Friday, September 01, 2006

Global Flight Patterns

In the past few decades, air travel has changed the way the world lives. The world has become a smaller place in that almost any corner of the world is accessible within 24 hours. A statistic posted several days ago on BLDGBlog, states that over the past 30 years, international trade has increased 1,395% and today, 40% of the economic value of all goods is transported via air; not to mention all the passenger travel. Thus in a way, the airplane has become a partial replacement to ocean travel. This post began with some basic research which led to a study done at UCLA in which data was used from the FAA to create a visual mapping of all air traffic over the United States in a 24 hour period. Several short clips analyze different statistics and some very interesting patterns begin to appear; see:

To the right are some frozen frames which begin to illustrate some interesting points. The maps begin at midnight and inclucde several images frozen at different times. One of the most obvious activities is the waking of the country from east to west. One can clearly see how activity in the morning picks up on the east coast and then makes its way to the west. But when one would expect the same to happen in the evening, it never does. Activity across the country begins to fade uniformly. This is one of the most obvious patterns that can be picked out of the short videos, but as one conts to study them, more patterns become to appear.

Perhaps the most interesting animation in the UCLA collection is the last one titled 3D Bobular. The most abstract animation, in some ways, it also become the clearest animation. the lower three images are frames taken from the 3D Bobular model highlighting some of the most obvious activity in a 24 hour period. Early in the day one can distinctly make out red-eye flights traveling from east to west, then as activity picks up, trans Atlantic flights from Europe create a clear form and towards the end of the day, one can clearly see a wave of trans Atlantic flight leaving the states for Europe.

It becomes interesting to see how telling flight patterns are our everyday lives. One could almost make a science out of studying flight patterns in relations to society. One might find that flight patterns could reveal information about daily life or even record changes in society over time. For instance, what would the flight chart above the US have looked like on the evening of September 11, 2001? Now, there is a high correlation of flight activity between economically dominant countries, how will flight patterns reflect a shift in ten years, twenty years, thirty years? What could such a study say about global economy and well being?


R**L said...

i guess i'll comment more when complete. the style of blogging maybe could leave out the first person and report on the project itself.

R**L said...

are the images there (to the right) or do i not see them? exciting study. waiting for the images.

rrael said...

looking for the speculation. what can you do with this powerful data? make a quick proposal. the amount of speculation that you did in your first blog on Cloud Nine was fantastic.

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