data broadcasting

Mapnificent

[vimeo 16362921 w=400 h=250]

Mapnificent from Stefan Wehrmeyer on Vimeo.

A new tool developed by Stefan Wehrmeyer beautifully displays mobility and access for a given point in a city.  Mapnificent so far contains data for 20 cities, most of which are in the US but others include Berlin, London, and Auckland. The site allows you to set a point in your chosen city and a map will display the entire area over which you could travel by public transit in a given amount of time.  It also allows you to see an area that is both 15 minutes away from yourself and 15 minutes away from a friend by transit, and since it is integrated with Google Maps, allows you to search destinations within that specified area.

Mobility and access are two important facets of a transportation system.  Mobility essentially measures the speed with which one can travel from one point to another; access measures how many destinations are located nearby or within a given travel time.  New York City has low mobility (for automobiles) but high accessibility; rural areas have high mobility but low accessibility.  What I like most about Mapnificent is its demonstration of both concepts together.  Transportation planning has relied heavily on improving mobility, without (in my opinion) enough focus on accessibility.  Perhaps Mapnificent is useful beyond just as a beautiful data display but as a comparison and evaluation tool for transit providers.

-Terra Curtis

Mapnificent

[vimeo 16362921 w=400 h=250]

Mapnificent from Stefan Wehrmeyer on Vimeo.

A new tool developed by Stefan Wehrmeyer beautifully displays mobility and access for a given point in a city.  Mapnificent so far contains data for 20 cities, most of which are in the US but others include Berlin, London, and Auckland. The site allows you to set a point in your chosen city and a map will display the entire area over which you could travel by public transit in a given amount of time.  It also allows you to see an area that is both 15 minutes away from yourself and 15 minutes away from a friend by transit, and since it is integrated with Google Maps, allows you to search destinations within that specified area.

Mobility and access are two important facets of a transportation system.  Mobility essentially measures the speed with which one can travel from one point to another; access measures how many destinations are located nearby or within a given travel time.  New York City has low mobility (for automobiles) but high accessibility; rural areas have high mobility but low accessibility.  What I like most about Mapnificent is its demonstration of both concepts together.  Transportation planning has relied heavily on improving mobility, without (in my opinion) enough focus on accessibility.  Perhaps Mapnificent is useful beyond just as a beautiful data display but as a comparison and evaluation tool for transit providers.

-Terra Curtis

I am Precious

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb1UwQfeZIk&fs=1&hl=en_US]
Breakfast, a New York-based group of techies and inventors, wants to bring internet to the real world.  They want a world that is somewhat reminiscent of science fiction.  The want the things we imagine in the future to be here today.

One of their projects, Precious, uses multiple technologies (including the Twitter API, GPS, SMS, and algorithmic analysis of various sensors’ outputs) to create a bicycle with a brain.  Every 5 minutes, the bike reports temperature, cadence, humidity, road grade, speed, direction, and location in a text message.  The text message is received and parsed by the Twitter API, and then analyzed by Breakfast’s servers.  The analysis is meant to replicate that of a human brain, giving the bike real character and personality.  (For example, if Precious is experiencing 90% humidity, 95 degrees Fahrenheit, a 10% grade and is heading due west into the prevailing winds, it might start compaining.  Wouldn’t you?)  The rider, Janeen, is riding across the U.S. to raise money for Team Livestrong. Besides building Precious, a great way to attract extra attention for a fundraising charity, Breakfast has also worked on other projects such as an iPad-controlled blimp (for which they ask, “Why not?”)

While some of their stuff seems a bit silly, perhaps indulgent, their philosophy is definitely applicable to innovating city services.  Why can’t we synthesize all the incredible technology that already exists, and simmer it down to something greater than the sum of its parts?  Tell me, why not?

-Terra Curtis