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  1. Diversity of physical encounters in urban environments is known to spur economic productivity while also fostering social capital. However, mobility restrictions during the pandemic have forced people to reduce urban encounters, raising questions about the social implications of behavioral changes. In this paper, we study how individual income diversity of urban encounters changed during the pandemic, using a large-scale, privacy-enhanced mobility dataset of more than one million anonymized mobile phone users in Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Seattle, across three years spanning before and during the pandemic. We find that the diversity of urban encounters has substantially decreased (by 15% to 30%) during the pandemic and has persisted through late 2021, even though aggregated mobility metrics have recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Counterfactual analyses show that behavioral changes including lower willingness to explore new places further decreased the diversity of encounters in the long term. Our findings provide implications for managing the trade-off between the stringency of COVID-19 policies and the diversity of urban encounters as we move beyond the pandemic. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. null (Ed.)
    Abstract In recent years, extreme shocks, such as natural disasters, are increasing in both frequency and intensity, causing significant economic loss to many cities around the world. Quantifying the economic cost of local businesses after extreme shocks is important for post-disaster assessment and pre-disaster planning. Conventionally, surveys have been the primary source of data used to quantify damages inflicted on businesses by disasters. However, surveys often suffer from high cost and long time for implementation, spatio-temporal sparsity in observations, and limitations in scalability. Recently, large scale human mobility data (e.g. mobile phone GPS) have been used to observe and analyze human mobility patterns in an unprecedented spatio-temporal granularity and scale. In this work, we use location data collected from mobile phones to estimate and analyze the causal impact of hurricanes on business performance. To quantify the causal impact of the disaster, we use a Bayesian structural time series model to predict the counterfactual performances of affected businesses ( what if the disaster did not occur? ), which may use performances of other businesses outside the disaster areas as covariates. The method is tested to quantify the resilience of 635 businesses across 9 categories in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Furthermore, hierarchical Bayesian models are used to reveal the effect of business characteristics such as location and category on the long-term resilience of businesses. The study presents a novel and more efficient method to quantify business resilience, which could assist policy makers in disaster preparation and relief processes. 
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    Despite the rising importance of enhancing community resilience to disasters, our understandings on when, how and why communities are able to recover from such extreme events are limited. Here, we study the macroscopic population recovery patterns in disaster affected regions, by observing human mobility trajectories of over 1.9 million mobile phone users across three countries before, during and after five major disasters. We find that, despite the diversity in socio-economic characteristics among the affected regions and the types of hazards, population recovery trends after significant displacement resemble similar patterns after all five disasters. Moreover, the heterogeneity in initial and long-term displacement rates across communities in the three countries were explained by a set of key common factors, including the community’s median income level, population, housing damage rates and the connectedness to other cities. Such insights discovered from large-scale empirical data could assist policymaking in various disciplines for developing community resilience to disasters. 
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