07 November 2018

New Imperative

Doug Richardson's latest ArcNews column is worth a minute of your time. In The New Imperative: Spatializing Health Research and Practice, he describes how the International Geospatial Health Research Network (IGHRN) is leading the way on issues at the intersection of health and mapping.

12 October 2018

ANJEC 2018

Had a good time at ANJEC's Environmental Congress today.

I talked about NJ Geoweb. Check it out if you don't know it. It has a primer and tutorial online. And NJ Map and GeoLab were there too.

Learned more about the Public Health and Our Ports: The Road to Clean Air Conference will be held on Friday, October 26th at Rutgers Center for Law and Justice.

04 October 2018

The Geospatial Data Act is almost law

For a while now, the GIS community has been trying to get the Geospatial Data Act passed by Congress. Yesterday, the bill finally passed out of Congress and headed down Pennsylvania Ave to await the President's signature, which is expected before Sunday.

In addition, the FAA Reauthorization bill asserted greater government authority over drones.

07 September 2018

Top 10 Shapers of the American Landscape

Here is the list of Top 10 Shapers that I am presenting in EDA listed in alphabetic order. For comparison purposes I have linked each one to its entry in Wikipedia, but these are not definitive descriptions. And the Top 10 Shapers tag at the end will find you a few other interesting links...


06 September 2018

Reserach in NJ

New Jersey has released a searchable online database called Research with New Jersey. While focused on STEM, it represents other areas at Rutgers, Rowan and other NJ schools. It helpfully allows visitors to browse by unit. For instance, you can see all of the work it includes for the Department of Landscape Architecture. As it gets updated a little more, it could become pretty useful for discovering potential advisors, collaborators and authors.

04 September 2018

Deer me

Lots of Internety deer references. These links mostly go to generic searches, so I can't promise that they won't include gross, offensive or irrelevant links.

Lifehacker presents some tips to reduce the chance of car-deer conflicts.
The Wikipedia entry on deer is pretty extensive.
Google Scholar has about 129,000 results on white-tailed deer.
Vox news stories that somehow feature deer.
Library of Congress holdings online that include deer.
Deer videos on YouTube

02 September 2018

Get the most

Frank Bruni recently published an essay on how to get the most out of college. It sounds like it is quickly becoming required reading, because it hits such important notes. Make sure, he explains, that  you learn skills that reach beyond your major:
Another of those skills, frequently overlooked, is storytelling. It’s different from communication: a next step. Every successful pitch for a new policy, new product or new company is essentially a story, with a shape and logic intended to stir its audience. So is every successful job interview. The best moment in a workplace meeting belongs to the colleague who tells the best story. So take a course in Greek mythology, British literature, political rhetoric or anything else that exposes you to the structure of narrative and the art of persuasion.
Of course, cartography is another form of storytelling. And some of our students enrich other experiences with that skill, too.

31 August 2018

Deer problems

Deer numbers in NJ are substantially than what is considered appropriate. What are the problems with so many deer?

30 August 2018

Deer NY Times...

Ronda Kaysen writes in the NY Times saying that "deer make the worst neighbors." ONe response included a more appreciative neighbor:
“They’re like these mystical creatures,” she said. “They’re like unicorns.”
But in the past the paper has suggested other responses including:
Deer fences

The NY Times archives even includes a letter from Joyce Carol Oates about the deer hunt in Princeton.

29 August 2018

Top 20 towns for deer-car conflicts

The Star-Ledger produced a list of the 20 NJ municipalities where deer get hit the most. Naturally, Somerset/Franklin made the list. Hillsborough leads the state with 316 "animal-loss claims" last year.

28 August 2018

Local deer news

While gearing up for a fall studio focused on deer in Franklin Township, I have heard a few people dismiss the danger of car accidents involving deer. But the individual stories are compelling. Mark Rodgers' accident in Franklin was a fatal example of the dangers involved. A fatal accident in neighboring Montgomery Township got attention, too. They are a consistent problem, even down near the Shore. Sometimes the deer escapes and only the motorists are harmed.

And whenever a town tries to manage the local deer population, there is a voice of protest.
But the dissenting voices aren't always about whether this is humane.

24 August 2018

A writing tip

Robert Caro says he always starts at the end of the book. He explained this to the New York Review of Books in a recent interview:

Before I start a book, I must know the last line. If I can’t, I can’t do the book. Once I have it, I’ll write toward that last line.
Do you have a closing line for the last volume of The Years of Lyndon Johnson?
Yes. Yes.

13 August 2018

Turn up the heat and see what you get

When we were kids we learned to write invisibly with lemon juice and then later we could reveal the secret message by holding it close to a flame. The heat revealed what had been previously hidden.

This summer's British heat wave is doing the same thing. The heat is revealing long lost patterns beneath the surface. Sam Knight digs a little deeper in this New Yorker piece on the visible archaeology. 

