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Data Viz Reveals Boston’s Pulse

The buzz about Big Data has turned an age-old maxim on its head.

In a time when we can assemble and analyze vast quantities of incidental data, it seems that “surplus” often supplants “necessity” as the “mother of invention.” Sasaki Strategies, our internal team of designers, software developers, and data analysts, is committed to finding ways to leverage these mega-datasets to reveal useful insights into our built environments.

Below we share a recent project, which joins business hours with a powerful data visualization tool to tell a unique story of urban life. 

We’re Open: Business Hours in Boston

Time is essential to our experience of cities. And yet, time is remarkably under-represented in the theory and practice of urban design. “We’re Open,” an exploratory data visualization of business hours in Boston, investigates the idea of time as way to measure and inform our understanding of urban life.

Through an interactive display of the city’s business hours at the regional, neighborhood, and architectural scales, “We’re Open” resolves the tension between what is immediately observable, and innately understood about a city. Relying on data’s ability to reveal hidden truths or confirm long-held instincts, this visualization makes plain the appeal of certain neighborhoods for investment over others: while some corridors flourish through constant cycles of activity throughout the day and week, others toggle between animated and empty—with little in between.

For urban planners and designers, a more nuanced understanding of the urban timescale unlocks opportunities. To achieve their planning and design goals, urbanists may push on the invisible levers of time and rhythm through policy changes like overlay districts and activity-generating adjustments to the public realm.

Check out “We’re Open,” and learn more about Sasaki Strategies.

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