Encounter: Daily Ebb and Flow Across the San Diego - Tijuana Border

Encounter: Daily Ebb and Flow Across the San Diego - Tijuana Border - student project


Some images have power. One of the most powerful (and capitvating) images I have encountered is driving from San Diego to the Tijuana border. Look out over the horizon and what is an 8-line highway  ending in the parking lots of a carefully planned Outlet Center suddenly becomes a crowded mass of billboards, markets and brightly colored buildings. This is Tijuana.



The daily ebb and flow across the San Diego - Tijuana Border is astonishing. Over 100,000 people cross the border here between the United States and Mexico per day.  Some to eat. Some to work. Some to live. My idea is to use data on the daily border crossing to:

1) Visually capture the sudden realization of the schism between the two cities.

2) Show that this schism is more porous than it may initially appear.

Living in the San Diego area, I already have broad-based knowledge about this data and its patterns. Radio updates estimating border cross-time and individual accounts of daily commutes are frequent. I will have to gather images / video and the actual data though. Once I have the data, my goal would be to animate the movement of people (colored dots) across  the border while keeping the population density proportionate to it's geographic correlary in the combined metro area.

Revised (9/22): 

Encounter offers a data-driven, visual narrative of the monthly ebb and flow of people across the San Diego - Tijuana border at San Ysidro. Combinining easy-to-read infographics and a custom map visualization into a 2-3 minutes animation, the goal of the project is to show the physical and economic blurred character of this border. 


The proposed project draws inspiration from several existing works. 

  1. The Racial Dot Map recently created by Dustin Cable at the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. 
  2. Political Equator, an annual series of conversations and events coordinated by local artist Teddy Cruz.
  3. Blurred Lines, a series of still infographics displaying the effect that the presence of boundaries, (specifically the US-Mexico border) have on society, space and time


Here's what I'll need:

- image/video of border crossing at San Ysidro (both modeled and digital)

- General statistics on the ecnomic and physical disperion across the San Diego -Tijunana border

- Periodic data (monthly, yeartly, etc..,) on crossing through San Ysidro in both directions

- Recent census information on the population and denisity of people living in Tijuana and San Diego

Gathering the data for this project has been a challenge. Finding data on the number of people crossing from Tijuana  to San Diego at San Ysidro (norhtbound) has been easy. Finding data through San Ysidro in the other direction has not.* The data for this visualization will thus be a hybrid of large-scale statistics and an approximation of the yearly border crossings at San Ysido based on existing northbound data and 2010 US and Mexican censuses.

*Asking several area non-profits and goverment agencies for any formal or infomal data has not helped