February 2, 2021, by Erik Larson

New Data Spotlight - Google Mobility

Where Are We Spending Time Post-Covid?

With the familiar patterns of life completely disordered many local leaders are left wondering what are people up to (and not up to)? If you're in economic development or business advocacy, wouldn't it be helpful to know, say, which places in the community are ticking up or down during this time?

Google Mobility data can help paint this picture. Better yet, it can be trended to show how things are changing over time.

Below is a sample Google Mobility dataset from Waukesha County, WI, where my parents live (hi Mom, hi Dad). Among the locations available are:

  • Home
  • Workplace
  • Grocery
  • Retail
  • Transit
  • Away From Home

What questions can these data help answer?

  1. Home: I don't know about you, but I'm spending waaaay too much time at home...but is everyone else? Are people doing more or less sheltering in place now vs. the past?
  2. Workplace: many office and other workplaces are now open, yet business leaders have learned important lessons about the true need of an office for functions that could be performed off-site. How is that trend shaping up?
  3. Grocery: are our eating habits forever changed? As dining options come back online are people shopping for food less? I feel like I'm at the store every other day!
  4. Retail: how are the essential small businesses in our community faring? If people aren't physically there we know we have a potential issue, but how is this trend changing over time?
  5. Transit: how are transportation patterns changing? This affects many facets of our community, from citizens to businesses.
  6. Away From Home: you'll notice this line is an inverse of data point #1 above. Time away from home is a proxy for mental and physical health, among other things. It is also a great snapshot of the extent to which we are still sheltering in place.

    Hover over a line to highlight it!

Mobility data can be combined with a range of other data to paint a complete economic activity snapshot. Check out this example from Federal Way, WA.

Interested in learning more? Click below to schedule a call with one of our data experts.