Linklist: February 6, 2012

Tom Vanderbilt @ Wired Autonomous Cars Through the Ages (a slideshow)

JULIA FRANKENSTEIN @ New York Times: Is GPS All in Our Heads? :

“Varying their viewing direction — facing north, facing east — we then assessed their pointing error. All participants performed best when facing one particular direction, north, and the pointing error increased with increasing deviation from north. In other words, by using knowledge gained from navigation to link their perceived position to the corresponding position on a city map, participants could easily retrieve the locations from their memory of city maps — which, after all, are typically oriented north.” [Comment, it annoyed me greatly in Tokyo when the local street maps on signs did not point north] Jarrett Walker @ Human Transit also comments.

Spatial Analysis: London Cycle Hire and Pollution [Someone should do this with NiceRide data]

Per Square Mile: For metros, two cities can be better than one:

” A study of all metropolitan areas in the United States with populations above 250,000 by Evert Meijers and Martijn Burger shows that productivity is higher in metros with more than one city. The effect is especially pronounced among smaller metro areas.
Meijers and Burger speculate that’s because smaller cities tend to have smaller problems—less traffic, lower crime rates, and so on. By splitting the problems up among a few cities, polycentric metros can host a large population without experiencing the problems of a similarly sized, monocentric metro.”

The Economist: Saving lives: Scattered saviours :

“Mr Beer has designed something better. His charity, United Hatzalah, co-ordinates a group of 1,700 volunteers scattered around Israel. All are trained in basic first aid. And each has a GPS-enabled smartphone revealing exactly where he or she is.
Anyone who sees an emergency can call a central number (1221 in Israel). A smartphone app (a small programme installed on a modern mobile phone) instantly alerts the nearest first aider, who may be only a block away, standing behind a deli counter or dozing in a meeting. He stops whatever he is doing, races to the scene and tries to stop the victim’s bleeding or start his heart (most volunteers are equipped with defibrillators). They mostly have motorbikes too, to nip through the traffic. When the ambulance arrives, the volunteer goes back to his day job.” [Crowdsourcing life-saving – this looks extendible.]