New scientific paper and dataset assess the evolution of mobility in Italy through the different phases of the COVID-19 emergency

On February 21, 2020, a cluster of SARS-CoV-2 cases was officially reported in the province of Lodi, marking the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy. Immediately thereafter, national authorities started issuing a  number of orders aimed at containing the spread of the virus through mobility restrictions and social distancing. On March 12, the Italian government imposed a national lockdown, becoming the first country in  Europe to quarantine all its citizens in response to the pandemic.

A  new paper published in Nature Scientific Data details the data processing and curation pipeline that a team of scientists designed for evaluating the effects of public health policies on the mobility of  Italians. “To aid the evaluation of the impact of interventions, we presented daily time-series of three different aggregated mobility metrics: the origin-destination movements between Italian provinces, the users’ average radius of gyration, and the daily average degree of a spatial proximity network”, says ISI Foundation Senior Research  Scientist Michele Tizzoni.

In collaboration with Cuebiq, an offline intelligence and measurement company,  all metrics were computed by processing a large-scale dataset of anonymously shared positions of about 170,000 de-identified smartphone users before and during the outbreak. The team included ISI Researchers  Ciro Cattuto, Paolo Bajardi, Laetitia Gauvin and Lagrange Scholar Emanuele Pepe (with the support of CRT Foundation Lagrange Project). “Since early March, we have been providing periodic reports through a  dedicated website, describing the evolution of mobility in Italy through the different phases of the emergency: before the outbreak, during the lockdown, and after restrictions were lifted”, says Tizzoni. “Compared to other similar data sources that are publicly available, we think our dataset is one of the most granular in time and space, and we hope it may be useful to researchers and policymakers who will seek to understand the health, economic, and social effects of non pharmaceutical interventions adopted in response to the pandemic”.

COVID-19  outbreak response, a dataset to assess mobility changes in Italy following national lockdown”, Emanuele Pepe, Paolo Bajardi, Laetitia  Gauvin, Filippo Privitera, Brennan Lake, Ciro Cattuto, Michele Tizzoni.  Nature Scientific Data, 8th July 2020. Link