Mapping New York City's Runnability

  • “What does it look like when an entire city goes running? And how can we use that data to improve the experience of runners in different cities?” Brooklyn-based interaction designer Cooper Smith created a stunning series of interactive maps that visualizes New York City on Nike Plus. Interested the quality of location, Smith used data derived from over a thousand geo-located runs to draw his own map of the Big Apple, from the shape of the Manhattan landmass down to its individual streets.

    Smith shows that the huge data set of Nike Plus runs is a great source of valuable information about how runners perceive the urban realm. As many of you may know, Nike Plus lets you map your runs and track your progress using a sensor or the Nike+ GPS iPhone app. Work-outs can be synced and saved directly on Nikeplus.com profiles, where a bunch of graphically presented statistical information is made available. Smith did an interesting job with this research. His mapping results are perfectly able to tell, for instance, which spots are most popular to excercise. I can imagine his Nike Plus mapping projects to offer a great deal of valuable information to local authorities when it comes to improving the urban leisure landscape.

    Not surprisingly, Central Park is the most popular place, followed by the trails along the edge of Manhattan, as well as the bridges between Manhattan and Brooklyn. He concludes that “people who begin their runs in Central Park tend to go for longer runs, while those who start outside of Central Park and run into it tend to go for shorter runs”. Furthermore, Smith was able to obtain insight in how different types of urban settings affected the average pace of the runners. Of course, Central Park scores well when it comes to fast runs. Midtown Manhattan seems to be a bad area for running since almost everyone’s pace slows due to the high number of traffic lights and crowds. By drawing a red dot on the map every time a runner stands still for more than ten seconds, he was able to see which parts of the city caused the most interruptions.

    Be sure to check out Cooper Smith’s website for more images and videos of the Nike Plus New York City visualization project!