Visualizing a Day in the Life of a New York City Cab


Data can be a powerful tool to help a business do daily tasks better, to make products safer, and to provide better service to customers. In an article by Chadwick Matlin, we lear how data can be used to track a New York City taxi.

This week, Chris Whong, a self-professed “urbanist, mapmaker, data junkie” in Brooklyn, put out one of the more thrilling data projects we’ve seen recently. It was a visualization of the day in the life of a New York City taxi, and each time you load the page, you get a different taxi’s journey. There’s a voyeuristic thrill to watching a taxi driver go from Midtown to SoHo, only to have to turn around and go right back up. While the map is churning, a box in the upper right keeps track of the car’s fares, passenger count and tips (credit card only). It’s a captivating bird’s-eye view of what New York City residents normally only glimpse from the ground.

I was so enamored with the visualization that I called Whong, a 33-year-old data solutions architect at Socrata, an open-data organization, to chat about how it came to be. If you’re intrigued, visit the visualization and then come back for a little making-of Q&A (lightly edited for clarity and brevity).


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