Seattle Commute Times Visualilizer

Thu, Mar 2, 2006 2-minute read

When I was first looking for a house, one of my primary constraints was commute times.  I started by asking people – “How long does it take you to commute to work?”  I started building a mental map, but then started thinking about putting pins on a real map to help me remember all of the data I was getting from people.

But then I thought, “Hey – computers are supposed to make this kind of stuff easier.”  And then, “Hey – I’m a software developer.  I’m supposed to make programs that make computers do useful things.”

So I did.  I built a website that allowed people to enter everything they knew about their commute times, and then another page that let them visually explore the data set.  For example, “Find me all commute times less than 30 minutes that let me commute to work by bus before 8:30 in the morning.”

With well over a thousand data points, it’s pretty useful.

When the Virtual Earth team stabilized their API a while back, I turned it into a mashup.  So if you’re thinking about commuting around the Seattle area, enjoy:

P.S: Although I wanted to use AJAX for the gimmick factor, it would have made the site perform terribly!  Given the expected usage pattern, it is much more efficient to download the entire data set at once.