Apple said the mobility tool uses data collected from Apple Maps requests for driving and walking routes, as well as public transportation information, to provide insight into the extent to which people from a specific area go out in public. Anyone who wants to can use the mobility reports located on Apple’s COVID-19 information page by entering the name of a country, city or geographic region. Apple uses January 13 as the starting point for data and updates the information daily.
Apple said the purpose of the data is to help contain the spread of the coronavirus and to “provide useful information to local governments and health authorities and can also be used as the basis for new public policy by showing the change in volume people driving, walking or taking public transit in their communities.
Several counties in the Bay Area implemented on-site shelter guidelines in mid-March, and the rest of California and much of the country quickly followed suit. A search for “San Francisco Bay Area” in the Apple tool shows that routing requests for driving dropped by 70%, while those for public transit were down 84%, and directions for requests since March 13th have fallen by 79%.
Nationally, since January 13, driving inquiries have decreased by 63%, walking requests have dropped by 66% and public transportation inquiries have dropped by 81%.Apple has tried to integrate a certain level of user security into its mobility tool because it does not track the exact locations of individuals and does not show people’s specific requests for information.
The Apple tool has certain limitations in that it does not display data for entire states and only includes information from requests made with Apple Maps. In contrast, a similar offer from Google offers the possibility of data on specific counties in the United States.