Research associate, Ballingall cited in COVID19 traffic data report in PPH

Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center research associate, Katheryn Ballingall was cited in an article in the Portland Press Herald titled “Smartphone, traffic data reveal sharp reduction in Mainers’ mobility.”

The article discusses how the coronavirus pandemic has drastically affected traffic patterns throughout the state of Maine as Mainer’s shelter in place. Each county in the country has been given a letter grade, A – F, to determine how well they are practicing social distancing. Many of Maine’s counties have a poor rating when cell phone data is analyzed.

Ballingall, however, notes that this does not necessarily mean that Mainer’s are not practicing social distancing or traveling for nonessential reasons. She stated, “that data has to be taken with a huge grain of salt” as “there may be methodological issues with this that are unintentionally biased against rural areas.” For example, the data in rural areas may have too small of a sample size or the study’s definition of nonessential may make sense in urban areas but not in rural ones. There may also be issues with low smartphone ownership, spotty cellphone reception and other technical issues in rural Maine that skew the data. Ballingall goes on to say, “is it correct to say that Aroostook County is doing a really bad job at social distancing while Cumberland County is (doing a good job)?” “Perhaps, this data set is not accurately pinpointing what is considered essential or nonessential.”

The entire article can be viewed online here.