Coronavirus: New data shows whether New Zealand stayed home through COVID-19 lockdown

New data has shown how Kiwis have stuck to the strict lockdown conditions to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Science Media Centre has released video evidence that for the most part New Zealand stuck to the rules.

Using cell phone data provided by Data Ventures, scientist Chris McDowall compiled a video showing how many people were moving through the country's main cities before the lockdown began.

By tracking how many people's cellphone's pinged off towers throughout Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland, McDowall has been able to create a video which shows how the lockdown caused Kiwis to stop in their tracks. 

Before the lockdown every city pulses with life. In the video red towers laid over the main CBD's and suburbs across the country represent people. The towers pulse as people move from their homes to work and vice versa. In the video each "pulse" represents a day. The higher the pulse and the darker red it is represents the number of people travelling to the main centres.

Then when lockdown comes into effect, the cities almost stop. The pulses become smaller and lighter - proving that for the most part, New Zealand is respecting the lockdown conditions. 

McDowall says the data reminds him of a heartbeat or lungs. 

"I wanted to make a narrative view of the data through animation,"said McDowall on Thursday.

"It all works together to provide this rhythm of the city."

While the data is "pretty good", it's not pinpoint accurate. 

"So for example if you're in Wellington, it would know you're in Thorndon but not that you're at the library," said McDowall.

Robert Chiu, head of data at Data Ventures, says the video represents an aggregate of people.

"We have the cellphone data and it gives you a coverage area with a device in it but we don't know where people are moving in that area."

The data is all anonymous - meaning McDowall can't pinpoint individual people. However it does try and account for people who don't even have a mobile device.

"We apply a population model over the top," said Chiu.

"So we try and factor in children or the elderly - people who might not have a device. It covers about 82 percent of the population."

McDowall says in future, the data could help to track potential outbreaks of the virus or help the Government contact trace confirmed cases.