'Heat map' captures massive Chinese New Year migration

10 PHOTOS
Chinese New Year
See Gallery
'Heat map' captures massive Chinese New Year migration
It's an annual journey that begins one step at a time as tens of thousands head to the train station in Shanghai to make their way home to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
Children wear shopping bag costumes of local brands during preparations of the Chinese lunar new 'year of the sheep' which begins on February 19, in Hong Kong on February 17, 2015. Businesses all across Asia are expected to benefit from an increase of spending at retail and restaurants during the Chinese lunar new year. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Performers gather during preparations for Chinese lunar new year celebrations in Hong Kong on February 17, 2015. The Chinese lunar new 'year of the sheep' begins on February 19. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Performers gather during preparations for Chinese lunar new year celebrations in Hong Kong on February 17, 2015. The Chinese lunar new 'year of the sheep' begins on February 19. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
An advertisement for Patek Philippe SA wrist watches is displayed at a Laox Co. store in the Ginza district of Tokyo, Japan, on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. Foreign visitors to Japan rose 29% year on year to a record a 13.4 million in 2014, said Japanese Transport Minister Akihiro Ohta on Jan. 20. Photographer: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg via Getty Images
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: A Chinese traveler eats as they wait in the departure area for a train at a local railway station on February 16, 2015 in Beijing, China. Millions of Chinese will travel home to visit families in mass during the Spring Festival holiday period that begins with the Lunar New Year on February 19. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: Chinese travelers make their way to trains at a local railway station on February 16, 2015 in Beijing, China. Millions of Chinese will travel home to visit families in mass during the Spring Festival holiday period that begins with the Lunar New Year on February 19. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: Chinese armed police officers march past travelers making their way to trains at a local railway station on February 16, 2015 in Beijing, China. Millions of Chinese will travel home to visit families in mass during the Spring Festival holiday period that begins with the Lunar New Year on February 19. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Thousands of Chinese devotees gather to welcome the various deities at the Badachu temple in Beijing on February 16, 2015 for the upcoming Lunar New Year, which marks the 'Year of the Sheep' on February 19 this year. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
SOLO, CENTRAL JAVA, INDONESIA - FEBRUARY 15: Dragon dancers perform during Grebeg Sudiro festival on February 15, 2015 in Solo City, Central Java, Indonesia. Grebeg Sudiro festival is held as a prelude to the Chinese New Year, which falls on February 19 this year, welcoming the Year of the Goat. People bring offerings known as gunungan, including Chinese sweetcakes piled up into the shape of mountains, which are paraded in the streets followed by Chinese and Javanese performers. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

BEIJING (AP) -- This map of China's Lunar New Year travel tells a story of massive migration home from the big city.


The interactive, updating graphic posted online by the Chinese Internet portal Baidu shows a "heat map" of lines tracing the trips of individual travelers. The brightest spokes emanate from eastern employment hubs Beijing, Shanghai and the southern nexus of Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Dongguan.

About 80 million people were traveling on Monday alone, mostly by road, according to government estimates. Baidu was able to illustrate many of those journeys thanks to the 350 million active users of its smartphone map and other apps that use location positioning.

If someone uses a Baidu app in Beijing in the morning, then pings from the southwestern city of Kunming in the evening, a new trip will be registered and a straight line added from Beijing to Kunming.

Lines glow white-hot during the biggest travel days of the holiday, which officially runs from Wednesday through Feb. 24 but unofficially includes many days on either end. The period of heightened travel is considered 40 days long.

"You're basically looking at the serious intensity of travel in this holiday. It's not just the world's biggest human migration, it's the biggest mammalian migration," Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo said. "It's a sight to behold. It's quite miraculous that nothing goes terribly wrong."

The Baidu Migration interactive also includes data for individual cities, airports and train stations, and could help transportation officials plan future seasons, Kuo said.

If he used Baidu apps, 28-year-old Li Shengtao would have contributed to the Baidu interactive when he departed by train from Shanghai where he works as an interior designer for his annual, 1,100-kilometer journey to his northern hometown of Shijiazhuang.

"Even if you don't manage to buy a ticket you have to get home somehow," Li said. "That's the tradition of us northern Chinese."

The interactive has been employed for more than details on holiday travel. Last Lunar New Year season, some media outlets suggested, rather dubiously, that many of the bright lines on the map emanating from the city of Dongguan were prostitutes fleeing a crackdown there.

Home for the Holidays in China

More in the news:
Ukraine army, rebels miss deadline to start weapons pullback
Federal judge stalls Obama's executive action on immigration
Mardi Gras in New Orleans: glitzy balls, then the parades
Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.