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TimeMaps: the new cartography of travel

Have you imagined what a map looked like if you replaced distance with time?

October 15, 2012

In our current world, time has become more and more relevant and its importance should be perfectly visible in maps. This is the basic premise for TimeMaps, a dynamic visualization in which the distance between different cities in The Netherlands has been replaced by the time spent traveling from one to another.

(image: Vincent Meertens | Timemaps)

Vincent Meertensg, an independent graphic designer and visual researcher currently living in New York, created TimeMaps back in 2010. He studied Man + Communication at the Design Academy in Eindhoven and this was his graduation project. Since then, it has received international recognition for its innovative concept, which Vincent explained to us: “If time is more and more important, than this is a contradiction with maps as we know them; they’re all based on distance and don’t feature any aspect of time as a measurement, perception or even as a replacement of distance.”

“And this last thing is exactly what TimeMaps is about: I replaced distance with (travel)time. So each map you see in TimeMaps is based on actual live travel times, instead of the old measurement – distance. TimeMaps communicates directly with the Dutch Railroad server and get’s live updates on actual travel times, delays and schedule changes. At each moment, with every delay, or any other change in schedule the map is automatically updated. This results in an ever changing dynamic map.”

(image: Vincent Meertens | Timemaps)

He points out a couple of examples: “From the perspective of Eindhoven, for instance, the Netherlands is relatively small because of the quick and easy connections to other cities. At the same time, seen from a more remote and small village such as Stavoren, the Netherlands is much bigger.” Furthermore, “not only the location from which one looks, or travels, but also the hour of the day is very important. At night the map of the Netherlands will expand because there are no night trains and in the morning it will shrink once trains will commence their schedules. The map of the Netherlands will never be the same again.”

(image: Vincent Meertens | Timemaps )

To explore this new concept of mapping, go to the Timemaps Web App.  Unique posters of different TimeMaps are now available to buy and if you want a customized one, just get in touch with Vincent.

Links: TimeMaps

Written by Tiago Veloso

Tiago Veloso is the founder and editor of Visualoop and Visualoop Brasil . He is Portuguese, currently based in Bonito, Brazil.