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Projects and activities | 7 May 2021

Tracking EU Citizens’ Concerns using Google Search Data

‘Tracking EU Citizens’ Concerns using Google Search Data’ offers weekly updates on EU citizens’ interests on three main fields related to the pandemic crisis: Health, Economy and Social isolation. The aim is to make Google trends data accessible and useful for policy-makers to better understand EU citizens’ concerns.

Composite Indicators

Overview

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic abruptly changed the life of European citizens. Starting from the first recorded EU hotbed in Northern Italy on February 20th, the virus rapidly spread across several EU countries. In this context, Google searches by EU citizens provide timely insights about Europeans’ concerns. As about 90% of EU-27 households have home internet access and the number of internet-connected mobile devices is rapidly increasing, Google searches provide a rather detailed picture of the concerns of the whole EU population. 

Against this background, the JRC created a set of indicators to track the evolution over time of Europeans’ worries and reactions related to three key domains: Health, Economy and Social Isolation. While worries are defined as the instances that might cause difficulties to the EU citizens, reactions include actions and behaviours enacted to cope with the consequences of the pandemic. Each indicator is the result of the aggregation of several topics (groups of keywords queried on Google Search), allowing detailed analyses of different phenomena that are of paramount importance not only in the midst of the pandemic but also in its aftermath.

Indicators

Health

The first domain is related to Health, since following the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, Europeans’ interest in health-related topics became particularly high. It encompasses worries for Physical and Mental health, and it captures changes in lifestyle and habits (reactions), such as medical equipment (e.g., searches for dust masks and sanitizers) and self-care (such as physical exercises and nutrition).

Economy

The second domain encompasses evolutions in the volume of searches capturing both worries and reactions related to the Economy. Among worries, terms related to the economic effects of the lockdown have been included, focusing on the consequences for Governments as well as for Firms and Individuals. Reactions, on the other hand, capture how citizens are trying to get through the crisis either by looking at how to reduce their expenditure or with the help of governments’ interventions.

Social isolation

A domain related to Social isolation encompasses evolutions in the volume of searches capturing both topics related to Travel and Quarantine expectations (worries) and topics describing how citizens are coping with restrictive measures, in terms of Work and Private life (reactions). Looking at how citizens have been adapting to life at home, the analysis considers both online activities and offline activities.

 

Conceptual framework

Real-time insights on EU citizen's concerns

Two interactive visualisations allow to navigate the Google searches data at different aggregation and geographical levels providing near real-time insights on EU citizens' concerns.

The 'Interests trend' shows the trend of interest in the three domains from January 2020 to the last week (data are updated every Wednesday afternoon).

Interests trend 

The 'Interests map' allows to navigate into data at different aggregation levels (domains, indicators or topics) exploring both data at EU27 and national level through maps and time series.

Interests map 

 

Week 01 | 01-07 May 2020

The first introductory issue presents first timely insights using EU citizens’ Google searches to explore their concerns, in relation to three main topics (health, economy and social isolation) in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic.

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Week 02 | 08-14 May 2020

The second issue explores European citizens' concerns focusing on the four largest EU countries (Germany, Italy, France and Spain).

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Week 03 | 15-22 May 2020

Following the EC Communication ‘Tourism and transport in 2020 and beyond’ of the 13th of May, the third issue focuses on tourism.

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Week 04 | 23-29 May 2020

The fourth issue presents a special focus on pandemic-related worries in EU countries.

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Week 05 | 12 June 2020

This week the report explores how topics related to the Green Deal (such as pollution, electric cars and transport) interact with the pandemic

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Week 06 | 19 June 2020

This issue focuses on how EU citizens leisure activities are evolving in this new normal phase.

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Week 07 | 26 June 2020

This week the report explores how people are adapting to the ‘new normal’.

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Week 08 | 03 July 2020

This week the report explores citizens’ solidarity during lockdowns.

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Week 09 | 24 July 2020

Analysing the evolution of EU citizens’ Google searches provides timely insights on their concerns in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic. This week the report explores changes in citizens’ holiday preferences.

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Week 10 | 30 September 2020

This week the report presents a special focus on school and education.

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Contacts

Marco COLAGROSSI marco.colagrossi@ec.europa.eu

Valentina ALBERTI valentina.alberti@ec.europa.eu