BBC’s ‘Britain from above’ – Mashing-up the UK

There was a trailer shown as the last story on the BBC One 10 o’clock news last night for a new TV series starting next week called ‘Britain From Above‘. There is a news story introducing it online where you can watch a few clips. The series starts at 9pm on BBC1 on Sunday 10th August 2008, and will be available in HD.

The series will be presented by Andrew Marr and shows how our lives work and interconnect using some pretty neat visualisations. A simple way to describe them was mashing up data from our lives onto some high powered maps. The examples they showed included:

  • A dataset from all of the telephone exchanges in the UK showing the sources of phone calls made in one day, plotted over time onto a map of the UK. Once animated it allows you to see how the country wakes up, runs through the day, then quieten downs again at night.
  • A map showing flight paths of all flights in the UK, running down the air corridors, and stacking up before landing.
  • A visualisation of the shipping traffic passing through the Strait of Dover.
  • A map of London showing the routes taken by a selected group of cabbies, and how it changes when the road get busy, using their local knowledge to find different routes.
I’d love to get my hands on some datasets like this and mess around!

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One thought on “BBC’s ‘Britain from above’ – Mashing-up the UK

  1. Mary Jacob

    Hi Stuart,

    This is really interesting, thanks for sharing it. I’m fascinated by the patterns that interconnect people and I’ll try an catch the show. Have you ever seen the film Koyanisqatsi? Some similar ideas.

    I have been looking for ways to depict something like this to incorporate into an art project that I’m currently working on. The piece where it could fit is Axons and Dendrites, which is about viewing individual human interactions as being like connections between brain cells (micro level) and collective flow of information (macro level). A mashup like this would work nicely for depicting the macro level. (this is the type of thing I’ve been getting up to when not at work)

    If you do indeed get your hands on same datasets like this, perhaps we might talk…I might want to use it, credited to you of course.


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