Become a Master Event-Hunter (and Coolest Kid on the Block) at the Click of a Cursor: My NYC Event Finder R-Shiny app

Posted on Aug 14, 2015

Introduction: Teleporting into the Know

New York is a veritable paradise for people who enjoy cultural events. Many websites, like NYTimes and, list a variety of events for potential event-goers to explore. However, browsing through hundreds of listings on websites like these can be boring and quite time-consuming. We settle for simply as much as we've searched for.

Imagine: you're planning to go to a Broadway show tonight. You'd love to explore some other arts events along the way toward the theater before curtain-time. What you don't want to do is waste half your day browsing event listings and trying to manage logistics. Before my NYC Event Finder R-Shiny app, you'd have settled for easiest-to-find events or events you already knew about. Or you might've given up searching entirely. Now, however, you have a third, better option--one that will instantly get you into the know!

By way of a beautifully verdant-colored interactive map, NYC Event Finder displays search results for up to 10 categories of cultural events (ranging from "Classical & Opera" to "For Children"). Narrow down results by category, location, or keyword(s) at the toggle of a button. With an interactive map at your fingertips, NYC Event Finder helps you find where you want to go.


Search an Event with NYC Event Finder's Interactive Arts & Entertainment Guide

Adjacent to the event search panel (that interactive list to the left of the screen allowing you to modify searches by event type), the events that are "nearby" a given location are displayed on a Google map.

Search content for the Nearby input panel (near the bottom-left corner of the screen) could include an address, an intersection, or even a building's name. Besides "nearby" locations, you can also narrow searches based on category, borough, and even keywords.

In the example below, the location is Central Park; nearby ≤ 2mi; and "dance" is an additional keyword parameter.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 3.11.23 AM copy

Each red pin icon on the map indicates that one or more events are to occur at that location. Click on the icon and a pop-up window displays venue links for all available events.

No need to keep tabs on your own, either! You can save events to the backend database by clicking the Save Events button on the bottom-left corner of the screen.


Optimize Your Experience with NYC Event Finder's Event Analysis

Quite often people are not only interested in finding an event, but also want to know optimal times and places to go for certain kinds of events. With all the data retrieved from the API ("application programming interface"--in this case, the Times' events listing API), it's possible to do some simple analysis to be able to speak to these concerns. The following are two types of analyses that can be done.

(1) On the Event Analysis page below, the number of events I've searched for so far is 316. A simple graphed count by days of the week, the results of which are displayed below, shows that the number of events increases by day over the course of a given week. Fridays and Saturdays have the most events (191 and 192, respectively), although Monday, albeit being the least-event-y, isn’t too shabby with 105 options. This is New York City, after all.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 3.12.43 AM

(2) The chart below, meanwhile, indicates that Art and Theater, together making up 40% of all listings, are the two most common event categories. Filtering results by "Times' picks," these two categories account for a whopping 67% of all picks.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 3.14.36 AM

(3) Bringing it all together, NYC Event Finder provides a heat map that indicates when (day of the week) and where (e.g., by borough) you might want to be focusing on for a given event category.


Back-End: Coding and Strategy

For those who care about the back-end, My NYC Event Finder R-Shiny app utilizes the New York Times events listing API to retrieve events information. All event data is stored in a SQLite database. Visualizations have been implemented with the GoogleVis API and d3heatmap. Location search is done through Google Maps Geolocation API.

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