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Spatial and Temporal Characterization of Activity in Public Space, 2019–2020...

by Christina M Brelsford, Jessica J Moehl, Eric M Weber, Kevin A Sparks, Amy N Rose
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Scientific Data
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The data reported here characterize spatial and temporal variation in the ratio of short-to-long-duration visits in public places (i.e., points of interest) in the United States for each week between January 2019 and December 2020. The underlying data on anonymized and aggregated foot traffic to public places is curated by SafeGraph, a geospatial data provider. In this work, we report the estimated number and duration of “short” (i.e., <4 hours) and “long” (i.e., >4 hours) visits to public places at the US census block group level. Long visits are shown to be a good proxy for workers based on formal economic data. We propose that short visits are more likely to represent nonobligate activities: people visiting a public place for leisure, shopping, entertainment, or civic or cultural engagement. Our work constructs a ratio of short to long visits, which can be used to inform population estimates for nonworker use of public space. These data may be useful for understanding how people’s use of public space has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic and, more generally, for understanding activity patterns in public.