Information is power--but only if it is organized in a form that we can easily understand and use. Enter "You Are Here," a new project from MIT Media Lab's Social Computing Group that aims to repackage urban data into 10,000 beautiful, user-friendly city maps to inspire social change. Arguably one of the most ambitious online mapping projects we've ever seen, this massive undertaking will comprise 100 maps for 100 different cities, each a visualization of data points on everything from street greenery to bicycle accidents. The hope, says the group, is that these maps will “empower people to make their city--and therefore the world--a more beautiful place."
The project, which launched at the start of April, brings together a diverse team of computer scientists, mathematicians, artists, designers, and educators. Thus far, they’ve mapped the locations of independent coffee shops in high-density cities, bike crash data, and most recently, street greenery in various high-density cities such as San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The group hopes that these maps will inspire people to better their cities. The bike accident maps, for instance, can help urban planners and city officials determine the next location for separate bike lanes and the greenery maps can inspire local residents to plant more trees in areas where there are none.
The maps are also more than just an exercise in compiling data–they are art. For instance, the maps of independent coffee shop and their walkingshed communities are rendered as beautiful splashes of watercolor. Data is aggregated from multiple references from Google Street View to police reports and the sources are listed in the About section of each map. At its current production pace of at least one map a day, the project will finish in 27 years at the latest.