Posts tagged with "Maps":

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Pratt releases online map of NYC’s socioeconomic data and built environment

The Pratt Center for Community Development has launched an online mapping tool called the Neighborhood Data Portal for New York City. According to the portal website, “[the Pratt Center for Community Development believes] everyone, especially those without access to expensive mapping software, should have equal and free access to essential data about their neighborhoods.” The portal map's datasets relate to socioeconomics, demographics, crime statistics, the built environment, and more. For instance, a user can see all of the city's commercial-use properties or chemical bulk storage sites. Each of these datasets can be layered on the interactive map. The Layer menu appears when the portal is opened but can also be accessed by clicking on its icon on the main toolbar at the top left of the map. Checking one of the boxes in the Layers menu will reveal shading or icons on the map. These components can be selected to show a pop-out box with further information. Some other features on the main toolbar are the type of base level map, measuring tools, and the option to share the map. Selecting the Neighborhood Tabulation Areas (NTA) layer will display the borders for different New York City neighborhoods. By clicking within the boundaries of an NTA, users can see detailed information about that area including the population, number of vacant lots, number of schools, and crime statistics. An instructional video for the portal notes that “[color shaded] layers cannot be turned on simultaneously as visible sets of data invalidate each other.” The data was compiled from a long list of city, state, and federal government agencies as well as some private organizations.
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The one online map for NYC’s built environment, from zoning to water quality to capital projects

Maps of New York City are ubiquitous but one online interactive map of New York City offers multiple tools relevant to architects, designers, contractors, and gives Google Maps a run for their money. The map, simply called NYCityMap, can be accessed through the official website of the City of New York in the "Map Gallery" found by scrolling to the bottom of the site homepage. Like any map, NYCityMap displays the roadways, buildings, and parks throughout the area. To the left of the map, however, is a tab titled “Show Additional Data on Map.” When this tab is selected, it reveals a long list of data filters: Capital Projects, City Life, City Programs, Cultural Information, Education, Health Facilities, Landmark, Municipal Boundaries, Public Safety, Resident Services, Service Centers, Transportation, Water Quality, and Youth Services. Within each category of filters are several subcategories. Capital Projects includes Capital Projects Dashboard, Design/Construction, Federal Stimulus, NYC DOT 10 year Capital Plan, and NYC DOT Protected Streets. When one of these filters is selected, the map reveals the location of currently approved capital projects throughout the city. Certain filters are not active until the user zooms in. With the Design/Construction filter selected, orange lines and polygons are visible, indicating where a city project is. These type of projects range from roadwork and sidewalk repairs to energy efficiency retrofits and renovations. To access details about the project, simply click on a road or area highlighted in orange. A small white callout box should appear. If not, zoom in closer to the area and reselect the project. The Transportation category includes a filter for parking, revealing the location of parking garages, parking lots, and combinations of the two. Under the category Water Quality, there is a filter for Best Usage Classification, which distinguishes what areas of the region’s bodies of water can be used for certain activities and functions. The map offers other features besides the data filters. Typing in an address into the search bar will not only show its location on the map but will also provide Additional Information about that specific address (e.g. owner, lot area, zoning, land use). Clicking Map Type in the top-right corner of the map will allow the user to select from historical Aerial Maps or the standard Street Map. So what are you waiting for? Have at it!
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A new tool lets users see a city’s health through the density of its retail storefronts

Here's a tool Jane Jacobs would approve of: The Storefront Index, created by Joe Cortright and Dillon Mahmoudi of Portland, Oregon–based think tank City Observatory, measures the quantity and density of retail storefronts in cities throughout the Unites States as a proxy for urban desirability. The Storefront Index is predicated on the assumption that the amenities of the "consumer city"—places to get manicures, burritos, a nose piercing, a picture framed—encourage walkability, connect public spaces, and make cities desirable places to be. Mahmoudi and Cortright posit that "the presence, number, and size of storefront businesses in a neighborhood is a new, key indicator of urban economic health and neighborhood vitality." City Observatory hopes planners can use the Storefront index to assess the efficacy of small business growth and retention strategies, as well as plan for walkable retail development in downtown corridors.  The index maps every store that provides the goods and services that facilitate everyday life, but excludes banks and hospitals, as well as stores that sell goods to other manufacturers. Nationwide, there are approximately 2.6 million storefront businesses. In the 51 largest metro areas, there are about 537,000 storefront businesses. What makes a storefront cluster? By Cortright and Mahmoudi's count, storefronts had to be within 100 meters of another storefront. They drew a three-mile radius around each city's Central Business District (CBD), but mapped storefronts outside of that, too. The concentration of storefronts varies drastically from city to city, and confirms what you may instinctively sense from strolling through St. Louis, say, or Philadelphia. The former has a low density of storefronts in the urban core and large areas with no storefront clusters. St. Louis has 426 storefronts in its CBD, coming in front of only Detroit (91) in 51 metro areas surveyed: Philly, on the other hand, has high density clusters scattered throughout the city. The metro area has the fourth-highest number of storefronts in the CBD: Planners, urbanophiles: Rejoice in this new spatial analytic tool, and see how your hometown's storefront index stacks up against neighboring cities.  
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The sounds of our cities, mapped with emotions

