Google data reveals how Finns are avoiding shared spaces, and flocking to parks

Data measured for six weeks at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in Finland shows the changing habits of people through the Google location service on their mobile phones.

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File picture of children's play park, April 2020 / Credit: News Now Finland

New data released by tech giant Google shows how peoples’ movement has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The COVID-19 Communities Mobility Report for Finland looks at anonymous data from mobile phones using Google location services, and shows that over a six week period from Sunday 16th February until Sunday 29th March, Finns moved away from crowded shared spaces, and moved instead to more open places.

Overall, the new statistics show:

  • 52% decrease in retail and recreation locations
  • 21% decrease in grocery and pharmacy locations
  • 59% decrease at public transport hubs
  • 29% decrease at workplaces
  • 9% increase in residential homes
  • 48% increase in parks, beaches, dog parks and public gardens

Google also breaks down their data region-by-region in Finland which shows some big differences in peoples’ habits as the severity of the coronavirus pandemic became clear.

Visits to outdoor places are up by as much as 60% in Central Finland; 65% in Kymenlaakso; 70% in Ostrobothnia; 73% in Northern Ostrobothnia and a whopping 84% in Päijänne Tavastia – the region where Lahti, Vierumäki and Heinola can be found.

Visits to public transport hubs fell 51% in Southwest Finland; 64% in Uusimaa; 66% in South Savo; and 71% in Lapland during the six week period where Google measured data.

Meanwhile visits to retail and recreation places, groceries and pharmacies fell the most in Uusimaa; South Karelia; Pirkanmaa and Lapland where they were down 62% and 30% respectively.