Statistics Estonia starts negotiations for new mobility analysis

Tallinn's raekoja plats.
Tallinn's raekoja plats. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Under guidance received from the government, Statistics Estonia has started negotiations with mobile operators to resume the mobility analysis that was conducted during the first wave of the spread of coronavirus last spring.

The aim of the planned mobility analysis is to assess the effectiveness of the coronavirus restrictions on people's movement, give a regional overview and assess developments concerning the danger of infection. A mobility analysis based on the same methodology was conducted by Statistics Estonia during the emergency situation in spring 2020. 

Andres Kukke, deputy director general of Statistics Estonia, said negotiations with mobile operators started on Friday and the agency hopes to reach an agreement by the end of next week. 

"Just like last spring, Statistics Estonia is planning to use aggregate tables of mobile telephone numbers provided by mobile operators for the conduct of the mobility analysis. No real-time data of clients of mobile operators, but anonymous aggregated data by region and date, will be used in the planned analysis. It was not possible last spring, nor will it be possible in the future, to identify or analyze the movement patterns of individuals on the basis of such anonymous data. These data will be used only to calculate the rate for staying local for all residents of Estonia," Kukke said.

The government's wish is to obtain a picture of people's mobility based on the analysis. This is one of the indicators based on which the government can decide whether, when and how contacts between people in the public space should be additionally restricted.   

The method used by mobile operators last spring was developed in cooperation with Statistics Estonia to ensure the reliability and comparability of the mobility analysis. 

The operators prepared separate mobility analyses of their clients, based on anonymous data from the mobile network. They identified the main location of each mobile phone number, for which they determined the mobile phone masts that the number was connected to the longest in a 24-hour period. Both average and maximum distance from the main location were examined. It is not possible to identify or analyze the movement patterns of individual people on the basis of the anonymous historical data. The mobility analysis covered only Estonia and did not show which countries Estonian residents had been to or were staying in.

The results were generalized at the level of local municipalities and, when possible, at a more detailed level, such as by urban regions in Tallinn and Tartu. Statistics Estonia reviewed the aggregate data received from the mobile operators and calculated the rate for staying local, which was used for output such as "87 percent of the mobile phones in XXX area remain local."

The company Positium visualized the mobility analysis results on the Estonian map and published the result at https://liikumisanalyys.stat.ee/.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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