On April 14th Apple announced that it had developed a program to capture user location data in an effort to track the spread of COVID-19. As part of that announcement Apple also mentioned it had this data already, and users were aware that Apple has been tracking location data when they agreed to their terms and conditions. It is no surprise to anyone, that the data conclusively showed a dramatic decrease in the use of public transport, motor vehicles, and mobility in general since the outbreak of the virus. The graph below illustrates the massive drop in March in the United States.
In Pittsburgh we have seen a similar trend, the general public has stopped using public transportation, have been driving significantly less, and overall have stayed inside. Now that we have gone into the “Yellow” phase, the public has been steadily increasing their travel within the local community. The use of private vehicles and our own two feet are clearly the safest option available for travel, and therefore the lag in public transit use is understandable. As we continue to venture out from our isolation it is important to remember to adhere to CDC guidelines in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
Apple has stated, “Reports are published daily and reflect requests for directions in Apple Maps. Privacy is one of our core values, so Maps doesn’t associate your data with your Apple ID, and Apple doesn’t keep a history of where you’ve been.” Other companies are also analyzing user data to quantify the impacts of the virus. Foursquare, has asked over 13 million users to share data on their movements and purchase habits and here are some of the recent results.