Alan Mislove

It's a pretty impressive snapshot of the transportation networks of large stretches of the globe.

You may have seen earlier this summer a series of maps released by Twitter showing the geography of different cities as revealed by millions of tweets. Such maps of digital information are compelling for the way they also illustrate concrete infrastructure: the road networks around cities, the public parks inside of them, the clusters of commercial office buildings.

If you missed your own city in that series, Northeastern University assistant professor of computer science Alan Mislove has created a global, navigable map using much of the same data.

Maps of geo-tagged tweets always represent a biased sample of a biased sample. Tons of people aren't on Twitter. And of those who are, the vast majority never opt in to sharing their geographic location. The 275 million tweets shown in Mislove's map, collected between 2011 and April of the year, reflect just the 1.5 percent of messages that are readily geo-tagged. Still, these people appear to give a pretty impressive snapshot of the transportation networks of large stretches of the globe.

"The fact that you can see roads for example," Mislove says, "took me completely by surprise." Here, for example, are interstates 20, 85 and 75 converging on Atlanta:

We've embedded Mislove's full map below. But here are some of our favorite less obvious pieces of transportation infrastructure that clearly emerge from millions of tweets. On this map of the English Channel, you can see ferry boats crossing between Dover and Calais, on the French side:

A similar stretch of ferries run between Holyhead in the U.K. and Dublin:

And here ferries fan out from Istanbul in the Sea of Marmara:

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, San Mateo Bridge and Dumbarton Bridge are all apparent:

If you find your own examples here – people waiting at airports? riding Amtrak? – please share them in the comments section.

All images courtesy of Alan Mislove.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Coronavirus

    The Post-Pandemic Urban Future Is Already Here

    The coronavirus crisis stands to dramatically reshape cities around the world. But the biggest revolutions in urban space may have begun before the pandemic.

  2. Perspective

    Coronavirus Reveals Transit’s True Mission

    Now more than ever, public transportation is not just about ridership. Buses, trains, and subways make urban civilization possible.

  3. A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask walks past a boarded up building in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Governors from coast to coast Friday told Americans not to leave home except for dire circumstances and ordered nonessential business to shut their doors.
    Equity

    The Geography of Coronavirus

    What do we know so far about the types of places that are more susceptible to the spread of Covid-19? In the U.S., density is just the beginning of the story.

  4. Coronavirus

    The Coronavirus Class Divide in Cities

    Places like New York, Miami and Las Vegas have a higher share of the workforce in jobs with close proximity to others, putting them at greater Covid-19 risk.

  5. photo: South Korean soldiers attempt to disinfect the sidewalks of Seoul's Gagnam district in response to the spread of COVID-19.
    Coronavirus

    Pandemics Are Also an Urban Planning Problem

    Will COVID-19 change how cities are designed? Michele Acuto of the Connected Cities Lab talks about density, urbanization and pandemic preparation.  

×