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COVID-19
Population Report.

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

22 June 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

0%

CHANGE IN THE
LAST 2 WEEKS

International population

-1%

CHANGE IN THE
LAST 2 WEEKS

Numbers of domestic travellers have become steady as we spend time in Alert Level 1. Kiwis are now travelling domestically at similar levels to pre-lockdown. Last Tuesday’s news of new cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand may have dampened the rise in domestic travellers, although it does not appear to have caused a decrease of travel. The International population continues to decrease slowly, as people trickle out through our closed border, returning to their home countries when they can.

National mobility index

+47%

CHANGE IN THE
LAST 2 WEEKS

Having more time to settle into a routine in Alert Level 1, activity across New Zealand is returning to pre-lockdown levels, and is becoming steady. Overall mobility is becoming steady, but at a level higher than prior to lockdown.

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

Across the last two weeks we see activity around retail locations remain similar. The typical increase in activity around the weekend, especially Saturday is now being observed again. This continues what we observed in our previous report, where retail activity is remaining steady, and is starting to rise above the levels observed in a typical week in 2019.

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

Activity across recreational areas was slightly down compared to the week prior, although the patterns tracked in a very similar manner. This may have been a result of the shorter days, and worsening weather as we head deep into Winter. When compared to last year, the general increase of people visiting recreational areas throughout the week remains. This may indicate that people are seeing the value of taking breaks during the work day, and are finding time to visit parks and other recreational spots around their workplaces.

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

The number of people in residential areas during daytime has decreased very slightly compared to the week before. This indicates that, as we spend longer at least at Level 1, we are heading out a bit more during the day. Compared with a typical week in 2019 however, we see that more people are still staying at home throughout the day. This may be showing those working from home, as well as those that are no longer able to work. The overall reduction may also show that people who typically travelled away from home for work are doing less of that.

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

Activity across tourist areas are similar when compared with the week before, although weekend activity may be on the rise. Looks like Kiwis are starting to get out and support the local tourism operators, and hopefully that can continue. However, the overall tourist activity remains lower than a typical 2019 week, and this may reflect the lack of international tourists traveling through New Zealand.

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 exceed a typical 2019 week. Even the weekend activity appears to be significantly higher compared to a typical 2019 weekend. Compared to the week before transit activity is very similar, although there is slightly reduced activity from late Tuesday through to Thursday. Does this reflect Kiwis staying away from transit amidst the news of the two leaked cases of COVID-19 that happened last Tuesday?

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

As predicted in our last report, workplace activity continued to increase slightly compared to the week prior. As we have seen previously, this mirrors the observations for daytime residential populations. Compared to a typical week in 2019, we see that activity is returning to previous levels. Let’s hope that we are able to sustain the confidence of Kiwis so that workers returning to their workplaces can continue to stimulate their local economies. Hopefully everyone plays their part in doing so.

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

As we spend time in Level 1 most of New Zealand showed more mobility than in an average week last year, with holiday spots like the West Coast and Marlborough leading the trend. This is likely due to people taking off to relax during the weekend, as they continue to celebrate the freedom of Level 1. Regions with large cities showed slightly less mobility, or only slightly elevated mobility compared to last year. This likely shows that office workers in city centres are still able to work from home, and some are continuing to do so.

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

As we spend time in Level 1 compared to the week before, some regions showed increased activity. The holidaying regions are interesting in that they do not appear to have significantly more activity compared with last week, with some like Marlborough showing less activity, even though they have significantly higher activity compared to last year. This likely shows that in what are typically quiet winter weekends, this year Kiwis are visiting tourist areas, as they enjoy their freedom in Level 1. In addition, compared to last week, with ever more people returning to work, and the weather worsening, perhaps some of the getaways are being dampened. Let’s hope this does not indicate a loss of confidence in Kiwis, since with continued vigilance, elimination can be sustained.