Workplace mobility in the slow lane, again

Slowdown milder this time than during the first two waves

The State has been impacted by slowdown due to curbs for stopping the spread of COVID-19 over the past few weeks, mobility data from Telangana has shown. But unlike the massive drop in mobility due to lockdown in April 2020 and May-June 2021, the slowdown this time has been milder.

Randomised mobility data is being shared by both Apple and Google to help policymakers understand the behaviour of people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The data shows that workplace mobility dropped by a whopping 26% as a majority of workplaces shifted to the work-from-home mode as the number of COVID-19 cases surged in the city and the State. This drop was at variance with the national mobility which returned to pre-pandemic norm.

As the mobility in workplaces and parks dipped, there was a spike in mobility in supermarket and pharmacies as well as near residential spaces.

Bengaluru showed the biggest drop in workplace mobility with a deviation for 39% from the pre-pandemic norm.

Interestingly, the Government of India’s Economic Survey-21-22 has used mobility data put out by the internet behemoth to showcase a recovery story.

“It is important to note the role of new formsof High Frequency Indicators to gauge real-time trends. For example, the Google mobility indicators for retail and recreation (i.e., restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, etc.) and transit stations (public transport hubs such as subway, bus, and train stations), measuring percentage deviation from pre-pandemic levels of mobility, has exceeded pre-pandemic levels in December 2021 before the Omicron wave again led to restrictions,” says the policy document.

While the survey uses the retail mobility data, it ignores the dip in workplace mobility which has affected other service sectors like janitorial staff, tech support, catering in offices etc.

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