COVID-19 is changing Human Mobility

Until this moment in time, those in the location intelligence industry mostly thought about how people move through spaces as we go to do things, and get things, as part of our daily, normal lives.

COVID-19 has quickly introduced a new normal: In the future, more people are going to stay in place, accomplish things remotely, and have goods and services brought to them. For developers, data scientists and investors whose work and money has largely focused on the old reality of human mobility, this should matter a great deal. 

PropTechs, BuiltWorld techs and others that rely on location-based data and tools are created on the premise that it’s the human beings moving thru space to get stuff, whereas the future looks like it will work the other way around. 

That’s a problem because you can’t just reverse the polarity and make the data models work. It takes time and work cycles and specialized human resources and large amounts of investment -- all this at the exact moment the world faces a global pandemic and, so it seems, a global recession.

So what’s the way forward? How can We - capital W - recover?

First, if you are in possession of a quality location data set, or model, or visualization tool, or the money to get something built, make it available to independent software developers right now. Is the future value of your proprietary data greater than its potential value to human kind in the coming months? No, it’s not. OPEN SOURCE EVERYTHING.

Second, if you are an entrepreneur or investor in mid-launch on other projects, shift gears. Even if your product would be feasible in the new reality, would it be purposeful? BUILD SOMETHING FOR THE NEW REALITY OF HUMAN MOBILITY.

Finally, build bridges between the public and private sector, developer and data scientist, bean-counter and academic, regulator and CEO. Where some small thing like language, politics or professional aspiration kept us apart before, our shared human experience, awful as it is, must now bring us together.

The world is at a crossroads. People wait, isolating in-place, and trust the powers that be to guide us through to tomorrow and the next evolution in human mobility. Whatever the path ahead may be, let it be one We all build and walk together.

Scott Valentine, Editor

Scott is a prolific editor specializing in B2B tech. His work has appeared with Forbes, the WSJ, Thomson Reuters, the Guardian, VentureBeat, the CBC and many more. Scott's clients include top retailers, analytics companies and investors. As a marketing and communications executive, Scott has been part of $1.5 billion in exits, and counting.