Posts Tagged ‘dc’

Map: Network of Special Lanes (Wash Post)

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

[Editor's note: Great map by Laris Karklis.]

Republished from The Washington Post. By Ashley Halsey III.
Related article: A Fast Track To Bus

A proposal that would use $300 million of federal stimulus money to optimize bus service is under review today. Enhancements to bus corridors and a reconfiguration of K Street are among the central elements of proposed improvements.

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Placename conventions: Wales (Cymru) @ 2009 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.

Monday, June 29th, 2009

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[Editor’s note: Visiting the Wales section of this year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival (continues thru July 5),  I am reminded of how each language has a different name for the same set of geographic features. This is mostly true on the world scale for countries, oceans, continents and so on. Sometimes it continues down to major cities within a certain country, especially with names like “New York”. Each language has a “conventional” name for foreign placenames that may or may not bear an obvious resemblance to the name used by the local language used by those in that place. Some cities even have historic (no longer used) conventional names: Istanbul (not Constantanopal). Mumbai took a good 15 years to replace the US-English conventional for Bombay in India.

The technical terms for this, definitions courtesy Wikipedia, are Exonym (a name for a place that is not used within that place by the local inhabitants), endonym, autonym (the name used by the people or locals themselves). Exonyms may derive from distinct roots as in the case of Deutschland, Germany. They can also be cognates which sound similar (and are spelled similar, using the local script), and final they may be fully or partially translated from the native language (like New York and Neuvo York). Transliteration is the practice of converting a text from one writing system into another in a systematic way. Some places, like New Zealand, have multiple local language names for the same geographic features, further clouding the issue.

The US-English conventional romanized script for the country in Europe that borders France and Poland is “Germany” yet in Welsh it isyr Almaen”, which is similar to the usage in French and several other European languages. These types of naming styles are important when attributing a world base map (see Natural Earth Vector blog post). For an audience that is mono-lingual, it makes sense to use conventional names for foreign place names. But what happens for a product that enjoys multi-lingual users? On one hand we want to be “localized” to the appropriate name in each language, but we need to provide enough “conventional” placenames for the user to orient themselves, especially when the foreign names use a completely different writing script (not roman ABCs). Google Maps-US takes an hyprid approach where names in each country are labeled in the local script using the local name, with a few labels also in conventional US-English. When one searches for Tokyo, the map shows Japan in mostly Kanji script with some romanized, conventional US-English versions of those names.

For Natural Earth Vector, we follow a hybrid approach that will allow for localization into other languages besides the compilation language, US-English. Tom Patterson used the following guidelines for his original Physical Map fo the World project, which this project uses as it’s primary source:

• Endonyms (Appennino) were favored over exonyms (Apennines) for place names based on Romance and Germanic languages, which are often cognates of familiar English names and easy to identify.
• For other languages, transliterated names of major features (mountain ranges, plateaus, deserts, etc.) received English place name descriptors. For example, Verkhoyansk Khrebet in Russia is labeled on the map as Verkhoyansk Range. Smaller physical features, such as mountains within ranges, have entirely local names.
• Transnational features named in more than one language, for example, the Donau/Duna/Danube River, received conventional English names.
• When two or more countries claim ownership of the same physical feature and use different names for it, the preference was for the country currently in possession of the feature regardless of the circumstances. For example, the southern Kuril Islands that Japan and Russia both claim, and which Russia has occupied since 1945, have Russian names.
• A few notable places have English translations in parentheses, for example, Rub al Khali (Empty Quarter).
• All river names dispense with the word “River” or the abbreviation “R.”
• Island names within compact island groups drop the word “Island” or the abbreviation “I.”
• Non-English place names have accents and diacritical marks. However, the font used on the map (Adobe Frutiger) lacked a few exotic accents for consonants, which consequently do not appear on the map.

And now for the Welsh Smithsonian Festival information:]

wales_folklife

Republished from the Smithsonian.

Wales (Cymru in Welsh) is a dynamic and resilient nation. The industrious and resourceful nature of its people provides a firm platform from which to present its rich culture and heritage. Wales Smithsonian Cymru will celebrate language, literature, and the spoken word, present crafts and occupational skills, share music and cooking, and evoke the spirit that powered the industrial revolution and is now championing sustainable solutions. The program will explore how age-old knowledge, skills, and materials continue to be refashioned, recycled, and reinvented to meet modern demands and to continue to connect Wales to the world.

