Consumer Data Research Centre

Using Big Data To Map A City’s ‘Heartbeat’

Using Big Data To Map A City’s ‘Heartbeat’

CDRC researcher Oliver O’Brien recently developed the Tube Heartbeat, which shows the London Underground pulsing as passengers make their way around the city over the course of a typical weekday.  The visualisation combines the power of the HERE Maps API for JavaScript with data from Transport for London.


Nearly five million journeys were tracked in a single day to create the data visualisation, but users can also select individual Tube stations to see how passenger traffic varies from place to place.  O’Brien highlights a number of interesting examples:

  • Peak time at Leicester Square is after 10pm – the tube is a popular way to get back to homes and hotels after a night at the theatre.
  • Closing museums cause an early peak in South Kensington, while shoppers on Oxford Street can also be seen in the stats.
  • School kids cause spikes in usage across certain quieter stations, particularly in outer London
  • West ham’s morning peak entry is an hour before everyone else.  Other stations have two morning peaks.
  • Some places are changing character.  Stratford now has almost as many people arriving as leaving in the morning peak

Articles on the Tube Heartbeat can be found on Forbes, Wired and the TfL Digital Blog.

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