How far can you drive in 10 minutes at rush hour? In most cities, the answer is pitifully small, and in some cases, you can actually get farther on foot. A new tool called Isoscope maps out the range for any given city: Just pick a point and time of day, and a glowing blue blob will cover the map showing exactly how far you can get.
"We wanted our project to shed light on situations when urban mobility is compromised, when the pulse of the city falters, such as during traffic jams," said Sebastian Kaim, who developed the tool along with Flavio Gortana and Martin von Lupin in an urban mobility class at the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam.
Unlike another travel planning tool, which might try to guess how long it will take to get from point A to point B, Isoscope illustrates how congestion affects whole neighborhoods.
"When it was running as intended for the first time, we were totally hooked and couldn’t stop exploring and comparing cities," Kaim says. "It’s fascinating how much Isoscope reveals about the local infrastructure in general. Even without knowing a place personally, one can speculate about its urban setting just by examining the corresponding Isoscope shapes."
While anyone who regularly commutes in a city already knows what traffic is like, the designers wanted to offer a different perspective and inspire some new thinking on congestion that people may accept as inevitable.
‘We want to make the daily traffic experience visually accessible," von Lupin says. "People start realizing what barriers and liberties they have in their city, and what limitations come along with a specific day or daytime. Maybe our tool can change the way people think about the traffic in their neighborhood, the streets they use, and the paths they walk."