T.E.S.L.A. Vision Scoping Week 2

A.    Revised proposal topic and description

We will focus our project on the electricity use in Los Angeles, opting to forego the previously proposed co-integration of water use. This decision was motivated by the limited amount of time we have in the quarter, the limited (but growing) technical abilities of our coding team, and the desire to create an excellent and clear output for one issue rather than a mediocre and confusing output for multiple issues.

Since the concept, interface, and reception of the NYC energy map was so great, we will continue to use that project as a prototype for our own. Realistically, it would be an incredible feat if a group of people just a few weeks removed from their first “Hello, World [of web GIS]” could create an output which matched the beauty and information contained in the NYC map. So while we will temper our expectations accordingly, we still hope to craft a map which can be easily used by Angelenos to learn more about their energy use.  And, if all goes according to plan, we even hope to add information, features, and interactivity which exceed what can be found in the obviously brilliant NYC map.

B.     List of functionalities the site will provide

The bread and butter functionality of the site will be very similar to that of the NYC map. Spatial interactivity at different scales (neighborhood, zip+4, or even address) will allow users to explore, zoom, mouseover, and click a region of interest to learn about the annual electricity use there.

If time, data, and technical ability permit, we will implement our ideas on additional functionalities which could complement the primary electricity interactivity described above. These include:

  • Location-based searching:                   Like in Google Maps, this functionality would allow users to find points of interest by typing addresses or other identifiers into a search box instead of forcing them to drag and zoom the map around manually.
  • Type of electricity consumer:          While the NYC map integrates building types (e.g. residential, business, etc) into its linear modeling, it keeps that data hidden from the end-user. Since this inhibits comparison between two sites and obfuscates the justification for the end-use breakdowns, we would like to integrate the building types into the interface itself. The method for doing so is not yet determined, but ideas have been proposed to show the building type upon clicking, or highlight all buildings of a certain type when selected, or perhaps displaying the type and size of buildings on the map via graduated symbols (with a show/hide toggle, of course).
  • Temporal mapping:                  Depending on the temporal range and resolution of the data we use, it may be possible to integrate a type of timeline or dropdown box to allow a user to select a certain time frame over which to display the electricity usage data. Alternatively, an option to display the recent growth or decrease in energy use could be provided to show users the direction in which LA’s electricity future is headed.
  •  Cost/Impact/Etc Conversions:         While many people truly care how many kilowatts are being used at a certain location, there are countless others who may not know or care what a kilowatt even is. For those users, conversions could be used to translate the data into something more up their alley. For example, if reliable pricing data is obtained for the electricity being used in the city, we may be able to display electricity use in terms of dollars and cents for those of us who are counting pennies every day. For the eco-warriors, an accurate conversion factor could possibly be derived from a weighted average of LA’s energy sources to translate energy use into the impact of each parcel or zip on the environment as a whole. “Fun” conversions could also be used to make the map entertaining to kids – for example, clicking a parcel could show how many lightbulbs/Xboxes could be run for the amount of energy used, or bought for the amount of money spent at that location.
  • Marker overlays:                  Data sets could be toggled on or off to show interesting marker overlays. For example, locations of LEED buildings could be mapped by Gold/Silver/Bronze markers so that users could see how they relate to overall energy use (if our address-level linear model is robust enough to factor in those types of buildings.) On the other side of the spectrum, the heaviest electricity use areas could be shown so that people could become aware of the biggest drivers of electricity usage and cost in this region.

C.    Sketches or diagrams that “storyboard” the prototype’s usage

D.   A list of all datasets that the project will use

  • Yearly electricity data at the zip+4 scale to be provided by the Earth Institute, via the resourceful Jacki Murdock
  • Building type and floor area provided by county assessor, to be used in modeling


 E.     Milestones

  • BY WEEK 6:
  • Data collection
  • Data organization/calculations
  • Modeling to get address level estimates of usage
  • Map framework of Los Angeles at various scales (address, zip+4, neighborhood)
  • Alpha-testing of web interface features


  • Fully operational map interface
  • Documentation of models used
  • Bugproofing and user optimization


  • Data: will it be sufficiently informative and adequately error-checked
  • Modeling: will we be able to accurately model address level usage using zip+4 data; will we have time to optimize the model for Los Angeles
  • Interface cohesion: will all of the “complementary” ideas for additional functionality be a) feasible, b) useful, and c) intuitive.
  • Coding: will we know enough, soon enough, to code the data into an interactive map interface?




