Oh, how our habits have been al­tered

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE­STYLE - ALEX TURNER-CO­HEN

BIG Brother may not be watch­ing us, but Google Maps is.

Google has tracked the mo­bile phone lo­ca­tion of mil­lions of Aussies to see how so­cial dis­tanc­ing has changed their move­ments.

“Th­ese re­ports aim to pro­vide in­sights into what has changed in re­sponse to poli­cies aimed at com­bat­ing COVID-19,” the com­pany said.

What the tech­nol­ogy giant has dis­cov­ered in its re­port is heart­en­ing, but also a lit­tle scary.

Move­ment at pub­lic trans­port sta­tions is down a stag­ger­ing 62 per cent com­pared to typ­i­cal lev­els.

Vis­its to places such as restau­rants, shop­ping cen­tres and cin­e­mas have fallen by nearly half, com­ing in at 44 per cent.

In the month since the ban of all non-es­sen­tial gath­er­ings of 500 peo­ple, Aus­tralians have changed their be­hav­iour dras­ti­cally.

Ma­jor cities all across Aus­tralia have be­come ver­i­ta­ble ghost towns.

The ac­tiv­ity re­port, us­ing data from Fe­bru­ary to April 5, shows shop­ping for es­sen­tial items at su­per­mar­kets, food ware­houses, farm­ers mar­kets, spe­cialty food shops, drug stores and pharmacies is down by 18 per cent as peo­ple try to re­duce their vis­its.

Res­i­den­tial move­ment – or peo­ple stay­ing at home – was up by 14 per cent, the only area in so­ci­ety that had an in­crease.

Ex­perts said that if just 10 per cent of Aussies don’t fol­low the new re­stric­tions, then the lock­down won’t work.

It comes as the to­tal num­ber of con­firmed COVID-19 cases in Aus­tralia stands at more than 6400 at the time of writ­ing.

Google said it had col­lected the data “to help you and pub­lic health of­fi­cials un­der­stand re­sponses to so­cial dis­tanc­ing guid­ance re­lated to COVID-19”.

Pop­u­lar travel app City Map­per has also re­leased a re­port, which found Syd­ney and Mel­bourne were at just 13 per cent of their nor­mal ac­tiv­ity.

It’s a trend not unique to Aus­tralia. Across the world, cities are grind­ing to a halt.

Cities in full lock­down such as Rome have dropped to as low as 4 per cent mo­bil­ity.

Barcelona is the most af­fected city in the world. City Map­per found the Span­ish city is func­tion­ing at just 2 per cent ca­pac­ity com­pared to nor­mal.

While cities ap­pear to be at a stand­still all over the world, Asia is emerg­ing largely un­af­fected.

Sin­ga­pore has man­aged to con­trol the spread of COVID-19 while main­tain­ing move­ment at about 44 per cent of nor­mal lev­els.

Pic­ture: Toby Zerna

HOUSE­BOUND: A Google Maps re­port found re­duced move­ment in all ar­eas of life, except one.

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