How Location Data Helps During COVID-19 Pandemic?

In a world upside down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the role of location data has never been this critical. Governments and the private sector are increasingly relying on data-driven technologies to understand the pandemic from a Spatio-temporal perspective. Why? 

Because vital information such as location data, foot traffic data, social distancing metrics, etc. massively help in the development of groundbreaking research and policymaking. In addition to creating new policies and protocols, these concrete, data-driven insights help to control and mitigate the adverse impacts of the unpredictable pandemic.

With the spike in Coronavirus disease, clear and actionable insights from the location data are important which can pinpoint hotspots, allocate resources, and measure the effectiveness of lockdowns.  Let’s take a look at how location data is becoming a ray of hope in the current gloomy world.

Tracking Healthcare Supplies

The power of POI data is that it can save a life. Yes, you read that right. Imagine a patient with an immediate requirement of oxygen is able to find out the nearest hospital in its area. Location data can assist people suffering from this zoonotic illness to locate the nearest hospital, pharmacy, ATMs, essential stores, etc. for immediate needs.

With accurate and quality POI data, health care centers and hospitals can analyze the volume of patients in a specific region and effectively plan treatments and allocate scarce resources such as beds, supplies, medical equipment, oxygen cylinders, masks, PPE kits in identified regions.

Planning and monitoring stock at distribution points (pharmacies, health centers, hospitals) is fundamental in order to ensure fair distribution & consistent access for the public.

The location data can further help the POI healthcare centers to open mini-centers in regions based on the predicted traffic in that area, drive campaigns area-wise, and save the lives of many.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) use location data to predict the neighborhood where the next Covid-19 spike will be and assess the efficacy of mitigation efforts like social distancing.

Hospitals and healthcare centers struggle due to overcapacity, understaffing, and information deficits. In such cases, utilizing location data to detect, respond to, and prevent disease outbreaks is crucial in the current need of the hour. 

Measuring Lockdown Efficiency

With 2020 being a year full of binge-watching and staying indoors due to the lockdown restrictions imposed by the government, the human tolerance level has declined drastically. Alongside the scary second wave is the looming possibility of another lockdown to minimize the effect of the crisis on the population. Thus, it is important to track human mobility and ensure that the lockdown measures are successfully implemented.

Location data assists Government authorities to track road traffic/foot traffic data which helps in reducing the spread of the novel coronavirus. It assists in monitoring human mobility in the lockdown period where restrictions are enforced on social gatherings, closures of schools and businesses, shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders or lockdowns, travel restrictions, etc. 

Using the location data metrics, mobility trends for points of interest (POI) in California is estimated and shown below.

It also helps government health officials to evaluate the effectiveness of social distancing measures and identify places where new policies might be needed.

For example, if too many people are gathering at public transport spots, it may be a sign that more frequent bus or train service might be needed. If a shop or a complex is opened at odd hours, government orders can be sent to the concerned individual.

With few countries in the recovery stage, location data also helps in determining how crowded a particular place (restaurants, pharmacies, etc.) is at a given time. This may help the government officials to serve people batchwise to avoid overcrowding at a particular time and location.

Realigning Business Strategies 

The Covid-19 pandemic has paralyzed daily life and shook up the location data extensively.  For instance, many businesses closed down during the Covid-19 pandemic, while the rest moved online.

According to a survey conducted by IMD, the effects of the ongoing crisis have a severe impact on industries. Thus, location data is important to reformulate and align business strategies based on the current situation. 

With the economy recovering parallelly, there’ll be thousands of out-of-date POIs and potential for newer ones to be added. Outdated POIs can lead to false insights; therefore, updated point of interest databases is vital for realigning business strategies. 

  • Online retailers are seeing unprecedented demand due to lockdown measures. Using route optimization for last-mile deliveries is important to evolve the supply chain with the new consumer demands, in line with emergency regulation. And that’s what POI data does for you – provide updated location data.
  • POI data can help logistics players approach networks of stores to serve as pick up & drop off points to reduce their failed delivery numbers as an impact of lockdown restrictions. 
  • With the eCommerce industry booming at its peak,  such networks are fundamental in order to retain market share & profitability. Location data such as foot traffic data aids in identifying consumer behavior. For example, a grocery store can target consumers who are willing to purchase from the store or opt for delivery options. It can also identify the most frequent day/time of the week for potential customers, and assess locations that may be popular among a specific demographic.

Similarly, the government in Portugal set up a platform called Open4Business that uses an interactive map to inform consumers on which shops are open, along with their opening hours. Companies can also use this technology to update customers on their inventories, so shoppers know when to go out and when to wait at home.

As the economy recovers and new points of interest appear, companies will need to be updated and accurate data to function, especially those in ad-tech, communications, food, and dining, and navigation.

To avoid incurring losses due to inefficient navigation or logistical systems and reach accurate outcomes, data providers like Xtract offer its customers with superior quality and updated millions of POIs.

Shaping The Future

COVID-19 pandemic has rewritten the maps of businesses, specifically the brick-and-mortar stores. Thus, it is important to document the physical changes of the real world in a complex digital economy and POI databases do just that. 

To predict the need and direct resources based on best available evidence, software applications, data sources, analytical tools are developed for states, health care decision makers, providers, and other officials. 

As the world braces itself with the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, location data helps us in preparing for the future which is unpredictable. What is predictable is the strength of the technology – which can be utilized to share, analyze, and derive insights to shape our future.


Norma D. Rivera May 18, 2021 at 3:57 pm

This is an outstanding post that’s filled with so many useful nuggets. Thank you for being so detailed on How Location Data Helps During Covid-19 Pandemic

Varsha Chopra May 21, 2021 at 12:49 pm

Hey Norma, thank you for your kind words. Glad to know that you found this useful for you 🙂


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