Oftentimes, our interaction with maps is one of translation: graphically-represented roads, streets, paths, rivers, and other geological help us navigate our physical space. But what if we could add another layer of information that goes beyond the merely visual? What if maps could tell us how our cities sound? Chatty Maps uses sounds from human conversations, nature, transportation infrastructure, and other auditory data to create a map of good and bad urban noise. Chatty Maps was produced by four researchers—Daniele Quercia, Luca Maria Aiello, Rossano Schifanella, and Francesco Aletta—whose shared expertise includes social sciences, acoustics, data, and mapping. They culled information from two key sources: an online archive of urban sounds,, and Flickr’s photo archive from 2005-2015.   First, they sorted sounds into different categories. For example, the nature category includes dogs barking, birds chirping, and rain. The transportation category incorporates train, car, motorcycle, and other types of machine sounds. Using geolocated images from Flickr, they then matched sound categories with building types to create positive or negative associations with sounds. For example, sounds emanating from a church (such as bells) would be positive. Motorbikes or jackhammers would be assigned negative emotions. Beyond just pure fun, there are implications for these types of analyses: urban planners could use the data to help address noise pollution or identify areas that could benefit from more green space. There are maps for major U.S. cities: New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle. (No Los Angeles, though). There are international cities too: London, Barcelona, Milan, Rome, and more..
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Brooklyn-based studio embraces topophilia to craft quilts out of city streets

Brooklyn-based Haptic Labs has created some strikingly beautiful polysilk and cotton quilts with hand stitched topographical accents.

The designs include coastal motifs from Nantucket to Australia, and city terrains that began as a tribute to designer Emily Fischer's mother Peggy who started to lose her eyesight from complications of macular degeneration. The first Haptic Lab quilts were meant to be used as tools for the visually impaired, and everything the studio designs is inspired by the tactile over the ephemeral:

Haptic designs counter the rapid digitization of our lives by privileging the real, physical world our bodies occupy. Like a cane that safely guides someone down the sidewalk, our projects serve as tools for sensation. We make intricate quilts, kites, furniture, and environments that combine new technologies with traditional craft techniques—infusing a sense of play and timelessness into everything we make.
The City Quilt series employs subtle white-on-white stitching to inscribe a city's streets into fabric. The queen-sized City Quilt for the studio's home borough covers Coney Island through Greenpoint, and, like the other quilts in the series, is stitched in India, and is made of 100 percent cotton. The result is an intricate and subtle homage to 12 major metros, five of which are pictured below: The newest collection, debuting at the Architectural Digest Design Show in NYC, includes faceted maps of the world made in partnership with the Buckminster Fuller Institute, using Architect Richard Buckminster Fuller's original Dymaxion drawings.
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Visually impaired students get help navigating Rutgers University with help from 3D-printed maps

For visually impaired students, navigating around a building or a college campus is often a challenging task. That's set to change, thanks to Jason Kim and Howon Lee, researchers at Rutgers University School of Engineering in New Jersey. The duo has developed 3D printed braille maps of their campus. Kim, a senior mechanical engineering student and Lee, an assistant professor at the Joseph Kohn Training Center (an institution that helps the visually impaired), designed the maps with the help of CAD software, SolidWorks 3D. When complete, the maps are about the size of a standard iPad. Like normal maps, some will be fixed to the walls of the university, however, these will only offer a limited selection of braille labelling. The maps are intended to be carried around in a binder by students for easy access personal reference. Before starting the project, both said they knew nothing about the format of braille and had a lot to learn. Visiting the Joseph Kohn Training Center multiple times the pair received feedback from faculty and students, being able to finish the map by the end of summer. “One of the things we saw with conventional braille printed on paper is that it doesn’t last long,” Lee said. So far, only one map has been produced, though Lee hopes to lower production costs with the aim for every interested student to have a map by the start of the new first semester. Lee also spoke of his interest to develop more maps for the rest of the Rutgers campus and city of New Brunswick, NJ. The idea is to “give freedom, extended freedom, to navigate and go from one place to another without worrying too much,” he said.
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This 3D topographic installation raises questions on the high cost of housing in New York City

