Unique site to compare cities according to different criteria

With ESRI technology the Urban Observatory website will map data from 16 cities in 35 different ways at a time.

Sofia, October 30, 2013, –  The Urban Observatory website lets users compare 16 cities in 35 different ways at a time, ranging from time to number of crashes in each of them. Users receive the data as a geographical map, supplemented with a text explanation that appears below. To visualize this information, the website uses technology by ESRI to process huge quantities of standardized data. Among the 16 cities are global metropoli such as London. Tokyo, Johannesburg, and Rio de Janeiro.


The capabilities of the Urban Observatory do not usurp traditional thinking about urban planning according to which every city functions as a unique organism, however, they create a universal language that can compare and contrast those unique problems.

Urban Observatory was created by Richard Saul Wurman, the 78-year-old founder of TED who is also an architect and a graphic designer. Wurman has been trying to develop a tool that would fairly compare urban areas, beginning with scale models made of clay in the 1960s, and ending with a handful of other attempts in the 1970s and 1980s. This website is the realization of Wurman’s 40-year-old dream.


“It is curious to know that no two cities in the world compare data the same way. The result is that despite vast stores of data captured, collated and stored, there is limited knowledge and understanding and thus serious potential to extract from this data new knowledge for the benefit of mankind,” the Urban Observatory team comments.

The website will soon be enriched by expanding the comparison criteria and adding new cities to a total of 100.