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COVID-19
Population Report.

How we are behaving as a population from before and through COVID-19.

25 May 2020

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How is our population data produced?

Data Ventures is working together with the major telecommunication companies in New Zealand.

Using the aggregated and anonymised mobile data[*] provided to us, along with Stats NZ expertise, Data Ventures has created population estimates of residents and visitors in New Zealand every hour down to suburb level. Read more in the footnotes page.

Population – a view of the whole nation

As our population reacts to the environment of COVID-19, there is evidence of large increases in movement around New Zealand. Because of that, it’s now worth looking at our country as a whole. To do that we have highlighted international and domestic population numbers, as well as our national mobility index[*] as we continue through COVID-19 Alert levels.

To help explain what the numbers mean below, we describe domestic population as people who are outside of their local tourism region. These regions are defined by Regional Tourism Organisations.

Domestic population

International population

Domestic travellers within NZ are tracking back towards pre-lockdown levels, though we are uncertain if they are sustainable levels yet. International travellers remain constant, reflecting the visitors still present in New Zealand that arrived prior to the border closures.

National mobility index

Activity across New Zealand rebounding rapidly after the move to Alert Level 2, with mobility back to almost pre lockdown levels. Kiwis are enjoying the relaxation of restrictions as they move about, even though flights and ferries are still not quite back to full capacity.

NOTE: The vertical lines represent COVID-19 Alert Levels as they progressed, starting at the first line when NZ borders closed, through to our current alert level.

Our population – average population

As we all settle into what is a new set of habits, it's important we understand what these new habits look like.

On this page of the report we have sampled average hourly representations of population estimates in New Zealand around six key areas across COVID-19 in New Zealand. We have used the population patterns previous to COVID-19 to identify these areas. Refer to our notes[*] at the end of this report to understand a bit more detail of what each areas/behaviours of New Zealand these graphs represent.

Percentages below represent the difference of average midday (12pm) peak population counts in lockdown.

retail

recreational

residential

tourism

transit

workplace

NOTE: The vertical lines represent COVID-19 Alert Levels as they progressed, starting at the first line when NZ borders closed, through to our current alert level.

Our population – before COVID‑19 and now

By looking at hourly population counts[*] across the country, we can get a good idea of how behaviour has changed in response to COVID-19. The data presented here uses hourly population counts for six types of areas[*] in New Zealand - retail, transit, residential, tourism, workplace and recreational.

In this part of the report, we cover off three periods: a normal week in 2019[*], two weeks ago, and one week ago. We have broken out the comparisons into two: one comparing last week to a normal week in 2019 to see the changes compared to last year, and the other comparing what has happened over the last two weeks. From doing this, these are the insights we have discovered.

Uses of these insights: The comparison to a normal week in 2019 can be used to offset other datasets designed prior to COVID-19. The figures contained in this report could be used to make adjustments to previously known datasets’ values. The two week comparison allows you to measure a sentiment of change over a shorter period. Footnotes

retail

1 week ago v normal week 2019

1 week ago

normal week 2019

1 week ago v 2 weeks ago

1 week ago

2 weeks ago

In our first full week at Alert Level 2 we see activity around retail locations rebounding back above a typical week in 2019. We can imagine people are now returning to their favourite malls and shops. Compared to the previous week, we see the large difference between Alert Level 3 (Monday to Wednesday of the previous week) and Alert Level 2. Let's hope this freedom can continue.

recreational

1 week ago v normal week 2019

1 week ago

normal week 2019

1 week ago v 2 weeks ago

1 week ago

2 weeks ago

The activity patterns observed at Alert Level 3 which were reverse of what is observed during a normal week in 2019, slowly returned to their usual patterns. This is because as more people return to work at Alert Level 2, they are no longer able to engage in recreation activities during the day. Weekend activity across the two weekends at Alert Level 2 remained similar, with Kiwis continuing to enjoy their new found freedom.

