To accompany the release of Transportation Alternative’s new Spatial Equity NYC tool, we created a short film that highlights how data can reveal the inequities across NYC streets and city planning — and provide positive solutions for the people of New York.
A Tool for a Better New York
Some streets are wide and leafy, others narrow and steamy, and the rest are famously congested. One size does not fit all in New York’s terra firma. Those differences, though, can create inequitable consequences for its citizens, and Transportation Alternatives have been working with MIT on a tool that aims to reveal those disparities.
The tool, Spatial Equity NYC, uses publicly-available data to measure, compare, and visualize different types of public space—from streets to bus lanes to parks—between neighborhoods.That data is then paired with demographic data, from street-level to city wide. The hope is that the tool will be utilized by New Yorkers from all walks of life to improve the streets and make the city safer and fairer for everyone.
Some of the groundwork for our visual approach was laid prior to this partnership, with Ege Soyeur having collaborated with Transportation Alternatives on their “25x25” project.
With the 25x25 project as our jumping off point, we took a pared-back graphic approach to shapes, leaving plenty of space for nuance in characters and environments. To add some warmth, we used subtle analogue textures to give it an inviting, hand-drawn feel.
We separated our story into four different threads following characters and the common problems they face in the city. After establishing each scenario, we then see problems become solutions, all brought together by our loose visual interpretation of the data.
The film uses dramatic lighting to help communicate its themes. There’s a dark, foreboding feeling to the setup of the city’s spatial problems, but as the film provides ideas and solutions, the lighting brightens, full of optimism and hope.
Ambrose Yu’s moving sound and music accompaniment begins with ambient, droney synths that underscore oppressive sounds of a metropolis: trucks revving, car horns beeping, and sirens wailing.
As the mood lifts, we hear upbeat, staccato string-plucks and a soaring melody emphasized by the joyful city sounds of birds chirping, kids talking, and bike bells ringing.
The Dream Job
This was exactly the kind of project we love making at BUCK — creatively fulfilling while also raising awareness of public space equity in New York city.
Head to Spatial Equity NYC to read more about the initiative.
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