Thursday, September 24, 2015

How much do Americans drive compared to other countries?

This comes from a new report published by LSE Cities. Commentary  by Richard Florida and Aria Bendix here.

Annual vehicle kilometres per person against wealth levels: 1970-2008

click on the image to enlarge it

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Urban Picture

Delirious New York, by Ezra Stoller.

Headquarters of the United Nations, NYC

soundtrack: one of my favourites from Kermit

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Human Hemisphere

We have seen Bill Rankin's inventive map of the World Population Distribution by lat long. More recently Bill has come with other ways of thinking our hemispheres. Here is my favourite one.

ps. On a related topic, here is map showing how geographically unbalanced the distribution of the world population is.

[image credit: Bill Rankin, 2015]

Redefining Urban Futures

Nice presentation by Kent Larson summarizing some of the projects they have been developing at MIT Media Lab and that are contributing to redefine the future of our cities, in some way.

I wouldn't say these ideas are new, revolutionary or even disruptive in a way that will solve the most pressing issues in most cities for every one. However, the work of Kent and his team make an enormous difference in bringing these ideas closer to reality.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Before there was ggplot

Before Hadley Wickham was born, when there was no ggplot, this is how people used to create maps using small multiples (nice example here).

Results of the US Presidential Election from 1789 to 1876, published in 1877

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Transport disruptions, big data and travel behavior

A new discussion paper shows how a strike in the underground system of London could actually improve general welfare and make individuals' travel behavior more efficient. (via Tyler Cowen).

Larcomy, S., Rauch, F., Willems, T. The benefits of forced experimentation: striking evidence from the London underground network. University of Oxford. Department of Economics Discussion Paper Series (Ref: 755 )
Abstract: We estimate that a significant fraction of commuters on the London underground do not travel their optimal route. Consequently, a tube strike (which forced many commuters to experiment with new routes) taught commuters about the existence of superior journeys -- bringing about lasting changes in behaviour. This effect is stronger for commuters who live in areas where the tube map is more distorted, thereby pointing towards the importance of informational imperfections. We argue that the information produced by the strike improved network-efficiency. Search costs are unlikely to explain the suboptimal behaviour. Instead, individuals seem to under-experiment in normal times, as a result of which constraints can be welfare-improving.

The researchers examined 20 days' worth of anonymised Oyster card data, containing more than 200 million data points, in order to see how individual tube journeys changed during the London tube strike in February 2014.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The shifting patterns of how Londoners live and work

Here is an interesting piece about passenger trends in London’s Underground system since 2001 and how this piece of information helps us better understand how the city's economy is changing (I saw this via Iain Docherty).

One obvious change in passenger patterns captured by this chart shows the notion of 'peak time' has widened over the past fifteen years or so. As the article suggest, this is likely a reflex of some of the changes observed both in the labor market (with the increase in the number of workers that are self-employed and have more flexible time shifts) and in the housing market, where the prohibitive housings costs of London are pushing people farther from the city.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Returners and explorers dichotomy in human mobility

Pappalardo, L., Simini, F., Pedreschi, D., Barabasi, L. et al. (2015). Returners and explorers dichotomy in human mobility. Nature Communications, 6. doi:10.1038/ncomms9166

The availability of massive digital traces of human whereabouts has offered a series of novel insights on the quantitative patterns characterizing human mobility. In particular, numerous recent studies have lead to an unexpected consensus: the considerable variability in the characteristic travelled distance of individuals coexists with a high degree of predictability of their future locations. Here we shed light on this surprising coexistence by systematically investigating the impact of recurrent mobility on the characteristic distance travelled by individuals. Using both mobile phone and GPS data, we discover the existence of two distinct classes of individuals: returners and explorers. As existing models of human mobility cannot explain the existence of these two classes, we develop more realistic models able to capture the empirical findings. Finally, we show that returners and explorers play a distinct quantifiable role in spreading phenomena and that a correlation exists between their mobility patterns and social interactions.
[image credit: Pappalardo et al. 2015]

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The recent story of my life

I saw this via Arthur Charpentier, who has remarkably good twitter and blog you might like.

[image credit: the unmistakable xkcd]

Friday, September 4, 2015

Where Are the Syrian Refugees Today?

Hans Rosling (aka the Mick Jagger of statistics) in an informative three-minute video about the Syrian Refugees.