21 February 2018

Closing the Gateway?

The Gateway Project has been seen as possibly the single most important transportation project in the US. But a recent Federal Transit Administration review scored it lower than expected. Coupled with the new administration's Infrastructure Plan, it has people wondering how the project will move forward. It also has some questioning the scoring process:

"In case it wasn't clear before, President Trump today tried to land another death blow to Gateway, by having his Federal Transit Administration vindictively and inexplicably downgrade the project in order to cut off critical federal funding," said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) in a press release.
PlaNetizen offers a pretty good overview of the current situation.  Railway Age writes that the rating of Medium-Low is the second worst possible on the FTA scale and threatens the ability of the 2 neighboring states to get the necessary loans.

13 February 2018

2020 Census woes

The Washington Post recently ran a headline that said The 2020 Census is in deep trouble. And, explained the opinion piece, the stakes could be high:
It is already woefully underfunded, understaffed, underappreciated and behind schedule. But it will determine, in a major way, the future of our political parties, if not our democracy.
The nominee to run the 2020 Census has just been withdrawn.

Recently, more than 160 mayors sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross confronting him with the realities of the situation. Citylab reports that the letter raises serious concerns while pointing out that the census is a constitutionally mandated activity that has been proudly undertaken since 1790. Of course, in the dynamic landscape of this administration, there are questions regarding whether Ross will still be around in 2020.

If we wait long, it will simply be too late to fix it. It takes years for Bureau to staff up and build the necessary infrastructure for the decennial census. What can be done? Should states intervene? Or will lawsuits by groups like the NAACP help?  Keep watching.

(In the meantime, explore TIGERweb)

12 February 2018

Lincoln memorials

Vox is celebrating Lincoln's birthday by posting images of many of the failed proposals for the Lincoln Memorial. Had they built Pope's memorial on Meridian Hill, the whole city would be different.

"To hold its own with this monument, a Lincoln Memorial first must possess this vital quality of bigness and of dignity." - John Russell Pope

Architecture of the Olympics

ArchDaily posted a nice introduction to the $100 million stadium that will only be used 4 times. (mapped)

06 February 2018

Mayan LiDAR application

LiDAR is already established as an incredibly useful tool. But National Geographic shows a new application for it. In a remote jungle in Guatemala, LiDAR helped produce a detailed map of an ancient civilization. Jumping past the details, one researcher described the project's impact this way:
“After decades of combing through the forests, no archaeologists had stumbled across these sites. More importantly, we never had the big picture that this data set gives us. It really pulls back the veil and helps us see the civilization as the ancient Maya saw it.”
 Be sure to click over and look at the imagery. Really amazing stuff.

02 February 2018

Mapping the toxic landscape

There are lots of tools out there to help map out the Toxic Release Inventory, but here are a few favorites:

01 February 2018

Park promotion profile

Our Common Lecturer this week, Claire Agre of West 8, mentioned that New Yorker ran a piece on their founder, Adriaan Gueze. While the 2016 piece focuses on NYC's Governor's Island, it expands to a great profile of the dutch designer.

The article closes with some great quotes that sum up the spirit of West 8's approach:

It isn’t just children who need opportunities to run free. New York Harbor offered Geuze a grand borrowed landscape, and a ferry ride that sets this park off from all the others in the city. “There’s no doubt that mass culture has a hundred-per-cent success in making the world programmed,” he told me. “Everything is branded, everything has a name, has a function that you have paid for. That makes a very relevant question for our generation of designers. If we are interfering in public space, should we be part of that, or should we offer a sort of antidote?” His answer, in this spot, is clear: “Maybe we should make an environment where everyone can enjoy the lightness, and you can play.”
Go back and read.

29 January 2018

USGS Topo maps online

In class today we will be talking about ways to access the free USGS topographic quads for NJ online.

It is amazing to me to think how much the use of these has changed aver the years even though the maps themselves have changed so little. For those that are new to the maps, I am sharing some different scenes from around New Jersey that may be of interest. Just click on each and they'll expand.