06 August 2018

Richard Haag

Richard Haag, one of the great landscape architects (and educators) of the 20th Century has passed. Maybe you could guess he was a Kentucky boy when the Seattle Times quotes him saying:
 “A big peeve of mine is the harsh divorce of children from natural processes,” he says. “We’re beginning to see a revolt against paved schoolyards. Put in a bog instead! Kids want to play in the mud. Every child should have a chance to explore, dig, grow food, find refuge in nature.”

If you don't know his work, TCLF has an impressive memorial online.

Two of his best known works were Bloedel Reserve and Gas Works Park:

19 July 2018

The light of Luis Barragán

Pritzer-winning architect Luis Barragán was a master of seemingly simple forms that manipulated space in beautifully subtle ways. Daily Dose of Architecture presents at a few fascinating examples of how he used color to shape the light that infused those spaces. Any excuse to look at photos of his work should be worth your click.

13 July 2018

Deer-resistant plants

The Internet is filled with lists of plants that deer don't like. Two that stood out were the list from Almanac.com and the list of deer-resistant plants from Rutgers' NJAES.

Of course, there is a big difference between deer-repellent and deer-resistant.

20 June 2018

Domino Park

A new park has opened in Brooklyn, in the shadow (literally) of the Williamsburg Bridge. The new Domino Park is built on the remnants of the old Domino Sugar factory. The waterfront park has gantry cranes, steel beams, rusty walls, and syrup tanks that reference the site's past life. The NY Times recently reviewed the pretty amazing playground. The good folks at Untapped have taken a tour that reveals some interesting features.

If you can't visit in person, then this video might give you a taste.

31 May 2018

Notes from DLA 2018 1

At the Digital Landscape Architecture meeting at Wienhenstephan-Triesdorf, Penn State's Kelleann Foster gave a great keynote lecture. As a good keynote does, it covered lots of ground, which I will not try to summarize. But along the way she referenced some other interesting resources:

Carlo Ratti's idea that designers (especially geodesigners) are 'mutagens'.

APA's Metrics for Healthy Planning Communities


HBR Issue on Design Thinking
Diana Budds' 7 urban design trends

07 May 2018

Another sign of summer

Interchanges is back, providing a daily dose of Interstate highway engineering and design.

All photography generously paid for by the USDA National Agricultural Imagery Program.

01 May 2018

Old news

While talking about eminent domain in class, we skipped over New Jersey's most famous case: Donald Trump v. Vera Coking.

In 1998 the NY Times shared a short news piece stating that Donald Trump had failed in his five year effort to force a woman out of her home for a limo parking park.

Despite reported offers of over a million dollars, Vera Coking wanted to hold on to her boarding house and fought for that right. Eminent domain is a government power, and Trump's casino was a private interest, so he relied on Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) for the condemnation. An advocacy group called the Institute for Justice wrote about this extraordinary situation:
Unlike most developers, Donald Trump doesn’t have to negotiate with a private owner when he wants to buy a piece of property because a governmental agency-the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority or CRDA-will get it for him at a fraction of the market value, even if the current owner refuses to sell. Here is how the process works.
Unsurprisingly, the issue came up again during the 2016 campaign when Ted Cruz used it in a campaign ad where one kids condemned another kid's doll house.
The Coking house was photodocumented by HABS in 1991:

30 April 2018

A little something

Scarfo, R. A. 1986. "Stewardship in the 20th century," Landscape Architectural Review, 7: 2, 13-15.

Scarfo, R. A. 1988. "Stewardship and the Profession of Landscape Architecture," Landscape Journal, 7 (1988): 1, 60-68.

27 April 2018

Entry level LA job

Design Workshop is seeking an entry-level design and planning professional in their Houston office with 0-3 years of experience in a design firm. This position is available in September. For more information, please contact Caroline Heivly, HR Generalist. To apply, please visit: careers-designworkshop.icims.com.

26 April 2018

Tabasco Sauce vs. Coastal Erosion

When I saw the headline "Tabasco Sauce Is in a Battle For Its Very Survival" I had to click through, since I've been to Avery Island where still they make Edmund McIlhenny's unique hot sauce.  I had suspected that it was going to be a story about trade wars or an unexpected increase in the cost of vinegar. Instead, it was a story about coastal erosion.

After the usual background about hurricanes and Louisiana losing several football fields of land every day, the article suggests that a new strategy is underway. Tabasco is putting together a team of landowners to fight against coastal erosion:
 “We were competing against each other for these multi million dollar coastal restoration projects to go on our own property,” Moertl explains. “So we came up with the idea of forming an alliance. Let’s erase our property boundaries, and let’s work together, pool our resources and our expertise, and see if we can’t go after this with a more regional approach.”
“The property boundaries are artificial,” says Osborn. “If your neighbor’s land starts eroding, so will yours.”
The story is absolutely worth a full read.

And if you ever get down there, tour the factory and the "island". The place should be a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


25 April 2018

Top 25 Supreme Court cases for planners

Wisconsin APA posted a list of the Top 25 Supreme Court cases for planners (as suggested by one person).  As a fun twist, they marked the 6 cases on that list in which the American Planning Association filed amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs.

24 April 2018

Industry 4.0 and GNSS

While it isn't news that GIScience has become a big industry, it may be a surprise how big the industries inside it are. Geospatial World reports that the GNSS and Positioning market will be over $280 billion in 2020.

