How Unacast Maps Track Whether People Are Practicing Social Distancing

Long before the coronavirus, Google Maps app has provided satellite imagery, aerial photos, panoramic views of streets and real -time traffic conditions to assist people who are travelling by foot, car, bicycle or public transport. Meanwhile, Facebook’s Instagram allows users to see other people who have recently shared updates from places. Both tools have become rather essential today for people who want to practice social distancing.

People with smartphones are contributing to the massive coronavirus surveillance system. Places where Americans are not practicing social distancing can be revealed from the location data on games, utility and shopping apps that are installed on the smartphones.

A company called Unacast launched a social distancing scoreboard from GPS location data that it has collected and analyzed. It uses reduction in the total distance travelled by an individual as a rough index to determine whether the person is staying at home. Unacast is not alone because Google is also collecting and sharing data on where a person goes to.

According to the Washington Post, the US government is working with Facebook, Google and other tech companies about using anonymous location data to track whether people are keeping safe distance from one another. Data will not be stored in a federal database because it will be managed by industry and health officials for query and research purposes.

Unacast maps are searchable and updated daily. An A grade is assigned to places that show at least 40% decrease in average distance travelled. On the database’s first day on March 20, Alaska, Massachusetts, Nevada and Vermonnt earned an A grade.

The Unacast maps also showed large reductions in movements in New York City and California’s Santa Clara county that have been hit hard by the coronavirus. Unacast maps can help in tracking compliance with stay-home orders and whether the measures in place are effective.

Examples of hand drawn maps of cities, towns, resorts and campuses are available through to give you an idea on how illustrated maps differ from Google maps, road maps and topographic maps. Illustrated maps are very appealing and can be used for promotional and tourism purposes.