Image of the Day: Taxi visualization in NYC

Over the course of a year in New York City, 13,500 taxis make 17,000,000 passenger pick-ups and drop-offs. The picture above and video below are part of a record of the GPS coordinates of each one of those trips. MIT has taken all of these data points and put them into a massive database, because — well, they're not exactly sure why. Or at least, not for a specific reason. The idea behind HubCap (an interactive NYC taxi data visualization system) is to see how it might be possible to take the data and do something useful with it.

For example, it should be possible to determine how much more efficient it would be if taxis were able to be intelligently shared by their passengers. If you're going from point A to point B, and someone else needs to get from point C to point D, and both of those points are in between A and B, a taxi would double its efficiency (at the expense of a little bit of time and maybe some slight passenger awkwardness) by combining two trips into one. And that's just a simple example. As a user, you can see where taxis like to stop or pass at a specific location, and it might give you a good place to start if you need to hail one.

All of this stuff is available for you to look at for free, and MIT helpfully includes a tutorial to get you started. Check it out here.

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