With the coronavirus outbreak still spreading like wildfire, many governments and healthcare organizations around the world have called upon people to stay home as much as possible. This is because by isolating ourselves, it prevents the virus from spreading unnecessarily, thus buying researchers, doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers more time to find a cure, vaccine, and to prevent undue burden on the healthcare system.
However, it seems that despite the calls to stay home, a recent heat map shows that over in the US, there is still a frightening number of people traveling and moving around during this virus outbreak. This map was generated by Tectonix based on cellphone location data collected by X-Mode.
According to X-Mode, they claim that this data has been anonymized, meaning that the location of the cellphone is not linked to the user’s identity, and it is just to show where people are in general. Tectonix then took that data and generated the map, where they specifically honed in on devices that were detected to be moving between 3 miles to 10 miles an hour, suggesting that these were people who were moving around on bikes or scooters.
Want to see the true potential impact of ignoring social distancing? Through a partnership with @xmodesocial, we analyzed secondary locations of anonymized mobile devices that were active at a single Ft. Lauderdale beach during spring break. This is where they went across the US: pic.twitter.com/3A3ePn9Vin
— Tectonix GEO (@TectonixGEO) March 25, 2020
While it is a bit worrying to see how many people are still out and about during such a crisis, the silver lining is that it could help authorities better understand how the virus spreads. Over in the EU, officials have authorized carriers to use location data to help track the spread of the virus, which could also help with contact tracing and getting to those who are infected before they spread it any further.