction from March 8 to March 29. The island-wide curfew imposed by the government can be presumed as the reason for sheer decline seemingly after March 20.

Workplaces have experienced a steep decline of 50% in mobility trends in comparison to the baseline value. This is also the highest reduction among the other categories. The reason behind this could be the work-from-home periods declared by the government since March 20 and the extension of curfew in high-risk zones for the COVID-19.

Meanwhile, there is a 32% increase in mobility trends for places of residence, with a gradual rise after March 8.

Source : adaderana

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