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Archive
February, 2009 Monthly archive

The map of the last three weeks keyed by participant. The dotted lines indicate connections within a trip sequence but without proper GPS signal.


Image by UrbanTick for UrbanDiary using the gpsvisualizer.com to convert the data

There are a number of patterns showing up now. On of the main ones is the difference between workweek and weekend. The workdays are back and forward movement between home and the work place. The London characteristic here is a sort of a star shape. People live outside and travel linear into the centre and back out. For some participants the workweek tracks are only two little islands on the map, connected through a doted line, as a lot of traveling is underground.
The weekend travel pattern on the other hand is mainly around the home location and tends to be directed outwards. Very often this is directed by the location of friends and family.

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The puls of the transport network does play a big role in the constitution of the cities puls. The pace of the departure of the public transport, the frequency of the stops, but also the location of the stations spatially drive this rhythm. Any live tracking transport site gives a good idea of the puls of the transport network.
The following visualisation of the commuter trains around Copenhagen give a really good impression of the frequency. It represents the realtime position of each train on an abstract network map.


Image by Jim Larsen / Click HERE to see the live map. Works best in Firefox or Safari

The time laps captured at a tube station visualizes the puls from a different angle and show how the arrival and departure of trains pump the commuters through the network.

tlCTstationFull_090127 from urbanTick on Vimeo

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An animation to visualize the puls of the world was created by using phone call data. Centered on New York, the puls is generated visualizing the amount of phone calls going to or from which part of the world to or from NY.
The different time zones influence this rhythm, also does the day and night cycle.

The size of the area shrinks or grows according to the phone call data and international cities with the highest amount of calls are highlighted.

pulse of the planet from sarah barns on Vimeo.

produced by MIT SENSable City Lab

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It has been a busy week, as always. The data collection this week was again good, with some nice tracks. To the disappointment of some participants, the pattern has been VERY similar to last weeks. Unfortunately our lives do not quite cover as much ground in the city as we might like to think, the routines we follow are rather strong. Nevertheless, to find that the perception is different is already a good finding.
But have a look yourself, here is a clip generated from the data.

UrbanDiary_2W_090219 from urbanTick on Vimeo.

A different view gives the following clip. Here, the data is replayed in 24H, so all the records played in one day. The coverage shows that there is activity throughout the day, except the early morning hours. Between 02h00 and 07h00 there is a big gab in activity. The rest of the time 07h00 to midnight and beyond is very active. What is a bit misleading here is that the weekend activities are squeezed in together with the weekday activities. From the clip above we have seen that the activity pattern between the two vary a lot. The next step would be to find a visualization that clearly focuses on this problem.

UD_dayIcon_090220 from urbanTick on Vimeo.

You can see last week’s visuals here.

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After a lot of complicated file manipulations, the data is in a format or better in a location or just is set up to be usable. Well, it is not exactly complicated to handle the data, I was just not quite sure how best to store it. The main problem is the date format, a misinterpretation seems to happen during one of the steps, still have to figure out where exactly.
So it took a few trial and error investigations to figure out what might be usable. The solution for the moment is gpx to csv to database and then to put into Google Earth or GeoTime it has to go back into a csv to Excel.
So from Excel it can simply be linked to GeoTime. While installing GeoTime it will automatically install the GeoTime Excel Plug-In that can then be use to link the open spreadsheet to GeoTime. There is a setup to be made but this is rather straightforward, basically telling GeoTime which column of the spreadsheet contains what kind of information. Several different settings can be saved for later use, which is great, as it is likely that the same source will be used a number of times. Then the data is in GeoTime after some processing. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

UDp_090212_all.7iTYERPWmKqG.jpg
Image by urbanTick – Screen shot from GeoTime

Funny enough, this time the meeting query tool works. After failing to use it in my first go with the Plymouth365 data, I was tempted to get this to work with the new UD data set. And there you go it worked right away. I guess I was just not patient enough with the larger PLY365 set, it probably just takes long, longer than I was willing to wait….
Anyway, interesting who has meet during this first week of data collection. Surprisingly, some people who do not know one another have actually met within a few minutes time difference in the same location. According to the data they just crossed path briefly, but still.

UDp_090212_meeting01.bsATtsL5R6K5.jpgUDp_090212_meeting02.QDDDZ1Yi7rtm.jpgUDp_090212_meeting03.rGMqm6vbHV6x.jpgUDp_090212_meeting04.JKOSbKtgwtnX.jpg
Screen shots from GeoTime, showing meetings in space and time – by urbanTick

Telling from those screen shots, GeoTime’s ability to output information apart from the screen is pretty bad. As a designer and visual person I want much more control over this than this program offers. It is essentially a screen shot in png format. It should at least offer an option to output some vector format to allow further use and especially endless sizing options.