Week 3: Group

Proposal Topic and Discussion (same from last post): GeoStories is a Los Angeles-based consortium of Urban Studies and Culturomic experts working with clients to create interactive, experiential mapping solutions using web-GIS technologies. In particular, GeoStories specializes in combining narrative and cartographic practices to create engaging, consumer-facing digital map interfaces.

For their newest client, UrbanStudies206B, GeoStories looks to create a “StoryEngine” that would allow users to create their own multimedia, narrative-driven maps. The StoryEngine site—whose motto is, “Tell Your Story, One Place At a Time”—would in essence be an interface that prompts a user to input information and media that would then be used to almost immediately generate a personalized, digital map narrative.


1) This will be our awesome website frame:

2) Imagine above cool frame in the following wiresketches:

Functionalities: The interface would utilize a function asking the user to input a minimum of 5 locations, each with written descriptions (stories), and with the option of attaching media such as images/video. Once finished, and the user hits the “Mapify” button, a digital map incorporating the user’s designated locations, descriptions, and media would automatically be generated in nifty info windows. The map could then be easily edited, shared or downloaded.


Google Earth (https://developers.google.com/earth/)

Google Maps (https://developers.google.com/maps/)

Historical Maps API? Youtube? Picasa?

Milestones – By Week 6: Full wireframe sketches of website. Want to have identified all API’s (specifically, historical map API’s). Figure out how to use the old vintage book image as a frame for website. By Finals: Fully functional website with a sample stories.

Concerns: 1) getting historical map API’s 2) learning enough web GIS to create this website 3) creating a working interface where users can input information we can convert (i.e. address —> lat/long coordinates) 4) storage space for user pictures/videos or would requiring picasa/youtube accounts take care of this?

Week 3 Group Assignment: Midterm Proposal



Los Angeles is a car-centric city with an elaborate freeway system and many cars.  Studies have shown that emissions from cars as well as from diesel trucks are highly correlated with high asthma rates and respiratory problems in children. Diesel particulates, carbon monoxide, ultrafine particles, and other particulate matter (PM) are detrimental to the upper and lower respiratory system, particularly in young children.

The movement and distribution of airborne particulates is highly dependent on particles size, wind direction and prevailing weather patterns.  If parents are able to determine when particulates are lowest, they could take their children to parks during those times to minimize exposure to PM.  School officials could shift recesses and lunches to avoid high PM exposure.  Studies have been done on PM exposure and schools, in combination with weather patterns, and data has been presented to school officials, but we know of no map that allows citizens to interactively look at parks and school playgrounds to make informed decisions.


Our group has decided to create an interactive map of parks and schools located in Los Angeles County that utilizes current wind and weather data to actively provide particulate concentrations for a particular location (by clicking, or rolling a mouse over it) at different times during the day.  This main purpose of our project is focused on empowering our target audience – parents/guardians, school board officials, principals and school administrations – to make better informed decisions regarding when and where children should play for any given day, without the consequences of exposing them to high particulate concentrations.

With our website, users would be able to utilize a multitude of functions such as obtaining real-time weather data, viewing average particulate matter for their specific location, alternative transportation solutions, and various other components.  Through the variety of functions available, Winds for a Healthy Change focuses on the individual user, and hopes to cater to their specific need. For instance:

    • Parents can use the website in order to obtain information regarding weather and particulate matter for their specific area.
    • Educators can use the website to demonstrate environmental justice issues through the demographic layers and static average particulate matter data.
    • Students can learn be sustainable by viewing and taking local bus routes within their area, rather than driving cars.

