Monday 9 January 2012

Daytime Population in the United States

My last post on London's Daytime Population is getting a lot of page views, which is nice, so I thought I'd do something else on the same topic. Although I do try to make nice images with data, there are some very important planning-related issues here. The first is just to do with the importance of knowing how many people live in an area. In New York City, the city challenged the 2010 results because it could have led to less federal aid, and in the UK in 2011 the city of Cardiff claims there was an undercount which could have led to them missing out on £85 million of funding since 2001. In relation to daytime population, this is also very important, but more difficult to calculate, as Robert C. Schmitt discussed in 1956. So, I looked at the 3,111 counties of the lower 48 states in the US and mapped them by daytime population density, as you can see below.

Why does it matter that we know what the daytime population of a place is? Well, there are many reasons including planning for public transit, traffic flow, infrastructure needs, utilities and even for developing evacuation procedures (Schmitt was writing in 1956 but perhaps this last point is still relevant today).

In the United States, the county with the highest daytime population density is New York County (aka Manhattan). It is far and away the leader in this category, with 126,100 persons per square mile. That doesn't quite match the daytime population density of the City of London but bear in mind that Manhattan covers 22 square miles! Manhattan's daytime population is also about 1.3 million more than its total resident population, which in 2010 was about 1.6 million.