Posts Tagged ‘washington’

‘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 . . .

Ancient map with China at center goes on show in Washington, DC (BBC)

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

[Editor's note: "A rare, 400-year-old map that displays China at the center of the world will be on exhibit at the Library of Congress from Jan. 12 to April 10 2010, before it is digitized and then heads to its intended home at the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota. If you haven't checked our Ricci in China, it's a fascinating time period in the history of cartography. Thanks Curt and Mary Kate!]

Republished from the BBC.

Visitor instructions from the Library of Congress . . .

A visitor studies Matteo Ricci's 400-year-old world map at the Library of CongressThe huge map is being displayed at the Library of Congress in Washington

A historic map of the world, with China at its centre, has gone on display at the Library of Congress in Washington.

The map was created by Italian missionary Matteo Ricci in 1602. It is one of only two copies in existence in good condition.

Because of its rarity and fragility – the map is printed on rice paper – the map has become known as the “Impossible Black Tulip of Cartography”.

This is the first time it has been on public show in north America.

Ricci created the map at the request of Emperor Wanli who wanted it to help scholars and explorers.

‘Revered by Chinese’

The map was purchased by the James Ford Bell Trust in October for $1m (£0.62m), making it the second-most expensive rare map ever sold.

It denotes different parts of the world with annotations and pictures.

A detail from the China section of Matteo Ricci's world map

The map had China at the centre of the world to underline its importance

In the Americas, for example, several places are named including Chih-Li (Chile), Wa-ti-ma-la (Guatemala) and Ka-na-ta (Canada), and Florida is described as “the Land of the Flowers”.

Ford W Bell, a trustee for the James Ford Bell Trust, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper, that the map was “one of the two best in terms of quality, as far as we know”.

“Ricci was a very smart missionary. He put China right at the centre of this new universe, this new globe, to underscore its importance,” he said.

“Ricci, of course, was the first Westerner to enter Beijing. He was revered by the Chinese, and he was buried there.”

The first secretary for cultural affairs at the Chinese embassy in the US, Ti Ban Zhang, said in a statement that the map represents “the momentous first meeting of East and West”.

Graphic: TSA tries to assuage privacy concerns about full-body scans (Wash Post)

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

[Editor's note: Props to Bonnie and Laura for this The Washington Post graphic illustrating how the TSA plans to use full-body scans to improve security at airports. Includes actual millimeter wave scans of a man. Related story.]

Republished from The Washington Post.

Security experts say high-tech imagers that detect objects beneath our clothes are vital to safe air travel. Opponents say they are intrusive and too revealing. For now, the process is an optional alternative to a traditional pat-down at airports across the country, including Reagan National and BWI. These are the two types of full-body imaging technology in use or on the way:

View larger version at The Washington Post . . .

Home Prices in Selected Cities, Through October 2009 (NY Times)

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

[Editor's note: Year-over price difference in 30 cities across the United States as an interactive chart.]

Republished from the New York Times.

Interact with the original . . . (Screenshot below)

nyt_home_values_chart

. Source: S&P/Case-Shiller

Downturn keeping Americans’ wanderlust in check (Wash Post)

Monday, December 28th, 2009

[Editor's note: Perhaps having a better sense of local place + broadband internet access isn't so bad?]

Republished from The Washington Post.
By Carol Morello. Thursday, December 10, 2009

Study: Fewer moving than at any time since World War II

The wanderlust that helped define the American character has been reined in by the recession and the collapse in housing prices, according to a new study showing fewer Americans changing residences than at any time since World War II.

About 12 percent of Americans moved in each of the past two years, down from 13 to 14 percent a year during the first part of this decade. Historical trends show a more precipitous drop. In any given year throughout the 1990s, 16 to 17 percent of Americans changed homes. Throughout the 1950s and in the early 1960s, it was one in five.

William Frey, the Brookings Institution demographer who wrote the study, said the economic slowdown has accelerated a long-term trend of people growing more rooted as homeownership has increased and the average age of Americans has risen. Add the bursting of the housing bubble, the credit crisis and the resulting recession, and many people are cemented in place.

“This triple whammy of forces made it riskier for would-be homebuyers to find financing, would-be sellers to receive good value for their home and potential long-distance movers to find employment in areas where jobs were previously plentiful,” said Frey, who analyzed statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and the IRS for the study released Wednesday.

The report paints a picture of an America slowing down. The numbers for metropolises such as New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, which had been losing tens of thousands of residents in search of more affordable housing, are stabilizing. The flow out also subsided in the Washington area, whose population growth has been fueled by the arrival of tens of thousands of immigrants.

