- The genius way Genius caught Google allegedly stealing lyrics Today 3:03 PM
- This bubble tea challenge is a balancing act Today 2:15 PM
- Laura Dern gifts the internet with more ‘Big Little Lies’ memes Today 1:54 PM
- The Stonks meme is back—and it’s weirder than ever Today 1:27 PM
- Video shows officer threatening to shoot pregnant Black woman in front of her children Today 1:12 PM
- Netflix’s ‘Leila’ tells a familiar dystopian horror story Today 12:37 PM
- O.J. Simpson says in Twitter video that he never slept with Kris Jenner Today 12:06 PM
- GOP commissioner jokes on Facebook about running over Trump protesters Today 11:52 AM
- 2 trans women killed within 3 months in the same neighborhood Today 11:35 AM
- DNC tries to pander with tone-deaf Beyoncé meme, fails miserably Today 10:45 AM
- Parkland grad says Harvard rescinded offer after racist comments surfaced Today 10:10 AM
- ‘The Edge of Democracy’ chronicles the downfall of Brazil’s political leaders Today 9:42 AM
- Suzanne Collins is writing a ‘Hunger Games’ prequel Today 9:31 AM
- KSI rips Logan Paul for delay in their YouTube boxing rematch Today 9:02 AM
- Trump kicks chief of staff out of Oval Office for coughing during interview Today 8:29 AM
Can’t. Look. Away.
Thanks to a request made under the Freedom of Information Law, there’s a hypnotizing data visualization using taxi trip data from 2013 (provided by New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission). The animation follows a cab, plotting its travels throughout the course of a day, picking up passengers and dropping them off, traveling around the five boroughs—and even, sometimes, New Jersey.
Chris Whong, who submitted the FOIL request, received data on almost 170 million trips. (Hosted here.) “Of these, 30 cab/days were queried at random for inclusion in this project,” the site explains. Whong is a part of BetaNYC, a group of so-called “civic hackers” working to use technology to create a more connected city and more open government.
The paths that the taxis take in the visualizations are not necessarily accurate, of course: “Trip Routes are a result of passing the start and end locations to the Google Directions API. They are a possible route that the taxi took, but should not be assumed to be accurate.”
“Empty Taxis also follow the ‘best route’ between a dropoff and the next pickup. Just as with the trips, this is just an effective way to move the marker around, but doesn’t reflect the reality of where the taxi traveled.”
“These data are a veritable trove for people who love cities, transit, and data visualization,” Pandurangan wrote in a post on Medium. “But there’s a big problem: The personally identifiable information (the driver’s licence number and taxi number) hasn’t been anonymized properly — what’s worse, it’s trivial to undo, and with other publicly available data, one can even figure out which person drove each trip.”
So while you stare into this beautiful data-vis project, just know that it’s also sort of an affront to personal information.
Brendan O’Connor is a technology and politics reporter. In April 2016, he joined Gawker Media Group as a staff writer, where he covers the alt-right for its special projects desk.