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Corona Mobility: Data visualization with heatmaps

Lockdown measures are slowly being loosened - how does this affect our mobility behavior? In the first part of our Corona Mobility series we analyzed data sets up until week 13. Today we look at what has changed since the beginning of April – with new mobility data from MOTIONTAG, Google and Apple, visualized as heatmaps.

Germany in lockdown

Even after 8 weeks of contact limitations in Germany, people are less on the move. Across all forms of mobility, the MOTIONTAG* data show a strong decrease in movement since March 16 (week 12). And even after loosening the lockdown measures bit by bit, movement remains at a consistently low level, as the heatmap visualization shows.

Use of different forms of mobility in Germany, week 8 to 18, 2020

Fig.1: Use of different forms of mobility in Germany, week 8 to 18, 2020 (interactive full-screen version)


  • Public transportation shows the biggest drop in usage – to less than 10% of normal operation.
  • Car and pedestrian traffic drop to about 30-40% of regular operation.
  • Cycle traffic shows only a slight decline – mainly during typical commute times (mornings and evenings on weekdays). In the afternoons and on weekends, use is high.

Getting from A to B – in international comparison

For an international comparison, we analyzed public data from Apple**. For this, the heatmap visualization also shows the significant decline in mobility behavior in all countries – in Italy mainly from week 11, in Sweden and Germany mainly from week 12, due to the different start dates of the lockdown measures.


Fig.2: Requests for directions in Apple Maps, international, week 8 to 18, 2020 (interactive full-screen version)


  • In Italy, the strict lockdown is particularly noticeable – there is a sharp decline across all modes of transport.
  • Despite fewer restrictions on public life, a significant decline in mobility is also evident in Sweden. However, mobility behavior is returning to normal more quickly (especially for car traffic, which is even increasing compared to normal use after week 16)
  • For Germany, the loosened measures lead to a slight usage increase of all modes of transportation as well.

Where are we during the corona pandemic?

Google has also been providing movement data*** for a while now. Visualized on a heatmap, they also show significantly changed mobility patterns. A breakdown by points of interest (POIs) provides fascinating insights, especially when compared internationally.

Movement trends by point of interest category, international, week 8 to 18, 2020

Fig.3: Movement trends by point of interest category, international, week 8 to 18, 2020 (interactive full-screen version)


  • In Italy, the strict lockdown is clearly reflected in the data: the POI category „Residential" is the only one showing an increase in mobility behavior. All other categories are declining strongly. 
  • In contrast, in Sweden and Germany the POI category „Parks" shows a strong increase after lockdown. Here, lockdown measures still allow people to move around outdoors, which they increasingly make use of. 

What will be the new normal in mobility?

Corona changes our mobility behavior – our data visualization clearly shows this. Public transport has seen the greatest drop in use, while the decline in individual forms of mobility is less pronounced and seems to be returning back to normal more quickly. This seems to suggest an individualization of motorized transport as a result of the pandemic – which would counteract efforts of transport and energy transition. The response of politicians as well as private and public actors to this potential threat will point the way for the future and have a lasting impact on the "new normal" in mobility.

If you are interested in details on our analysis or in data analytics in general, please contact our CEO Jens Wille via

* The results are based on measurements that the company MOTIONTAG GmbH from Potsdam makes. Using a smartphone-based tracking technology, sensor data are recorded. By means of intelligent algorithms, the means of transport and mobility patterns are automatically recognized. This technology is integrated as an SDK in various apps. MOTIONTAG has a usage agreement with the respective app providers for the data used in the above analyses.
** Apple publishes mobility data that can be downloaded here. The data set contains "daily changes in requests for directions by transportation type".

*** Google publishes mobility reports that “chart movement trends over time by geography, across different categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential”. The complete data sets can be downloaded here.