Monitoring mobility before and after Safer at Home

Published: May. 21, 2020 at 6:41 PM CDT
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The UW-Madison Geography Department is using a

to monitor behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Assistant Geography Professor Song Gao and his fellow researchers use the cell phone data to anonymously track about 10% of the country's population.

Researchers can use this interactive map to measure how often people travel daily.

Taking a closer look at Wisconsin, Gao said the change in mobility before the state supreme court struck down Gov. Evers' Safer at Home order, and the days following that decision.

"During the Stay at Home order, it was almost down to zero,” Gao said. “But as we look more recently, we can see more mobility across the state, especially in the northern part."

Researchers can even follow how crowded public spaces.

"It's close to 50% now compared with the normal business, so this is for bars, and it's similar pattern in cafes and in restaurants," Gao said and he pointed to the map.

Based on the current trends, Gao is expecting an increase in foot traffic as we head into the summer, but with so many events canceled, he said the numbers still won't be very high.