Measuring Movement and Social Contact with Smartphone Data: A Real-Time Application to Covid-19

34 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2020 Last revised: 3 Aug 2020

See all articles by Victor Couture

Victor Couture

University of California, Berkeley

Jonathan I. Dingel

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Allison Green

Princeton University

Jessie Handbury

University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School

Kevin Williams

Yale School of Management; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Date Written: July 2020

Abstract

Tracking human activity in real time and at fine spatial scale is particularly valuable during episodes such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In this paper, we discuss the suitability of smartphone data for quantifying movement and social contact. We show that these data cover broad sections of the US population and exhibit movement patterns similar to conventional survey data. We develop and make publicly available a location exposure index that summarizes county-to-county movements and a device exposure index that quantifies social contact within venues. We use these indices to document how pandemic-induced reductions in activity vary across people and places.

Suggested Citation

Couture, Victor and Dingel, Jonathan I. and Green, Allison and Handbury, Jessie and Williams, Kevin, Measuring Movement and Social Contact with Smartphone Data: A Real-Time Application to Covid-19 (July 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27560, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3658856

Victor Couture (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Jonathan I. Dingel

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
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HOME PAGE: http://www.jdingel.com

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Allison Green

Princeton University

Jessie Handbury

University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Kevin Williams

Yale School of Management ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

HOME PAGE: http://som.yale.edu

Yale University - Cowles Foundation ( email )

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

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