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Beautiful information in San Francisco

Stamen design writes about a proposal for visualising schedule information at the Transbay Tower in San Francisco. I read about it on Smartmobs and they read about it on Information Aesthetics.
It looks nice, but a bit incoherent if you ask me. I was thinking more about how plane departures could be shown on a screen. The ideas I had were as follows:

  • the emphasis should be on the next three hours of departures. Departures beyond that time are not that relevant to the current operation of the airport and the important business of getting the right people to the right gates at the right time.
  • departures with the most people on them should appear largest.
  • the departures board should give an indication of how long is left to do all the various steps required to get on the plane. For example, for a train, the amount of walking time between the sign and the gate should be indicated.
  • the sign should use the distance from left to right to graphically indicate time remaining until departure.
  • There shouldn’t be innovation for innovation’s sake. Where there is no reasons to change them, the conventions of the old-style departures board should be followed. For example, the flights should be listed in the order of the scheduled departure time even if they are delayed.

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