Morphocode in the Best American Infographics 2015


We are extremely happy to be included in the 2015th edition of The Best American Infographics. The third volume in the series captures the finest visual representations of data from the last year. Our project Urban Layers has been selected among the top 10 interactive infographics in the book and is featured in the “Interactive” section curated by Simon Rogers — Data Editor at Google and founder of the Guardian Datablog.

Under the vigilant editing of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Gareth Cook and with a thoughtful introduction from Brain Pickings’ mastermind, Maria Popova, the book is already a bestseller. It features a great variety of works on topics, from sports and cinema to drones, health and politics, organized in four sections. The diversity of topics, visual techniques and approaches to information design makes the book just as suitable for a genuine curious mind as for design professionals.


The Best American Infographics 2015

Urban Layers is an interactive visualization that we published an year ago. The project allows you to navigate through historical layers of Manhattan’s built environment, revealing hidden patterns and preserved fragments. The visualization was featured on CityLab, FastCodesign, gizmodo, curbedNY and was selected by Google Maps Mania among the Top 100 maps of 2014.



The Best American Infographics 2015

In March, Gareth Cook approached us with the news that Urban Layers was selected among the Best American infographics of 2015. The full selection in the “special interactive section” of the book features works by The New York Times Graphics Department, the Washington Post and Fathom.


“I chose these works because it felt to me that each illustrated some of the new approaches, from the established media houses to the newest of the new.”

Simon Rogers


Here is a short overview of the 10 best interactive infographics as they appear in the book:


The Wizards’ shooting stars

The Wizards’ shooting stars

Authors: Todd Lindeman and Lazaro Gamio — Washington Post

The Wizards’ shooting stars is a visual data analysis of the team’s shooting performance. The visualization makes a statistical breakdown of how well each player shoots from various distances and illustrates how data metrics can improve scoring efficiency.



Inside the Firewall: Tracking the News That China Blocks

Inside the Firewall

Authors: Sisi Wei, Lena Groeger, Mike Tigas and Yue Qiu — ProPublica

Inside the Firewall tracks the news censorship in China. The website-blocking policy used by the Chinese government is often referred as the “Great Firewall of China”.




Colors in motion - Fantastic Mr. Fox

The colors of motion

Author: Charlie Clark

This interactive infographic explores the use of color in moving images, with a focus on film. The average color of each frame is extracted and presented as an interactive poster.




Urban Layers

Authors: Greta Dimitrova and Kiril Mandov — Morphocode

Urban Layers explores the structure of Manhattan’s urban fabric and lets you navigate through historical fragments of the city. The visualization allows you to interact with more than 45 000 buildings directly in the browser.



NYTimes - Interactive - Derek Jeter swings

A Career at Bat

Authors:  Shan Carter, Joe Ward and David Waldstein — New York Times

A Career at Bat is an interactive visualization answers the question “How many times had Derek Jeter swung a baseball bat in his professional career?”.



The Best American Infographics 2015 - A Map of every satellite

A map of Every Satellite

Authors: David Yanofsky and Tim Fernholz — Quartz

This interactive graphic allows the reader to sort and explore the entire satellite ecosystem, from milk-carton-size microsats to school-bus-sized spy satellites.




A day in the life of a Taxi

Author: Chris Whong

This web infographic animates the route and activities of a single random New York City taxicab over a single day. The animation shows pickups and drop-offs, passengers, approximate routes traveled, and fares earned.




Born Here, Died There

Authors: Maximilian Schich, Mauro Martino, Kerri Smith, Charlotte Stoddart — Nature

This video animation tracks over 100.000 births and deaths, showing where and when notable people were born and where they died. The visualization identifies intellectual hotspots and tracks how empires rise and crumble throughout history.



What the world eats

Authors: Xaquín González Veira, Jason Treat, John Kondis, Alex Stegmaier — National Geographic / Fathom

This graphic shows country-by-country patterns of food consumption and how they change over time. The results, based on data from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, demonstrate trends and tell interesting stories.




NYC Henge

Authors: Andrew Hill, Sergio Alvarez and Javier Arce — CartoDB

NYCHenge is an interactive map that allows the viewer to explore the angle of the setting sun for any evening of the year and see what streets in New York City align with that sunset.




We would like to thank Gareth Cook — for reaching out and starting this amazing series and Simon Rogers — for appreciating our work and placing it in the top ten interactive infographics of the year!



Learn more

The Best American Infographics was published in October this year. You can find it on on AmazonB&NBAM and Indiebound.

More information about Urban Layers can be found in the post “The Making of Urban Layers“. We are currently working on our long-awaited video course Data & the City that will discuss how to find, analyze and visualize spatial data to better understand urban dynamics. More on that in Morphocode Academy!


Data and the City: Urban Visualizations

According to Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, the amount of data collected between the dawn of humanity and 2003 is equivalent to the amount we now produce every two days.

Urbanization and the spread of information technologies transform Cities into huge data pools. This big data provides new opportunities to reveal the hidden dimensions of the city and better understand the processes taking place within its physical boundaries.

In one of his recent editorials for “Environment and Planning B” – “The database of intentions“,Michael Batty notes that, despite its long-standing presence in urban studies, the theme of Complexity and the systems approach are no longer as popular as they once were:  it is urban data that will play a major role in understanding how city areas have changed and are likely to change in the future.


Understanding Urban Data

On July 25, 2013, the City of New York has released its biggest source of land use and geographic data: the Pluto Database. This “epic win for NYC’s open data community” was the result of a big community effort to open urban data that was once unaccessible.

Urban visualizations can create awareness about important urban conditions and provide a valuable insight into how cities perform and how people interact with the urban environment.

Here are some of the most interesting urban data visualizations that we’ve come across:


PLUTO Data Maps

This is a project created by Anrew Hill, developer at CartoDB.

The project presents a series of maps that reveal some insights and hidden patterns of New York’s built environment. For example: “Who owns the private land of Manhattan?” and “Which lots are the farthest from public spaces?

Visit the project



The Beijing City Lab (BCL)

The Beijing City Lab (BCL) is a virtual research community, dedicated (but not limited to) studying China’s capital Beijing.

They also have published a series of maps, exploring diverse themes such as “Communities of public transportation in Beijing” and “Beijing Planning Permits Vis (1997-2003)

Visit The Beijing City Lab 



Block by Block, Brooklyn’s Past and Present

This is a map of Brooklyn’s building blocks by age. “The result is a snapshot of Brooklyn’s evolution, revealing how development has rippled across certain neighborhoods while leaving some pockets unchanged for decades, even centuries.”

Visit the Map



We are Here Now

A project of Spatial Information Design Lab that uses FourSquare check-in data from different cities around the world.
The data is plotted on a map, in order to explore urban patterns that might be hidden otherwise.

Visit the Flickr Set of the project.



Locals & Tourists

Eric Fischer from MapBox and the Gnip team have used Twitter data to create a map of local allegiances.
Blue points on the map are Tweets posted by “Locals”. Red points are Tweets posted by “Tourists”.

Visit the Project





Flocktracker is an android application, designed to easily collect urban data in order to create “inexpensive, highly accurate, and robust data sets”. It has been developed by the Urban Launchpad – a global team of urban planners, designers and researchers. The app was used to create the first ever Bus Map of Dhaka.

Learn more about Flocktracker



Upcoming at Morphocode Academy


Data and the City: Urban Visualizations” is an upcoming course at Morphocode Academy. It will discuss how to collect, store and visualize urban data in a useful way. The course is under development at the moment and will soon be available online to subscribers.

Subscribe here