Typical travel planning tools like Google Maps give you directions and travel times from point A to point B. The routes are selected based on algorithms using real-time or historic traffic information. It’s cool and very practical. But what if you’d like to use such a tool for urban planning or simply to learn something about your neighbourhood? In that case the information you’re looking for is how far can you get in particular time… to any point. In cartography the tool for analysing such an information is called isochrone and it’s a line on the map connecting points at which something occurs or arrives at the same time.
Recently I found a map which shows one of the coolest usage of isochrones out there. Isoscope is a project created at urban mobility class at the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam. It allows you to pick any point in the world and generate 2 to 10 minutes isochrones for any day of the week. The tool is using the HERE API which allows for calculating areas reachable within a given time automatically (based on historical speed profiles of HERE) and well-known Leaflet Java Script library.
“We wanted our project to shed light on situations when urban mobility is compromised, when the pulse of the city falters, such as during traffic jams,” said Sebastian Kaim, who developed the tool along with Flavio Gortana and Martin von Lupin.
User can play with the tool using this simple menu. Essentially what you can do is to select typical day of the week and travel time distance isochrones. What you get is a set of 24 isolines displayed together for selected points. Now by sliding through hours on the top of the menu you can observe the changes in the traffic flows.
One of the coolest features of the tool is adding isochrones for pedestrians. Now it starts to bring the true value to urban planners. Imagine that using the API we could identify the areas where pedestrian travel time is close to car travel time. Having such an information about your destination would you still choose a car instead of walking?