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— urbantick

Mapping Tracks – Where have you been all these days?

The end of a calendar year has become the time for summing up and reviewing. In terms of tracking this is what a few of us also ave done and presented the track recordings of the closing 2010. So where have you been all these days?

In the past few years more and more people are recording their movements using different methods, mostly GPS devices. With the new smart phone with built in GPS this has become even easier. Numerous apps are now out there helping you to record organise and visualise your movements.

Three guys, Andy Woodruff over at Cartogrammar and Eric Fischer who is the creator of the citie maps based on the geo taged images on flickr and picasa and Achim Tack have been dedicated to record all the 2010 trips and visualise them on a map.

Personal geography of 2010Image taken from Eric Fischer on flickr / Personal geography of 2010. How big is your world?

Eric has coded his trips using a colour code for modes of transport. Very similar to the coding he used for the photo mapping project. So it goes like this: “black is walking, red is bicycling, blue is cars or buses, and green is above-ground rapid transit or freeways”. He points out that tunnels are not shown.

It is quite interesting how the red and blue, the bicycle and the car, over lap and almost match. Would be interesting to know if he also used the same automatic mode of transport detection based on speed as he did for the photo mapping project.

Eric is traveling around San Francisco on both sides of the bay area. Here is the corresponding NCL twitter map.

2010 tracks with intensityImage taken from Andy Woodruff on flickr / 2010 tracks with intensity. More yellow = more frequently traveled.

Andy is doing this very low key by hand. Of course many, including myself have suggested to him to start using a GPS unit. But he continues to resist and manually retrace his steps as a sort of summary of the day.

Interesting also his motivation “The most valuable thing about this habit, though, is not the post-mapping analysis but rather the motivation it generates to get out and explore and get to know new parts of the city. Iā€™m sure you can imagine the thrill of getting to draw a line on a new part of the map”.

Andy also has recorded the modes of transport on his drawings. Here are the maps by type.

2010 tracks by mode of transportation
Image taken from Andy Woodruff on flickr / 2010 tracks by mode of transportation.

Unfortunately we havent got a NCL twitter map of Boston yet but we are working on it.

Achim is also using a GPS device, a Holux GPSort 245 (we would be interested to hear his experiences with this one), since his move to Hamburg earlier this year and has ever since recorded his everyday moves.

The colour coding here is also according to mode of transport automatically detected via speed, done using arcGIS.

His interest lies more on the repetitive patterns and this is also how he has coded the maps. He notes: “Thursday I go to the gym (Donnerstags gehe ich ins Fitness)” / “I take the bus no 120 to go to work (Ich nehme den Bus 120 zur Arbeit)”

Here is for example a map of his Weekend trips:

The presentation using zoom.it is pretty neat and allows for details to be explored. It works like the imageCutter software that was used for the NCL maps and the twitter social networks. More on Achims paths on his blog.

My own track record has a different cycle, it starts in autumn. The lates map is from October 2009 to October 2010. This year the map shows a comparison between the previous year and the most recent year. However mode of transport is not represented.

oneYearLND09-10 London
Image by urbanTick / London overview of the 2010 GPS track record. A one year drawing of movement on a daily basis, recording all activities and trips. For a large version click HERE.

The NCL London map is available HERE and the corresponding twitter social network HERE.

  1. Achim says: 2011-01-0714:33

    Nice to see that at least some people follow this hobby. You can find some more or less interactive maps of my Hamburg tracks on http://achim-tack.squarespace.com/-track-my-life/ (German)

  2. admin_urbantick says: 2011-01-0714:38

    Achim, if you don't mind I would like to include your beautiful maps in the post.

  3. Achim says: 2011-01-0714:48

    Not a problem at all. I learned a lot from you šŸ˜‰

  4. Eric Fischer says: 2011-01-0715:58

    Yes, the reason the colors look the same as on the transit maps is that I originally wrote the software for my own GPS logs and then repurposed it for the NextBus data!

    It would have been more accurate to track modes by hand, but a lot more trouble to keep track of it than guessing it from the speeds.

  5. admin_urbantick says: 2011-01-0716:04

    Eric, why did you point out that the tunnels are missing. Did you clean the GPS data first and got rid of these sequences?
    And how about the bike/car overlap. What did you in this tiny loop in red and blue on the eastern edge of the drawing? Was this some kind of bike trip by car?

  6. Achim says: 2011-01-0716:14

    @Eric: how exactly did you guess the mode of transport just from the speeds or did you use the OSM network as well? I would like to seperate train and car tracks.

  7. Eric Fischer says: 2011-01-0716:14

    I thought it was worth mentioning that tunnels were missing in case there was any mystery about the gaps in some routes. They are missing because there is no GPS service there, but I did have to clean the data a little bit because my GPS receiver has the bug (I'm sure they think it is a feature) of continuing to log in a straight line for the first 30 seconds after signal is lost, which is almost never the true angle of the tunnel.

    That tiny loop is actually entirely a car trip, but with part of it on a winding hill road that was no faster than it would have been on a bicycle, so that's why it shows up as bicycle. This is the unfortunate consequence of trying to detect things automatically. Most of the time it works but not always.

  8. Eric Fischer says: 2011-01-0716:18

    Achim, the detection is purely based on speeds. Checking OSM would help but wouldn't be able to tell the difference between, say, cars and buses on the same street, so I didn't try that.

  9. admin_urbantick says: 2011-01-0716:20

    Of course, thanks for the clarifications.
    The question then is do you ride a bike at all, or are these red ones slow car journeys? : )
    I guess your bike routes are around Berkley then.

  10. Eric Fischer says: 2011-01-0716:40

    Yes, the real biking is back and forth between North Oakland and Berkeley, and less frequently, to downtown Oakland or the bay shore from Berkeley. My bike routes are pretty repetitive.

  11. admin_urbantick says: 2011-01-0716:48

    I started cycling this year in London. I am looking forward to see how my tracks change compared to the previous two years. It is like discovering a whole new city.

  12. Andy Woodruff says: 2011-01-0718:55

    Great work, guys! Achim, looking at days of the week is interesting. These things are ripe for all kinds of temporal analysis.

    Since you all recorded your tracks using GPS, do you have numbers for things like total distance? I have no idea how far the average person travels over the course of a year and would be curious to find out what these add up to.

    I'm keeping low-tech and continuing to do this manually at least for now (I enjoy the challenge), but I'm at least stepping up to GIS so that I have actual geodata instead of just lines on a map.

  13. Achim says: 2011-01-0720:18

    I agree that tracking is a nice way to get to know the city. That`s why it is so interesting to start it when moving to a new area (anyone familiar with the Hamburg area will realize how often I visited IKEA… šŸ˜‰ )

    @Andy & @Eric Instead of exporting tracks as lines I am exporting single points with altitude and speed attached. Actually I prefer this way of presentation. That`s why average distances will take some time to calculate (but should be possible).

    At the moment I`m thinking of using MS Access (data is stored in a PGDB) to identify the speed difference between the single points to extract tracks and changes in the mode of transport. Perhaps we all should join ideas for a usable method?

  14. Eric Fischer says: 2011-01-0720:42

    I use vectors instead of points mostly because my GPS receiver doesn't log instantaneous speeds, only locations and time stamps, so I have to calculate the speeds from the time and distance between points. If it wasn't for that, points would probably be more informative.

    I can't give an accurate number for total distance because a substantial fraction of it is a couple of trips by airplane for which I don't have complete logs.

  15. Pattaya Girls says: 2011-01-0814:57

    as expected the car trails are by far the most inefficient.

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