With much of its border being coastline, Wales’ maritime influences remain vital to the nation’s evolution. The mountain ranges and National Parks sustain the rural communities and outdoor life that are Wales’ touchstones. The essence and inspiration of the landscape will be shared by those who live off and nurture Wales’ beguiling natural environment. Cooking demonstrations will explore the qualities of fresh, local ingredients sourced from farmers markets and savored across the country, from seafood platters to hearty Welsh lamb dishes. Performances and workshops will illustrate the diversity of the Welsh music scene, from the ancient sounds of the crwth and pibgorn, to evocative vocal and harp renditions, and to lively folk bands playing a range of familiar and experimental repertoires. Craftspeople and building arts experts will share their experiences and skills working with native Welsh woods, slate, wool, metal, and stone.

Immigration and an international perspective have enriched Welsh culture for generations, while the strength of the Welsh language, which stems from the sixth century, continues to underpin the nation’s identity. Visitors will be able to practice Welsh phrases and learn about the history of the language. In addition to the Festival, Wales’ presence will be extended through ancillary programs that will begin in March 2009, presented in collaboration with partner organizations in Washington, D.C. These activities and events will include a wide range of contemporary arts and a focus on sustainable living and climate change.

Continue reading at the Smithsonian . . .

Using Data Visualization as a Reporting Tool Can Reveal Story’s Shape (Poynter)

Friday, June 26th, 2009

[Editor’s note: My colleague Sarah Cohen at The Washington Post was recently interviewed by Poynter about creating data visualizations to help readers understand and reporters research complicated stories. Sarah is on her way to a big new gig at Duke University.]

Republished from Poynter.
By Steve Myers at 6:12 AM on Apr. 14, 2009

Readers have come to rely on interactive presentations to understand complicated stories, using them to zoom in on periods of time and highlight areas of interest. Yet to investigate these stories, reporters often create what amounts to handcrafted investigative art: flow charts with circles and arrows, maps shaded with highlighters and stuck with pins.

More and more, though, some reporters are using data visualization tools to find the story hidden in the data. Those tools help them discover patterns and focus their reporting on particular places and times. Many of the presentations, which can have rough interfaces or less-than-sleek design, are never published.

At the recent National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) conference, Sarah Cohen, database editor for The Washington Post‘s investigative team — and recently named professor of computational journalism at Duke University — showed how reporters can use interactive graphics for their exploratory reporting. [PDF]

Cohen described this approach to me via e-mail. Here’s an edited version of our exchange.

Steve Myers: How would creating a digital, visual representation of data help a reporter? What does it tell you that you wouldn’t be able to find otherwise?

Sarah Cohen
Sarah Cohen

Sarah Cohen: The same way that visualizations and graphics help readers cut through a lot of clutter and display dense information in an efficient way. The most common things that early visualizations help with are place and time — two of the most important elements in reporting a complex story. Those two things are really hard to see in text. They’re really, really hard to see in combination. So the graphics can show you where to go to find your subjects or where to go to find the most typical subjects. They can also show you when the story you are trying to find peaked. Put them together, and you can start finding the very best examples for your story.

That’s pretty general, so let me give you a couple of examples. During a story on disaster payments in the farm subsidy system, we wanted to make sure that we went to places that had received the payments year after year after year. Using a database, we could find farms that had received multiple payments pretty easily. But looking at repeated images of density maps that I made of the payments, it was really obvious where to go — specific areas of North Dakota and Kansas.

Crop payments
Sarah Cohen/Poynter illustration
Cohen used density maps to figure out what areas of the country had received disaster payments year after year.


In another example, we were working last year on a story on practices used by landlords to empty their buildings, partly in order to avoid strict laws on condo conversions (visualizations: research version, published version. We knew one neighborhood of the city was Ground Zero — an area called Columbia Heights, in Northwest D.C. But making an interactive map with a slider that showed the timing, we could see that it was moving into other areas of the city, especially in Southeast. We could also quickly see that the most affluent areas of the city had none of them.

