London Underground map depicts Internet's backbone

The schematic shows a simplification of the world’s network of submarine fibre-optic cables. Credit: Courtesy: Oxford Internet Institute

London Underground's iconic map design has been used by researchers at Oxford University to explain the Internet's complex network of submarine fiber optic cables.

The Oxford Internet Institute used the stations on the tube map to represent countries across the world, condensing cable networks country by country to give a broad overview of how the Internet is structured.

The map aims to provide a global overview of the network and a general sense of how information is shared across the world.

Intricate networks of cables, such as those under the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the South and East China Sea, have been excluded for simplicity.

Dr Mark Graham, a Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute said the London Underground map provided a useful way for showing people where their information comes from.

Information has geography and it's always attached to a place. A lot of people think when they use the internet that they're going off into some virtual world. One of the things that we were trying to do with this project is show people that information is always attached to a place. The London tube map is designed with a somewhat similar theme in mind. What matters in the tube map is topology - that something is before or after something else, that's how we make sense of it and that's why it's a very effective and intuitive design. So we wanted to try and emulate that.

According the Institute the UK is the second-most connected part of the world after the US, which has cable landing points on both coasts that connect it to most other continents.

For more for information on the map visit Oxford Internet Institute's website.