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7 avr 20

COVID-19: Google data shows mobility trends in Middle East

Google has published (anonymised) data of its users’ locations worldwide, in an attempt to measure the success of social distancing rules. The data for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates shows they’re working – with some differences.

The data released by Google covers most of the world’s countries and is made available on a special website that charts movement trends over time, by geography. Here are some results:

Dropped by half

  • In both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the visits to restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, theme parks, museums, libraries and movie theatres have dropped by more than half (55% and 54%, respectively.)
  • Visits to grocery markets, food warehouses, farmers’ markets, specialty food shops, drug stores and pharmacies dropped by 26% in the UAE and 24% in Saudi Arabia. 
  • National parks, public beaches, marinas, dog parks, plazas and public gardens witnessed a 53% drop in attendance in the UAE, while the decrease in Saudi Arabia was slightly lower, at 49%.

Transport hubs

  • Public transport hubs like the subway, bus and train stations, saw a 69% decrease in the UAE, whilst the drop was even more pronounced in Saudi Arabia, at 75%.
  • Mobility at places of work dropped by 45% in both countries, while movement in residential zones increased by 26% in the UAE and by 23% in Saudi Arabia.  

According to Google, the release of these aggregated, anonymised datasets is aimed at providing government agencies with actionable intelligence which may help them better manage the restrictions on movement that have been installed at various levels to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Authored by: Frank Jacobs