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Summary:

Nokia’s Here wants to predict traffic patterns in the future by visualizing its past.

Mumbai

HERE released Living Cities today, a time-lapsed visualization of the traffic in five cities over a 24-hour period. Users can choose the city, zoom in and view a wide range of statistics that HERE garnered from its data: traffic speeds, points of interest and how often they update the maps — all of which can be shared via Facebook or Twitter.

The project is a collaboration between HERE – itself a result of Nokia’s 2007 acquisition of GPS mapmaker NAVTEQ — and geospatial appmakers CartoDB. HERE aggregated a month’s worth of anonymized data, fed by a billion devices, including Nokia phones, here.com and its navigation devices found in cars such as BMWs and Hyundais.

Here Mumbai

The result shows viewers when and where traffic problems arise, with larger masses of light demonstrating congested areas. A handy, elegant illustration at the upper right displays the time of day  in London, Rome, Chicago, Helsinki and Mumbai with a waxing/waning moon and sun.

Unfortunately, there are only two zoom options—neither of which makes smaller areas like neighborhoods visible. So while you can move across Mumbai, see that traffic never really stops and also learn some statistics about why, this isn’t yet a tool that would give you a viable alternative route (if there were one).  

The project is mostly an attempt for HERE to showcase its data collection and invite other developers to use it. “We’re sitting on a mound of data available through our API so that developers can develop our visualizations,” HERE Product Manager Reno Marioni told GigaOM. “A lot of people want to use the data that’s untapped for useful purposes,” he said, adding that Living Cities is only one way he hopes the data will form.

Marioni believes the data could also be used for humanitarian and enterprise purposes. As an example, he said by looking over credit card usage in Barcelona, banks could choose where to locate their ATMs based on traffic patterns throughout the day and night.

Others, including Waze, have visualized traffic data before, but Living Cities offers more options for interactivity. Over time Marioni said the data will be used both to come up with historical conclusions and to predict future traffic solutions. “It will find the shortest, fastest, most optimized route depending time of day.”

For now, it’s a good-looking illustration of traffic as it stands.

Living cities visualization by HERE and CartoDB from vizzuality on Vimeo.

  1. TomTom has predicted traffic for probably at least three years. I’d rather know current traffic (e.g. Google Maps.).

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    1. Pino Bonetti Tuesday, July 2, 2013

      Hi Kary, I’m Pino from the HERE team at Nokia.
      Our commitment to deliver location experiences like traffic information has started over 20 years ago. Now we collect data from 20 billion probes every month. We deliver live traffic services in 34 countries, with 80% of data less than 5 minutes old. You can see yourself what we can do on here.com, on our smartphones apps, on our business partners products like Garmin, Bing, Yahoo!, Toyota, Ford, BMW and many others.

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  2. Great write-up! Thanks! I work at CartoDB and have to say, this was a really fun project to put together. It is nice seeing people getting interested :)

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