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Real-time map of Pedestrian traffic

Real-time maps, as an expression of spatio-temporal data are always interesting to explore and provide interesting insights into the system that is being visualized. The “Boston Bus Speed Map” for e.g. provides an amazing insight into how the public transit system works during rush hours in the city of Boston. TRAVIC on the other hand  provides a global view of the public transit systems in different cities. But then how about   real-time maps that showcase the movement of pedestrians and cyclists in a given area?

Real-time map of pedestrian traffic

Placemeter, a New-York based start-up has blogged about a real-time map of pedestrians (and bikers) outside Union Square, NYC. It’s probably the first time we are getting to see a real-time map of pedestrians and it’s really interesting to watch it in action!

Location-based Marketing

The map is an indicator of how location-based marketing might evolve in the future. Its entirely possible that such systems will be used to determine the rent of retail outlets (if online shopping doesn’t end up killing the concept by then, but I doubt that). Already in this map, its possible to get a real-time count of the number of people headed to Chipotle and Geox. It would be interesting to understand how companies can turn all this data into useful insight.

How did they map it? Privacy?

Placemeter utilises either its own sensors or Security camera feed (live or recorded) to extract information about the movement of pedestrians and vehicles outside a particular location. The startup has explicitly tried to allay privacy concerns about such a system by answering a few privacy related questions on their FAQs page.


Interested in more detailed analysis of how such location-based data can be put to use? Check out their analysis on “How did Winter Storm Jonas affect pedestrian activity in New York City?”. 

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How to download data from the OpenStreetMap without a line of code?


OpenStreetMap is a crowdsource project to create a free editable map of the world. By this means you can use OSM data in any GIS or mapping project, both privately and commercially.

If you ever needed to use OSM data in your GIS project you must have faced the same challenge… How to download OpenStreetData in GIS format? In fact it is easier than you might think. There are a couple of websites that allow you to simply download OSM data. Here is the list of the most user-friendly tools to do that:


wdt_ID Organization Name Industries Headquarters City Headquarters State Headquarters Country Total Funding (in USD) Operating Status Founded Full Description Website
Organization Name Industries Headquarters City Headquarters State Headquarters Country Total Funding (in USD) Operating Status Founded Full Description Website

Some of these tools don’t support downloading data in ShapeFile format or offer it as a paid service as PBF is a primary format of OSM data. You shouldn’t be too worried about it. The are multiple converters available online but most of them are based on command line which is not that convenient. There is however a simple way to do that in QGIS. You simply add to the map a PBF file as a vector layer and save it as SHP.


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