B)  Functionalities of our Website

  • Accordion style menu to select/deselect layers and customize other features
  • Real time weather data – under the weather tab, the ability to turn on and off different variables such as temperature, humidity, precipitation, etc.
  • Static particulate matter data for LA County
  • Static demographic data (income, ethnicity, etc.) – ESRI
  • The ability for the user to see traffic data from Google in order to compare particulate matter in that area
  • Real-time LA Metro to provide alternative transportation options to reduce cars on the road

C)  Wire Frame

D) Sketches

Option 1:

Option 2:

E) Data Set List

  • EPA Data—mostly static sets exportable to Excel. We will either create a KML layer through Google Earth or create an ArcGIS layer.
  • Cal Atlas—may or may not include this because the geographic areas are limited to CARB districts.
  • AirNow.gov—largely static layer exportable for use as KML or ArcGIS.
  • L.A. County Schools—static dataset of schools.
  • Google Traffic—real time data to estimate impacts of air pollution in terms of concentration of cars.
  • Weather Data—World Weather Online API- Can access current and forecasted data for temperature, wind speed, wind direction, humidity, cloud cover, visibility, etc (key meteorological variables) [The alternate source would be Google Maps API’s built-in weather layer.  This layer would limit the website’s versatility.]

F) Milestones

Week 6 (Midterm)

  • 10-15 minute powerpoint presentation with screen shots of different aspects of our website.
  • Skeleton of our website with all functionalities working.
  • A few different clickable layers as well as two functioning API’s.
  • Have the frame of the layout in place, with minor details still to be worked out.
  • A description of our project and a beginning of a user friendly guide to our website

Week 10 (Final)

  • A thorough and easy to understand user guide for our website describing the different functions it will provide to the user and how to navigate it.
  • Features will all be functional with no bugs.
  • A final blog entry describing all the features of the site with flow charts, sketches, wire-frames, functional flow. It will also include our roles in the project
  • A project evaluation with the strengths and weaknesses of our website will also be included in the entry.
  • In addition, our website will have toggle functions, a few radio buttons, a sidebar with clickable checkboxes as well as a legend to any items placed in our map.

G) Concerns

  • Not enough real-time particulate matter data. Most data we have found is static
    • PM data is not current (from 2006-2008)
  • Struggled to get the actual API url, although we have lots of data, it’s not an API
  • Creating unique Arc GIS layers and overlaying them into Google Maps API
    • How the layers will look at various zoom layers and to what specificity/resolution they should be at
  • Layout design that is simplified/streamlined, but still presents all the material to various targeted users

Initial Work #1

Initial Work #2

TULUM Neighborhood Resource Portal

Photo: Ben Palmquist


A rapidly emerging Caribbean coastal town of 18,000 inhabitants, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico, is a tourism hotspot. It became a municipality only in 2008, and since then has begun comprehensive urban planning efforts. The Urban Master Plan projects significant growth over the next five years that will more than double the size of the town. Community volunteer organizations are in place, and local residents are interested in benefiting their community. Success in local volunteer Red Cross programs shows that there is a strong commitment to community engagement. However, Tulum currently lacks a centralized information resource to facilitate dialogue and foster collaboration. The municipal staff has agreed that creating such a resource is of high priority to the health of their growing communities, and they have engaged the Tulum Raiders to carry out this objective.

Project Objectives
1. Supporting Municipal Agendas: The neighborhood website will provide technical and social knowledge for use in updating the comprehensive Urban Master Plan and making other citywide investment decisions. With the data created on this portal, the municipality will consider the wealth of ecology and public interest present, while fostering economic growth vital to improving the quality of life for Tulumeños.

2. Fostering Community Engagement: Community webpages will grant a platform for citizens to express ideas and concerns about their town, as well as a centralized place to collect information. As the website becomes widely accessed, citizens will use this resource as a virtual extension of their neighborhoods. Creating a sense of belonging and ownership of residents to their neighborhoods will increase security and improve these areas overall.

3. Assessing the environmental impact of rapid urbanization: A town of 18,000 inhabitants, Tulum is growing rapidly with little attention to the impact on the environment. Not only is Tulum in a tropical forest and on a coastline, but it also sits on three interconnected fragile water ecosystems; the largest underground river system in the world, the mangrove forest and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world. Our team aims to map where population growth and infrastructural development is happening (by overlaying the geographical map) to identify vulnerable areas and planned growth. As a community resource, this information will help to educate the public, as well as provide a reference tool for the Urban Planning staff in updating their Urban Master Plan as growth continues.

