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    COVID-19: Apple and Google release the mobility report


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    It has been almost one month since we have been in the COVID-19 lockdown. We are not sure about other countries, but in Malaysia during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period, many people refuse to stay at home. This has caused the police to take severe action by remanding people who refuse to stay at home.

    After Apple and Google announce their collaborative action to find a solution for the COVID-19, yesterday these two tech giants have released its mobility report. The mobility report is a collective of data which Apple and Google have collected respectively from the Apple Maps and Google Maps. Using this data, Apple helps that it can provide insight to the health authorities to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. According to Apple and Google, the data which has been collected is based on the request made for directions.

    Apple Maps: Mobility Trends Reports

    Apple has released the mobility trend reports for major cities and 63 countries or regions. This includes Malaysia too. At first we tried to search Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia was available. However, when we tried to search other cities in Malaysia there aren’t any result.

    Based on the report for Malaysia, there is a tremendous drop in navigation routing request starting mid of March onwards. That is when the government have initiated a lockdown. It is good to see that Malaysians are listening to government orders during this tough period. The two lines represent request based on driving and walking.

    However, nearing to the end of March 2020, we can see a gradual increase of routing request in the Apple Maps. Well, if you still remember, this is when the government have allowed a few sectors to operate during the MCO period. This has caused a slight increase in both walking and driving. At least 50% of the people have requested for navigation using the Apple Maps during the end of March up until 13th of April 2020. Whereas, there are at least 61% have requested walking navigation at the same time.

    Mobility Trend in Kuala Lumpur

    When we drill in further to view the report for Kuala Lumpur, we can see there is a steeper drop in both driving and walking request in Kuala Lumpur. As you can see from the report above for Kuala Lumpur, there is at least 80% reduced for walking request. Whereas for the driving request it has dropped to 66%. As we mentioned earlier, again there is a slight increase of request in Kuala Lumpur due to several groups of people have to continue working during the MCO period.

    Google Maps: Community Mobility Reports

    Apart from Apple, Google has also shared its mobility reports for different countries. It has released the report for 131 countries only. Google didn’t include the mobility report for cities as in the Apple mobility report. In the Google community mobility report, Google has categorized the movement as in the different area of places. For example, retail, grocery, parks, transit stations, offices and residential.

    Looking at the report for Malaysia, there is a drop of 81% of navigation request to retails and recreations places. This includes places like restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, theme parks, museums, libraries, and movie theatres. Currently, at least 90% of the shopping centres and theatres have been closed in Malaysia since the government initiated a lockdown.

    For the grocery and pharmacy categories, there is dropped of 58%. There are people still had to go to pharmacy especially to buy more mask or medicine. Moreover, people also have to go out to the groceries to buy groceries for their home. Moreover, if you take a look during 15th March 2020, people who go to groceries were highest. Obviously this was due to buy as much as they can before the government initiates lockdown in Malaysia.

    Mobility trend shows people do work from home

    From the report above also we can confirm that many companies have requested their employees to work from home. The is because the people have stopped going to workplaces and start to work from home. There is a drop of 51% of workplaces, whereas there is an increase of 31% of movement to residentials.

    Overall, Apple and Google hope that by providing this data it can help the government and authorities to mitigate the COVID-19 cases worldwide. Do note that, both Apple and Google only collected the data by having the users privacy as the highest priority. None of the user’s information has been collected by the tech giants. If you want to view the mobility report for other countries you can check it from the Apple mobility report page and Google mobility report page.

    Raaj Lokanathan
    A software engineer as a profession. A tech blogger as a passion.

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