October 22nd, 2023
While cities around the world are looking for smart ways to channel new advances in data collection, management, and analysis to address their day-to-day problems, the complex nature of urban issues and the overwhelming amount of available structured and unstructured data have posed significant challenges in translating these efforts into actionable insights. In the past few years, urban visual analytics tools have significantly helped tackle these challenges. When analyzing a feature of interest, an urban scientist must transform, integrate and visualize different thematic (e.g., sunlight, flows) and physical (e.g., buildings, sidewalks) layers, oftentimes across multiple spatial and temporal scales. However, integrating and analyzing these layers requires expertise in different fields, increasing development time and effort. This makes the entire visual data exploration and system implementation hard for experienced programmers and also sets a high entry barrier for urban experts outside of computer science. With this in mind, in this paper, we present the Urban Toolkit (UTK), a flexible and extensible visualization framework that enables the easy authoring of web-based visualizations through a new high-level grammar specifically built with common urban use cases in mind. In order to facilitate the integration and visualization of different urban data, we also propose the concept of knots to merge thematic and physical urban layers. We evaluate our approach through use cases and a series of interviews with experts and practitioners from different domains, including urban accessibility, urban planning, architecture, and climate science. UTK is available at urbantk.org.
Index Terms: Urban visual analytics, Urban analytics, Urban data, Visualization toolkit.
Moreira, G., Hosseini, M., Nipu, M.N.A., Lage, M., Ferreira, N., Miranda, F., The Urban Toolkit: A Grammar-based Framework for Urban Visual Analytics, IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG) / VIS2023, Melbourne, Australia, October 22nd, 2023.