List of functionalities

•Provide information on neighborhood resources in downtown Tulum
•Business can post updates of their services (campaigns, new menu, holidays)
•Users can post their pictures or look pictures posted by tapping the pictures on the map.
•Users can post youtube links to show their footage of underwater caves (cenotes)
•Polling: for the city government to understand residents’ needs
•Forum: residents post what they want in the neighborhood, problems in the neighborhood (street light is broken, tree fall down….etc).
•Twitter: tweets using a certain hashtag will be posted on the website.

Final Product
Neighborhood Resource Portal

1. Residents of Tulum
2. Tulum Municipal Offices

By the midterm presentation due week six, we hope to have the following completed for the beta version of the Tulum Portal:
• User Interface
• General Page layout
• Neighborhood outlines (KMZ files from Google Earth)
• Markers for points of interest on the map (Businesses, offices, etc.)
• Static Photos for web page layout
• Connection to Twitter API

By the final presentation, we hope to have completed the aforementioned for the Tulum Portal, as well as the following additional elements that will already be in use by the presentation date:
• Translation of content to Spanish
• “Search my Address” function
• Replacing static photos with flash photos for the web page layout
• Connection to Google Tables API
• Completed content

Week 3: Proposal: Project GCE

Project GCE – “Grow China Equitably”

A. Revised proposal topic and description

Project Description
Why are prosperity and economic activity spread so unevenly across China? Are workers in Shanghai really 13 times more productive than workers in Guizhou? Spatial inequality has become an increasingly important feature of the spatial economy of many developing countries, and seems to be coupled with increasing economic growth and development. Despite tremendous growth over the past 30 years, spatial inequality in China is intensifying over time. To better understand this puzzling relationship between growth and inequality I investigate geographical explanations of uneven development and apply them to the Chinese case.
The observed spatial inequality in China and elsewhere can be explained, in part, by inequalities associated with geography’s first nature and second nature. Specifically, first nature refers to the natural advantage of some locations over others in terms of resource endowments, climate and access to rivers, coasts, ports and borders. Second nature considers the interactions between economic agents, and especially increasing returns and diminishing transport costs associated with agglomeration economies.

The goals of this project are 3-fold: first, test several main hypotheses developed in the economic growth literature and apply them to the Chinese context; second, taking into account spatial dependence, identify neighborhood effects of relative location on growth; and third, offer policy-relevant insights for Chinese regional development. Using unpublished data, I will build interactive maps to show how county growth, agglomeration and resource production changes over time in China.

B. A list of functionalities the site will provide
The website is dedicated to drawing attention to the nature of growth and the causes of growing inequality in China, framed within a growth-equity trade-off debate. I will use text and dynamic maps to visualize growth differentials across China from 1998-2009. The content and functionality of the site is as follows

The home page will include a brief introduction and description of China and why it is an important region of study. I will highlight some of the economic and political changes that have transpired over the past 30 years.

Link 1: Dynamic Map page
One of the basic options I want to offer the user is the option to select a spatial scale – provincial, city or county. From there, the user will be able to choose from several key economic variables (i.e. Productivity, R&D, FDI, Trade, Wages, and so forth) and visualize their values on a map of China (in cloropleth fashion). The user will also be able to manually select any year from 1998-2009 to visualize a particular variable. If time permits, I will enable the user the option to explore the extent of spatial clustering and the shift of hot spots, using Moran’s I, of natural resource and industrial clustering, respectively.

To provide this type of user interface, I will select the key variables from my dataset and build corresponding map layers using ArcMap, and use fusion tables to call them to my webpage. I will also specify a statistical model developed in the growth model and carry out Moran’s I on the residuals of the model, as well as on the actual values of the key variables identified above. Ideally, I would like to build a time-series map, where the user can pick a variable or model, press play and watch the hot spots on the map change automatically from year to year.

Link 2: Meet the Private Investigator and collaborators
I will write out a personal biosketch of how I became interested in China, my research interests and a link to my C.V. I will also introduce the collaborators of this project with links to their own personal page.

Link 3: Resources page
I will list various influential works on China growth/inequality, list places to procure Chinese data, as well as list other websites that focus on China.

