As schools and offices closed in recent weeks, and as activity all but died out in city centers, internet infrastructure operators have seen not only an increase in web traffic, they’ve seen changes in traffic patterns – when people access the internet and from where.
Predictably, internet traffic in city centers has dropped dramatically, while traffic in the suburbs has gone up. People who until recently were accessing digital services via the internet from their places of work or academic institutions are now accessing the same services from their homes. Children who would normally be in school are now getting at least some their education online – if they can – or spending a lot more time watching YouTube and playing videogames.
Cloudflare's data team has found that traffic was about 10 percent down in office areas, 20 percent up in residential areas, and 5 percent down on campuses.
Cloudflare, which provides content delivery, computing infrastructure, and security services for many online properties globally, has been watching the changes in traffic patterns on its network in real-time and analyzing them. The company’s CTO John Graham-Cumming has put together the following visualizations to demonstrate the changes his team has observed over the length of one month (from February 19 to March 18) in five major metros: London, Seattle, New York, San Francisco Bay Area, and Los Angeles. Marked in red are areas where internet traffic has substantially dropped over that time period, while areas marked in green are where traffic has picked up.
Open the gallery to see the visualizations, annotated by Graham-Cumming.