Urban Pulse: Capturing the Rhythm of Cities

In collaboration with The Visualization and Data Analytics (ViDA) lab at the NYU School of Computer Science and Engineering.

Fabio Miranda, Marcos Lage, Harish Doraiswamy, Kai Zhao, Bruno Gonçalves, Luc Wilson, Mondrian Hsieh, Cláudio Silva


Cities are inherently dynamic. Interesting patterns of behavior typically manifest at several key areas of a city over multiple temporal resolutions. Studying these patterns can greatly help a variety of experts ranging from city planners and architects to human behavioral experts. Recent technological innovations have enabled the collection of enormous amounts of data that can help in these studies. However, techniques using these data sets typically focus on understanding the data in the context of the city, thus failing to capture the dynamic aspects of the city. The goal of this work is to instead understand the city in the context of multiple urban data sets. To do so, we define the concept of an “urban pulse” which captures the spatiotemporal activity in a city across multiple temporal resolutions. The prominent pulses in a city are obtained using the topology of the data sets, and are characterized as a set of beats. The beats are then used to analyze and compare different pulses. We also design a visual exploration framework that allows users to explore the pulses within and across multiple cities under different conditions. Finally, we present three case studies carried out by experts from two different domains that demonstrate the utility of our framework.