As they point out, Global Navigation Satellite System has grown beyond GPS to become a ubiquitous technology. Rapid innovation is a driver of this sector. "In this era of 4th Industrial Revolution (industry 4.0), the new technologies have a crucial role to play in expanding the GNSS and Positioning market."

23 April 2018

States 10,000 years from now

The NYTimes made a graphic of each state as it would appear 10,000 years from now, with substantial sea-level rise.

Presenting it as a quiz makes it fun. But it is really quite serious, especially when you think about the loss of cultural landmarks that could have lasted that long.

03 April 2018

A threat to GPS

Should the FCC let a company use more of the commercial spectrum to support broadband wireless communications even if it potentially compromises GPS? With over 5 billion GPS receivers in use around the world, it is a big issue. Last year that question emerged as Ligado sought permission despite initial opposition. Now an engineering panel has found that indeed it would be a conflict. Remember that your autonomous car or the airplane you are on rely on strong GPS signals, so this isn't just about hikers.

Keep an eye on this one.

28 March 2018

A new Census question

The US Census Bureau is being asked by the current administration to add a question about citizenship for the 2020 Census. ABC News reports on it saying,
Not since 1950 has the census collected citizenship data from the whole population, rather than just a population sample, says the Congressional Research Service. The decision to restore the question after decades prompted an immediate lawsuit from California — already tangling with Washington over immigration — and moves by other states with large immigrant populations to engage in a legal fight.

CityLab treats it as a planning issue, since it is used to allocate Federal funds for lots of programs. But, as they point out, this is not strictly an administrative issue:
There is, however, a legislative check on changes to the census. Article 1, section 2 of the Constitution lists “the actual Enumeration” as a responsibility of Congress. Representative Grace Meng of New York has already said that she will introduce legislation to block the citizenship question.

“Congress should immediately convene hearings to do what the Commerce Department failed to do—truly evaluate the impact that the citizenship questions will have in terms of depressing minority and immigrant community participation,” Clarke said.
I can't find the language, but was told that every new question requires a vote from Congress. That would be an interesting twist, if true.

27 March 2018

Suitability Analysis

[Broken link fixed]
Here is a repost of the old handwritten Suitability Analysis notes from when Steve Strom used these techniques in his studio. This four page set of Suitability Analysis notes is online as a PDF. His description of weighted analysis lacks a graphic, so I created a digital version of both some of his graphics and a new Weight and Rate graphic that should help you work through it all as you look ahead to our next exam:

To be clear, each grid shows the very same piece of land but being rated for a different issue (soils, slope, vegetation). Presumably that is fairly objective. But each individual criterion is then weighted based on relative importance. In this case, Slope has rather subjectively been weighted as 5 times more important that Vegetation. If you click on my graphic it will enlarge and be more readable.

17 March 2018

eGov - Washington County, OR

I was digging around for some materials to use in class this weekend and found myself back at an old favorite website. It was the official site for Washington County, Oregon. Nearly 20 years after first visiting them, I found the site to still be one of the best examples of local government online. It has both user friendly and detailed materials, allowing visitors to pick what they need.

Just as an example, it presents GIS-related materials as:
  • carefully developed cartographic products (maps),
  • interactive online maps and materials, and
  • downloadable GIS data.
 Dig around, check it out. (Or dig around in Independence, MO, another fascinating example)

09 March 2018

Puerto Rican forest damage map

The NY Times took a fascinating look at research in PR that is investigating the nature and extent of Hurricane Maria's damage to the island's forests. The article includes an amazing map from Columbia U that shows where the damage occurred. In the east is cluster of high damage in El Yunque National Forest. But there is widespread damage all over. The research estimates that as many as 31 million trees were destroyed or severely damaged.

There is more than just the great map. The article goes into detail about how the researchers are ground truthing Landsat imagery to better understand their data. And they begin to speculate on what long-term changes might look like in that forest.

08 March 2018

More Census details

A Rutgers Ph.D. student got a piece published on Huffington Post that says "Black Latinos Are Almost Invisible In The Census. We Can Fix That."

She builds both on her doctoral research project as well as personal experiences. The pull quote of the article is:
"Latino is not a race, it is an ethnicity. Ethnicity describes a person’s culture, language, heritage and geography. Race, on the other hand, is about how others see us. And although most social scientists agree that race is a social construct, they also contend that it does matter; our experiences are undeniably shaped by our race."
 How many more questions have this sort of complexity built into them?

05 March 2018

Geodesign in the news

Forbes has posted a feature on Geodesign today. It is an interesting indicator of how broadly the topic appeals to the general public and the private sector. The examples, while short, demonstrate variety in Geodesign as they range from utility networks, to Chinese sponge cities, to German Autobahn.

01 March 2018

Census update

As a update to an earlier post about the US Census:

25 February 2018

Slope Maps

Here is a basic slope map.
If you discard much of the information, you might get something like this one of some ski slopes.
Since a slope map doesn't show much by itself, here is a way to combine it with something else.

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.