Friday Fun with data: Memorial Day means travel and travel means data!

Don’t know much about open data, big data, linked data, structured data or the opposite of each one of those? Maybe, you don’t care about any of them.

However, you probably care about getting to where you are going by the time you want to get there. Especially when you’ve got a long weekend, like this weekend.

Lucky for you there are an increasing number of people, governments and businesses who care about the data behind your travels. One example of someone who cares: Forbes writer Seth Porges, who learned from Google (who learned from their data), which places will be:

  • the top 10 Memorial Day weekend travel destinations
  • the top 10 cities Americans are looking to visit over this holiday weekend.
  • the ones with the greatest increase in searches for hotel rooms for this coming weekend.

However, my favorite set of data points from the Google trove Seth learned about are the top travel questions people have for Memorial Day:

  1. Is the zoo open on Memorial Day?
  2. What to do for Memorial Day weekend
  3. Is Hershey Park busy on Memorial Day?
  4. How crowded is Typhoon Lagoon on Memorial Day weekend?
  5. How busy is Kings Island on Memorial Day?
  6. Is the Gateway Arch open on Memorial Day?
  7. Is the mall open on Memorial Day?
  8. What to do in Lake of Ozarks on Memorial Day
  9. Will airfares drop after Memorial Day?
  10. Are MTA bus schedules different for Memorial Day?

At least Ohio made it on there – Kings Island. Other tells are Pennsylvania (Hershey), St. Louis (Gateway Arch) and New York City (aka the MTA). Porges wrote this companion piece too about what the data tells us when it comes to setting holiday travel expectations.

Using data to improve your travel is such a big thing these days that the city of Boston has partnered with the real-time traffic app, Waze:

Waze, an Israeli-based company that was acquired by Google for more than $1 billion in 2013, relies on data supplied by its users to create real-time traffic overviews and gives constantly updated information to drivers to find the most time-efficient routes to their destinations.

The city said that it will use the shared Waze data to improve the traffic flow in Boston. The partnership will allow the city to share information on road closures with Waze users and also use the aggregated traffic data from the app to adjust Boston’s 550 signalized intersections through Boston’s Traffic Management Center. Currently, there are more than 400,000 Waze users in the Boston area. [emphasis added]

Read more about Waze in this great Popular Mechanics article and the Data-Waze blog that tells stories, narrated by data.

One cautionary note: Be careful when you rely on a traffic app anytime of the year. Some of the data might be less informed than you, according to this NPR story examining how well the tech behind traffic apps on your mobile devices works.

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