WATCH: Visualising how cities move

Do we understand how people within our cities are moving, and how infrastructure can either enable or act as a barrier to that? Even if the movement is taking place efficiently does the city structure promote long term sustainability, and have the impacts of urbanisation been taken in account, both in terms of supply and demand. Visualisations can never tell the full story, but I wonder how much smarter and enlightened cities have become, because of the ability to monitor demand on certain routes and modes, and get an overall view of where development is taking place and should take place. If cities are all about access to opportunity, how can transport help make that happen?



Detail of Greater London, which features the UK’s most dense and complex multimodal networks. Individual vehicles are more obvious in this animation due to the smaller size of the area as compared to the previous one. It is interesting to visualise the bus network transition from night to day, the steady ‘pulse’ of the tube network throughout its service and the Stansted-Heathrow-Gatwick connection defined by the coach network.


Auckland Transport published its Google Transit Feed data ( on the MAXX ( website. The animation begins at 3am on a typical Monday morning. A pair of blue squiggles depict the Airport buses shuttling late night travellers between the Downtown Ferry Terminal and Auckland International. From 5am, a skeleton service of local buses begins making trips from the outer suburbs to the inner city and the first ferry departs for Waiheke Island. Over the next few hours the volume and frequency of vehicles steadily increases until we reach peak morning rush hour. By 8am the city’s major transportation corridors are clearly delineated by a stream of buses filled with commuters. After 9am the volume of vehicles drops a little and stays steady until the schools get out and the evening commute begins. The animation ends at midnight with just a few night buses moving passengers away from the central city.


Visualisation of the data generated by traffic light systems and GPS probe vehicles over a 24 hour period in Sydney. This video shows some of the data sources that power the SUNA traffic service collected on the 24th of June 2011.