Financial Times: UCL Uses Huq’s Geo-data to Measure Movement in Lockdown

Today’s Financial Times features research from UCL that uses Huq’s Geo-data to show how populations across the UK have moved around their cities over the course of the Covid-19 lockdown period.

Revealingly, by the week ending May 3rd it appears that residents of the UK’s busiest regions had anticipated the relaxation of measures by steadily increasing their geographic movement.

Between 16-22 March there was roughly a 20% decline in activity compared to the week before lockdown; by 23-30 March, there was a 36% decline; and by the 13th of April, almost a 50% decline in activity. Activity began to increase from the 20th April and is now back to roughly 60% of pre-lockdown levels.

In more detail, the research shows that the response to Covid-19 lockdown measures has not been uniform across the UK – with some surprise elements worth highlighting from UCL’s summary:

London had seen the biggest reduction in activity, with levels down 70% between the 13th and 19th April rebounding slightly to a smaller reduction of 63% in the week ending 3rd May. The week of the 13th was also quietest for Greater Manchester and the West Midlands with 46% and 50% reductions in normal activity respectively. Both have seen a rise in activity levels and now report reductions of only 30% compared to those pre-lockdown.

The research was carried out by Prof. James Cheshire of the UCL’s Geography and ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre and PhD researcher Terje Trasberg.

Professor Cheshire said:

“The findings further highlight a divide between those in jobs that can be done from home and those with jobs that must be carried out on site, with activity levels suggesting that those working in financial services in particular are in a better position to work remotely. This will have important implications for transport planning as operators seek staggered working hours mixed with homeworking where possible to reduce peak demand.”