Richard Saul Wurman, the creator of the TED conference, has been interested in being able to compare cities at the same scale for more than 50 years. But only recently was he able to create a means to effectively, and attractively, display comparative patterns.
Wurman, Jon Kamen of Radical Media, and Esri president Jack Dangermond, have together created the Urban Observatory, "an immersive exhibit featuring standardized comparative data on over 16 cities. Zoom in on one city map and other cities will simultaneously zoom in at the same scale, making it possible to compare data on traffic density, vegetation, residential land use, and so on," says Ariel Schwartz.
"The Observatory features 16 data sets in five categories: work, movement, people, public, and systems. 'It’s shocking that it hasn’t been done 40 years ago, 50 years ago,' says Wurman."