Big Data Delivers Intuitive Civic Display

Gear and Gadgets August 8, 2016

Perhaps you heard something or the other about a relatively new project in the works from none other than one of TED’s Co-founders. Sponsored by Richard Saul Wurman, this project is installed in the Smithsonian Museum as well as an online application. Take note of the fact that this project brings together metropolitan data from all over the world and combines it to deliver an interactive visual display.

This display allows for easy to understand visual displays of comparisons between various metropolitan areas all over the world. Aptly named the Urban Observatory, this new tool allows for displays that deliver answers to real world questions that would be hard to obtain otherwise. For example, suppose you wanted to see a visual representation of traffic patterns in a city notorious for traffic snarls such as Los Angeles with a city such as London. The Urban Observatory makes such a comparison readily available.

According to the creators: “The Urban Observatory is an interactive exhibit that gives you the chance to compare and contrast data from cities around world—all from one location. It aims to makes the world’s data both understandable and useful.” Well there you go, now you have a better sense of exactly what The Urban Observatory aims to deliver.

Understand that setting up The Urban Observatory was a rather outsized project. Consider that as of this writing, the creation of The Urban Observatory is the result of no less than 15,000 contributing cartographers as well as designers from 200 countries. In addition, pay attention to the fact that The Urban Observatory is still a work in process, with a continuing call out for additional data sets to add to the current offerings.

Moreover, you may interested to learn that The Urban Observatory is a visually stunning display of the real world uses of Big Data. Although that term ‘Big Data’ has been thrown around quite a bit as of late, the Urban Observatory allows you to see the incredible power of Big Data brought to life.

In addition to all of that, note that The Urban Observatory also utilizes images provided from NASA’s satellite program. These images display in high resolution detail images of the Earth’s surface over the last 40 years. The fact that there is that much data available allows the Urban Observatory to show how the world cities have grown over the last 40 years. Naturally, having access to this sort of information will allow scientists to understand the effects of urban development.


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