By Emma Okonji
Data from Google’s newly-released COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports has shown that traffic to transit, retail and recreation locations in Nigeria has reduced in the wake of the pandemic that restricted movement.
According to the report released by Google, traffic to transit locations reduced by 34 per cent and to retail and recreation locations by 39 per cent, compared to baseline levels measured in January and February this year.
The report, which showed data from March 29, revealed how citizens were visiting transit stations, work places, retail and recreation centers, parks, grocery stores and residentials in Nigeria.
Google’s first ever COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports provided national trends for 131 countries, and available to download in PDF format on the site.
Each country report charts the percentage increase or decrease of movement across different high-level categories of places – such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential.
Google has invested in this tool so that everyone can make use of it to quickly and easily understand relevant information to the community response to social distancing; making any information shared tailored specifically to that specific purpose.
Google’s Senior Vice-President, Jen Fitzpatrick, said: “Just like how people can use Google Maps to identify when a local business tends to be the most crowded, we’re using the same aggregated, anonymised data to provide high-level insights into what has changed. We think these reports could support decisions about how to manage the COVID-19 pandemic while adhering to our stringent privacy protocols and policies.
“Ultimately, understanding not only whether people are traveling, but also trends in destinations, can help officials design guidance to protect public health and essential needs of communities and we will continue to evaluate these reports as we get feedback from public health officials, civil society groups, local governments and the community at large during these unprecedented times.”
Google has been working on many ways to help respond to COVID-19, from providing authoritative info via search, to supporting production of ventilators and personal protective equipment such as face-masks. With no vaccine or proven treatment, social distancing is the primary way to flatten the curve. Reports show that a third of the world’s population are under some kind of social distancing measures. Through these reports, Google is now providing insights into whether the guidance on social distancing is working. In addition to the Community Mobility Reports, Google is collaborating with select epidemiologists working on COVID-19 with updates to an existing aggregate, anonymized dataset that can be used to better understand and forecast the pandemic, Fitzpatrick said.