Strava has updated its heatmap, which gathers data on city cyclist and pedestrian behaviors

Strava, the athletic activity tracking app used by millions, also doubles as an app for cities to prepare for future urban development. By using the information provided by Strava Metro, the data aggregating service provided by the app, cities are better able to plan and adjust their infrastructures according to the demands of their inhabitants.

Strava Metro's mission is to “make cycling, running and walking in cities better,” and its method for making this a reality begins with gathering and analyzing the data of the app's users, with the permission of the users. Once they have agreed, the routes that they run, bike or walk on appear on a heatmap.

The app gathers the information of a city from the heatmap and then joins with city planners and the cities' departments of transportation to adjust the urban layouts accordingly. According to the app's website, “Metro data enables deep analysis of cyclist and pedestrian activity including popular or avoided routes, peak commute times, intersection wait times, and origin/destination zones. Metro processes this data for compatibility with geographic information system (GIS) environments.”

Strava has been offering this service for a few years but, according to a post by Strava on Medium last week, the company has made its “first major update to the global heatmap on Strava Labs since 2015.” Improvements include “twice the resolution, rasterizing activity data as paths instead of as points, and an improved normalization technique that ensures a richer and more beautiful visualization.” Furthermore, the code has been rewritten with Apache Spark and Scala, which will make adjustments much easier to perform regularly in the future.

Currently, Strava is helping more than 70 cities and organizations internationally.

Strava | Strava Metro

Strava, the athletic activity tracking app used by millions, also doubles as an app for cities to prepare for future urban development. By using the information provided by Strava Metro, the data aggregating service provided by the app, cities are better able to plan and adjust their infrastructures according to the demands of their inhabitants.

Strava Metro's mission is to “make cycling, running and walking in cities better,” and its method for making this a reality begins with gathering and analyzing the data of the app's users, with the permission of the users. Once they have agreed, the routes that they run, bike or walk on appear on a heatmap.