We live in unusual times. It's unusual to be restricted in your movement. Unusual to wear protective masks. Unusual to live in a state of crisis and worry.
It was also unusual for us, after our decision to support the Austrian government in its fight against COVID-19, to suddenly become the focus of media interest. We were confronted with an uneasiness. An uneasiness caused by the word "movement analysis" reinforced by the following "to the Austrian government" in the same sentence.
Yes, we supply mobility analytics to the Austrian government. We do it because we're good at it. Because we believe we can help. We do it the same way we do it for all our customers: anonymized, at municipality-level without traceability to individuals, in accordance with the strict data protection regulations and with a TÜV-tested anonymisation procedure by our partner A1. But it is no longer enough for us to just say this. We also want to show it.
Therefore, in these unusual times, we are taking another unusual step and are making our analysis results publicly available.
We approached the crisis management team of the Federal Government on the basis of a simple idea: Human mobility plays a central role in both the spread and the control of the COVID-19 virus. We are experts in mobility analyses. Perhaps we can help.
Specifically, it is about the theory of social distancing: The fewer social contacts I have, the flatter the curve of contagion becomes. The flatter the curve, the lower the risk of overstraining our health care system. This idea is based on the assumption that social distancing increases with decreasing mobility. In other words, that the average person has fewer social contacts the more restricted their range of movement is.
In order to make this declining mobility and, consequently, the effects of the measures that were adopted comprehensible and measurable, we defined the indicator "mobility rate".
Mobility: Radius of movement over a day above one kilometer
Mobility rate: Proportion of anonymized mobile phones with mobility per municipality
Conversely, this also results in the rate of those who are not or only slightly mobile in the course of a day. Those who stay at home.
Stay-at-homes: Proportion of anonymized mobile phones with a movement radius below one kilometer
However, the mobility rate alone does not allow any conclusions about the effects of the measures adopted. These only become apparent when comparing the current mobility rates with the mobility rates for one day before the measures were put into effect. It is this change in mobility per municipality that we have been calculating for the Austrian crisis team since mid-March and which we are making available to the general public as of today. A figure per municipality that provides information on whether the measures are being followed. Whether social contacts are reduced. Whether the curve has a chance of becoming flatter.
The answer? Yes, they're working. Mobility and thus social contacts are reduced. We see an average decrease in mobility of 30%, in urban centres even more than 40%. In short: Austria stays home!
Interpretation of results
- The decline in mobility in cities is above average. This is mainly due to the availability of the necessary infrastructure in the immediate vicinity. Labour policy measures (home office, short-time work ('Kurzarbeit'), etc.) are eliminating commuting to work as the main reason for inner-city mobility.
- Conversely, the somewhat weaker decline in rural areas can be explained. Firstly, the proportion of longer journeys, over 1 km, is already higher on normal days before the curfews were put in place than in other municipalities. This means that even during the curfews there is naturally less room for reducing mobility. Secondly, the rural population has to travel longer distances to reach system-critical infrastructures (doctor, pharmacy or grocery store) or the workplace.
Return to overview
These results give us cause for optimism. The measures are working. Mobility is declining. The map that lights up green is a good sign. A sign that Austria is sticking together. That everyone is making their contribution. That we will master these unusual times together.
Stay healthy. #stayhome