The effect of foreclosures was suggested in the study. In the year beginning in March, the percentage of people who moved to another house in the same county inched up more than half a percentage point from 2007 to 2008. But the percentage of people who moved to another state — a statistic more likely to reflect a new job — stayed the same, a record low level of 1.6 percent.

The phenomenon affected people across every demographic except immigrants.

The young and the footloose in their 20s are usually responsible for an outsized share of those who move, and they showed the steepest decline as jobs grew scarce, prompting many to return to their parents’ homes.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

Introducing In Obama’s Words (Kelso via Wash Post)

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

[Editor's note: The third in The Washington Post's Obama accountability series, we now explore his key speeches with transcripts and videos tied in with their POTUS Tracker events. See trends in sum or by issue with our tag clouds and over time with charts. Credit goes to Wilson Andrews, Jackie Kazil, Nathaniel Kelso, Sarah Lovenheim, Ryan O'Neil, Paul Volpe, and Karen Yourish.]

Interact with the original at The Washington Post . . . Screenshot below.

obama_speeches_top

omaba_speeches_bottom

Unemployment rate by county (Kelso via Wash Post)

Monday, December 7th, 2009

[Editor's note: Kudos to Kat Downs for wiring up this interactive, zoomable map of the United States showing unemployment rate by county. There's a slider to see data back in time. I did the base map using my map generalization skills honed on Natural Earth. Using data that is appropriately generalized for the display scale cuts down on file size and reduces lag before data display.]

Republished from The Washington Post. Dec. 3, 2009

unemploymentmap
SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics; GRAPHIC: Kat Downs, Mary Kate Cannistra and Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso – The Washington Post, December 3, 2009

How Treasury spent its bailout funds (Wash Post)

Monday, December 7th, 2009

tarp_112809

[Editor's note: Todd's flow map of TARP spending. It's a charting beautify. I'm catching up on a couple week's of posts while Natural Earth was in its final stretch.]

Republished from The Washington Post. Saturday 28 Nov., 2009.

The Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, was designed to stabilize the financial system as well as aid homeowners and small businesses in the wake of the credit crisis. The Treasury Department has until the end of the year to renew the controversial program. Of the $700 billion that was authorized, $560.7 billion was planned for various programs. About $71 billion has been returned from financial firms and about another $10 billion has been paid in interest and dividends.

SOURCES: Treasury Department, reporting by The Washington Post

DAVID CHO, TODD LINDEMAN AND APRIL UMMINGER/THE WASHINGTON POST

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

Monday, October 19th, 2009

twp_aids_interactive_map

[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 . . .

A Complicated Dig: Dulles Airport MetroRail Extension (Wash Post)

Monday, October 19th, 2009

tysonstunnel_101909

[Editor's note: Explanatory graphic from this weekend's Washington Post illustrates how "Building a Metrorail Tunnel at Tysons Corner Takes Brute Force Applied With a Deft Touch" in five panels. Click image above for larger version.]

18 Feet Done, Many More to Go

Republished from The Washington Post.
By Lisa Rein. Graphic by Todd Lindeman and Brenna Maloney.
Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cars crawl down Route 123 in the afternoon rush. Forty feet below them, giant machines and men wearing yellow hard hats begin their advance under Tysons Corner to bring Northern Virginia commuters their holy grail: a new subway.

At $85 million, the half-mile tunnel is the costliest and most complex engineering feat of the 23-mile Metro extension to Dulles International Airport. It will be built while 3,500 cars and trucks cross its path each hour, while the Courtyard Marriott serves breakfast and guests swim in its pool, while hands are shaken over aerospace deals at BAE Systems. It will carry on under two miles of tangled utility lines that convey to Tysons everything from electricity to some of the nation’s most secret intelligence. As of Friday, after three months of digging and prep work, workers had hollowed out the half-mile tunnel’s first 18 feet.

One wrong move and the foundation of an office garage could settle, a top-secret communique through the U.S. Army’s microwave tower right above the tunnel’s path by Clyde’s restaurant could be lost.

“You’ve got gas lines, water lines, drainage lines, electrical duct banks, black wires and a lot more in a busy urban area, which makes for a very challenging tunneling environment,” says Dominic Cerulli, the engineer for Bechtel in charge of building the tunnel. He guides visitors on the first tour of the project on a recent weekday. “I’ve been on jobs where you’re tunneling out in the middle of a parking lot. Here you’ve got to keep businesses up and running.”

When it opens in 2013, the first leg of the rail line will extend 11.5 miles from East Falls Church through Tysons to Wiehle Avenue in Reston. The tunnel, scheduled for completion in late 2011, will connect two of the four Metro stations in Tysons. Cerulli likes to say his project is the toughest part of the line. “But don’t say I said that, because the guideway is also complicated,” he jokes, referring to the elevated section, still 18 months off, that will carry the trains 55 feet above the Capital Beltway.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .