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 during the first nationwide lockdown, the largest reduction was observed in relation to retail and recreation, for which there was a drop of 75 percent observed. Public transport also saw a similar fall of 71 percent and, connected to this, workplaces recorded a reduction of 68 percent.
Comparing now to the latest figures for the current lockdown, it would appear that the public has adapted more to the 'new normal' and visit locations outside of their homes more often. The most pronounced such change can be seen for parks which have gone from -33 percent to +7 percent. It's a similar story for all of the other categories, with 'workplaces' of particular note, going from -68 percent to -47 percent.