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Cell phone data used to grade how well residents are social distancing

Company uses cell phone data to grade states on social distancing during pandemic
Posted at 11:28 AM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 13:41:33-04

DENVER — After weeks of social distancing to stop the spread of coronavirus, data firm Unacast is using cell phone date to grade states and counties on how well residents are practicing social distancing.

Unacast gave Colorado a C- for social distancing, Denver County received a B-, Douglas County received a B-, and Arapahoe County received a C-.

Many counties in the western and southwestern parts of Colorado received an F grade.

According to Unacast, the company analyzes several factors to come up with the grade for a state or county.

Unacast said it uses cellphone data to help pinpoint the amount of time a person spends at or close to home, and the amount of time a person spends away from home.

The firm said it also uses similar data to determine when a large group of people is gathered in one place, such as a grocery store.

Unacast then uses that information to calculate a grade for the area. But the company admits, the data it receives isn’t in real time, because the data only updates every four days.

There have been some privacy concerns surrounding how Unacast, a Norwegian company, collects this data.

The company released this statement on its website:

While we do not directly collect any location data, we are mindful about the privacy concerns that the users of mobile devices may have about location technologies. We describe our own privacy practices relating to the location data we receive from our partners in our Privacy Statement. If you are a visitor to our website, you can read about our privacy practices relating to the data we collect from our website in our Privacy Policy.