Besides the overcrowded L and the overabundance of Starbucks/Chase Banks, one of New York's favorite things to kvetch about is the rent: it's too damn high. Now, through Wage Island, an installation created by a New York–based interaction and information designer, it's possible to see in 3D how much housing really costs in this city. Ekene Ijeoma's Wage Islands sprang from the designer's conversations with Fast Food Forward, a labor advocacy organization that's pushing for a higher minimum wage for fast food workers. Compelled by the group's commentary on how difficult it is for minimum wage workers to pay for housing, Ijeoma put his designer's training to work, correlating median monthly housing costs of each neighborhood with the amount one would have to earn to afford to live there. "This created a poetic way of creating empathy between minimum wage workers and citizens they serve; making the issue about everyone," Ijeoma mused. He collaborated with a team of six to execute the GIS modeling of New York City, design and build the model, and program the Arduino board that controls the islands' topography. Wage Islands was commissioned for Measure, the Storefront for Art and Architecture’s exhibition that ran from August 14 through September 19, 2015. The map's elevations are comprised of over 500 pieces of laser-cut acrylic. Elevations are derived from median monthly housing costs in different neighborhoods, with $271 on the low end and $4,001 at the top. The islands are situated in a tray filled with blue-black water. The user can adjust the amount of water in the box by scaling wages up from the city minimum of $8.75 per hour to a high of $77 per hour. The tallest peaks represent the most affordable neighborhoods; those who make at least $77 per hour have the luxury to choose Manhattan's tony Tribeca or Brooklyn's Brownsville, one of the city's poorest neighborhoods. Precision, and reflection on the real world factors that go into determining affordability, is scuttled in favor of highly evocative representation. New York is a renter's city: Less than a third of residents own their own homes. When asked what data was used to gauge median rents, Ijeoma explained that "this was more about looking at New York City together and not separating the different neighborhoods and people from the larger issue." He used the American Community Survey's (ACS) median monthly housing costs as a stand-in for median rents, although ACS data covers both housing costs incurred by homeowners and renters. 69 percent of New Yorkers rent, not own, so the choice to rely on this ACS dataset is unclear. The American Housing Survey, however, has fine-grained data on renters for major metro areas.)

Like Fannie and Freddie, Ijeoma pegs affordability to spending no more than 30 percent of one's income on housing. That's sensible advice, but more than half of New Yorkers are, by this measure, rent burdened, spending over 30 percent of their income on rent.

Affordability guidelines are generally broken down by the number of bedrooms per unit as a proxy for household size. Instead of looking at average rents across neighborhoods, or rents for units of one particular size, Ijeoma dismissed those nuances as irrelevant for this project, as "[the data] would've more or less looked the same because of the geo-spatial interpolation and translation into 3D."

Currently, Ijeoma is doing a stint at Orbital as a designer-in-residence, where he's working on a mapping project that covers a broader swath of America, as well as a project that addresses social media–engaged phone-zombies who blunder through the streets of New York.
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This mapping tool shows the effects of gentrification and displacement in the Bay Area

Researchers at UCLA and the UC-Berkeley are mapping neighborhood change in the Bay Area. The Urban Displacement Project uses government housing, land use, transportation, and Census data from 1990–2013 to find markers that represent turnover in housing, demographic shifts, and new investment. Led by UC-Berkeley's Karen Chapple and Miriam Zuk, researchers divided the nine-county Bay Area’s 1,569 Census tracts into low- and high-income tracts. Low-income tracts were defined as areas where 39 percent of households earn 80 percent less than each county’s median income, and high income tracts where less than 39 percent of households are considered low income. Low- and high-income tracts were categorized by residential displacement “risk factors.” Significantly, the report defines “gentrification” and “displacement” differently. Displacement is defined as a net loss of low income residents, while “gentrification” is tangible evidence of neighborhood investment and/or an influx of more affluent residents. This is important because, as the researchers found, gentrification in some areas happened before displacement, while in others, displacement comes first or occurs at the same time as gentrification. Lower income tracts were assessed for risk of gentrification and displacement, while higher income tracts were assessed for displacement risk only. Overall, 51 percent of tracts did not experience significant displacement, while 48 percent are losing low-income residents. Researchers found that 422 tracts are “at risk” of displacing poor residents, while 165 are “currently experiencing displacement.” The map is intended as a resource for community groups taking action to prevent displacement. The data is retrospective, shedding light on regional population trends. Planners, however, cannot use the data to make sure predictions about where gentrification and displacement is likely to occur in the future. The data doesn’t reveal where displaced residents move to, or account for other qualitative factors that may prompt a move. Transportation planning and development can benefit a lower-income area, if officials take into account the economic and social needs of the existing population. Some areas, including  East Palo Alto, and Marin City, have actively forestalled displacement with housing subsidies and community organizing.
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This map sheds light on Chicago’s $1.7 billion in tax-increment financing projects