residential

1 week ago v normal week 2019

1 week ago

normal week 2019

1 week ago v 2 weeks ago

1 week ago

2 weeks ago

Although Kiwis are feeling more relaxed at Alert Level 2, more of them are still remaining at home compared to a typical week in 2019. As we spend more time at Alert Level 2, Kiwis appear to venture out more. The daytime residential numbers continue to be lower compared to the week before, even during the Thursday and Friday, which were at Alert Level 2.

tourism

1 week ago v normal week 2019

1 week ago

normal week 2019

1 week ago v 2 weeks ago

1 week ago

2 weeks ago

Tourism areas continue to see moderate activity, with little change throughout Alert Level 2 - we imagine people were off seeing their family outside of their Level 3 bubbles for the first time in a while. Unsurprisingly there is a slight increase when comparing the days in Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2. The overall activity in tourism areas compared with 2019 remains low, and this indicates that the increase in domestic travellers we observed in previous plots are not yet translating into domestic tourist activity.

transit

1 week ago v normal week 2019

1 week ago

normal week 2019

1 week ago v 2 weeks ago

1 week ago

2 weeks ago

Transit activity continues to increase throughout the time we spend in Alert Level 2, as the comparison of last week and the week before shows. Current activity remains lower than a typical week in 2019, reinforcing the idea that Kiwis are still staying home more than usual.

workplace

1 week ago v normal week 2019

1 week ago

normal week 2019

1 week ago v 2 weeks ago

1 week ago

2 weeks ago

Workplace activity saw an increase compared to the previous week as more Kiwis returned to work at their places of employment. There is still a strong desire for workers to continue to work from home, keeping activity lower than a typical week in 2019. The significant increase indicates that as New Zealand continues to keep COVID-19 under control, more of us are getting back to getting New Zealand moving. We may end up seeing some interesting new work patterns.

Our population – mobility during COVID‑19

In this section we explore mobility index for the population of New Zealand in six key categories[*] during COVID-19.

Our mobility measure[*] is created using the difference between maximum and minimum population estimates in categories of New Zealand over a day. This allows us to get an idea of mobility between each day of 2020 in this report compared to similar days from 2019.

retail

recreational

residential

tourism

transit

workplace

NOTE: The vertical lines represent COVID-19 Alert Levels as they progressed, starting at the first line when NZ borders closed, through to our current alert level.

The change of population mobility across regions before and during COVID‑19.

In this section we explore the mobility index patterns for the regions of New Zealand[*] during COVID-19.

Our mobility measure[*] is created using the difference between maximum and minimum population estimates in areas of New Zealand over a day. This allows us to get an idea of mobility between each day of 2020 in this report compared to similar days from 2019.

northland

auckland

waikato

bay of plenty

gisborne

hawke's bay

taranaki

manawatu-wanganui

wellington

west coast

canterbury

otago

southland

tasman

nelson

marlborough

NOTE: The vertical lines represent COVID-19 Alert Levels as they progressed, starting at the first line when NZ borders closed, through to our current alert level.

The change of population mobility across regions last week compared to before COVID‑19

The purpose of this comparison is to see how we are tracking in changes of mobility[*] in our progress throughout COVID-19 and its various Alert Levels (1 through to 4). As Alert Levels are escalated/de-escalated, this is a good figure to understand the impacts on New Zealand’s population and their behaviour.

1 week ago v normal week 2019

There are parts of the country with increased mobility such as those regions who typically need to travel further for supplies and the rise of inter-regional travel. However, overall the bigger picture still says we are less mobile than before COVID-19.

The change of population mobility across regions across the last two weeks

The purpose of this comparison is to see how we are tracking in changes of mobility[*] in our progress throughout COVID-19 and its various Alert Levels (1 through to 4). As Alert Levels are escalated/de-escalated, this is a good figure to understand the impacts on New Zealand’s population and their behaviour.

1 week ago v 2 weeks ago

Wellington led the way in increased activity, likely driven by people returning to work in their places of employment - especially government agencies. Areas known for their recreational activities, such as Tasman and Bay of Plenty also showed significant increases in mobility, though the trend was common across all areas of New Zealand. Overall mobility continued to increase significantly across the country as Kiwis became used to some usual routines at Alert Level 2.