A unique partnership of students and faculty in the MIT-Portugal CityMotion project, a Portuguese design atelier, and two major taxi operators in Lisbon has produced a series of innovative visualizations of Lisbon traffic that points towards future mobility decision tools for individuals and industry.

These visualizations, by University of Coimbra Master’s student Pedro Cruz, map the GPS coordinates and velocity of 1534 taxis circulating in Lisbon during October 2009. This information is condensed in one single virtual day, grouping the data by second and displaying it as an animation. Each experiment explores a different way to visualize and express information.

Prof. Penousal Machado of the University of Coimbra, one of Pedro Cruz’ advisors, observed that this pilot initiative could serve as a spur to future tool development to inform mobility choices by individuals and industry. With access to live data from many more vehicles at a time, Prof. Machado said, “we could in the future have visualizations of this sort streaming live to individual motorists and to companies and municipal organizations that manage traffic.”

This innovative application of data visualizations in smart mobility projects shows how the success of CityMotion has paved the way for research within the emergent MIT-Portugal application area of Sustainable Energy and Transportation Systems.

Pedro Cruz is developing his Master’s thesis at the University of Coimbra as part of the CityMotion project, along with supervisors Penousal Machado and João Bicker. Prof. Bicker is also a principal in the design atelier Ferrand, Bicker and Associates.

The taxi data was provided through a data sharing agreement with two major taxi operators in Lisbon, Geotaxi and Frotcom.

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