Data analysts say we’re moving too much in South Dakota

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota is almost failing when it comes to social movement activity, according to data compiled by Unacast.

Unacast is a data company that collects and provides cellphone location data and analysis to the tourism, retail, real estate, and marketing industries. Unacast gives South Dakota a D+ as of Oct. 11, which is higher than the D- given in April.

The state gets the grade because it gets an F for less than 25% reduction in average mobility based on distance traveled and an F for less than 55% reduction in non-essential visits. But it gets an A for greater than 94% decrease in encounters density compared to national baseline. Unacast says the measure evaluates how many people were in the same place at the same time.

But the A needs to be considered in following context. Wyoming for example, is less populous than Manhattan. “In contrast, less-populous states, like Wyoming, continuously score high on this metric (encounters density) even under non-pandemic circumstances — their score remains high as of this publication,” a Unacast blog called “Rounding out the social distancing scoreboard,” said.

So, South Dakota, with a less dense population than many other states would have fewer higher density encounters than those states. The state’s encounters density score since has been mostly As and Bs. It did have a C on Aug. 8.

The city of Sioux Falls has been tracking cell phone data for mobility through cuebiq and Google, officials said in April.

The city has also been tracking traffic numbers at five major intersections in the city: 26th and Lorraine, Madison and Western, 41st and Louise, 18th and Minnesota and 26th and Sycamore.

The traffic index reports show that overall, traffic has not returned to levels posted in early March.

The Sioux Falls traffic index counts at five major intersections. City of Sioux Falls graphic.

As of Monday, Oct. 12, the traffic index was .84 and the rolling seven day average was .85. The traffic index for Monday, March 9, was 1.02 an the rolling seven day average was 1.02. The state’s first reported COVID-19 case was on March 10.

The daily traffic index reach 1 or above on three Fridays since March. The rolling seven day average has not been 1 or above since Friday, March 13, when it was 1.02.

The traffic index reached 1 on Friday, Aug. 14 and Friday, Aug. 28 and 1.12 on Friday, Sept 11. The rolling seven day averages on those days was .88 on Aug. 14, .87 on Aug. 28 and .87 on Sept. 11.

Monday is the traditional start of the work week. On Monday, Oct. 4, the traffic volume at 26th and Sycamore was 38,430 and it was 41,626 on Monday, March 2. The traffic count at 18th and Minnesota was 35,839, 57,340 at 41st and Louise, 6,720 at Madison and Western, and 27,920 at 26th and Lorraine. On Oct. 4, the numbers were 16,341 at 18th and Minnesota, 44,644 at 41st and Louise, 3,630 at Madison and Western and 22,555 at 26th and Lorraine.

Google mobility data shows that work place mobility has decreased across the state. The graphic shows the work place mobility from Aug. 26 through Oct. 6 and the latest information is as of Oct. 6 and includes information from several prior weeks.

The data analysis is based a baseline, which is the median value, for the corresponding day of the week, during a five week period Jan. 3–Feb. 6, 2020.

Travel to grocery stores, pharmacies, farmer’s markets and the like increased by 14% over the baseline, according to Google.

Retail and recreation increased by 1%. Retail and recreation includes places such as restaurants,
cafes, shopping centers, theme parks, museums, libraries, and movie theaters.

South Dakota has experienced some nice weather over the past several weeks. Google data shows that park mobility increased by 163% over the baseline. The baseline was taken in much colder weather in the winter which likely influences the park visitation numbers in the baseline.

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