Using Traffic Sensors in Smart Cities to Enhance a Spatio-Temporal Deep Learning Model for COVID-19 Forecasting Articles uri icon

publication date

  • September 2023

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 23


  • 18


  • 11

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2227-7390


  • Respiratory viruses, such as COVID-19, are spread over time and space based on human-to-human interactions. Human mobility plays a key role in the propagation of the virus. Different types of sensors in smart cities are able to continuously monitor traffic-related human mobility, showing the impact of COVID-19 on traffic volumes and patterns. In a similar way, traffic volumes measured by smart traffic sensors provide a proxy variable to capture human mobility, which is expected to have an impact on new COVID-19 infections. Adding traffic data from smart city sensors to machine learning models designed to estimate upcoming COVID-19 incidence values should provide optimized results compared to models based on COVID-19 data alone. This paper proposes a novel model to extract spatio-temporal patterns in the spread of the COVID-19 virus for short-term predictions by organizing COVID-19 incidence and traffic data as interrelated temporal sequences of spatial images. The model is trained and validated with real data from the city of Madrid in Spain for 84 weeks, combining information from 4372 traffic measuring points and 143 COVID-19 PCR test centers. The results are compared with a baseline model designed for the extraction of spatio-temporal patterns from COVID-19-only sequences of images, showing that using traffic information enhances the results when forecasting a new wave of infections (MSE values are reduced by a 70% factor). The information that traffic data has on the spread of the COVID-19 virus is also analyzed, showing that traffic data alone is not sufficient for accurate COVID-19 forecasting.


  • Telecommunications


  • covid-19 forecasting; traffic sensors in smart cities; deep learning models; traffic-enhanced models; convolutional neural network; recurrent neural network