Troup County receives ‘F’ in social distancing

Published 3:33 pm Thursday, April 2, 2020

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If data from one location-based software company is correct, Troup County has a long way to go to practice effective social distancing.

Unacast, a human mobility data company, grades Troup County as an F on its social distancing scoreboard. The grade is updated as of March 31, but the company is frequently updating it on its website.

Unacast collects data from location-based cellphone location data to track human mobility, and it packages that data in what the company calls the Social Distancing Scoreboard.

Unacast compares the distances traveled before the outbreak of COVID-19 to the current travel distances for the same areas.

It presents that data in a series of near real-time interactive maps that drill down to the individual city or county to see just how well the stay in place efforts are working.

“We are updating the scorecard and enhancing this COVID-19 Toolkit to provide the most timely and accurate information possible, with the hope of ultimately saving lives,” said Thomas Walle, CEO and Co-founder at Unacast.

Along with the maps, Unacast presents the data in a letter grade format from A to F depending on how much a specific area has reduced its travel away from home.

A letter grade of A means an area has reduced travel at least 40 percent and a F means that travel was reduced less than 10 percent.

While Troup County has a failing grade, Heard and Harris Counties were graded a D-, Meriwether County a D and Muscogee a C-.

Also tracked is the change in non-essential visits — travel to any business that has not been deemed essential. Troup received a grade of F as of March 31. With the fluidity of mobile data, these grades will likely change over time.

Unacast is not the only company using data for what they claim to be public good. Facebook’s ‘Data for Good’ uses data from users to power its Disease Prevention Maps.

For those with privacy concerns, Unacast’s privacy statement states they receive data from partners as well as their own software development kit (SDK) that is included in apps of some of their partners. In the privacy statement found on its website, Unacast also provides information to users on how to limit the collection of their data from or about their partners.