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New study explores population movement in first lockdown

Researchers from UCL Geography with the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) have published a new study that uses smartphone location data to explore activity patterns in Greater London during the first lockdown.

New study explores population movement in first lockdown

21 September 2021

Professor James Cheshire and PhD researcher Terje Trasberg used anonymised smartphone data from over 300,000 devices to measure population mobility from the early period of the pandemic last March to the easing of the first lockdown last summer.

The study aimed to identify socioeconomic characteristics that could explain the differing rates of decline in population movement across neighbourhoods.

Their analysis revealed the division between areas dominated by white- and blue-collar jobs, the latter showing a much smaller reduction in activity during the lockdown.

This finding highlights a divide between those who can work from home and those with jobs that must be carried out on-site. This has important implications for transport, retail and post-Covid recovery policy.

Terje Trasberg said: By linking the mobile location data to the broader demographic characteristics, we were able to provide additional insights into the impacts of mobility restrictions in different demographic groups across Greater London.

We hoped that our analysis can offer a more nuanced insight into why the effectiveness of social distancing interventions appeared to vary between areas. The data also signals those areas likely to require the most support during a post-pandemic recovery phase as activity is slower to return."

The CDRC is the UK's leading source of consumer data, bringing together world-class researchers from UCL along with the University of Leeds, University of Liverpool and the University of Oxford.

For more information on the study, read the CDRC’s data story.

The full study can be accessed here.


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