Continue reading at Poynter . . .

Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes (Corcoran in Washington, DC)

Friday, June 12th, 2009

[Editor's note: If you travel to DC this summer, check out this installation from renowned contemporary artist and architect Maya Lin of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial fame. There is a fee to enter the private museum.]

Republished from the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Run dates: March 14, 2009 — July 12, 2009

This spring, the Corcoran Gallery of Art will present Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes—a dramatic installation of major new works by this renowned contemporary artist and architect.   On view from March 14 through July 12, the exhibition addresses contemporary ideas about landscape and geologic phenomena.  Lin’s second nationally-traveling exhibition in 10 years, Systematic Landscapes explores how people perceive and experience the landscape in a time of heightened technological influence and environmental awareness.

Lin (b. 1959) came to prominence in 1981 with her design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. and has since achieved a high degree of recognition for a body of work that includes monuments, buildings, earthworks, sculpture and installations.  Traversing Lin’s constructed landscapes in this exhibition—moving around, under, and through them—we encounter a world that has been mapped, digitized, analyzed, and then reintroduced by Lin as actual, physical structures.  Her work blends a typology of natural forms, from rivers to mountains to seas, with a visual language of scientific analysis represented by grids, models, and maps.  In doing so, Lin merges an understanding of the ideal and the real, encouraging an encounter with conceptual, sculptural and architectural modeling.

Systematic Landscapes is centered on a trio of large-scale sculptural installations: 2×4 Landscape (2006), Water Line (2006) and Blue Lake Pass (2006).  Each sculpture offers a different means for viewers to engage with and comprehend a schematic representation of landscape forms.  In these projects, Lin examines how people’s modern relationships to the land are extended, condensed, distorted and interpreted through new computer technologies.  She translates a series of dramatic landscape environments selected for their inspiring beauty and connection to life-supporting habitats into spatial environments where viewers can engage with them in an art gallery setting.

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New Programs Put Crime Stats on the Map (Wall Street Journal)

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

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[Editor’s note: Instead of screen scrapping police logs printed in community papers, web mappers are partnering directly with city police departments to get timely, accurate reports up online in map form. Thanks Yifang!]

Republished from the Wall Street Journal.
June 3, 2009. By BOBBY WHITE

When a burglar broke into a home on the outskirts of Riverdale Park, Md., last month, some locals quickly received an email alert about the incident. Once police confirmed the crime on the scene, they followed
up with a more thorough email disclosing the time, location and type of crime.

The alert is part of a crime-information service that the Riverdale Park police department provides its residents about illegal activity in their neighborhoods. “It helps us keep the public informed,” says Teresa Chambers, police chief of Riverdale Park, a suburb of Washington, D.C. “It’s also a way for us to solicit help [from residents] in solving some of these crimes.”

Across the country, Americans can increasingly track crime trends block by block as more police departments contract with Internet-based crime-mapping services. Since 2007, more than 800 police departments have begun working with Web sites like CrimeMapping.com, CrimeReports.com and EveryBlock.com. The services take live feeds from police record-keeping systems and automatically post the data on their sites.

Police say they use the sites to help change citizens’ behavior toward crime and encourage dialogue with communities so that more people might offer tips or leads. Some of the sites have crime-report blogs that examine activity in different locales. They also allow residents to offer tips and report crimes under way.

Police have traditionally depended on media reports and community meetings to inform the public about neighborhood crime. Many departments have been reluctant to share too much information with the public out of concern it could be used as a political tool, says Thomas Casady, police chief of Lincoln, Neb. But the rise of Web services that publish records online has forced some of the departments to reconsider. Some of these sites operate independently of the police department, putting pressure on police to participate, Mr. Casady says.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal . . .

Award for Taxi Fare Estimator (Kelso)

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

The Washington Post won 5 bronze awards in the Malofiej Infographics competition (SND Spain), including one for my interactive graphic District Taxi Fare Estimator published in January 2008.

Full list of Washington Post winners (all print except mine):

  • Karen Yourish and Laura Stanton for U.S. History of Black Politicians
  • Brenna Maloney and Todd Lindeman for Recession 101
  • Brenna Maloney and Todd Lindeman for explanation of the high price of oil/gas
  • April Umminger and Laura Stanton for the fireworks preview page
  • Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso for the District Taxi Fare Estimator interactive

Read my post on how the interactive was created . . .

