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Mobile Phone Location Analysis Shows Impact Social Distancing Measures Could Have Across America

A video released by two data analysis companies on March 24 offers a glimpse at the extent that social distancing can impact the spread of a disease, such as the coronavirus, across the United States.

The video, assembled by Tectonix via data from X-Mode, shows a heat map of location-enabled mobile phones from a beach on Fort Lauderdale, Florida, during spring break vacation from early to mid-March. The footage then tracks the spread of those phones as spring breakers returned home.

“It becomes clear,” the narration in the video states, “just how massive the potential impact just on a single beach gathering can have in spreading this virus across the nation."

Since its release, the heat map clip went viral on Twitter, garnering ire from some commentators who pointed out data collection and privacy concerns. In a March 25 reply to criticism, Tectonix addressed the controversy, stating: “Every point of data we used here is completely anonymized and collected with user consent! We realize the implications of data collection at this scale, but used responsibly with privacy in mind, it can have massive positive effect!” Credit: Tectonix/X-Mode via Storyful