Australians are staying at home and avoiding public transport, new data from Google shows.

Google has made its mobility data public, which reveals the movements (and lack thereof) of Australians throughout the pandemic.

The technology company believes that the aggregated, anonymised insights used by Google in products like Google Maps could be helpful to public health officials wanting insights to make critical decisions during the pandemic.

It reveals that Australians are taking safety precautions over the summer holiday period, avoiding public areas and public transport as many try and avoid contracting the Omnicron variant of COVID-19 that has been spreading throughout the nation.

These community mobility reports aim to provide insights into what has changed in response to policies throughout the pandemic.
Google charts movement trends over time by geography, across different categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential.

It found that more and more people are staying at home, more than 10 per cent higher than usual during December and January.

The data also reveals that across the nation, there has been a drop of 13 per cent in movement in retail and recreation areas in December and January.

This includes restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, theme parks, museum, libraries and cinemas.

There was far less movement in Victoria during this period, with 22 per cent less people in these areas during this period – the highest in the country. Victoria’s parks were frequented a lot less as well, with Google sharing a drop of 29 per cent during this time.

More than half (53 per cent) of us are avoiding transport altogether, while a quarter of Australians still haven’t returned to the office.

NSW (33 per cent) and Victoria (32 per cent) brings the national average up, with many workers still steering clear of the office.

The data revealed, compared to the baseline normally recorded, dramatic movement changes across the nation.

National figures reveal:

  • Public transport: Down 53 per cent
  • Workplaces: Down 25 per cent
  • Parks: Down 6 per cent
  • Supermarket and pharmacy: Up 8 per cent
  • Residential: Up 10 per cent
  • Retail and recreation: Up 13 per cent

Google has revealed that these movement reports will only be available for a limited time if public health officials find them useful to decide how to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

The company explains that location accuracy and the understanding of categorised places varies from region to region, meaning data shouldn’t be compared between countries, or between regions with different characteristics, such as rural versus urban areas.

As of Monday 31 January, a further 33,730 cases had been acquired in the previous 24 hours from 113,901 tests, bringing the active number of cases in Australia to 385,779.

See more on the Google Mobility Report here.