With the aim to "provide insights into what has changed in response to policies aimed at combatting Covid-19", Google's Community Mobility Reports join a list of companies that are sharing location information to aid authorities in the assessment of the rapidly developing coronavirus pandemic and subsequent restrictions on movement. As Google puts it, they are "to help you and public health officials understand responses to social distancing guidance related to Covid-19."
The reports are based on data from its users which have allowed the company to save their location history. As explained in the reports, these changes in behaviour are calculated "using the same kind of aggregated and anonymised data used to show popular times for places in Google Maps."
As this infographic using data for the UK shows, the lockdown measures are indeed affecting residents' movements. The first time we looked at this data (for 29 March), the largest reduction was observed in relation to retail and recreation, for which there was a drop of 84 percent observed. Transit stations saw a similar fall of 75 percent.
Comparing now to the latest figures for 17 April, it would appear that the public is starting to relax to some degree and starting to visit locations outside of their homes more often. The most pronounced such change can be seen for parks which have gone from -52 percent to -33 percent. It's a similar story for 'Grocery & pharmacy' and 'Retail & recreation'.
Contrary to this trend, the change in movement to workplaces has gone in the other direction. With the effects of furloughing and job losses presumably playing a part, this figure went from -55 percent to -68 percent when comparing to the start of the year. As Google notes, the data represents a sample of its users and may not represent the exact behavior of the wider population.