Here's a curious way to assess whether the shelter-in-place ordinances are flattening the curve, as its known, of Covid-19 cases: checking the activity of cloud-based building locks.
That's what Openpath, a building and office access control startup, is doing--tracking and mapping how widespread compliance has been by following how often people are using their cloud-based locks to enter and exit offices, schools, houses of worship, and other spaces. The company, based in Los Angeles, started doing this February 24, the day the Trump administration sent a $1.25 billion coronavirus budget request to Congress.
The data comes from "a couple thousand" buildings, which in pre-coronavirus days, were used by hundreds of thousands of people daily, according to Openpath co-founder and president James Segil. By charting how often people are using those locks, Openpath is sketching a rough outline of how many people are going in and out of their offices and other buildings.
Openpath has compiled this data into a public page it's calling the Social Distancing Index. While not scientific, the data offers an anecdotal look at office and retail traffic slowing down, and in some cases, nearly stopping, amid calls for social distancing. (Some states are not represented since Openpath lacked statistically significant data. The states with the most customers are California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and New York.)
"What we noticed right away is that we saw a disparity between what different states were doing," Segil says. "As soon as a state mandates stay-at-home [or] recommends social distancing, the social distancing really kicks into the kind of percentage numbers that are effective at flattening the curve."
However, when a state doesn't mandate shelter-in-place, the comings and goings of Openpath customers continued. (The New York Times is tracking which states are making shelter-in-place and stay at home requests and which are not.)
Segil says that slowing the spread of Covid-19 is "not a sprint, it's a marathon" and that having good data can help government, business, and citizens in general understand how much their communities are helping to slow the spread of the pandemic. "We wanted to be able to track the effectiveness of the policy of social distancing," Segil says. "And this is kind of one of the best ways we've sought to sort of measure that."
Check out the Social Distancing Index here.