Researchers Use AI to Measure Social Distancing in the UK


The UK and several other countries across the globe have issued strict social distancing measures in order to slow down the spread of coronavirus pandemic. In order to understand if these suggestions are effective or not, we need examine how diligently are these measures being followed.

In order to help with this assessment, a team at the Newcastle University Urban Observatory have now developed a modern data dashboard. This dashboard will help the researcher team to gauge the overall impact of these measure for social distancing and restrictions on vehicular movement inside a metropolitan city. These results are real time.

The Newcastle University Urban Observatory was developed with an objective to better understand overall dynamics of people’s movement in a city. The observatory makes use of several thousand sensors and data sharing agreements in order to monitor the movement around a given city. The observatory tries to map bus GPS trackers, car park occupancy, pedestrian flow, traffic, and traffic congestion among many other things. It also tries to monitor climate, quality of air, consumption of energy, and several other variables.

A Huge Database to Analyze

The research team analyzed more than 1.8 billion individual components of observational data along with several other sources. With the use of deep learning algorithm and AI, the data is monitored and updated in real time.

The research found that the pedestrian movement in the UK has been cut down by around 95% in comparison with the annual average. This is the proof that people are following the measures of social distancing quite closely.

With respect to vehicle movements, the reduction in traffic has at a slower pace than pedestrian. It is at about 50% of the annual average in the first week of lockdown in the UK. Researchers believe that this is because of people preferring to use cars instead of public transport.

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