ATL Map Room: Week 7

Muniba- For the mapping interface, we’re currently working with Melanie from support to switch over and run off of an Ubuntu virtual machine rather than locally off our laptops. I’ve created a toggle for the rectangle in the Controller, so users can choose between a full size, 16 foot map and a half-sized map, and integrated the toggle with so that information is sent across the server to the Projector. Also, for the Controller on the iPad, I’m working on creating a faded square that shows the user which portion of the map is currently being projected. Moving forward into next week, we plan to complete the prototype of our Atlanta Map Room so that in the week after, we can have our first set of participants from Dr. Loukissas’s class.

The image above shows the updated set up for the Atlanta Map Room – we have a long, 16 foot platform for participants to draw their maps on. You can also see a sample map of Atlanta traced by our project manager, Chris, using our projector interface. The drawing robot was sent to us from the St. Louis Map Room, however we are not yet sure what role it would play.


Annabel – At the beginning of this week I finished up the final map for the tax assessment data as well as a version 2.0 for the panel. After assessing the two in combination, Dr. Loukissas pointed out that it might be more helpful to see the raw data, rather than an explanation of it, next to the mapped data. I’ve subsequently been working on, for most of this week, a dynamic table that shows the all attributes for a given address, which help to understand a point on the map in context. Right now I’ve got the table dynamically updating to the current bounds of the map – via Node.js and the DataTables jquery plug-in – but it needs a hefty bit of stylistic overhaul before it can be seen in the light of day!

Some snapshots of the tax assessment map, below:

Most of Fulton County

On a smaller scale

Atlanta Map Room: Week 6

Muniba – This week, I primarily worked on continuing to develop the mapping application for the Atlanta Map Room. Currently, users are able to zoom, rotate, and toggle layers for our map through our Controller interface on the iPad, which shows a static, rectangular “window” of the area which will be displayed. Then, using, these events are emitted to our local server, which in turn pushes that information to the Projector interface to display.

Image above shows our Project Manager, Chris, drawing a map projected from our interface. Above, you’ll see the rail on which our projector slides across.

Annabel: I spent the majority of this week finishing up geocoding the tax assessment data, which I’ve found really interesting as a case study in civic data. There are a lot of irregularities which make it difficult to handle the set, in my opinion – for example, Sidney Marcus Boulevard is alternately referred to as “Sidney Marcus Blvd” and “Sidney Marcus Blv” which creates a bit of an issue when you need to extract the core portion of the street name, but my regex skills are getting a good workout! I’ve also been finalizing the visualization for the tax assessment data; I’m currently working on making the color intensity proportional to the percent change in assessment from 2010 – 2017/18. A small sneak peek is here, with more to come next week:

Atlanta Map Room: Week 5

Annabel: This week I focused on obtaining the datasets to use for our layers – I’m working with data from Trees Atlanta, building permits, as well as demographics, for City of Atlanta, and restaurants around the BeltLine, as well as the tax assessment data I started work on last week. My main focus right now is geolocating the data – much of it has incomplete addresses and there’s a fairly large number of data points – and working with the APIs for both geolocation and Google Places, to get the restaurant locations. My struggles with the APIs right now generally relate to working with the limits of the APIs, especially in terms of numbers of queries made because there’s so much data. I’m also starting to think about how to visualize these data points in more unified ways – for example, there are thousands of building permits and I’m trying to think of ways to show evolution of the points in the dataset over time, which is challenging when there are multiple factors at play but only realistically one point on the map.

Featured, my inspiration for the moment (Yanni’s suggestion) for the demographic data is one of László Moholy-Nagy’s abstract paintings –

Image result for moholy nagy abstract paintings

Image credit: Wiki Art

Map Room: Week 4

We worked on two different components of the Map Room this week –

Annabel: My focus this week has been creating a prototype of the Map Room, to model the interaction between the participant input layer and the historical/social commentary data we’re overlaying it with via the projector. I’m using the tax assessment data from 2010-2017 in Fulton County for the prototype, focusing on the recently completed section of the Southwest trail, near Adair Park. Cleaning the dataset was a big chunk of my week. I’ve also been working on a guide to the tax assessment data – to cover the questions of obtaining the data, standards I’ve used working with it, and to address a variety of ethical questions related to the dataset – and I’m pulling some of the most pertinent information from that to contextualize these projected points for visitors to the Map Room. I’m doing this by creating two context panels, one above and one below the projected layer, to discuss these considerations. My current plan is to explore the data over the collection era in a timeline above and an explanation of the appeals system, especially the lack of transparency based on access level, below. 

(the prototype)

Map Room: Week 3

On Monday and Tuesday we focused on obtaining datasets for potential layers for the map room. The goal of the layers is to spark conversation regarding comparisons between the Atlanta that our map room-goers share in their depictions, and the layers of historical data we will overlay their hand-drawn maps with. Following the precedent of the St. Louis Map Room, we found several datasets created from the American Community Survey with information like transportation stops and demographics of city inhabitants. Further, we found several sets unique to Atlanta – especially relating to Atlanta-specific organizations, such as the Concrete Jungle organization, along with data about the Georgia Milestone tests pertaining to specific schools. Before we finalize these layers and share them with visitors to the map room, we will also contact community members who can better contextualize this data for us and help us understand the nuances that we’re likely missing.

After our Tuesday meeting with the Atlanta Map Room team, our new task became to create civic data guides or story-map-like guides with a BeltLine relevant data set and our software or API of choice. Annabel is mapping tax assessment data, and Muniba is mapping commercial land development permits, both using Leaflet. Once completed, these ad-hoc maps will form a basis for thinking about what the Atlanta Map Room aims to produce: contextual representations of Data.

Image Caption

Map of 2017 Commercial Land Development permits in the City of Atlanta, created using Leaflet.js. Data sourced from the City of Atlanta’s Citizen Gateway,

Atlanta Map Room

Our work this summer is based off the St. Louis Map Room, a community space, active in Spring 2017, for residents from all parts of St. Louis, to both create and explore maps that represented their experiences in the city. The Map Room provided a number of technologies – everything from pens to drawing robots – to help residents express their unique perspectives of St. Louis. An important component of this collective effort was the agency executed by participants, who had the sole responsibility to choose what landmarks or sites they did and did not include. As a result, the Map Room spurned a multitude of discussions about everything from social justice to technology.


A quick comparison of the entrances to the East- (seen from the Ponce City Market entrance) and West-side BeltLine trails:



The task for our project is to develop the Atlanta Map Room, which will be a collaborative space for members of the community to create interpretive maps of the city from contemporary data, historical documents, and personal experiences. Unlike the St. Louis Map Room, our space will enable individuals to evaluate city data in the context of the BeltLine, a large, ongoing urban renewal and transportation initiative undertaken by the City of Atlanta. A former railway corridor, the BeltLine will ultimately be a 22 mile multi-use trail around the core of the city, connecting 45 neighborhoods. However, it arises concerns, like gentrification. Within this context, we aim to provide the resources and atmosphere for people to hold dialog around civic data.