Albany Hub: Week 4

We’ve faced two big challenges this past week: getting to know Albany spatially and preparing all data for our research-grade database. Because of the nature of these problems, our team has split into our specializations and tackled them in groups of two.

On Thursday and Friday, Olivia and David worked to map Albany’s housing projects on ArcGIS, layered with various attributes like median household income and political ward boundaries. At the moment, we only have access to tract-level data for indicators we’ve obtained. We’ve even contacted the Census to request more granular data, but unfortunately, they can only offer it at the tract level. With this median household income data, we’ve created a rough draft of what Albany looks like spatially with respect to median household income. All shading is the result of the default settings of ArcGIS. The dots represent different projects, colors represent each project’s federal funding source, and the size of the dot represents the amount of money invested in the project. Again, the sizes of the dots are all the result of default settings in ArcGIS and do not accurately reflect the full picture of Albany. The tract shapes displayed are those either fully or partially within Albany; they do not reflect the boundaries of the city.

We used the same dots of the projects for the next visual but layered with political ward boundaries rather than Census tracts. While the previous map does not contain the boundaries of Albany, this map does.

While Olivia and David developed these maps, Mirabel and Billy worked to clean up all of the sources of data for the database. These datasets include the weather of Albany, information on the housing projects, utility billing, and data from the Census. Most of their work has come from standardizing addresses, ensuring that streets are recorded as streets rather than drives or avenues, checking that address numbers line up across datasets, as well as other tests to verify continuity across datasets. Essentially, we need the addresses to match in all datasets so that when they’re merged, all data is managed precisely so that we don’t lose any valuable information. Mirabel also took the time to geocode all addresses in Albany. This will associate each address in Albany with a physical location on a map. In continuing our spatial analysis, this addition will be indispensable.  

Besides cleanup and geocoding, they set up the basic structure of our database. Our internal database will be queried using SQL behind the Georgia Tech firewall. With this database, we will be able to answer our own and our advisor’s research questions through statistical analysis. All of our questions will be centered around the following motivation: to evaluate the effectiveness of Albany’s energy efficiency housing projects. Our focus for this week will be on finalizing this database. We’re expected to present the first draft to Dr. Asensio tomorrow.

Also this past week, Olivia attended the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge press conference in Macon to represent our project. Albany Hub is part of the current lineup of projects for this past year’s winners. At the conference, the newly awarded communities were announced. Congratulations to the winning communities! You can find more information about the challenge and the winning proposals here.

That’s all for now. Talk to you next week!