Maps Reveal How Independent Coffee Shops Create Communities

The Social Computing Group at MIT is compiling data for maps that demonstrate the impact that small independent coffee shops can have on life in the big city.

The interactive maps are part of the "You Are Here" project, which creates data visualizations to serve as tools for urban planning at the micro level:

Independent coffee shops are positive markers of a living community. They function as social spaces, urban offices, and places to see the world go by. Communities are often formed by having spaces in which people can have casual interactions, and local and walkable coffee shops create those conditions, not only in the coffee shop themselves, but on the sidewalks around them. We use maps to know where these coffee shop communities exist and where, by placing new coffee shops, we can help form them.

The map above depicts San Francisco: the colored areas represent a region which is walkable to a specific coffee shop (within 0.7 miles). The intensity of color at each point indicates its distance from its corresponding coffee shop.

Other interactive visualizations at the You Are Here site include coffee shops in Brooklyn and Cambridge and the locations of biking accidents in Chicago and Los Angeles. New maps are being posted daily, with the goal of creating "an atlas of human experience."