Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Connected States of America

Phone Call Cartography 

THE M.I.T. SENSEable City Lab has once again put together some beautiful spatial data visualizations – this time it is a project about seeing how Americans interconnect through mobile phones. 
“If you analyze aggregated cellphone traffic, interesting patterns emerge.  Cities become connective hubs as people move to them from nearby counties and from far across the country. As a result, many calls originate and end in cities, connecting urban citizens to their families back home.  At the same time, communities emerge that have little to do with geographic boundaries.  While some follow state lines, others split states in half or combine them…. These patterns show that proximity is only one of many factors — both cultural and economic — that bring people together.”  From the New York Times article 7/3/11 at

Watch the video they have put together on the research (1 Minute long)
This is the link to an interactive map that allows you to plug in your own location and see the mobile phone traffic. 
Check out their website for other projects they are working on.  There is a particularly nice project on Singapore, complete with some very cool data visualizations about the city’s local transportation network, urban heat island, the effects of being the “hub of the world,” the world’s largest trans-shipment container port and one of the busiest airports in the world, among other topics. Singapore is such a unique place, being one of the world's last city-sates.  

 Isochronic Singapore
“As vehicular traffic opens up and jams in the course of the day, the time we need to move in Singapore shrinks and expands. How long will it take you to go from home to any other destination? Find out with this isochronic map, where the deformations are proportional to travel time - and reveals the changes in the course of a weekend/week day.  From M.I.T. SENSEable City Lab website

Check out the video and other visualizations at:


  1. Interesting that this MIT group called it Connected States of America (CSA). CSA also happens to be the Confederate States of America also known as 'the south' or 'the rebels' during the civil war. Do I believe this is some sort of conspiracy to re-divide the United States in some way? Of course I do! And good luck! I hope you succeed! The country has to many people and is too dissimilar.


  2. OK, Scott - Let's not get carried away with conspiracy theories! The fellow who runs the MIT lab sounds like he may be from Italy originally, and probably has no awareness of the CSA acronym. And if the country is going to be divided up, the first thing I would vote for is for NYC to become its own city-state, like Singapore is. We are totally different than the rest of the US, culturally, demographically, and linguistically, not to mention attitudinally. We are not to be lumped in with the other Northeasterners, as wonderful as they may be. The United Nations is already headquartered here, we are already a world city, (and although what constitutes a "world city" is difficult to define, most experts on the topic at least agree that the top three world cities are New York, London, and Tokyo, the rest are secondary). NYC is the economic engine of the state, and probably even of the entire northeast region, and we have a corner on the market in terms of the financial industry, publishing, fashion, art, and many others. We are still an important port city and house more company headquarters than anywhere else. We could easily hold our own. And then we wouldn't have to take any more abuse from upstate New York (not you Scott, even though you are in Peekskill!) who are always griping about the money pit that NYC is, with its welfare frauds, and expensive upkeep. When in reality, of course, NYC provides most of the tax money in the state coffers. Tired of being maligned by Albany! and the rest of the country! Secession now! ha ha! It would work!