Cellphone data: Hawaii residents better than others at staying home during pandemic

According to cellphone data, Hawaii appears to be one of the best states in the nation at complying with stay-at-home orders.

By recording smartphone GPS data, telecommunications companies have access to endlessly updating logs of where phone users have spent their time — data which some companies, including Google, have used to determine which countries, states and counties are most assiduously avoiding public places.

ADVERTISING


According to a report by Google, cellphone location data at retail and recreation services fell by 48% throughout the state between March 19 and April 30, compared to a baseline established before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Similarly, attendance at grocery and pharmacy locations, parks and workplaces declined by 25%, 57% and 46%, respectively during the same period.

Hawaii County residents did slightly better than the state in most categories, with a 51% reduction at retail, and a 68% reduction at parks.

Comparatively, the City and County of Honolulu had reductions of only 44% and 48% in the same categories.

The state was trending above the national average, which has seen retail attendance drop by 34%, grocery by 9%, and parks by only 7%.

Another company tracking social distancing trends, Unacast, graded Hawaii’s adherence to social distancing as a C+, indicating about a 55% reduction in average mobility, nonessential visits and density of interpersonal encounters.

Hawaii County received a B- grade, indicating about a 65% reduction.

These grades placed Hawaii’s social isolation compliance at fifth-best in the nation, behind Nevada, Vermont, New Mexico and Arizona. Hawaii County is within Unacast’s top 25% of counties nationwide.

“It is amazing what Google and these companies can do,” Lt. Gov. Josh Green said at a press conference Wednesday. “Sometimes even a little scary.”

ADVERTISING


Green said the state has considered using similar geo-tracking technology to better track and enforce visitors to the island to ensure that they comply with the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Email Mike Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email hawaiiwarriorworld@staradvertiser.com.