Could Twitter help urban planners improve transport networks?

Could SMS be used for the same purpose – is there enough data if phones are not smart phones? from the Guardian

Data-mapping expert Eric Fischer has used geolocated Tweets to find the most frequently travelled routes in US cities. Could this sort of data be used to plan transit systems in the future?
• Who made these graphics? Eric Fischer
• Where can I find the originals? Here

Fischer British IslesView larger picture

Fischer created this map using data from over one million Tweet-based trips in August 2011. Advocates of HS2 may feel somewhat vindicated.

As far as data analysis is concerned, Twitter is primarily used for retrospective tracking of sentiment and other social data, but could geolocated Tweets be used to plan for the future?

Data-mapping work by Eric Fischer suggests that it could. If the volume of geo-tagged Tweets is used a proxy for traffic levels, urban planners could use this data to fine-tune existing transport networks and establish where new routes are needed.

Fischer took millions of geolocated Tweets from across the world, cross-referenced them with data on known transport nodes, and used the results to plot the most heavily used routes in cities, countries and continents.

He then created what are in effect transit cartograms, with the thickness of a road or other mass transport line corresponding to the volume of Tweets sent along its path.

Below is a selection of the maps he produced. The full series of images can be found here at Fischer’s Flickr account.

British Isles

Fischer British IslesClick for larger imageFischer created this map using data from over one million Tweet-based trips in August 2011. Advocates of HS2 may feel somewhat vindicated.

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