Posts Tagged ‘district’

Map: Top Secret America, A Washington Post Investigation (Kelso via WaPo)

Monday, July 19th, 2010

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[Editor’s note: The government has built a national security and intelligence system so big, so complex, and so hard to manage, no one really knows if it’s fulfilling its most important purpose: keeping citizens safe. Discover the top-secret work being done in your community via our map and search relationships within this complex world on our network diagram. Monday’s story focuses on the growth in Top Secret America since 9/11. Next up we cover the government’s increasing dependence on contractors and delve into the Top Secret America neighborhood around Ft. Meade, Maryland. The map is constructed in Flash using the Google Maps API with custom map tiles for zooms 0 to 5. The government and company locations and work relationships are gathered from publicly available records. This project has been in the works for over a year, I hope you enjoy!]

Republished from The Washington Post.

A hidden world, growing beyond control

By Dana Priest and William M. Arkin

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

Watch the intro video at The Washington Post . . .

Read the article . . .

Interact with the map . . .

MAP: Campaign 2010 – Congressional Races, a closer look at the 435 House races (WaPo)

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

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[Editor’s note: Just in time for the midterms, The Washington Post has relaunched our online politics section, including a nifty interactive map by Kat Downs (lead), Dan Keating, Karen Yourish and Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso. The map starts off on House races but also tracks Senate and Governor races. It’s zoomable, panable, has a time slider for past election results. The original linework was generalized using MapShaper.org with manual adjustments to blend in detailed urban districts with more generalized rural districts, resulting in smaller file size, quicker load time, and less ambiguity on which district is which. Please email us with questions or suggestions.]

Republished from The Washington Post.

Will Republicans take control of the house in 2010? Use this map to track all 435 House races, analyse past election results, and drill down to district level data. Post reporters Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza will weigh in regularly on the 25 races you need to know about. SOURCES: Federal Election Commission, U.S. Census Bureau.

Interact with the original at The Washington Post . . .

Two more screenshots, showing generalized urban area linework in the Washington, DC, metro area with thematic attribute “details” panel open and then the advanced filtering options, in this case to pull out swing districts that have rate more than 21% uninsured.

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Animated map: The evolution of Metrorail, 1976-2010 (GGDC)

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

[Editor’s note: When the mode of thinking is interactivity, its nice to see animation used to it’s potential. Thanks Jaime!]

During December’s snowstorm, we wrote that the worst December storm since 1982 would (and did) create a Metro system with about the same number of stations as in 1982, as did this weekend’s storm.

This raises the question, what exactly did the rail system look like in 1982? Or other years? To answer that, I created a little slideshow:

Continue reading and see the animation at Greater Greater Washington . . .

Screenshot below:

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My street has been plowed! (MyMaps and Wash Post)

Monday, February 8th, 2010

My colleage Wilson setup a open-to-everyone Google MyMaps project for folks to note which streets in DC have been plowed. Had to hack the embed with a network link via Google Maps to get all the locations to plot on one map (MyMap usually wants to separate blocks of markers into separate pages and maps).

Check it out at The Washington Post . . .

Map of big snow storm in DC (Kelso via Wash Post)

Monday, February 8th, 2010

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I’m still digging out from the big storm this weekend in Washington, DC. I received 24″ at my house, ranged from 14″ to over 30″ in the metro area with heaviest around Columbia, Maryland. I worked during the storm and Laris and I tallied the NWS weather spotter reports of snowfall and used the GIS to krig the a map of average depth from about 50 points (which had to be filtered to remove expired values). Then used Illustrator’s Live Trace functionality to vectorize. Preview above (for the local home page promo which didn’t have room for legend, so directly labeled the contours), full graphic below with explainer of how the storm happened (with Laura and Larry).

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OpenStreetMap leveraged for bikes: Ride the City – DC Metro

Monday, February 8th, 2010

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[Editor’s note: This routing tool considers bike paths and trails and supports drag and drop start and stop icons (rather than just address entree). It’s available for several major metro areas across the US and just came to Washington, DC. How can you get it in your town? Yet another reason to contribute to OpenStreetMap.org, the backend behind the tool. Thanks Jaime!]

Republished from Ride the City.

Washington D.C. is a great city for bicycling: its greenway network is extensive and it’s relatively flat. D.C. is also home to Smartbike DC, a public bike rental program.

We’re happy to announce that today bicycling in the nation’s capital just got easier: Welcome Ride the City – DC Metro! This newest addition includes Washington D.C., Arlington, Alexandria, all of Fairfax, and the Maryland suburbs within the Capital Beltway. We’re hopeful that by making it easier to ride bikes around the epicenter of U.S. political power that we may inspire more action to bring about improved bicycle facilities everywhere, especially in cities where biking is a sensible alternative to driving.