A special thanks goes out to Mike Siegel and the Rutgers Cartography Lab.  This is a great resource for students and for pros.  A national resource is the Libre Map Project, but it is a bit harder for first time users.

Good for health, bad for security?

 GPS company Strava publishes something called the Global Heat Map which shows where people are using GPS-enabled fitness devices and engaged in other activities. The NYTimes reports that aside from showing where people work out, it also shows (possibly) where there are secret military bases.

23 January 2018

Maps as art

If your GIS assignments are looking a little dull, maybe Topi can help inspire you to achieve something more creative.

Topi Tjukanov is a Helsinki-based GIS/Cartographer who does amazing things with public data. His gallery online includes an elegant map of the optimal route from the geographic center of the US to every county in the US. Another map he created illustrates the differences between driving, biking, and walking to the outer edges in his hometown.

21 January 2018

Caught Mapping

PlaNetizen had a great Friday Eye Candy on hand-drawn maps that included this classic film, Caught Mapping. It presents a fairly auto-centric view of mapping, but is a fun step back in time.


20 January 2018

Municipal Planning Board meetings

All of the students in my Environmental Planning class will be attending a Municipal Planning Board meeting.

The first step is to find a date and place that works for you. One way to do this is to visit the official web site for a city/township/borough in New Jersey and find the official schedule for the planning board meetings.

A few others will simply post a notice that they meet one some repeating pattern, like the 3rd Tuesday of every month. Whichever you choose, I encourage you to call before you go, simply to be sure the meeting isn't postponed or cancelled.

19 January 2018

Great job opportunity

The 3-d geospatial startup of Envelope is looking for help. They are located in the amazing Woolworth building in NYC. If you don't know them, you should:
Envelope is a software company, spun out of a longtime collaboration between award-winning SHoP Architects, and the Director of MIT’s Civic Data Design Lab. Our 3D urban mapping platform integrates proprietary geospatial datasets, sophisticated algorithms, and iterative scenario analysis. We enable real estate professionals to visualize opportunity and make faster, smarter, and more discreet investment decisions. 
 They are looking for a zoning specialist, 3d engineer and a Senior Product Designer.

Saving the coast, 25,000 acres at a time

Unwilling to leave the land for development, a couple in California donated $165 million to The Nature Conservancy to ensure that a critically important piece of the coastline is preserved. National Geographic has a couple photos and reports that:
The land was once the Bixby Ranch, then later became the Cojo Jalama Ranches, a privately owned piece of coastal property that the LA Times once called "the last perfect place."
 James Fallows offers a lengthy piece in The Atlantic. Knowing the the donors, he got a personal sense of what this meant to them:
Much as the Rockefellers’ example is remembered now—or Carnegie’s with his libraries, or the Mellons’ and Fricks’ with their museums—the Dangermonds hope that in their smaller-scale way they can set an example others can refer to. “We would love to have 100 Dangermond Reserves,” he said. “But I’m not Carnegie. We’re not in the oil business. We can’t do this by ourselves. We’re telling the story to set an example of what others could do.”

18 January 2018

Traffic fatalities

Curbed reports on a study that found that the US has unusually high rates of traffic fatalities compared to peer nations.

“The United States is one of the richest countries in the world, yet we have a very poor record of road safety,” says Welle. “The U.S. has nearly triple the fatalities of countries like Sweden or the Netherlands.”

The article points out that some states have already taken steps towards these International standards. By contrast, others seem to promote danger:

“If you go on city streets, especially in the U.S. suburbs, these roads are what people call dangerous by design,” she says. “And often, the level of forgiveness of speeding here, of allowing people to go 10 miles over the limit, can mean the difference between survival and death.”
Remember, these are not accidents, they are fatalities. It is a matter of health and safety, not just convenience.

17 January 2018

"Widespread" everywhere

The CDC has weekly updates on the spread of the H3N2 flu. Just like dessert, they save the maps for last so flip down to them.

By itself, this maps is intimidating. But if you go back and see past years, you'll realize how terrifying this really is.