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Data Graphics OpenStreetMap

Nike Grid – Visualising Runners on the Streets of London

My last eight posts have all been on bike share, time for a slight change of topic – running rather than cycling.

In the last few days, I’ve been taking part on the Nike Grid alternative reality game (a futuristic take on street-o). The concept is a great use of social media – with an active Facebook group, key updates pushed to participants phones and Facebook walls, and a Foursquare-esque concept of “checking in” to the phoneboxes which act as the run timers, starting and stopping clocks and noting locations. How do you “check in”? You make a (free) phone call.

There is a strong mapping element to the game – online maps show the locations of the key phoneboxes in each postcode, the maps appear in printed form and as artwork on the technical T-shirts included in player packs sent to key participants.

The maps are based on OpenStreetMap data, heavily stylised in black, grey and white with a “region”-specific pattern for the background and another pattern used for parks. The phoneboxes are “pin” style icons placed on top. The maps have been produced by Stamen Design in San Francisco. It’s not the first time they’ve done cool things with OSM data.

Stamen are also producing daily visualisations of the runs. The run lines have a hexagonal style to them, which goes along with the hexagonal tiling of the 48 postcodes being used in the game, although the start/end points are geographically accurate. A hexagonal cartogram is used on the main website to show the postcodes in pseudo-geographic space, in some of the visualisation the hexagons then “explode” and move to their correct place on the geographic map – a clever linking of cartograms and geographic maps.

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