In 2013, Londoners took 2.4 billion bus journeys. They were prescribed 116 million items by doctors, and found themselves joined by more than 1,750,000 American tourists.
Meanwhile, in one small, financial corner of the capital, the population, in every 24-hour period of the year, spiked from 222 residents to more than 127,000. These staggering statistics are the work of geographer James Cheshire and visual artist Oliver Uberti, who have merged to create a new series of maps depicting London as “the most data-heavy capital in the world.”
The maps and infographics are as diverse as the information they cover—highlighting, for example, the 2,580 mobile phones left in a single year at Heathrow Airport, and charting the 1.1 million phone calls the emergency services took in 2013. Approximately 32,500 of them, by the way, came from incapacitated binge drinkers.
In “There is order and beauty in the chaos of your commute,” Cheshire and Uberti capture London’s commuting routes using data from Oyster travel cards logged by University College London. Tracking the likes of train journeys and taxi fares and digitalizing their movements, they arc to form a colorful algorithm of details.
“Almost every journey taken in London leaves a digital trace in its wake,” explain Cheshire and Uberti on their website. “It may be hard to appreciate as you squeeze onto a Tube or bus in the morning, but you are one of millions adding to the beauty of the currents captured.”
In “Generation rent,” the graph on the left shows the change in median monthly rent prices from January 2013 to April 2014. On the right, there’s a visualization of the cost increase for two-bedroom apartments along the Tube’s Central line, with inner stations costing far more than their suburban neighbours.
It’s one of 100 new maps and graphics in the pair’s new book, London: The Information Capital, and Cheshire admits referring to London as such is a bold claim.
On his website, he explains: “We think it is justified for two reasons: London not only generates a huge volume of data, it shares an unprecedented amount with its citizens to use as they wish.
“Open data initiatives exist in other cities, not least in Europe and North America, but what gives London an information edge is the belief that data can not only record social change but also instigate it.”
“Lost and found,” seen below, looks at all the items lost at Heathrow Airport in 2013. In the 12 months, 1,060 wallets were misplaced, alongside 5,090 computers, tablets, and electronics, and 650 sets of keys.
Traveling through Heathrow Airport is Uberti, an American with a passion for London’s availability of data and information.
He says on his site: “As an American, I couldn’t believe how much government data was publicly available and how easy it was to access it online.”
Uberti and Cheshire used Google Hangouts to discuss the project and see it in motion; together inspired by questions about London and finding out what makes it tick.
The UK capital is a very diverse city. In fact, three million of its 8.2 million citizens come from overseas. Below, “Twitter ink” highlights tweets by home country and projects Twitter users from places such as Kuwait, Turkey, and Italy.
Cheshire used data analysis in open source software to find his statistics, while many of Uberti’s images started life as hand-drawn sketches. Numerous Freedom of Information Requests and compiled information nestles alongside artistic experimentation and creativity.
This chart features the top 20 nations by spending, per visitor, in 2012. The US, by far, had the most tourists—but it was Saudi Arabia, right down at the bottom, whose citizens spent most. Each individual parted with thousands.