Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cascade on Wheels

Cascade on Wheels is a visualization project that intends to express the quantity of cars we live with in big cities nowadays. The data set we worked on is the daily average of cars passing by streets, over a year. In this case, a section of the Madrid city center, during 2006. The averages are grouped down into four categories of car types. Light vehicles, taxis, trucks, and buses.

We made two different visualizations of the same data set. We intended not just to visualize the data in a readable way, but also to express its meaning, with the use of metaphors. In the Walls Map piece, car counts are represented by 3D vertical columns emerging from the streets map, like walls. The Traffic Mixer piece, where noise is the metaphor, is an hybrid of a visualization and a sound toy. The first piece focuses more on showing the data in a readable and functional way, while the latter focuses more on expressing the meaning of the data and immersing the user into these numbers. Both pieces try to complete each other.

Cascade on Wheels: Traffic Mixer from steph thirion on Vimeo.


  • Both pieces were built in Processing. The Walls Map makes use of the geomerative and OCD libraries. The Traffic Mixer uses the minim library.
  • Data scrapping and handling was done in Ruby, with a blend of builder, hpricot and rexml.
  • The editor to draw the polygons on the map and link them with the data set was built in Macromedia Flash.

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