Did European Vaccines Impact Urban Movement? Visualizing Unacast's Aggregated International Location Data

Unacast now offers aggregated international data sets for 80+ countries. Visitation Activities is our newest lightweight data product providing foot traffic for Level 10 Uber H3 hexagons across the globe. It's easy to use, privacy-enhanced, and offers total device counts, distinct device counts, and duration insights.

We explored how our new product illuminates the behavioral effects of global initiatives like the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. Were there changes in city center activity that might be accounted for by increasing vaccine protection? The images below map our aggregated data set in five major European cities: 

  • Madrid
  • London
  • Paris
  • Rome
  • Berlin

We used fourth quarter data in 2020 and 2021 to examine how activity changed over time and if urban population flow matched vaccination rates in each respective country. In the images below you will see clusters of activity mapped to the center of Level 10 Uber H3 hexagons. The bubbles are sized according to the distinct devices seen during the month specified. Reference the color scale to view cluster size scale for each period.

Madrid

October 2020 vs. 2021 visitation in Madrid. The partial lockdown likely reduced total visitation in the city center in 2021.

November 2020 vs. 2021 visitation in Madrid. Traffic recovered in 2021 following the partial lockdown, but visitation across the broader metro area remained lower compared to 2020.

December 2020 vs. 2021 visitation in Madrid. The visitation cluster widened at the heart of the city in 2021, with traffic recovered in the broader metro area.

Spain vaccination rate by week with total distinct devices seen in Madrid. Total device count rises over 200,000 along with accelerated vaccinations in weeks 50 and 51.

London

October 2020 vs. 2021 visitation in London. Visitation is largely the same between each period, with slightly fewer distinct devices seen in 2021.

November 2020 vs. 2021 visitation in London. London experienced higher levels of visitation in 2021 with distributed large clusters of activity across the metro area.

December 2020 vs. 2021 visitation in London. Visitation did not increase from November to December 2020 but remained strong in December 2021.

United Kingdom vaccination rate by month with distinct device counts seen in London. Device counts spiked in December but seem largely independent of overall rising vaccination rates. The December spike may be accounted for by Christmas shopping in the city center.

Paris

October 2020 vs. 2021 visitation in Paris. Paris experienced higher visitation concentrated in the city center and a wide distribution of activity across the metro area in 2020. The widespread distribution clustered into distinct pockets in 2021, with the largest amount of activity within the city center.

November 2020 vs. 2021 visitation in Paris. The activity in the city center seen in October 2021 expanded in November.

December 2020 vs. 2021 visitation in Paris. Paris experienced little activity change from October through December of 2020. December 2021 shows fewer activity clusters in the city center but a wide activity distribution across the entire metro area.

France vaccination rate by week with total distinct devices seen in Paris. Week 49 shows a nearly 400,000 device increase, with additional upticks in Weeks 50 and 51. Device counts increase with first and second doses. The percentage of full doses show distinct acceleration in Week 48 onward that may account for increased traffic.

Rome

October 2020 vs. 2021 visitation in Rome. Visitation across time periods is largely the same, with higher counts in 2021.

November 2020 vs. 2021 visitation in Rome. Rome experienced shrinking activity in 2021 overall.

December 2020 vs. 2021 visitation in Rome. Activity remained low in 2021 except for a 4,000-device cluster in the city center that did not appear in 2020.

Italy vaccination rates by week with total distinct devices seen in Rome. Device counts fluctuate overall with vaccination rates relatively static for single doses until Week 47. Increases in full vaccinations starting in Week 40 appear independent of activity. Device upticks are seen in Weeks 49-51.

Berlin

October 2020 vs. 2021 visitation in Berlin. Berlin saw higher-scaled activity clusters across the city in 2021.

November 2020 vs. 2021 visitation in Berlin. Berlin activity increased further in November 2021 while October to November activity 2020 remained largely the same.

December 2020 vs. 2021 visitation in Berlin. Berlin's traffic recovery accelerated further in December 2021 with a marginal 2020 increase.

Germany vaccination rates by week with total distinct devices seen in Berlin. Week 49 shows a nearly 100,000 device count uptick compared to Week 48, with increases doubled by Week 51. Overall device counts increase with accelerated vaccine administration, starting in Week 45.

Key Takeaways

European cities recovered metro center activity in 2021, particularly in November and December. Rome was the exception, with the fast-spreading Omicron variant eliciting renewed restrictions from Italy's government. The effects of Spain's partial lockdown were also apparent in October 2021 activity for Madrid.

Did vaccines play a role in metro center traffic? 

Generally, every country assessed increased their vaccination rate for single and full doses across the fourth quarter, with the highest vaccination levels in Weeks 49 and 50 of the year corresponding to larger traffic increases. We must take into account the holiday period as another factor driving traffic, but the activity changes induced by government restrictions definitely shows some correspondence between our data and external limitations.

COVID-19 is still a significant variable in global activity overall. Our Visitation Activity data set offers insights back to January 2019, which would certainly expand on the small window of time we have assessed thus far.

Future pieces will highlight our home and work origin data, and expand on our duration insights. Did you know we can offer the same insights for custom locations too? Schedule a meeting with us to see how Unacast can help your business assess risk, recovery, and mobility trends on a global scale.

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