If you used Foursquare, the mobile platform that lets people “check in” from their handhelds to show friends where they are or find what’s near them, you may have contributed to the infographic they’ve posted (above) to show travel patterns in 2010.
Foursquare uses the GPS locator in your smartphone. To create the travel graphic, the company said, its engineers made some simple assumptions. If, last year, you checked in from a location that happened to be an airport and then checked in from another airport the same day, the formula assumed you made a plane trip and added a faint blue line to the map.
Similarly, if you checked in from two different train stations on the same day, the formula assumed you made a train trip, shown in red. If you did check-ins from spots along major highways, you were probably driving and you show up in white.
“It’s just based on same-day check-ins from two different places,” said Erin Gleason of Foursquare’s staff. The data was all anonymous and the company, she said, did not ask users if they were actually making trips.
“But travel-related locations are some of the most popular ones on Foursquare,” she said. “People are probably letting their friends know that they’re about to leave or that they’ve just arrived.”
Foursquare has posted a larger version of the graphic HERE on Flickr (sign-in may be required), and you may enjoy looking it over and ruminating about what it’s telling us. (Is train travel really that big on the East Coast, for instance, or did Foursquare’s young, urban, tech-saavy users in 2010 tend to ride a lot of trains?) The map does resemble other representations of American travel patterns.
Foursquare’s staff wished people “Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels.” We do too.