Maps don't typically convey time very well. They're static snapshots of a moment in history. They tell you what exists, not when people go there, or how the value of a place might be tied to time – whether it's a nightlife district or a public park most popular with early-morning joggers.
We've come across a handful of animated maps that do a good job combining time and space, frequently using either transit data or geo-tagged social-media hits. Now a new project, called Geographies of Time, is trying to do something similar with a more typical two-dimensional map. The effort is part of a broader EU-funded project calledUrbanSensing that's building platforms to detect patterns in how people use urban spaces.
With Geographies of Time, the researchers wanted to erase how we typically think of boundaries within cities – between neighborhoods, for instance – and replace them with new ones dictated by time. Which parts of a city come alive between midnight and 3 a.m.? How about at lunch time? And what might those patterns tell us about how individual places – and whole cities – are experienced differently over the course of a day?