The purpose of this study is to examine the role of digital infrastructure in supporting compliance with travel restrictions. The purpose of this study is to examine the role of digital infrastructure in supporting compliance with travel restrictions. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, countries around the world have issued “stay-at-home” orders and curtailed a variety of economic activities. As countries have adopted aggressive policies to limit the spread of COVID-19, varying levels of national infrastructure to provide internet access have limited some nations’ ability to reduce travel requirements. As national policies struggle to address public health issues, location analytics enabled by big data provide unique insights regarding the efficacy of digital infrastructure. These insights can provide valuable tools to public health officials and regulators in understanding how health recommendations are implemented within an economy.Design/methodology/approachThis study analyzes mobile phone movement data during the first half of 2020 and finds that countries that provided greater access to internet capabilities were better able to reduce work-related mobility.FindingsThis study’s findings indicate that greater levels of digital infrastructure may better prepare countries to adapt to societal disruptions such as COVID-19.Practical implicationsThis study’s findings demonstrate that public health controls regarding movement and person-to-person interaction are less likely to be effective in nations with weaker digital infrastructure, even after accounting for variation attributable to gross domestic product (GDP) and pandemic severity. This could limit public health options in developing countries when faced with future socially disruptive events and encourage national investment in digital infrastructure.Social implicationsThis study’s findings highlight positive externalities associated with reducing the digital divide. Developing better digital business infrastructure globally may reduce human exposure to future pandemic risks.Originality/valueThis research demonstrates the practical development implications of analysis of aggregate data widely available through mobile technology. As institutions develop techniques to ethically and effectively analyze this data, greater opportunities to support economic development may be revealed.
International Journal of Development Issues – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 25, 2021
Keywords: Digital divide; COVID-19; Digital infrastructure; Location analytics; Population mobility