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So far research on bird travel and migration behavior was largely guesswork, especially the actual bit of traveling. It is well known where they life and what their destination of migration is over the course of the seasons. What is largely unknown is the bit in between. What is their exact rout of travel, how fast do they travel and how often do they rest, these are the main questions regarding bird migration behavior.
Scientists have tested many techniques, from banding a bird’s legs (which was until recently the most successful of the methods), to tracking flocks with radar to even using satellites, all with not much success.
It is known that birds can fly at a rather fast speed of around 60 miles and hour and that they do travel almost half way around the globe during their migration. Biologists now where interested in the details of this knowledge but to receive new data they had to find a new method of observing the birds’ movement.
A new mini tracking device has enabled researchers at York University in Toronto to tag rather small songbirds. The main problem here is the weight. Engineers at the British Antarctica Survey have developed a small light weigh tracker to follow the trips of albatrosses, rather large birds. The scientists at York where able to minimize the technology to a total weight of 1.5 gram. It sits on the birds back and is hold in place with two straps around their legs, just like a miniature backpack. The sensor is not exactly a GPS, it is a solar geolocator. It collects and store data in relation to the sun.
A total of 34 purple martin birds where tagged in summer 2007. Only seven of them could be recaptured a year later. Nevertheless the data was exiting. The data showed that the birds flew two to six times faster going north, than going south. Researchers also discovered that they actually flew much faster than initially guessed. Information about the stopover points will help to protect birds, especially songbirds that are in steep decline.

200921211.AdecMFL2x1P0.jpg
Image by (main) Patrick M Kramer; (inset) Tim Morton – A purple martin bird wearing a geolocator.

13bird_grphxbig.xq65CMeT549b.jpg
Image source NYTimes/Science

infos from NYTimes/science/environment
and from scienceno.sciencemag

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Google released this month a new 5.0 Beta version of Google Earth. The main new feature is the water. So far the oceans were just blue surfaced with little detail. In Google Earth 5.0 the oceans have become part of the (virtual) world and user can explore the “all new” underwater world.

This is a great feature and I imagine the beauty of the detail if someone starts implementing the rising water level. Not only on the level of climate change and catastrophes, but more on the level of the daily cycle of the tide. This was kind of the trigger for my research topic in the first place. The project of the floating city in the Thames Estuary, were the ever changing sea level was a research field and had a great impact on the project. To capture this rhythm in Google Earth would be great.

There is also a new time line, redesigned and a lot bigger. On the PowerBook screen it takes quite a lot of room that is annoying. But I’ll see how it improves the handling, as I will use it in the next few days. The new timeline makes also a series of older aerial photographs accessible. It is now possible to follow the change of a place over time using a series of older imagery.

Recording is now a feature of the free Google Earth version. So far only users who bought a license of the popular visualisation tool
had the option to record their trips on the (virtual) planet. Now everyone can record and share recorded trips including sound – live comments. The focus is on recorded TRIPS, it really is only a record of the navigation done within Google Earth and not a real movie. It is not possible to exchange these recordings other than as kml/kmz files and you need Google Earth to replay these files. You can exchange them though, but not as real movie clips like it is possible in the pied version of Google Earth.

One more new thing is the GPS direct import. Google has now discontinued the $20 version of Google Earth and implemented the GPS track importing function in the free version. It covers still the same functions as it did three years back, meaning only Garmin/Magelan and NMEA support.
I have not been able to get it to work though so far with my serial to USB connection to read directly from my Garmin Forerunner. I have been doing this back when I still had the paid version, but I remember it to be very difficult and each time a number of attempts to connect to the right port were needed. It would scan through all the available port one by one and the eventually hock to the right one. I am suspecting that Google decided not to support the serial connection any longer.

GoEa_gpsImport.NmxJs6HnHRq6.jpg
Image by urbanTick – Screen shot Google Earth GPS import window

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A short clip to visualize different peoples movement over the period of one week in London. It is a first test with a number of participants using Garmin GPS devices.
The data returned is actually better than expected, although there is a lot of errors, even in the city centre there is often a signal.
For a better visualization the day and night feature of Google Earth was used to clearly mark the passage of time. It’s sweet how they all rest in their place when it is dark, and then start off early in the morning. The weekend has been used by a number of participants to make trips, sometimes quite far, in most cases to visit relatives or friends.

UDp_090212_GoEa from urbanTick on Vimeo.

Animation produced in Excel and with a converter by Bill Clark brought to Google Earth

Looking forward to get to work with the data from next week.

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Mapping the Wi-Fi access points in Paris 13th District this animation was produced by complexnetworks.fr.

The mapping was done wile walking the streets with a Nokia N95 and N80 with an external GPS sensor. The dots size represents the amount of networks logged at the location.
The growth of the network probably corresponds more with the chosen route, but the density of the map reveals something about the use and maybe the configuration of the spaces indicated.

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Today I have finally got round to install and try the software GeoTime on my computer here. Oculous kindly offered a license to run some trials on with my data.
It installed all very smoothly and the process is straight forward. I had to click through a few pages of the tutorial files to get the data to appear in GeoTime, but here it is.

​Image by urbanTick – data Plymouth365 – full extend (I should use a cleaned up data set, those GPS errors pop out too much…)

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Image by urbanTick – Data Plymouth365, zoomed in to the city, very colour full

It is the same data set used in visualizations earlier, as in Plymouth aquarium.
The data was imported using excel and following some advice from the tutorial pages. GeoTime seems to be very picky with the kml files. I didn’t get one of those to show. Exporting to kmz works fine and looks good in Google Earth. The exported file is truly time tagged, this means the time feature can be used and the data can be replayed. ​
Image by UrbanTick – GeoTime export to Google Earth

Some analysis functions sound really interesting. I finally got the meeting analysis function to work. This would be very interesting, have to work on this.
Great are the isolating features, where it is possible to only display data with certain characteristics, for example a time frame.


​Image by urbanTick – data Plymouth365

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Image by urbanTick

There is more to come, this will occupy the next weeks to work trough my data with this new tool.

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