The Moving Image: Taxi Patterns
January 25th, 2008

The images above are animated maps of taxi patterns in the San Francisco area, gleaned from GPS data by Cabspotting, an effort of The Exploratorium, a local museum.While the installation of GPS technology in every taxi in the New York fleet was a major complaint by striking cabbies and their sympathizers, the technology is well on its way to being incorporated into our city. Could New York now use the technology to produce such maps here? What could we gain from it, other than a very interesting art project?

The Exploratorium takes suggestions for various Cab Projects, which are individual websites that use the technology for differing purposes, to help answer that question. One of their projects found anecdotal evidence (point 8 on the map) that new cabbies congregated around the San Francisco downtown area, while more experienced drivers traveled between residential areas and medical centers.

Here in New York, another design intensive taxi study occurred a few months ago, before GPS technology arrived. A comprehensive look at the cabbies’ world was presented in a similarly engaging, albeit static, presentation (a 160 page book) called Taxi 07: Roads Forward, published by The Design Trust for Public Space, in cooperation with the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

But if the animation has captured your imagination, The New Museum is featuring the Cabspotting project on Friday, Feb 8, as part of their monthly New Silent Series.

By on January 25, 2008, 11:20 am
In category: Arts,Tech,Transportation | 1 Comment »

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One Response to “The Moving Image: Taxi Patterns”

  1. LR Says:
    January 25th, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Visualization technologies are a great way to understand movement patterns and draw some interesting conclusions and its great as an art project.

    Its a lot more difficult to use this analysis for serious policymaking, first, its a data-heavy endeavor to analyze the GPS-generated data and transforming it into usable routes and info; second, one cannot draw conclusions and develop policy alternatives simply by analyzing the patterns on a computer; in order to understand and explain the patterns, one must actually talk to drivers, passengers, and review other related data sets.

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