FeatureModelling & Visualisation

Monitoring vehicle mobility patterns in South Africa during lockdown using satellite imagery

Press Release 1 Jun - 12:28 SAST

Monitoring vehicle mobility patterns in South Africa during lockdown using satellite imagery

Press Release 1 Jun - 12:28 SAST

Information from SANSA

The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) has been using satellite imagery to measure vehicle mobility on the roads and at shopping centres during South Africa’s lockdown, a national measure intended to slow the spread of the Coronavirus outbreak. Mobility was measured against conditions prior to lockdown.

Time series imagery of Kenilworth, Cape Town (Western Cape) showing mobility levels pre-declaration of Covid-19 as a national disaster (9 and 14 March 2020); following lockdown level 5 announcement (23 March 2020); the first day of lockdown (27 March 2020); during level 5 lockdown (April 2020); during level 4 lockdown with inter-provincial movements allowed (2 and 4 May 2020), and level 4 lockdown with inter-provincial movements restricted (7 to 24 May).

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared South Africa in a state of national disaster on 15 March 2020, at which time mobility remained normal. Usual volumes of vehicles continued to be visible on the roads, with much higher volumes visible from 25 to 26 March 2020, following the 23 March 2020 declaration of the national Level 5 lockdown to take effect from midnight on 26 March 2020.

The first day of lockdown (27 March 2020) saw a great reduction in vehicle volumes, indicating that citizens in this area heeded the call for national lockdown. During April 2020, very low to no vehicle presence was observed, with most vehicles observed in the same location on multiple satellite images, leading to conclusion that they were parked during April 2020.

With the relaxation of restrictions at the start of May, and inter-province movements allowed from 1 to 7 May 2020, an increase in vehicles was observed. However, a decline in vehicles was not observed in the area from 8 to 24 May 2020 when stricter lockdown level 4 regulations continued.