The open-data site Chicago Cityscape has mapped hundreds of construction projects receiving public support through the city's increasingly controversial tax-increment financing (TIF) system. (Full disclosure: Chicago Cityscape is run by Steven Vance, who contributes to AN) A common economic development tool for municipal governments, TIF can incentivize construction projects by offsetting a developer's property taxes. But as numerous in-depth reports from the Chicago Reader have made clear, in Chicago the program has historically been used more like a slush fund for the mayor's office, with money often landing in the coffers of downtown projects instead of the economically depressed areas where it's supposed to spur job growth. In 2011 Mayor Rahm Emanuel campaigned in part on improving government transparency, vowing less than one week into his first term to return TIF “to its roots.” Controversial TIF awards continue to emerge, however, accumulating predominantly in the city's central business district as the mayor gears up for his second term. Chicago Cityscape's map is accompanied by a spreadsheet of public city data sortable by project name, approval date, TIF assistance amount, total project cost, ward, and community area. In all there are 379 entries displayed, but that excludes projects listed by the city in another data set—the City of Chicago TIF projects portal shows TIF projects through other agencies, such as the Chicago Department of Transportation.
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Google Maps turns any city into the eight-bit world of Pacman

pacman-maps-01 In what appears to be an April Fools' prank launched a day early, Google has added an eight-bit video game, ahem, Easter Egg feature to Google Maps. While browsing around the city of your choice, look for the Pacman box in the lower left-hand corner right next to the aerial photography button. Click it, and you're transported into a dot-filled, ghost-infested city street grid in search of cherries. Take a look!
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Maps Visualize the Challenge of De Blasio’s Vision Zero Plan

With Bill de Blasio making traffic regulation a priority of his fledgling administration, new visualizations of traffic injuries across New York City illustrate what the new mayor is up against in attempting to make such incidents a thing of the past. Statistician and Pratt professor Ben Wellington has used open data documenting traffic fatalities and cyclist injuries to generate heat maps of where in the city such events tended to occur in 2013. The resulting images, published on Wellington's blog I Quant NY, paint a somewhat grim image. A map that simply locates each of last year's 3800 reported cyclist injuries is so swarmed as to be rendered largely uninformative when zoomed out. The heat map generated from this diagram points to the Lower East Side of Manhattan and its cross-river neighbor, Williamsburg, as accident hotbeds. Despite these clear visual trends, such developments do not necessarily indict these two areas as more explicitly dangerous for bikers and then other parts of the city as they do not incorporated ridership density. Thus it is possible that these neighborhoods appear swathed in red simply because their streets play host to a higher amount of two-wheeled traffic than other portions of the city. Williamsburg maintains its scarlet presence in a map depicting 2013 traffic deaths. The East Side makes a slightly less conspicuous appearance while northern parts of Manhattan and the Bronx also reveal a proclivity for such incidents. Wellington identifies Brooklyn's Broadway, Queens Boulevard, and Grand Concourse in the Bronx as particularly deadly roadways. If the mayor gets his wish, generating 2014's iterations of these maps will be a far easier task. Nonetheless the images only reinforce the idea that Vision Zero—and the heat-free maps it would create—appears to be quite a lofty goal.
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Colorful Carbon Footprint Maps Illustrates Energy Usage Trends

University of California, Berkeley has released a new set of interactive maps illustrating national energy usage.  The visually striking if troubling images reveal a stark urban/suburban divide regarding carbon footprint, with the latter contributing far more in emissions than their city-dwelling counterparts. Average Annual Household Carbon Footprint (Source: UC Berkeley CoolClimate Network (2013) The maps were produced as part of the school's CoolClimate Network.  The three correspond to average annual household carbon footprints, household energy carbon footprint, and vehicle miles traveled respectively. Hovering your mouse over a particular region allows for a more detailed breakdown of the three categories.  The data suggests an inverse relationship between population density and carbon footprint size, which is to say that more densely populated cities tend to be more energy efficient. A further look at the numbers suggests that much of this correlation can be explained by the high transportation costs pervasive in suburbia. Average Household Energy Carbon Footprint (Source: UC Berkeley CoolClimate Network (2013) Yet before New Yorkers or any other urbanites grow too smug, the net effect of this relationship may be largely null.  The denser cities that demonstrate a relatively lower carbon footprint tend to be the very areas that  spawn the extensive suburbs possessing problematically higher ones. The correspondence between usage and population density is not applicable when only suburbs are taken into account, and in fact the opposite correlation tends to be true. Researches claimed that this finding can be explained largely by economic factors. Curious users can see how their household stacks up against their own neighbors or any other region in the country by filling out the Network's CoolClimate Carbon Footprint Calculator. Average Vehicle Miles Traveled by Zip Code (Source: UC Berkeley CoolClimate Network (2013)