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Tracking COVID-19 urban activity from space

Nighttime lights helped captured the onset of national curfews and lockdowns but also exposed the inconsistent response to control measures both across and within countries.

In Tracking COVID-19 urban activity changes in the Middle East from nighttime lights, researchers Eleanor C. Stokes and Miguel O. Román show how satellite measurements can aid in assessing public response to physical distancing policies and socio-cultural factors that shape their success.

Unlike mobility data from cellular devices, global nightlights data is openly available. Collected continuously at high resolution this data can be easily aggregated to describe changes in neighborhoods, cities, provinces, or countries. Then the data is matched to reported policy data, case and death count data.

Published May 16, 2022, read the article at “Scientific Reports.”

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