Monday, March 30, 2020

At Home in Italy

Italy has been under lock-down for three weeks now. Under the lock-down Italians are only allowed to leave their homes for work or health reasons. The lock-down has obviously had a huge impact on the distances that people are moving and traveling, compared to their normal pre-coronavirus activity.

La Repubblica has used mobile phone data to map the intensity of movement by people in Italy since the 23rd of February. The Covid-19 Mobility Impact animated map is a powerful visualization of how the whole country has practically come to a stop over the course of only a few weeks. As the timeline animation plays out the map starts turning from red (indicating high levels of movement) to blue, as Italians are forced to remain at home.

The map uses data from Teralytics to visualize how far people traveled in Italy between 23 February and 25 March. Where Italian's moved and traveled in that period is determined by the location data from 27 million mobile phones (all the data is anonymous). If you click on a region on the map you can view the percentage drop in movement in that area since Feb 13th.

La Repubblica's article is illustrated with a few photographs of famous tourist locations looking deserted, without the normal throng of people. The Guardian has also published a series of photos, Italy coronavirus lockdown leaves streets deserted, showing public spaces which are normally busy with life and traffic looking practically empty.

One result of this huge reduction in people's movements has been a drop in air pollution from the huge fall in motor vehicle traffic. Earlier this month the European Space Agency released an animated map showing nitrogen dioxide emissions over Europe from Jan 1st to March 11th. ESA's Nitrogen dioxide emissions drop over Italy uses data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite to show NO2 levels over Europe. Claus Zehner, ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission manager reports that, "the reduction in emissions that we can see, coincides with the lockdown in Italy causing less traffic and industrial activities."

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