Wayfinding: Here, Even Icons Need IDs (Wash Post)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

[Editor’s note: Maps are most useful when held in the hand and referenced while in a landscape. But sometimes it is hard to match the abstract map topology with what is literally just in front of us. Or maybe the map was left at home. Maps are best when combined with confirmatory signage (direct annotation) in the landscape itself. These signs should have prominent, frequent placement and be easy to read. Signage that is small and/or discrete is pointless.

This article from the Washington Post explores the National Park Service’s proposal for better signage along the National Mall in the District, swarmed all year long with tourists who have no clue where they are or what they’re looking at.]

Republished from The Washington Post.

Monday, March 16, 2009; Page B01
Also see John Kelly’s blog post on signage in the Metro rail subways.

Park Service Wants Tourist-Friendly Signs for Mall Monuments

The two Belgian tourists paused on the pathway near the Washington Monument to answer a question.

Could they identify the towering white obelisk before them?

They examined their map. “We think, the Ellipse,” said Dien Haemhouts, 24, of Antwerp. Told their mistake, they laughed. “Ah, the Washington Monument,” Haemhouts said. “Okay.”

It was understandable. They had never been to Washington before. There was no sign nearby identifying the monument. And so the two tourists found themselves in the midst of a fresh debate: Do icons like the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial need signs announcing what they are?

The National Park Service, which is about to install an extensive new system of signs on the Mall, says yes. Many foreign and American tourists have no clue what they’re looking at or what to expect when they arrive, the Park Service says. Officials say, for example, that they often get calls from the public asking if there is a Nordstrom on the Mall.

But some members of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which must approve the new sign system, as well as American tourists interviewed on a cold day last week, say no to such signs. “Just looking at it,” Minnie Glenn, 50, of Park Hall, Md., said of the monument. “It’s self-defining.”

The debate arises as the Mall is about to get a new $2.2 million sign system, funded by the federal government and the private Trust for the National Mall. Design research is underway, with a view to replacing the mishmash of signs on the Mall with a more uniform and user-friendly system that will probably use a series of color-coded pylons.

“There are hundreds of mismatched signs on the Mall,” Wayne Hunt, whose firm is researching the new system, told the arts commission last month at a meeting where proposed signs were reviewed. “The Lincoln Memorial has 44 mismatched signs.”

Across the Mall, there are signs with directions, signs with warnings, signs with rules. “Please Stay on the Sidewalks,” reads one at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. “Quiet” is called for at the Lincoln Memorial. “No Guns or Ammunition,” says one near the Washington Monument.

When the question of formal signs came up, several commission members said signs seemed unnecessary and would be a blot on the landscape. “What does it say in front of the pyramids?” Pamela Nelson, vice chairman, wondered of Egypt’s famous tombs. “Is there a sign in front of the pyramids?”

Commission member Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk asked: “Do you need a sign in front of the Washington Monument? I don’t think so.”

In a letter to the Park Service, commission Secretary Thomas E. Luebke wrote that the commission “strongly discouraged the use of the monument-type sign to identify buildings and memorials on the National Mall.”

Continue reading at Washington Post . . .

Taking the Train: The Most Used Subway Systems in the US and Around the World (Good Magazine)

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

[Editor’s note: This chart needs a per capita analysis and comparable accounting of subway milages but is super fun any how. Click image above for larger view, or follow link below. Happy birthday Katie Rose!]

Republished from Good magazine.
Orig pub date: Feb. 17, 2009.

Even though subways are a fuel-efficent way to move people around congested urban areas, Americans make poor use of them, probably because they are poorly funded and often don’t travel where we want to go. Right now, of the five most-used subway systems in the country, only New York City’s attracts as many riders as the five largest foreign subway systems.

A collaboration between GOOD and Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

View the original graphic | blog post.

MAPublisher 8.0 Training in Washington, DC Area (Avenza)

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

[Editor's note: For East Coast cartographers wanting to know more about MaPublisher 8.0 including new Flash web map export, Avenza is offering a 2 day training in the Washington DC area in late March 2009. More information, including registration link, after the jump.]

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