Rio de Janeiro urban buses flow – a visualization

This project seeks to explore representations of the flow generated by bus traffic in the city of Rio de Janeiro. We used data generated by the buses’s GPS available at the open data portal of the city hall.

We aim to highlight the buses dynamics, the use of urban spaces and the population routine. This way, we seek to produce data visualizations that reveal patterns that could provide new ways of seeing and understanding the city.

Methodology and references

We based our study in Ben Fry’s article “The Seven Stages of Visualizing Data” from his book “Visualizing Data: Exploring and Explaining Data with the Processing Environment” and also in Nathan Yau’s book “Data Points: Visualizations that means something”.

The development of this project also involved extensive research of references, other articles and visualizations. This material were used as inspiration for the proposed solutions. The main references can be accessed in the following links:

Shanghai Metro Flow – Multiple perspectives into a subway system

Touching Transport – A Case Study on Visualizing Metropolitan Public Transit on Interactive Tabletops

Middle East – Key players & Relationships

Travel Times on Commuter Rail

O Vaivém Urbano

Traffic in Lisbon and the visualization of trajectories

Seven Days of carsharing: Exploring and visualizing the Enjoy carsharing service in Milan

Creative process

We used the vehicle GPS data to contextualize the relationships that could be highlighted. We observed relevant elements in the urban flow, such as bus location, time and bus line, selecting dateHora, Bus ID, Line, Latitude and Longitude, Speed and the relationships between these dimensions.

Upon understanding the correlations, we selected three important relations to be addressed in the flow representation: Location x Time, Location x Line and Bus x Location. Then, we searched possible ways to approach them in a visualization. For example, Location can be approached either by the City Area where the flow occurs, or by the Route of each bus line. This way, it was possible to establish criteria of the important dimensions of the visualization. In the case of Location, the position of the buses and the connection provided by them were considered a relevant criteria.

With the criteria in mind, we developed several sketches. Among the main solutions found are the Network, which involves a triangulation between the sites connected by the flow, and the Scatter plot, a dispersion diagram for the distribution of the buses throughout the city.

rede-fluxo-de-onibus-opcao-01 fluxo ônibus Rio de Janeiro

General results and conclusions

Besides the sketches created, we developed a video showing a day of the buses flow in the city of Rio de Janeiro.  We have observed a huge variation in the flow of vehicles. We consider that the use of data from urban flows can provide raw material for a better understanding of the city.