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And other findings from a mobile app that tracks how people in different cities spend their time.

The citizens of New York City and San Francisco no doubt have strong opinions on which city is superior. Now, there’s some data to back up their arguments.

Charlie Kubal and Dylan Keil are co-founders of chronos, a mobile app that uses location and accelerometer data to track how people spend their time. Users don't need to manually input where they’ve been, but can confirm when the app records an activity correctly and modify when the app gets it wrong. Using data from the past six months from thousands of randomly-selected users in each city, the chronos founders compared the sleeping, commuting, and nightlife patterns of New Yorkers and San Franciscans.

Here are the main findings. Keep in mind this analysis is based on people who are chronos (and smartphone) users, which is unlikely to be representative of the entire city’s population. According to Kubal, chronos users tend to be younger (most are between the ages 20-35) and slightly more male. So if anything, this might best be described as a comparison of how young men who own smartphones in each city tend to behave compared with one another.

1. Which city sleeps more? 

In this heat map comparison of weekday wake-up times (shown in local time), S.F. appears to rise before NYC. In fact, the average wake-up time is 7:30 a.m. in San Francisco and 7:47 a.m. in New York.

However, a followup graph shows that NYC’s average weeknight bedtime — 12:44 a.m. — is 37 minutes later than S.F.’s, and is even later than S.F.’s average weekend bedtime. 

According to the graph above, both cities stay out later on the weekends. How does that impact weekend wake-up times? 

Not surprisingly, people in both cities sleep on average 70 minutes more on weekends than on weekdays. Looking at the bottom two rows in the graphic below, we see that although both cities sleep in on the weekend, New Yorkers are staying in bed longer — 10 percent are sleeping past 11 a.m. on weekends.

2. Where do people go when they "go out"?

Top 40 destinations — red is drinking, blue is eating, orange is cultural experience, and green is other

Looking at this graphic of the top 40 "going out" destinations in each city, we see that S.F. prefers dive bars, while NYC prefers cocktail lounges. According to Kubal, chronos users in each city went to their preferred place at near double the rate of the other city. When going out to eat, New Yorkers tend to go for Italian and Greek, steakhouses, and diners, while San Franciscans choose Latin and Indian and taquerias. Food and drink aside, San Franciscans tend to go to parks, friends' homes, concerts, and sporting events more, while New Yorkers are more likely to be found in the club.

And what about leisurely weekend mornings? The graph below says San Franciscans wake up for coffee (over 25 percent of first stops of the day are at coffee shops) and New Yorkers for brunch (restaurants represent over half of first stops, with a substantial portion being brunch-specific places). 

First stop after leaving the house on weekend mornings

3. How do the commutes compare? 

Distribution of average weekday commute times

Although New Yorkers tend to wake up later on weekdays, the commute times for both cities look rather similar, with the majority of them under 30 minutes. New Yorkers do have slightly more commutes in the under-10 minute range, but also more in the over-50 minute range.

Kubal and Keil are already digging through data for a part two of "SF vs. NYC," after which they hope to compare lifestyles in additional cities and countries.
 
All visualizations courtesy of chronos.

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