C. Wireframe diagram that describes each section of the site

Project GCE-Wire Frame

D. Sketches or diagrams that “storyboard” the prototype’s usage.
Project GCE- Storyboard

E. A list of all datasets that the project will use (specify the API URL if using web services)
To carry out my research objectives, I will use the Annual report of Industrial Enterprise Statistics collected by the National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBS) from 1998-2009. The dataset includes an extensive set of variables at the firm level, including geographic location (given at the zip code level), gross output, sales, R&D, value added, net fixed assets, exports, employee training expenditures, firm ownership structure, industry affiliation (given at the 4-digit level), establishment year, employment and FDI.

F. Milestones: What will be done by week 6, and what will be done by Finals week
By Week 6, I would like to have the homepage set-up and navigable, as well the links to the other 3 pages established. I expect to have all four webpages styled (using CSS) with proper background color and animation. I expect to write all content on the homepage, meet the PI and collaborators and the resource pages as well. Following week 6, I expect to focus the remaining time on building the dynamic maps, and adding map functionality, such as adjusting spatial scale, selecting appropriate variables, and carrying out Moran’s I on variables and models.

G. Concerns
At present, I only have 1998 data and am still waiting on the remaining years to be properly coded and treated. Despite this potential drawback, I will still be able to use the 1998 data as a solid starting point to carry out all my objectives, except the time-series graph that shows hot spots evolving over time.

Introduction to Winds of Healthy Change

Group Name: “Winds of Healthy Change”


Los Angeles is a car-centric city with an elaborate freeway system and many cars. Studies have shown that emissions from cars as well as from diesel trucks are highly correlated with high asthma rates and respiratory problems in children. Diesel particulates, carbon monoxide, ultrafine particles, and other particulate matter (PM) are detrimental to the upper and lower respiratory system, particularly in young children.

The movement and distribution of airborne particulates is highly dependent on particles size, wind direction and prevailing weather patterns.  If parents are able to determine when particulates are lowest, they could take their children to parks during those times to minimize exposure to PM.  School officials could shift recesses and lunches to avoid high PM exposure.  Studies have been done on PM exposure and schools, in combination with weather patterns, and data has been presented to school officials, but we know of no map that allows citizens to interactively look at parks and school playgrounds to make informed decisions.


Our group has decided to create an interactive map of parks and schools located in Los Angeles County that utilizes current wind and weather data to actively provide particulate concentrations for a particular location (by clicking, or rolling a mouse over it) at different times during the day.  This main purpose of our project is focused on empowering our target audience – parents/guardians, school board officials, principals and school administrations – to make better informed decisions regarding when and where children should play for any given day, without the consequences of exposing them to high particulate concentrations.

MURP CivE Staff  

Julia- Stress-free Computer Interaction Coordinator

Julia was born in Russia, but has been in Santa Monica the last 21 years.  She is in the dual degree program for MPH/MURP with an emphasis in Environmental health Sciences. She loves animals and hopes to continue on to veterinary school and incorporate her current degrees in the study of zoonotic diseases and the human-animal interface to prevent things like Contagion from occurring. :)

Steven- Coding Cat

Steven is a second year student in UCLA’s masters program for Urban and Regional Planning. After working four and a half years in the independent film industry, Steven returned to school in order to work in the realm of environmental advocacy and policy and specifically their intersection with urban issues. Originally from northern California, Steven earned his undergraduate degree in Film Studies and Spanish from UC Santa Barbara.

Sharon- Dynamic Data Director

Sharon was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico but grew up in southern California.  Sharon holds both a B.S. and M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from UCLA. She is currently pursuing a PhD specializing in hydrology and water resources.  Her research focuses on the impact of development on the urban water balance.

Bryan – Wacky Web Designer

Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Bryan is what you would consider a bicoastal-hopper.  As an undergraduate at UCLA, Bryan studied Environmental Science, with an emphasis in the Environmental Health Sciences.  Making his way over to the East Coast, he recently finished his MPH in Epidemiology, focusing on the intersection between the built environment and public health.  Returning back to the West Coast as a first year PhD student at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, Bryan is definitely excited at applying his experiences together and tackling many of the challenges and opportunities that come his way.

Captain Planit: If you Planit, they will come



Given the scope of the devastation caused by the recent Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami, the necessity of sound and effective disaster protocols is undeniable. The proximity of the UCLA campus to the ocean and hills, and the density of the campus population, compels us to provide the best possible contingencies in the event of any disaster. The quick and all-inclusive dissemination of information is vital toward this end.


