Announcing Railway to Heaven’s New Web Application!

Project Description

With this project we aim to answer the following question: how can a web-based mapping application communicate various levels of information to the proposed California high-speed rail project stakeholders? The unit of analysis is the halfmile HSR station area, but data communication is not limited to any scale.

We propose to develop the application in two phases. First, for the midterm, we will build a maproom that uses various data to create profiles for two cities on one leg of the HSR network – Los Angeles to San Jose, for example. Users can navigate from the state to city-level, gathering large-scale data such as built form character, existing transit connectivity/intermodality, the existing real estate and housing market, and the location of economic or activity centers. Essentially, the application uses real-time API data to become an online asset map.

The second phase for the final exam fully develops all station area profiles by including data generated on desktop ArcMap, including density, demographics, job market information, commute patterns and land uses. These macro-level data allow stakeholders to quickly compare key statistics associated with station area urban form and morphology. Where the first part acts as an urban scale “snapshot” for visualizing conditions should the network be completed today, the second creates a backdrop for a discussion of how and why station areas will comparatively evolve when they plug into the regional HSR network.

Site Functionalities

a. Incorporate APIs to show current conditions related to housing market (Zillow), built environment (Flickr), transit (Metro), and possibly others. This is subject to change as APIs allow.
b. Zoom function that lets the user change the scale — from a view of the entire system all the way up to a 1/2 mile station area.
c. A possible data window that shows data related to the current map view (housing prices for all listings in that area, for instance; or a total count of the number of snapshots in that window). This may be the most difficult thing to do, since we have not yet done any actually analysis of API data.
d. Link to blog with information about the project.


Phase 1 (Midterm) Wireframe

Phase 2 (Final) Wireframe


The Phase 1 wireframe essentially outlines the general layout and framework of RtH’s web application. This includes the relevant APIs and the possibility of including detailed info windows and/or summary and data analysis.

The Phase 2 wireframe builds upon the basic layout in Phase 1, incorporating additional data layers from ArcGIS. The RtH team also hopes to build in data windows that display pertinent housing, built environment, transit, and employment data when selected by the user.


Web Application Mock-up

Railway to Heaven proposes a website that is clean, sophisticated, and user-friendly. There will be a sidebar with links to each proposed high speed rail station. Clicking the link will enable the application to zoom to that station, from which the user will be able to click on a variety of map icons related to housing, built-form, and transit characteristics.

There will be bar above the map isolating characteristics for each of the topics under study. This will allow users to search both by station or by desired information category.



  1. Zillow API (housing data)
  2. Flickr API (built form characteristics)
  3. Metro API (transit intermodality)
  4. San Francisco Blue and Gold Fleet, (transit intermodality)
  5. Employment data (Dataset compiled by HSR Team)


Week 4: Create maproom, style website, add Metro API and Northern California API with transit data

Week 5: Add Zillow API and Flickr API

Week 6: Prepare presentation and launch beta version of website

Weeks 7-8: Finalize ArcGIS map layers with employment data

Weeks 9-10: Devise sophisticated data display options

Finals Week: Prepare presentation and launch final version of website

2 thoughts on “Announcing Railway to Heaven’s New Web Application!

  1. I think this is great.The UI looks really clean and I think you have a good approach to consider the mid-term at the large scale and then get to a more refined scale during the final.

    I really don’t have any comments or concerns otherwise. I’ll let Yoh see if he can find any holes here.

  2. Agree with Maddie. This proposal is well written and well thought out, and the proposed interface is clean, simply, and very user friendly. I also agree that the Zillow data integration poses the most challenging task. If you intend to provide a summary report for zillow properties that fall within one mile of each HSR stop, then you may have to chain several API calls to achieve this. For example, Zillow data is provided by property address, zipcode, or region, none of which really apply to a buffer zone. You could potentially request all zipcodes that fall within a 1 mile radius, and then show each zipcode data in your data display panel. In order to get a list of those zipcodes, you may have to mix in the use of an ArcGIS Server query which DOES allow you to do spatial queries. So, for example:

    1. Call ArcGIS Server API: send lat/lon, request zipcodes within 1 mile
    2. loop through every zipcode returned to get and display Zillow data

    perhaps for the midterm, or first step, you can simply know what zipcode each HSR is in, and just provide data for that single zipcode.

    I also hope to see an overview map of the HSR locations, with the proposed rail route drawn out, maybe in Google Earth and imported to your site.

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