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Mining Traffic Data for Insights About the Pandemic

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New York's Times Square, empty in April 2020.

The 2020 analysis of the world's traffic by satellite navigation vendor TomTom revealed more about the pandemic than about the successes or failures of traffic mitigation efforts.

Credit: iStockphoto

The location technology company TomTom's annual analysis of the world's traffic often reveals the impact of new development and infrastructure improvements on traffic congestion, but its 2020 report shows how the coronavirus spread across the globe, the extent of local lockdown orders, how well they were followed in various cities, and what happened when they were lifted.

TomTom's Gijs Peters noted that "We watched the virus spread by watching traffic data."

Peters said data scientists are using the pandemic-era traffic data to effect long-term change.

He added, "If we are smarter and only go to work when we need to, that could lead to 10% of people staying home on average each day. And then we might be able to spend so much less time in traffic than we do right now. That would help us work towards a congestion-free, emissions-free future."

From IEEE Spectrum
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