How Apple and Google’s Social Distancing Maps Work

If you’re eager for more data, you can download the whole lot in a massive CSV file (a very basic spreadsheet). Click All Data CSV to get the file, then import it into something like Google Sheets or Apple Numbers. The data download doesn’t include anything that’s not in the charts, but you can dig into exact figures more easily.

Google Community Mobility Reports

Courtesy of David Nield via Google

To view Google’s equivalent data, head to its Community Mobility Reports page. You’ll see it’s built along the same sort of lines. There’s no handy online chart, so you need to click Download PDF next to the country, state, or city you want to take a look at, but what you get in return is a bit more detailed than Apple’s offering. As well as the countries listed, you can use the search box to look up individual US states or cities around the world.

Google’s approach varies slightly in that it aggregates data about where people are spending their time, rather than collecting numbers of navigation requests. If your phone is at a residential location more often than normal, for example, or at a park location less often, this will show up in the graphs.

The graphs themselves aren’t quite as detailed as Apple’s but cover the following location categories: retail and recreation, grocery and pharmacy, parks, transit stations, workplaces and residential. In most parts of the world, you’ll see a major shift from workplaces to residential over the last couple of months. To download all the data from everywhere in full, click Download global CSV.

As with the Apple data, don’t be too quick to make sweeping generalizations—Google’s mapping data isn’t necessarily quite as comprehensive or as accurate across each country, so it’s difficult to make comparisons. Some regions will have much more in the way of retail space than others as well, so they’re starting from a different baseline.

Map-Tracking Privacy

If you’re wondering whether data from your phone is included in these reports, the answer is yes, probably. However, both Apple and Google are keen to emphasize that they’ve collected this data with user privacy in mind.

“Data that is sent from users’ devices to the Maps service is associated with random, rotating identifiers so Apple doesn’t have a profile of your movements and searches,” Apple says. “Apple Maps has no demographic information about our users, so we can’t make any statements about the representativeness of our usage against the overall population.”



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