Friday, January 3, 2014

Our Eureka moment: Discovering the O'Brien map

We've started building out the News Archive  and in doing so came across  Oliver O'Brien's Wonderful Map.
Mr. O'Brien is a suprageographist at the Center for Advanced Spatial in London.

What's wonderful about it? What can it tell us that the official map does not?

For one, it gives us the ability to track NotSpots over time. Heretofore, we were limited to capturing a moment in time, e.g. Broad St & Bridge St. has no bikes at 6:30 a.m. And again, Broad St & Bridge St. has no bikes at 11:30 a.m. But we couldn't say what happened in between those times.
Now we can say Broad and Bridge has been bikeless for the last 10 hours. Althjough, of course, we hope we never have to say that.

For another, the O'Brien map contains this real-time status bar telling you how many bikes are available citywide. While that number may be only of macro interest right now, I'm sure we'll find some sort of threshold number that reliably indicates when Sharers can expect to feel some pain.

So as you can see, we've incorporated the O'Brien map into the right rail of the blog. A caveat, don't be put off by the default colors (above right). With a little fiddling, we found that there's the ability to change colors.

We think we're going to find the gray-scale view the most helpful.  The screenshot (above left) taken Jan 2 at 12:11 pm, clearly shows three bike-sharing "deserts" -- the Upper West Side, the Lower East Side, and in Brooklyn, Fort Greene eastwards.

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