You’re probably contributing to a massive surveillance system if you possess a smartphone. The surveillance system is showing where and where aren’t the Americans been practicing social distancing. On March 23, a company called Unacast that collects and analyzes phone GPS location data launched a “Social Distancing Scoreboard”.
The “Social Distancing Scoreboard” grades the, county by county, in which residents are changing behavior at the urging of health officials. The system uses the reduction in the total distance we travel as a rough index for whether we’re staying put at home. On March 25, compared with the nation’s mass movements, Stephenson County, Illinois received the grade of A for social distancing.
Today, April 8, and what is said to be the beginning of the worst two weeks of the virus epidemic, Stephenson County has scored poorly. They have gotten grade D. The system scored grade B for counties such as Cook, Kane, DuPage, and Lake. Counties like Cumberland, Fayette, Bond and a few others scored F.
For the overall state of Illinois, the system has given them grade B. So, how they know about our ‘social distancing’? It is a reminder that there are many ways our phones reveal our personal lives, both as individuals and in the aggregate and it is used for efforts to track public health during the coronavirus pandemic. The games, shopping and utility apps that are installed by millions of Americans give location data to Unacast. This information is normally analyzed for retailers, real estate firms and marketers.
Its part of a shadowy world of location tracking that consumers often have little idea is going on. However, it should be reminded that all states are not created equal. The data may be showing that some people are leaving their homes to travel for 30 or 40 minutes, they might be going outside for essential supplies.