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The pandemic’s effect on human mobility

Research conducted by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory during the first few days of COVID-19 measured human behaviour, which may be valuable in disaster response or city planning. Credit: Nathan Armistead/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have empirically assessed the alterations in regular daily behaviours, such as obtaining a morning cup of coffee or ordering takeout meals, as a result of safer at home instructions issued during the early stages of the COVID-19 epidemic. These findings, which were published in the Journal of Transport Geography, might aid officials in better understanding traffic patterns and enhancing their ability to respond to emergencies and crises.

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Making use of GPS markers placed at millions of locations of interest in the SafeGraph data set, the team was able to determine the times when individuals were most active during 24-hour periods and how those times changed from pre-pandemic timings.

“In 2020, the most significant changes in temporal and spatial behaviour were observed throughout the morning and nighttime hours. We can observe how people’s activities altered as a result of the growth in remote employment and virtual schooling “Kevin Sparks of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) explained.

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Because of the massive volume of data being ingested, catalogued, queried, and processed for research purposes, the team had to develop a major computational infrastructure that was both scalable and interconnected in order to accomplish their goals.

Further information: Kevin Sparks et al, Shifting temporal dynamics of human mobility in the United States, Journal of Transport Geography (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2022.103295

Journal information: Journal of Transport Geography

Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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