We, the members of Captain Planit, are seeking to develop a web application that will allow members of the UCLA community and visiting guests to access evacuation plans and disaster related information through an interactive and user friendly interface.


Utilizing the Google Maps API, the team will construct a campus map complete with building designations and locations. The team will overlay floor plan data provided by UCLA Campus Facilities to display the layout of the Public Affairs Building (PAB) as a prototype for the evacuation plan project. The team will manually create poly lines for evacuation routes and highlight the exits for each floor. From the campus map, users will be able to click on the building, select their location within the building, and instantly access the evacuation route for that location. Additionally, the campus map will contain a layer displaying “region evacuation areas” as designated by the UCLA Emergency Management Office.

The team will incorporate the Twitter and Flickr APIs to allow for real-time user updates regarding the conditions of campus locations. These may include information on obstructions, the extent of visible damage to certain buildings, or the location of any disaster relief supplies provided by federal, state, and local authorities.

The team is also considering optimization for mobile devices, which would be one of the quickest methods of accessing the application. Access could then be achieved even if the UCLA WiFi infrastructure were to be compromised.



Our site will provide floor plans with evacuation route polygons and shaded exits for all six floors of the Public Affairs Building with features that allow users to:

  • Click on the public affairs building and bring up a menu with selectable layers for each floor of the building
  • Highlight all the exits, staircases and evacuation route for that floor.
  • Select layers that show fire alarms and fire extinguishers for each floor.
  • For example a user on the sixth floor will toggle the sixth floor layer, which will show them a route to the nearest staircase. Then the user would select the first floor to complete the route from the stairs to the nearest exit. If possible we include a feature that allows users to click on any staircase to bring up the first floor layer
  • See a layer with the designated post evacuation meeting spot will be included for each building. This will either be activated at the same time as the floor plans or only when the first floor is selected.

The campus wide map will include a toggle menu with layers that will feature:

  • The designated evacuation area (marked with a star in the image) for each region of campus (regions designated by numbers)
  • Shaded polygons or markers for each parking structure on campus.
  • Designated vehicle evacuation routes from campus.


  • Our website will include information provided by UCLA Campus Facilities API. This will include attributes for that will appear when selecting a building.
  • Our website will include Flickr API functionality any user can take a photo which will be geo-located on campus. This could be useful to show users where first aid stations are located after an evacuation.
  • Our website will include twitter API features.
  • Using a designated hashtag, or if a user has geolocation set in their profile, a twitter will be able to geolocate their tweets on the campus map. If you are trapped following a disaster after you call 911, you can tweet to show your exact ge-location. Also if UCLA tweets Bruin Alerts, they can show the geolocation of the threat.

Site Design



Milestones and Potential Concerns


By Week 6, Captain Planit hopes to have the website successfully connected to the UCLA Campus Facilities API and allow users to access the campus map. We would like to demonstrate the potential of this project by applying some of our key features to the Public Affairs Building (PAB). A user should be able to toggle a specific floor in the PAB and have access to the floor plans and evacuation route for that level.


By the Final, Captain Planit will have access to campus rasters via the the Campus Facilities ArcGIS Server. With this data, we will be able to provide more campus-wide options that the user will be able to toggle on and off campus-wide.

We also hope to have connectivity with the Flickr and Twitter API. At this point, we will be able to demonstrate the website’s utility during an actual emergency.


One of the biggest areas for potential problems is the sensitivity of the data we are working with. In meeting with a representative from UCLA Campus Facilities, we were informed that our requests for campus data will have to be screened for sensitive information. It is our hope that we will be able to have access to enough data so that we can provide users with an informative experience.

Another area of concern that was brought up during our meeting with the Campus Facilities representative was how to actually utilize the social media API. If our plan is to georeference user’s tweets, they will need to opt-in to make their locations public. Not many users opt-in to this privacy setting, but we have some other ways of working around this.

Secret City Proposal, Wireframes and Sketches (UPDATED)

Secret City

The goal of this project is to remind people that our existence in the present is connected to times now past. This empowers and links us with events and individuals that have come before us, dealing with many of the same issues and daily stresses we face today. Citizens of Los Angeles were not able to tweet about these experiences back then, and we aim to reconstruct a few of these stories and localize them to specific neighborhoods to give present social media users the opportunity to see what a 1920’s or 1950’s twitter stream in Westlake (now McArthur Park) would have looked like. Focusing on one neighborhood and following its history over the span of decades will also allow us to see how a neighborhood space changes with time and shifts in character and demographics.

