music venues heatmap visualisation

The first term of my studies at CASA is coming to an end, and I have to say that only now I am starting to fully enjoy the time spent studying here. The reason for this late appreciation is that only now I have managed to finally put to use the skills acquired during the first term. And what I mean by ‘put to use’ is on something that is not a course assignment, and is more a personal project. The result is a map of music venues located in and around central London.

The idea came while working on a piece of coursework, where I saw an opportunity for some cartography, with a bit of graphic design on the side. Add to that the fact that during that time I was looking for places that have live music in London (I am still new to London, and still rely on the internet to tell me things), and you get a music venues map as a side project. This side project was used as a validation method for the bigger project I was working on at the time.

The workflow for the map starts with openStreetMaps and Google Maps API, from where I got the road network and the locations for the live music venues, respectively. After that came some work in ArcGIS, on which we’ve been training for the past 3 months, and only now I am starting to realize its potential. I used a tool I have been building that searches for nearby features, records the number of them, and plots the road network according to the number of nearby features per road segment. Finally the ArcGIS output gets run through Illustrator and Photoshop, to finalize it, fine-tune the graphic aspects of the map, and add the necessary text and legend.


music venues in and around central London, with road segments coloured according to the number of live music venues in their proximity. click for full-size

It’s not groundbreaking, but this small map gave me an idea of how to use the tools we have been taught over the past term, and it also gave me the opportunity to do some design, something that I have neglected for a long time. On a side note, the tool I used in ArcGIS, in connection with Google APIs, can be used to identify hotspots in road networks of practically anything that can be found through a search engine, which nowadays feels like everything. Another interesting aspect of this little project is the fact that all the necessary data was obtained from publicly available sources. OpenStreetMap is a very useful resource for freely available street data, and the Google Maps API can be accessed by anyone with a Google account. So, it seems that there are going to be more maps coming in the future.

On a final note, it looks like I now have some new areas to visit in London..


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