Numerous systems have been developed to display large collections of data for urban contexts; however, most have focused on layering of single dimensions of data and manual calculations to understand relationships within the urban environment. Furthermore, these systems often limit the user’s perspectives on the data, thereby diminishing the user’s spatial understanding of the viewing region. In this paper, we introduce a highly interactive urban visualization tool that provides intuitive understanding of the urban data. Our system utilizes an aggregation method that combines buildings and city blocks into legible clusters, thus providing continuous levels of abstraction while preserving the user’s mental model of the city. In conjunction with a 3D view of the urban model, a separate but integrated information visualization view displays multiple disparate dimensions of the urban data, allowing the user to understand the urban environment both spatially and cognitively in one glance. For our evaluation, expert users from various backgrounds viewed a real city model with census data and confirmed that our system allowed them to gain more intuitive and deeper understanding of the urban model from different perspectives and levels of abstraction than existing commercial urban visualization systems.
Legible Cities: Multi-Resolution Visualization of Urban Relationships. Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (Proceedings InfoVis), vol. 13, no. 6, pp. 1169–1175, 2007