A few days ago, Google released COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports – derived from the location data of Google Maps users – to help government officials measure and manage the impact of movement restrictions imposed to mitigate the novel coronavirus. And now, Google-subsidiary Waze navigation app has followed suit.
According to Waze, its users drove 60% fewer miles in the March 1 – April 10 period as compared to February.
A closer, country-level look confirms that the earliest changes in traffic patterns were reflected by the nations where the COVID-19 outbreak occurred first, with other countries joining the group soon after.
Since Italy was one of the first nations to witness a freighting surge in COVID-19 cases, driving there decreased by more than 90% in the March-beginning – mid-April period.
But analyzing driving patterns is not the only thing that has kept the team at Waze busy during the last few weeks. With support from a 30k-strong global community of volunteer map editors and local government officials, the Waze Crisis Response team has been updating road closures and red zones in maps of 58 countries (and counting). By assisting with region-specific relief efforts, Waze has been able to ensure that drivers of essential commodities reach their destinations safely.
Further, in the United States, the Waze app now shows more than 30,000 emergency food distribution locations. For this, Waze has partnered with nonprofits WhyHunger and No Kid Hungry.
Waze has also released a new feature that allows users to identify the stores that are providing alternate pickup options for food and other essential goods.
In compliance with social distancing norms, these unique badges clearly show which local businesses are offering drive-thru or curbside pickup services. Users can easily search, filter, and navigate to these locations to get food and other grocery supplies with minimal contact.