Digital Desk: Cellphone data gives NC F grade for social distancing


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina received an F-grade for its social distancing practices from the mobile data company, Unacast. The company used cellphone data to track the movements of people across the country.

As of Tuesday morning, the highest grade any county in the state received was a C. Seven counties received that score with the majority of those landing near the state’s borders or coast. Many of the D-graded counties surrounded the C-graded areas.

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The vast majority of counties received an F-rating.

Nationwide, North Carolina was not alone. Washington, D.C. received the highest score of a C-. Several states out west – Montana, Alaska, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota – came in slightly behind with a grade of a D+. Otherwise, states largely failed according to Unacast metrics.

Taking a look at counties nationwide, Aleutians West Census Area in Alaska scored the highest with an A.

Unacast said on their interactive website social distancing was a complex thing to measure. They used three different metrics: percent change in average distance traveled, percent change in non-essential travel, decrease in social interactions.

Click here to view the map in real-time. While interactive, the map below is not maintained.

Unacast said on their website that while they use your cell phone location data to come up with the scoreboard, that data can’t tell if people have actually met. It can only see if more than one device was present at the same place at the same time.

The website also developed an interactive map to show what industries are seeing the best recovery so far. In North Carolina, miscellaneous good stories like bargain shops or dollars stores are doing the best according to Unacast. Click here to interact with that map.

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