Released: 27th April 2020

City-scale AI analysis to understand London's response to Covid-19

Click on the areas of the map to see updates on transport and travel behaviour.

Covid-19 is disrupting every sector of the global economy in an unprecedented way. Key to any response to the pandemic is the data which can help us understand how and why these changes occur. From Citymapper to Google, apps are giving us our first looks at some of the underlying behavioural changes apparent in how our populations move around.

Alchera Technologies is an AI software startup providing real-time analytics to operate and optimise road infrastructure dynamically. As part of the infrastructure sector, we at Alchera wanted to ask how our approach of using large scale analytics using existing sensors can help uncover some of the finer details of the changes in transport and travel behaviour.

OUR ANALYSIS In the graphs below, we have used our flagship product, Alpha, to analyse a subset of open source cameras across greater London, using proprietary computer vision algorithms to count and classify vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists travelling across key areas. All data1 and analytics shown here are from measurements taken by our platform.
We are able to uncover some unique insights from the finer detail of our city-wide analysis of vehicle traffic by type - a metric which is very challenging to access at low cost and scale. All of the source data from this analysis come from open source cameras, and processed using our secure platform.
Video feeds represent a subset of the various data sources that Alpha integrates to form a real-time view of mobility infrastructure. As time goes on, we hope to integrate air quality data amongst other sources to our analysis to uncover further insights into how London is responding to Covid-19.

We are aiming to update and iterate this report as often as we can. Please get in touch with feedback or to discuss the data & analysis below in more detail, or for ways to integrate with and access Alpha here.


Rush hour traffic on the outskirts of London has decreased far more than traffic in Central London.

The trend of a decrease in traffic is not uniform across London, but varies depending on location and on time of day. Here we compare average daily traffic at different points in time before and during the lockdown.

Car traffic in central London during peak rush hour dropped by 15% from before to after Covid-19 restrictions, while the drop in the peripheral areas was 42%.
It is clear that people are staying home in the peripheral areas during work hours, while in the central areas there is still a significant amount of rush hour traffic at least partly due to taxi and ride-hailing services.

Car traffic in central London during the afternoon dropped by 27% from before to after Covid-19 restrictions, while the drop in the peripheral areas was 29%.
Non-work time traffic was reduced by about the same proportion in centre and non-centre.

Car traffic in both central and Greater London in the late evening dropped by 64% from before to after Covid-19 restrictions.
By 11pm, there is less reason to move around given restrictions, including the closing of restaurants, pubs and gyms, explaining the proportionally larger decrease in traffic.

Scroll to top


Vehicle traffic around Heathrow decreased 1-2 weeks earlier than air traffic.

We took a look at vehicle traffic around Heathrow airport and observed a drop of almost 90% in vehicle traffic following the lockdown announcement. This drop in traffic occurs before the drop in number of available flights - in week 12, a week early compared to the general reduction in road traffic from the lockdown. We can also see an initial decrease beginning from week 9 as the FCO travel advice was becoming progressively more restrictive in response to the Covid-19 outbreak

Scroll to top


The decrease in traffic seen around Greater London is not seen around Richmond Park.

Here we compare our “car index” (a proxy for the number of cars on the road) on the roads surrounding Richmond park for the 3 weeks preceding lockdown against the average car traffic for the 3 weeks immediately following lockdown, looking at weekdays. We have put this side by side against an average “non-central” London trendline (the red area on the map).

You can clearly see in the left graph that rush hour traffic is no longer present at 7am and 6pm on weekdays around Richmond Park after lockdown measures. Notably, while the rest of Greater London shows an approximately consistent reduction in traffic over the course of the day we see that traffic around Richmond Park during weekdays is unchanged, suggesting at least the same amount of people are going to the park, and possibly more. This could be as more people choose to exercise in outdoor spaces.

Looking at the Greater London graph, other "non central areas" see a much more uniform drop in the weekday traffic profile in comparison. Rush hour traffic (morning and evening) are both dropped but still visible as features, while the afternoon traffic is clearly also much lower in comparison to Richmond park.

The traffic profile has also shifted to be an hour earlier both in the morning and evening. People seem to head outside earlier in the day as well as pack up and return home earlier too.

Scroll to top


Freight on the North Circular road shows a spike in traffic on the weekend before lockdown.

Looking at the North Circular, we wanted to explore how the composition of vehicle traffic has changed since the lockdown. Here we show our truck index (a proxy for number of trucks on the road) by time of day on a weekend. The blue line shows a typical weekend day from pre-Covid-19 restrictions (taken as an average of 3 weekends), with the expected peaks at morning and evening rush hour.

The yellow line shows the average traffic on the weekend of the 21st and 22nd, before the lockdown came into effect. There is a spike in freight traffic around 3pm - likely reflecting the increase in delivery to re-stock supermarkets as consumers started panic-buying and stockpiling supplies.

The red line shows the subsequent freight traffic on the North Circular averaged over the following 3 weekends after the lockdown was announced. You can see the spikes in rush hour traffic have gone, reflecting a drop in tradesmen and other truck traffic, but otherwise no significant change as deliveries continue to keep our supermarkets stocked.

Scroll to top


Buses in London are essential for transporting key workers from A to B, but given the reduced anticipated number of passengers due to lockdown measures, TfL announced updating bus timetables in response.

Looking at our bus index which is a proxy for the number of buses on London roads we can observe the implementation of TfL’s bus timetable changes, first shifting all buses to a Saturday schedule on weekdays from 23rd March (week 13), then progressively shifting towards a Sunday schedule from 30th March (Week 14).

Scroll to top