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Mapping The Reach Of New York City's Cellphone Network

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New York has 14,000 mobile phone base stations?which, confusingly enough, are actually antennas placed on top of buildings across the boroughs that bequeath upon us the fickle gift of cellphone service. Normal Projects / Michael Chen Architecture wanted to render the masses of information held by the Department of Buildings accessible to the public, so they mapped all the antennas in a couple of different ways, and by doing so laid bare some basic facts any mobile network user (read: every person in the city) should know: where coverage is comprehensive; where it isn't; and why. For one, there are lots of antennas in Midtown, and fewer in historic districts, where landmarks laws are vigorously enforced, because it's simply harder for service providers to erect them there.

Part of a larger initiative dubbed City Sensing, senior designer Justin Snider described the project as an effort to understand where the city is now with respect to its massive, hyper-subscribed mobile network and patchwork of signals and connections, the nature of their relationship to architecture, and what the future could hold. The map pictured above takes DOB data about registered antennas and adds info like the height and age of the building on which it sits.

· Signal Space: Normal Projects/Michael Chen Architecture [official]
· City Sensing [official]