Press Herald interviews Ballingall about reduced travel

The Portland Press Herald interviewed Kathryn Ballingall, a research associate with the University of Maine Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, for its story “Smartphone, traffic data reveal sharp reduction in Mainers’ mobility.” State traffic data and publicly available smartphone metadata show that Maine citizens dramatically reduced their movement as a result of the coronavirus and regulations limiting travel. Different regions exhibit varying degrees of mobility reduction, with declines in some rural areas of the state less pronounced than in urban areas of southern Maine. Ballingall said the data must “be taken with a huge grain of salt,” and she worries it may rely on too small of a sample size. The definition of nonessential travel also may be less effective in outlining rural travel patterns. “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,” said Ballingall.