Visualising London Marathon (Part 1)

We have now started the group visualisation projects at the Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualisation MRes course (CASA, UCL), and I was lucky to be put in a team with three excellent people – Heidi, Jeff and Aditya. The overall theme for the visualisation project is ‘Day in the life of…’ and we chose to focus on London Marathon, because it is a large event (more than 36K runners in 2014) that lasts for one day but has a lot of (social) media activity leading up to, during and after it. Mainly we are interested in telling a good story with data. Marathon as a topic presents various 2D and 3D spatial visualisation opportunities, such as animating runners, social media activity and weather, and of course other visualisations of results. I am focusing on animating runners along the route, and also plan to combine some weather and social media data to it.

The first step has been to get the route data into a format that I can start building my animation in Processing. Heidi got hold of gps data for the 2014 London Marathon route and I turned it into a csv file, and then to an ArrayList<PVector>, so that I could draw a ‘continuous spline curve’ that I plan to use as a path to animate the runners along at different speeds. Aditya scraped the 2014 London Marathon results from the marathon organisers’ website, so we’ve got the runners speed at every 5k in addition to basic demographics such as gender and age group. The reason why I have to create a path for the ‘movers’ (runners) is that we don’t have location data for each of the 36,000 runners.

London Marathon route 2014

London Marathon route 2014 drawn in Processing as continuous spline curve (curveVertex)

Here’s the London Marathon 2014 path drawn as curveVertex. The route here doesn’t look anything different from a basic gps track, but as it is a path (instead of just a drawing) the next step for me is to create runners as objects to move along the path at their own speeds. The styling (map base, colours, shapes of objects, fonts etc.) will come last, so for now I am just focusing on creating runner objects and getting the animation working.

The deadline for the group project is towards the end of May, so I will be working on this until then. Stay tuned.


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