Every hour in Canada, about 43 people are born and 29 people die, which means that if you watch this striking new visualization by Brad Lyon for about a minute, you should see a little red or green dot appear somewhere within our borders.
As its name suggests, "World Births and Deaths in Real-Time" is an interactive display which maps out the beginning and ends of life around the world. The data is simulated, of course: there's no central planetary database of births and deaths. Instead, Lyon combines countrywide statistics with city location and population data, and plots it all in real-time.
To lessen the computational burden, Lyon limited the locations to cities with populations of at least 10,000 — even still, he ended up with more than 21,000 locations for his map. "There are so many cities I just had no idea existed," he writes on his accompanying blog post. "And seeing the simulated events in such specific geographic context as the simulation progresses adds a sobering poignancy."
Lyon had previously created a similar visualization limited to just the United States, a sort of trial run for this world-wide edition. He talked to The Atlantic Cities about how the experience of watching the two differs:
Since the events occur at a fairly higher rate [on the world model] than for the U.S. (of course), the experience of watching them is quite different from the U.S. simulation. For the U.S. visualization, there is usually a several-second gap between events. This allows time for a reflection on what must really be happening across the country as you watch the simulation. For the world visualization, the events are occurring relentlessly at an almost overwhelming rate.