data visualisation

LLGA Winners Pilot: Barcelona can Visualize Traffic Flows in Real-Time

Bitcarrier’s CitySolver Showcase was announced Winner of the Barcelona Category at the Living Labs Global Award 2011 at the Award Ceremony in Stockholm, by Anna Majo, Director of the 22@ Barcelona Innovation District. Barcelona’s jury reviewed more than 75 solutions and in the end chose Bitcarrier as bearing the biggest impact on its challenge to automate urban services.[youtube]

CitySolver is a solution based on wireless network technology and takes advantage of the proliferation of mobile devices. It is composed of proprietary software (a management platform) and hardware (a sensor for urban environments). CitySolver’s visualization platform allows the clients to get real time traffic information on different routes defined. Information regarding travel times, average speeds, and traffic volume is delivered to users and managers directly; sensors can be installed on existing urban furniture and do not require street closures or other expensive roadwork.

Since the announcement, Bitcarrier worked with the Urban Lab team of 22@ Barcelona to plan the implementation of a pilot as part of a larger consortium to combine traditional and new forms of capturing urban mobility data. Winning the Living Labs Global Award was critical to gain visibility and build trust with Barcelona’s city officials, creating the reference that CitySolver is indeed a new, viable and efficient solution for managing and controlling urban traffic.

Already in August the first phase was completed and included 14 Bitcarrier URBAN sensors installed in the Eixample Area of Barcelona. The consistent and homogenised data is published in real-time to a website accessible to the pilot’s consortium partners and that can be used for new application development to serve traffic managers, fleet managers, and end-users .

New applications and services based on this real-time information can as a result include short-term journey-time predictions and an active traffic management system, drawing also pedestrian movements and estimations of inter-modal changes based on the electronic footprint of mobile devices.

The pilot partners studied and evaluated the radius of detection for each sensor and the quality of data obtained to optimise the location for the sensors in the next phase, which will include 36 additional sensors. This second phase will be launched towards the end of 2011.

The Living Labs Global Award 2012 is open for entries until February 17, 2012.


[youtube] Layar is a mobile phone app-developing company based in Amsterdam.  The premise of their app, also called Layar, is augmented reality.  They’ve received two funding rounds so far for a total of €13.4 million with partial financial support from Intel Capital.  They were highlighted at Google Zeitgeist, named a 2011 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum and TIME Magazine.  They won the title “Disruptive Innovatorat” at the 2010 Deloitte Fast50 and won Grand Prix 2010 at Netexplorateur.  Needless to say, if they’re not big now, big names think they’ll be big in the future.

So, what’s all the hype about?  If you watch the video above you’ll get a taste of it.  The real brilliance of this app is its simplicity.  Layar has taken an extremely complex topic (merging the virtual and real worlds) with infinite dimensions (history, future, gaming, education, entertainment, engagement, etc) and made it not only accessible but intuitive.  It makes you wonder, ‘why didn’t I think of that?’

In its current state, it feels like a fun toy, but I think it has the potential to be quite a game changer.  I’ve used it to check out crime in my area with SpotCrime.  From anywhere, I turn on the app and point my camera outward and Layar displays crime icons over the backdrop of my actual surroundings.  It’s really powerful, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  It’s essentially a platform for all spatial data, and we’re not just talking about shapefiles for a static GIS.  These data are real time, often created by you or your friends (e.g. Yelp, Flickr, Foursquare) or even by the local government (e.g. PlanningAlerts).

Use of Layar has the potential to engage more citizens more actively in their local surroundings.  It can help planners translate development proposals into real images that citizens can see while walking down the street.  It can enhance impact assessment, where developers, city officials, planners, and citizens can visualize what facilitating automobile use will do to congestion and to the public realm.  Check it out and see what you think it can do for you.

-Terra Curtis

Visualising Biking

This morning I opened up my email to find the December 2010 World Carfree Newsletter.  The World Carfree Network is a global organization promoting alternative transportation advocating for quality of life improvements for all.  Every month, they send out a newsletter that is chock-full of news from around the world relating to the “carfree movement” – moving towards more mixed use, denser environments that de-emphasize the private automobile and encourage bicycling, walking, and public transit use. This morning I clicked a link that led me to the Slideshare presentation embedded below.  The presentation itself it somewhat dry, but it contains a wealth of information and links regarding some really amazing bike share data visualization projects.  I wanted to share a few of the highlights here.

First, the Bike-o-Meter.  This project comes out of the University College of London’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis.  It’s beauty is really in its simplicity – it takes data from bike share systems in 16 world cities and displays the current percentage of the fleet that is currently in use, along with the local time in that city.  The point-in-time snapshot may not be that useful (time trend data is available here), but still it is interesting and can provide some insight.  For instance, at 7:38 AM on a Saturday morning, 50 percent of the bikes in Rio de Janeiro are checked out; in Montreal it’s close to 60 percent!

The second one to call out is the Bike Share Map.  This app overlays bike availability data on a map of a city (London is the default).  Twenty-one cities are available.  I can imagine a 24-hour capture of this visualization being really useful for the bike share companies who are responsible for bike redistribution throughout the day.

More projects are available here and here.  Enjoy!

-Terra Curtis