When you distil human travel across New York City down to a series of moving data points, the biggest metropolis in the U.S. turns into a mesmerizing ant farm. Will Geary, a data science graduate student at Columbia University mapped out every bus and taxi journey taken in a 24-hour period. The data visualization, posted on Wednesday, reveals a city that beats with the rhythm of a drum.
Take a look at the first few hours of the morning. Sure, you see the scuttering of the odd car here and there, but it’s mostly traffic moving between John F Kennedy airport and lower Manhattan. It’s not until around the 5 a.m. mark, when the buses switch to a more regular service, that the city fully comes to life.
Lit up like this, you see the outline of the five borougs despite the lack of any geographic markers. You can see the city throb slightly around the 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. marks, with the evenings transforming into a thriving nightlife as time goes on.
The data is taken from the MTA’s taxi limousine commission from January 5, 2015, so it’s slightly out of date. Over the years, Uber has helped pick up the slack from outer borough service demand. Although the green taxis help, thanks to their restrictions from picking up passengers in lower Manhattan, it’s not quite enough to satisfy demand. The ability to call an Uber anywhere in the city has helped people on the far edges access public transit, something that has transformed city transportation.
Watch the vizulalisation here: