MIT NYTE project visualizes New York communications

March 1st, 2008

AP has an article, MIT Creates Picture of NY Communications, that highlights work of New York Talk Exchange (NYTE) project being done in the MIT SENSEable City Laboratory.

“For the past two months, 24 hours a day, MIT researchers have been collecting the electronic communications of millions of New Yorkers — but not for salacious gossip or to protect national security. They’ve been building a census that shows, neighborhood by neighborhood, New York’s telephone and Internet links to other cities across the planet and how those connections change over time.” (link)

Globe Encounters visualizes in real time the volumes of Internet data flowing between New York and cities around the world. The size of the glow on a particular city location corresponds to the amount of IP traffic flowing between that place and New York City. A greater glow implies a greater IP flow.

Visualizations from the NYTE project are part of the Design and the Elastic Mind exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, which focuses on the use of technology in design.

“New York Talk Exchange illustrates the global exchange of information in real time by visualizing volumes of long distance telephone and IP (Internet Protocol) data flowing between New York and cities around the world. In an information age, telecommunications such as the Internet and the telephone bind people across space by eviscerating the constraints of distance. To reveal the relationships that New Yorkers have with the rest of the world, New York Talk Exchange asks: How does the city of New York connect to other cities? With which cities does New York have the strongest ties and how do these relationships shift with time? How does the rest of the world reach into the neighborhoods of New York?” (link)

The data was provided to the MIT researchers by AT&T from voice and Internet traffic after being anonymized to remove any personal information.