Google knows where you were during stay-home order



Google has been analyzing data from around the country to see how social distancing and stay-home orders are working out between late March and early May.

Alaska’s major communities provide enough data to show how visits and time spent at different geo-located places changed compared to a baseline before the state shutdown mandates.

“We calculate these changes using the same kind of aggregated and anonymized data used to show popular times for places in Google Maps,” the company said. In other words, it’s not tracking you specifically, but batching the data, according to Google.

Some of the interesting results from the collection of Alaskans’ locations shows that Juneau was overall the most compliant with the stay-home mandates, with a more than 50 percent drop in visits to retail and recreation.

As for working at the office, 31 percent of Juneau workers were not in their cubicles: Many State workers were staying home, in spite of the statements made in a lawsuit by ASFCME CEO Jake Metcalfe.

Ketchikan, an early hot spot of COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, was also solidly adhering to the stay-home orders.

On the other end of the scale, Kenai residents were the least likely to stay home, followed by the Mat-Su.

View the entire report for all Alaska communities where the tracking is taking place at this link.


  • Retail and recreation: -20%
  • Grocery and pharmacy: +9%
  • Workplace: -29%


  • Retail and recreation: -13%
  • Grocery and pharmacy: +4
  • Workplace: -17%


  • Retail and recreation: -52%
  • Grocery and pharmacy: -24%
  • Workplace: -31%


  • Retail and recreation: +6%
  • Grocery and pharmacy: +27%
  • Workplace: -16%


  • Retail and recreation: -32%
  • Grocery and pharmacy: -38%
  • Workplace: -24%


  • Retail and recreation: +2%
  • Grocery and pharmacy: +17%
  • Workplace: -19%

The tracking reports were developed to be helpful “while adhering to our stringent privacy protocols and protecting people’s privacy. No personally identifiable information, like an individual’s location, contacts or movement, is made available at any point,” Google said.

Nationwide, the average variance off of the baseline looks like:

  • Retail and recreation: -34%
  • Grocery and pharmacy: -4%
  • Workplace: -29%

The reports are created with aggregated, anonymized sets of data from users who enabled the “Location History” setting on their smart phone, which is usually off by default. People who have “Location History” turned on can turn it off at any time from theirGoogle Account and can delete Location History data directly from their Timeline, the company said.

To get the latest report, visit this link.


    • That’s exactly why I use GCI, they still let me use a 15 year old non-GPS flip phone! Not that it really matters, I just don’t like the idea of being tracked. It’s the principle of it! The Eastern Interior, though still on the road system, is very rural and it was over 90% stay at home. During this time my routine has been to go out to the Alaska Highway and wait for my mail. It was rare to see any traffic, and even now the only vehicles are commercial or government. The villages are still shutdown with gates or roadblocks and as this has given them a sense of control over their lives which they never had before, I doubt they’re interested in opening up anytime soon. In one case the ‘Village Council’ seems to be using the “crisis” to attack/harass those they perceive as being against them and they’re going to keep doing it until they’re forced to stop, which is unlikely to happen. Welcome to the new normal where every person with a little authority gained dictatorial powers almost overnight. I think I’ll hibernate a little while longer!

  1. There is a huge positive here in the “take away”…
    Mat/su and the Kenai borough where +2% and +6% in the “retail & recreation” division the National average was -34% across the nation.
    This shows the resilience among residents in these areas and I predict they will better weather the economic storm that lies ahead.

    • Going shopping for crap made in China = resilience?


      Try the lack of an international airport and the good fortune of not having seen anyone who happened to be contagious.

  2. I’ve never had any smart phone that defaulted to not track you. You must opt out of the tracking and even then, who knows. Same with the cameras and microphones. Have you ever listened to what gets recorded from your phone? Your phone and Google will record and keep the recordings while your phone is on your person or the counter or wherever. You have to opt out of them recording and storing your every conversation, how many people do that?

    • If you use an Apple iPhone, you need to enable location services (opt-in) before any location data will be used by the phone. Apple’s products have very tight control over anything related to your privacy, and if you don’t use them, you might want to consider switching.

  3. I guarantee you google doesn’t know where I am (except maybe right now). Guess I’m a little ‘old school’. Don’t have a ‘smart’ phone and have no plans to get one. My laptop, with a band-aid over the camera, serves me fine. Most older timers don’t rely on ‘smart’ phones to be their brain. I have seen the looks on faces of “smart phone dependents” when their phone ‘hides’ from them, between the cushions or wherever. Panic. No thanks, for me. I will depend on the old gray matter for my info. Limited though it may be. Did you know you can be arrested for breaking someone else’s smart phone?
    There you go, leftists. I’ve left myself open to ridicule. We’ll see how that goes when the cell service is out.

    • ‘fess up, Ben, you got a smart phone…
      What do you look at when you’re walking around or talking to somebody, or watching tv, or sitting at the dinner table or driving?
      What’s the last thing you look at before going nitey night or the first thing you look at during the morning constitutional?
      What if government needs to trace you or text you the world’s coming to an end or Google needs your data for something?
      Okay, it might be like a semi-smart phone, but you can’t fool us.

  4. Way to go Matsu………………now stop wearing those silly masks, you look dumb.

  5. Fascinating info. I would say that it demonstrates a close correlation, inversely proportional, to the perceived covid19 threat, i.e. local infection or death rate.

  6. Looking at the Anchorage numbers… when it says, “Retail and recreation: -20%”… in simple terms does that mean that if 100 people normally went to a retail store or recreation place before the shut down that 80 still went during the shutdown?

  7. Yay Kenai! Way to go not being intimidated by a pack of lies…except for those ridiculous few wearing masks, and gloves. Take ‘em off folks, you are not keeping yourself safe, you are advertising your gullibility!

  8. Yeah, I call BS. I live on the Kenai. When I had to I went to the retail stores to buy my groceries and I can tell you that they were practically empty for the two months that we were in lockdown. Definitely not an increase but a major decrease in retail activity. Now this last week… That’s another subject. Seems like the gates have been opened and everybody is out to play again.

  9. Google hasn’t known where I go for about five years now… I disabled all the tracking garbage on my phone along time ago. Pretty easy to disable those features so it isn’t an issue. This is exactly the reason I do not use it. Too easy for anyone or anything to figure out where you are precisely.

  10. The tracking is comparing late March to the beginning of May so it is in agreement with your observations.

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