Google Maps recently released data showing the behavior of people around the world during the pandemic. This information is often used during the holidays to identify when stores aren’t busy, how people are traveling, and where they are going. Unsurprisingly, in this nightmare of a year, these insights are also being used to plan proper social distancing and to avoid large crowds.
The data analyzed was from March until October of 2020, basically, a date range entirely dominated by dramatic lifestyle changes due to COVID-19. While the data shows how people are preparing for the holidays, it also shows how our lives have changed since the onset of the pandemic.
Some of the key insights from the analysis include:
- Traveling by public transport is out, and traveling by car and bike is in. Driving is the most popular way to travel, while interest in using public transportation has fallen by more than 50%. At the same time, when compared to times before the pandemic, interest in biking has gone up 30% across America.
- Critical information about the best times to social distance. If you want to grab a quick coffee, the busiest time of the week, and the best time to avoid, is Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. Grocery shopping should also be avoided on Saturdays between 1 and 3 p.m., the times those stores are the most congested. If you are brave enough to try indoor dining at a restaurant, and if you can even find any place open, your safest time to go out to eat is Tuesday at 3 p.m.
- The number of people ordering takeout is surging, and their tastes are diverse. “Takeout” on Google Maps has gone up a whopping 306% since the early days of the pandemic. The most searched for foods are Mexican, Chinese, and BBQ. Interestingly, in Philadelphia, searches for “cheesesteak” have dropped by 40%, leading to speculation that Philadelphians are tired of the iconic classic sandwich, or that, maybe, it was tourists all along who really enjoyed it.
Some of this information is more than just interesting. It can also be very useful when traveling out of town for the holidays and needing pandemic-related information about your destination. If you’re taking public transportation, it will also give you information about how crowded it might be. That information combined with additional COVID-19 data available in Google Maps can help create a solid plan for traveling safely.“This is especially handy if you’re heading out of town and need to get up to speed about the local guidelines, testing sites, and restrictions in another city,” Dane Glasgow, a Google Maps executive, wrote. “On Android and iOS globally, you’ll start seeing how crowded your bus, train, or subway line is right now based on real-time feedback from Google Maps users around the world (wherever data is available),” he added.