What can we do to save more lives in Cambridge?

That was the motivating question for our CS171 Visualization project, Crashcaster. We found ourselves deeply interested in using innovation, particularly in visualization, to improve society beyond the bounds of our final project, well into the future.
The truth is that traffic accidents are one of the leading killers of Americans -- right up there with heart disease and cancer. Crashcaster is about the collisions between strangers’ lives, the impacts upon them, where they happen most often, and how to avoid finding yourself at a serious, life-altering intersection on the streets of Cambridge.
Using visualizations to create engagement and understanding we thought could help with our goal. We start our story in the future with our forecast, "Crashcaster". We then invite you to explore the historic data we used to create our predictive model via our dashboard, "Crashboard". Finally, we unravel the stories in the data that we found interesting while enabling you to explore for yourself in what we hope are novel ways.
Stay safe on the streets of Cambridge!
Kyle Maguire, Rick Farmer, Kartik Trasi and Adam DiChiara

Travel Type


Accidents Forecast


Cambridge, MA

Current Weather


What if today is...


Today's Forecast

Welcome to
The Crashboard

Welcome to The Crashboard! Here we map out the full Cambridge accident dataset and allow you to explore it in any way you want.

Be sure to check out the Highlights bar at the bottom left for some exploration ideas. Good luck!

Impact of Weather

To understand the impact of weather, we have taken correlated data from daily weather underground with the day the accident took place. The data was normalized by taking ratio of accidents and the duration of the weather to get the probability of accidents for that weather condition.

Although, this algorithm may be primitive and does not account for the fact that the accidents could have been due to negligence or any other aspect other than weather; this still gives us something to think about.

Explore by clicking on the buttons above and draw your own conclusions.
Featured Background Stories
Highlight Dates by Accident Type

Major Nor' Easter Hits Region

Winter storms are a frequent cause of Cambridge accidents. In mid January, 2011, the northeast was hit by a severe snowstorm that dropped up to 18 inches of snow in the Cambridge area. Many parked cars were damaged by fallen trees and limbs. Schools and businesses were closed and most stayed off the roads during the storm, but in the aftermath many took to icy streets and suffered accidents due to the slippery conditions. The worst day for accidents was Tuesday Jan 18th, which followed the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and was likely the day when most returned to work and school after the storm.

Source: Boston.com

Severe Rush Hour Power Outage

A utility power failure on November 30th, 2012 resulted in most of Cambridge being swathed in darkness during the busy evening commute. Street lights and traffic signals were inoperative, and MBTA train service was limited. This resulted in dangerous conditions for drivers and pedestrians trying to find their way home during this very busy time of day. Unpredictable situations like this one are occasionally the cause for accidents in the city.

Source: Boston.com

Annual Head of the Charles Regatta

The Head of the Charles Regatta is a signature event each October with the rowing event bringing more than 400,000 spectators to the banks of the Charles River in Boston and Cambridge. The numerous road closures and high volume of vehicle and foot traffic make accidents more likely to occur during this yearly weekend event.

Source: cbslocal.com Image: hocr.org
Story 4

Massachusetts Ave & Vassar St

High traffic volume and poor visibility contribute to this intersection being the most dangerous in Cambridge and ranked as one of the worst in Massachusetts. Located near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus, this intersection services a heavy volume of commuter traffic along Mass Ave, as well as the local student population on foot and bicycle. Use extra caution and follow traffic rules if you are travelling through this intersection by bike, as a high number of bicycle accidents tend to occur here due to poor visibility and cyclists ignoring traffic rules.

Inman Square ranked state's worst for bike crashes

Inman Square at the intersections of Cambridge St, Hampshire St, and Prospect St, is a location where most of Cambridge's bicycle accidents occur, leading a 2009 study report to rank it as the top location in Massachusetts for bike crashes. Cambridge is home to many bicycle commuters and recreational riders, but areas like Inman Square and others pose specific dangers that locals and visitors should be aware of.

Mount Auburn & Aberdeen St

This intersection can be one of the most dangerous for those unfamiliar with the area to do poor signal timing and a confusing configuration. Watch out for MBTA buses making a U-turn from Aberdeen Ave, as they will cross over other lanes in order to make the wide circle necessary to avoid power lines. Driver frustration due to long wait times is known to be a factor in accidents here.

Cambridge's Streets and Intersections

The bar chart shows most dangerous streets and their accident totals (2010-2014).

Clicking on any bar will update the lower display of all of the major intersections along that road and their accident totals. Hover over the bars and circles for more detail.

Street View Explorer: Navigate Cambridge's road network

Navigate your way through Cambridge's most dangerous roads.

Can you spot something about these intersections that makes them hazardous?

The graph below shows your current road and all the available connecting roads for you to explore.
As you connect to other roads you'll see views of your current intersection.


Process Book

All of the documents data, sources, and planning that made this project possible

We would like to thank the excellent team that Dr. Hanspeter Pfister put together for our Harvard CS171 Visualization class that lead to this project.

Our team has enjoyed the learning process and embraced the challenges that drive the visualization process. We are thankful for this experience.

With gratitude,
Team HarvardViz (Kyle Maguire, Rick Farmer, Kartik Trasi and Adam DiChiara)