HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the days since Gov. David Ige and the mayors of individual counties across Hawaii ordered residents to stay at home, it’s become common to see once jam-packed places ― like parks, beaches and shopping centers ― completely abandoned.
Hawaii News Now documented many of the changes that are visible in those places earlier this week; Waikiki has become a ghost town, for example, and dozens of businesses across downtown Honolulu have boarded up until further notice.
Now, location data that has been compiled from cell phone signals and released by Google is helping to paint an even bleaker picture of just how much the behavior of Hawaii residents has changed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s how it works: Google uses voluntary movement tracking information ― users have to give Google their permission to have their locations tracked, using their phones GPS ― to determine how much less time they are spending in public places than they were before. The baseline for this study was from January 3 until February 6.
Google separated the data into six separate locations: Retail & recreation, Grocery & pharmacy, Parks, Transit stations, Workplace and Residential. They then used the cell phone signals to determine how much more or less time people were spending in those places, compared to the baseline period.
Across the entire state of Hawaii, the company says, people are spending half as much time at retail and recreation locations, like restaurants and shopping centers, than they were before the pandemic began.
Grocery stores and pharmacies are seeing nearly 40% less traffic, and workplace traffic is down even more ― nearly 45%, the study shows.
Time spent at transit stations ― of which Hawaii really only has bus stops and bus exchanges ― has plummeted more than 70% statewide. In some locations, like Maui County, the number is more than 85% less.
When broken out by county, the data does show some areas are social distancing at different rates than others. Grocery store traffic on Hawaii Island is down almost half, but data shows Honolulu residents are only visiting those locations about a third less than they were before the pandemic.
And more people are staying home on Kauai ― Garden Isle residents are spending 26% more time at home than they were during the baseline ― than in other areas, in part because of a 9 p.m. curfew that has been enacted by Mayor Derek Kawakami.
The location data compiled by Google for this story can be found here.