The primary function of the Secret City site is to integrate personal histories with larger demographic trends. This will allow users to learn more about the history of the area, as well as the some of the histories of neighbors and friends. We will then connect both to the appropriate spatial context. A breakdown of these functions follows:

  • A variety of markers representing different social media (more on the specifics of these in the API Integration section) to allow for a variety of input methods
  • Decade by decade maps showing the evolution of the specified neighborhood based on:
    • Demographics: Income, % Employed, Population Density, Ethnic composition (imported GIS layers constructed with Census data)
    • Historical Primary Sources: Photos (marker which zooms in to picture) and Contemporary New Articles (marker which either links to story, or offers information in info window)
  • Video links displayed via markers
  • “Historical Twitter feed” : using primary source documents to display information in the format of a present-day social networking status update.


API Integration & Other Data Sources
Integrating a photo API into our project will be the crucial step transforming Secret City from simply a map with a few pictures into a dynamic platform for displaying user-generated content. To that end, we will utilize the Flickr and Instagram APIs:

  • Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/services/api/
  • Instagram: http://instagram.com/developer/

    In addition, we will integrate the following APIs into Secret City to improve its functionality and allow a localized tracking of current events.


    Secret City Wireframe

    Secret City Wireframe2


    Secret City Sketch

    Secret City Sketch

    Secret City Sketch 3


    • One concern is that the site can end up as a somewhat dull history lesson. However, we have located some rather provocative photos such as a picture of a NAZI marching in MacArthur. As long as we seed the site with interesting photos from the LAPL site, the site should keep people engaged.
    • Another worry is that not enough people will tag their old photos with appropriate geocoded information. Thus, I am not quite sure how we can photos that users upload to Flickr in the right place. Instagram is good for the present photos because it is naturally geocoded but that doesn’t help much with the user-generated past photos.


    • Week 6: Working prototype running with some functionality. We should also have access to all the APIs and knowledge on how to access them for our purposes.
    • Final: Foundation for this site should be finished.

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, http://www.blueandgoldfleet.com/ (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

Project Milestones

Midterm: Beta Launch

On Monday, May 2, 2011 of Week 6, our team will have completed the following milestones:

  • Completion of a functioning beta version of our website built using Google Map v3 API hosted on Google Fusion Tables.
  • Incorporation of at least two data feeds (see Datasets above)
  • A blog entry about the Eminent Domain team, our goals, and experience
  • A blog entry launching the beta version of our website.
  • A short, 10-15 minute, presentation about our beta site involving all team members. Feedback we gather from our classmates and instructors will be instrumental in helping us improve our site for final launch at the end of the term.

The blog entry launching our site will serve as our main platform for communicating the functionality of our site to potential users. This entry will explain the process we undertook as a team in order to build a functioning site in response to CDC Flu App Challenge. The roles of each Eminent Domain team member will be identified.  We will describe our topic, as put forth by the CDC Flu App Challenge, and walk the user through a description of our site’s features and functionalities. We will create and display diagrams, flowcharts, and sketches depicting the flow guiding our site’s functions as well as the planning process we undertook in the five weeks leading up to the launch. We will also discuss our successes and challenges over these five weeks. Finally, we will describe our goals for the final website to be delivered on May 27th (due date for CDC Flu App Challenge entries) and discuss in more detail the steps we will take as a team to realize thee goals in a timely and efficient manner.

Final: Full Launch

On May 27, 2011, our team will have completed the following milestones:

  • Addition of at least one more data feed that allows the user to draw out more detailed statistical analysis than previously offered in the beta version.
  • Improve the user interface of our site, based upon feedback from peers and instructors
  • Use of a consistent color palette that is artistically complementary and user friendly.
  • Improve and solve any back end programming issues involving Fusion Tables and layers. If necessary define boundaries for data lacking coordinates

On June 6, 2011 our team will have completed our final milestones:

  • A blog entry announcing the final launch of our site
  • A short, 10-15 minute, presentation about our beta site involving all team members.