As the term “social distancing” is added to Americans’ lexicon en masse, one company has come up with an attempt to quantify the practice on a wide scale and is publishing the results online with a “Social Distancing Scoreboard.”
Unacast is a company that tracks and provides human mobility and location data and provides that data to companies, but now they are using that information to track the effectiveness of social distancing practices throughout the country and has given a letter grade based upon their findings. The grades are determined using the change in average distance traveled based on data gathered before the COVID-19 outbreak compared with the present.
It is worth noting, this is brand new metric and it was not immediately clear how local factors such as an increase in truck traffic on I-40 or the recent migration of local Canadian Snowbirds affect the results. Distance traveled is not the only way to gauge social distancing. Unacast explained in its methodology it provided the “strongest signal,” as the company also initially explored “people dwelling at home vs dwelling outside their homes,” “changes in average time spent in and around the home over time,” change in dispersion of activity clusters.
For letter grades, Unacast awards an A for an average decrease in travel greater than 40 percent. A 30 to 40 percent decrease is a B, 20 to 30 percent is a C, 10 to 20 percent a D and less than a 10 percent decrease is an F.
Arizona and the Southwest as a whole got pretty good grades from Unacast, but Mohave County was lagging behind significantly with an F.
According to the scoreboard, Mohave County is one of six counties in Arizona with a failing grade. Unacast has measured a 12 percent increase in distance traveled within the county compared to their control time period putting it more than 20 percent below the threshold to move up to a D. La Paz County had the lowest score in Arizona with a distance traveled increase of 52 percent. Coconino, Navajo, Apache, and Cochise counties were also given an F by Unacast.
As a whole, Arizona received a B with an overall decrease in distance traveled of 34 percent. Maricopa was the only county in the state to receive an A, reducing distance traveled by 42 percent. Pima County (39 percent decrease) and Graham County (30 percent) were the only counties in the state with B grades.
Most of the Southwest is graded at a B or higher with California, Nevada and Colorado all given As. Utah was given a B, and New Mexico received a C while coming in at number four on Unacast’s list of bottom five states.
Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming rounded out the bottom five in the United States. The top 5 states are Washington, D.C., Alaska, Nevada, New Jersey and Rhode Island who all received As.
In all, Unacast gives the United States a B with a decrease in distance traveled of 39.84 percent nationwide – less than one percent below an A grade.