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Coronavirus: Google data shows drop in Northern Ireland public movements over past month

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The data is based on people's movements from their mobile phone data.

The data is based on people's movements from their mobile phone data.

The data is based on people's movements from their mobile phone data.

Internet giant Google has published a break down of people's movement for the past seven weeks showing a significant drop in activity due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The Google data has been produced to help the public and health officials understand responses to social distancing measures.

The reports show how visits and length of stay at different places changed compared to usual pre-outbreak activity in the early weeks of the year.

Around Northern Ireland some areas have seen a near total drop off in activity.

Data break down by Northern Ireland council areas:

Belfast

Retail and recreation: -85%
Grocery and pharmacy: -42%
Parks: -47%
Transit stations: -76%
Workplace: -59%
Residential: +17%

Antrim and Newtownabbey

Retail and recreation: -81%
Grocery and pharmacy: -46%
Parks: -61%
Transit stations: -89%
Workplace: -52%
Residential: +29%

Ards and North Down

Retail and recreation: -78%
Grocery and pharmacy: -39%
Parks: -57%
Transit stations: -57%
Workplace: -56%
Residential: +28%

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon

Retail and recreation: -82%
Grocery and pharmacy: -45%
Parks: -66%
Transit stations: -65%
Workplace: -47%
Residential: +27%

Causeway Coast and Glens

Retail and recreation: -87%
Grocery and pharmacy: -41%
Parks: -66%
Transit stations: -64%
Workplace: -55%
Residential: +26%

Derry City and Strabane

Retail and recreation: -80%
Grocery and pharmacy: -39%
Parks: -63%
Transit stations: -60%
Workplace: -54%
Residential: +25%

Fermanagh and Omagh

Retail and recreation: -86%
Grocery and pharmacy: -47%
Parks: -55%
Transit stations: -54%
Workplace: -52%
Residential: +27%

Lisburn and Castlereagh

Retail and recreation: -87%
Grocery and pharmacy: -45%
Parks: -79%
Transit stations: -61%
Workplace: -56%
Residential: +30%

Mid and East Antrim

Retail and recreation: -81%
Grocery and pharmacy: -37%
Parks: -52%
Transit stations: -56%
Workplace: -56%
Residential: +27%

Mid Ulster

Retail and recreation: -81%
Grocery and pharmacy: -43%
Parks: N/A
Transit stations: -51%
Workplace: -42%
Residential: +28%

Newry, Mourne and Down

Retail and recreation: -87%
Grocery and pharmacy: -45%
Parks: -65%
Transit stations: -55%
Workplace: -52%
Residential: +29%


Latest retail figures show UK high street retailers suffered their worst month on record in March. In store sales plunged by 34% as many shops were order to close.

The Google report was calculated using the same kind of aggregated and anonymised data used to show popular times for places in Google Maps. It is based on information from mobile phones on which users have opted-in to allow location history to be shared - and which is off by default. It is also based on their connectivity and if they meet a privacy threshold.

"If the privacy threshold isn’t met (when somewhere isn’t busy enough to ensure anonymity) we don’t show a change for the day," Google said.

"These reports were developed to be helpful while adhering to our stringent privacy protocols and protecting people’s privacy. No personally identifiable information, like an individual’s location, contacts or movement, is made available at any point."

Google explained that as location accuracy and the understanding of categorized places varies from region to region, the information could not be used as a comparision tool for different areas.

"We calculate these insights based on data from users who have opted-in to location history for their Google account, so the data represents a sample of our users. As with all samples, this may or may not represent the exact behavior of a wider population," Google said on releasing the data.

"This report shouldn’t be used for medical diagnostic, prognostic, or treatment purposes.

"It also isn’t intended to be used for guidance on personal travel plans."

The data set shows across the UK there has been an 85% drop in retail and recreation movement. A 46% drop in grocery shopping, 52% drop in people going to parks, a 55% drop for people going to work and a 75% drop in people passing through public transport hubs.

In terms of residential activity, there has been a 15% increase in activity.

In some areas such as residential or parks, there was an inability to collect a full picture as the data was not available, likely people did not move enough to register or they did not turn on location settings. It could even be possible they just did not have a signal.

Belfast Telegraph