Ride the City – DC Metro was probably our biggest challenge to date. It was tricky because of the many jurisdictions (six counties) and various data sources that had to be organized, not to mention the 1,148 square miles of area and over 450 miles of separated (i.e. Class 1) bike ways that had to be manually edited. We’re happy to have had help from many good people in the bicycling world. Among those who helped, we’d like to thank Chantal Buchser (Washington Area Bicyclist Association), Bruce Wright (Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling), and Jeff Hermann (Fairfax County DOT) for helping us with data, troubleshooting, and leveraging volunteers to test routes early on.

(For those of you who are new to Ride the City, keep in mind that the Cloudmade basemap that we use is based on Open Street Map, the volunteer effort to map the world. If you notice discrepancies on the map, you can edit Open Street Map yourself or tell us about it and we’ll edit Open Street Map for you. To learn more about Open Street Map, click here.)

Try it out at Ride the City . . .

‘Citizen cartographers’ map the microcosms of the world (Wash Post)

Monday, February 1st, 2010

[Editor's note: The Washington Post's Mike Musgrove covers the OpenStreetMap.org phenomenon during a recent meet-up of MappingDC in the nation's capital.]

Republished from The Washington Post. Sunday, January 31, 2010
By Mike Musgrove

On a cold Sunday morning in Washington, none of the two-dozen scruffy students and techie folks crowded into one side of a bustling cafe noticed as Steve Coast, a 29-year-old British programmer, moseyed in and joined their ranks. They didn’t realize it, but there was the man with a plan to map the world.

They were there to do their part, but that’s the funny thing about being the leader of a large, online movement: Everybody knows your name, but nobody recognizes you.

The citizen cartographers, known as MappingDC, had gathered to help complete Coast’s interactive map of the globe — or at least Washington’s corner of it.

“Maps are expensive and proprietary,” said Coast, sipping on his coffee and explaining the core tenets of the project, called OpenStreetMap. “They should be free.”

Coast had the idea for OpenStreetMap in 2004, when he was a student living in London. Coast had a GPS and a laptop, you see, and he figured that with a little programming magic he could build a map of his local haunts that contained more useful information than any service he could find online.

What’s more, he said, “I figured that if I did that, and he did that, and you did that, then, together, we could put together a jigsaw map of the world.”

Since that day, a few hundred thousand people around the planet have pitched in online to enter information about everything from the name of their local library to an area’s handicap accessibility.

In Germany, the country with some of the project’s most enthusiastic participants, volunteers have very nearly catalogued their country down to the last lamppost. During a recent trip to Atlanta, Coast found that users had paid particular attention to the area’s storm drains, perhaps because of recent floods. In Denver, where he lives, Coast has noticed that users are obsessed with noting every footpath and bike trail.

As with Wikipedia, the premise here is that the collective contributions of an enthusiastic community can create a better service than something a corporate entity could put out on its own.

Sure, Google, with its massive resources, has the wherewithal to hire workers to record the street-level images used in its map service. But “a couple of guys driving a truck down a street don’t viscerally care” about whether they captured your neighborhood’s streets exactly right, said Coast, who was in town to attend a conference by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Remember encyclopedias? The problem with those dead-tree tomes was always that the information printed within could go obsolete the day they were published. It’s always been the same for paper street maps, too. MappingDC and OpenStreetMap project members argue that their map is better because it can be instantly corrected. Again, like Wikipedia, the belief is that the wisdom of the crowd will prevail or fix errors.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

Wasting Away: The Squandering of D.C.’s AIDS Dollars (Wash Post)

Monday, October 19th, 2009

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[Editor's note: Great interactive map from Kat Downs and Mary Kate Cannistra at The Washington Post for our 3-part investigative series on the District's widespread waste and mismanagement to overwhelm the city's AIDS services. Map allows several ways for the user to group (all/active) and filter (amount of award, year of award, and funding source) their analysis of groups receiving city money and calls out the 6 groups highlighted in the series. A popup menu allows the user to jump alphabetically to the group name they already know rather than wading through the map.]

Republished from The Washington Post.

Between 2004 and 2008, the D.C. Department of Health awarded approximately $80 million in grants to about 90 specialized AIDS groups, which along with medical clinics make up the front lines in the District’s fight against the disease. But while some provided a critically needed lifeline to the sick, others were wracked by questionable spending, practices and services. During those five years, one in three dollars earmarked for local AIDS groups went to these troubled programs, a total of more than $25 million.

SOURCE: D.C. Department of Health HIV/AIDS Administration, D.C. Department of Health fact sheet, 2009
GRAPHIC: Kat Downs, Meg Smith, Debbie Cenziper, Lauren Keane and Mary Kate Cannistra

(screenshot above) Interact with the original at The Washington Post . . .

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 . . .

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 . . .