Google data shows how movement in Northants has changed in lockdown

More people are heading to parks, but movement elsewhere is still well below normal levels

Google has revealed how movement in Northants has changed during lockdown as people continue to follow Government guidance.

The multinational tech company has been publishing community mobility reports to show what has changed during lockdown. It uses aggregated, anonymised location history data from users who have turned this setting on to track the trends.

In a report from May 29, movement in Northamptonshire is still below the normal baseline for movement for all categories except for visiting parks.

People social distancing in Abington Park, Northampton. Photo: Leila Coker

Northamptonshire residents are now visiting parks at a rate 47 per cent above the normal baseline. This is a big rise from a dip of around minus 50 per cent in mid April.

However, it is not as big as the increase across the UK as a whole, which has seen a 67 per cent rise in people visiting parks.

You are now allowed outside for exercise for an unlimited number of times and can meet, while socially distancing, in groups of up to six people in outdoor spaces, which might explain the increase in movement to parks.

In all other categories, such as movement linked to retail, supermarkets, public transport and workplaces, movement trends in Northants continue to be in negatives.

Non-essential retail is opening again on June 15, but for now large parts of the high street and other shops and recreation remain closed.

Movement for these places like shopping centres, cinemas, libraries and cafes remains down by minus 58 per cent, the biggest dip below normal levels in Northants for any of the categories.

For supermarkets and pharmacies, which always remained essential throughout lockdown, movement in Northamptonshire is down minus 10 per cent.

On May 10, prime minister Boris Johnson said anyone unable to work from home should return to the workplace. Movement to workplaces remains under normal levels in Northants, with minus 51 per cent below the baseline.

There are also fewer people using public transport, with movement levels at minus 41 per cent.

Google has been releasing the community mobility reports to help public health officials understand how residents are responding to lockdown meausres.

In a blog from April 3, Google's senior vice president, Jen Fitzpartick, and Dr Karen DeSalvo, chief health officer at Google Health, said: "We’re publishing the Community Mobility Reports to provide insights into what has changed in response to work from home, shelter in place, and other policies aimed at flattening the curve of this pandemic.

"For example, this information could help officials understand changes in essential trips that can shape recommendations on business hours or inform delivery service offerings.

"Ultimately, understanding not only whether people are traveling, but also trends in destinations, can help officials design guidance to protect public health and essential needs of communities."

The data comes from location history, which is off by default but users can turn this on and off at anytime from their Google Account. Users can also delete their location history data. You can find out more about this here.