Indianapolis’ Most International Public Schools

Central Indiana is the epicenter of an explosion of English language learners (ELL). Where I live in Nora, our neighborhood elementary school is one of those hit hardest by rapid change. In April, The Star, Chalkbeat Indiana and WFYI Public Media collaborated on a week-long series of articles documenting the impact of the rising ELL population in Indianapolis’ schools. If you are interested to learn more, this well written article provides a back story to where we are today: As immigration reshapes Indianapolis, schools struggle to keep up.

To be sure, there are many interesting questions about the who and the why. But of course my favorite question is, “Where are those schools?” Using CartoDB’s web mapping tools, I created a simple multivariate map that displays the percentage of English language learners (ELL) school population and their relative size of enrollment. It is interesting to see the distribution of these high ELL schools, particularly noting those in Nora and Indy’s west side.

What the map doesn’t show is school performance. A few of the schools in red, those with the very highest ELL population in the state, also demonstrate high achievement. For example, on the west side of Indianapolis, in 2013-14, Carl Wilde School 79 received an “A” as its final letter grade for school accountability from the Indiana Department of Education. This is a school that consistently shows exemplary performance year after year. Nearby, Meredith Nicholson School 96 received a B as its final letter grade, a two letter grade increase from the previous year. With extremely high ELL populations, these school merit further study as examples of successful integration of ELL students without sacrificing school performance.

Maps In Modern Web Design: Showcase and Examples from Smashing Magazine

In a world where digital mapping is exploding, Zach Dunn offers an excellent review of different types of web maps and their various purposes.

His article, Maps In Modern Web Design: Showcase and Examples (Smashing Magazine) explores existing trends, conventions and the possible future of interactive maps online.

This isn’t a lesson in cartography, rather a review of the important purposes that maps can serve in modern web design. Three main areas seem to represent the majority of tasks:

  1. Navigation and directions,
  2. Show relationships and trends geographically,
  3. Show points of interest.

Geared primarily toward a web-designer audience, this article is good review for GIS specialists and cartographers preparing maps for online content. Zach describes the different ways to navigate online maps (drill down for information, timeline, zoom, before-and-after, and points of interest), looks at future trends, and provides a nice showcase of maps for inspiration.

OpenStreetMap – Project Haiti

We all followed the crisis that unfolded following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, many of us chose to donate money, a few were flown out and deployed as part of the relief effort. But what practical impact can many have without being there in Haiti itself? Well, during this crisis a remarkable story unfolded; of how people around the world could virtually collaborate and contribute to the on-the-ground operations.

With the heavily damaged or destroyed infrastructure, the situation was especially challenging for aid agencies arriving on the ground. Where are the areas most in need of assistance, how do we get there, where are people trapped under buildings, which roads are blocked? This information is essential to rescue and recovery efforts – and this “where” information is embodied in good map data. In many areas around the world, there is a lack of good mapping data and particularly after a crisis, when up-to-date information is critical to managing events as they evolve.

Enter OpenStreetMap, the wiki map of the world, CrisisMappers and an impromptu community of volunteers who collaborated to produce the most authoritative map of Haiti in existence. Within hours of the event people were adding detail to the map, but on January 14th high resolution sattelite imagery of Haiti was made freely available and the Crisis Mapping community were able to trace roads, damaged buildings, and enter camps of displaced people into OpenStreetMap.

The following video describes how they did it – at Where 2.0 2010: Jeffrey Johnson, John Crowley and Schuyler Erle, “Haiti: CrisisMapping…” present a remarkable story of GIS map volunteerism, coordination, and collaboration that saved lives on the ground:

Their presentation (~14min) describes OpenStreetMap, the workflow and data used to develop the crisis maps, how the maps were used, and includes an animation illustrates the rapid improvement of Haïti coverage in Openstreetmap following the January 2010 earthquake. Important questions are raised regarding sustainability of such efforts and a call for an Ethical Code of Conduct for OSM.

excerpts from itoworld

Where High-Speed Rail Works Best

Geography is about examining spatial variables and relationships, often to weed out answers to complex problems. America 2050‘s latest report, “Where High Speed Rail Works Best” (pdf) is a clear example of applied geography as it summaries the methodology used in planning a phased high speed rail network for the United States.

This paper offers one mechanism for assessing which potential high-speed rail corridors will have the greatest ridership demand based on population size, economic activity, transit connections, existing travel markets and urban spatial form and density. Defining the corridors in America that are most appropriate for high-speed rail service is critical to the long-term success of America’s high-speed rail program.

The authors evaluate 27,000 city pairs in the nation to create an index of city pairs with the greatest demand for high-speed rail service. The paper provides a list of the top 50 city pairs, which are primarily concentrated in the Northeast, California, and the Midwest, and provides recommendations for phasing corridor development in the nation’s megaregions.

An interactive web-map provides a quick view to the three-phase plan.

Interactive Map of U.S. Oil Imports Since 1973

RMI (Rocky Mountain Institute) provides a timeline-based interactive map depicting the U.S.’s historical imports of oil since 1973. Map controls can slide to specific dates and highlight five periods by major oil crises, including history briefs in the sideline. Map units can be displayed in oil or U.S. dollars. Map can also be put on auto-play. This is a well-done interactive map and interesting visualization of the flow of resources over time.

Rocky Mountain Institute is an independent, entrepreneurial nonprofit think-and-do tank™ that drives the efficient and restorative use of resources (from the RMI website).


Hold World Landmarks in Your Hands with ARSights & Google Earth

ARSights Using Google Earth
A while back I reported on virtual digital holograms, wondering when they would make their way into the mapping arena. Over the past year ARSights, a project by Inglobe Technologies, an italian company specialized in the development of Virtual and Augmented Reality applications, has been building a community-based collection of 3-d virtual models of landmarks all over the world. This fascinating use of the technology is focused on education. Imagine… your students fly to Europe, glide around Italy – looking at the topography of the country as they zoom into to Rome. Now they pick up the Colosseum to really examine it, turning it round and round to really examine what’s there. Requires Google Earth, a web cam, and the ARSights download.

Noel Jenkins of Digital Geography posts this YouTube video showing how things look:

According to the ARSights, there are over 400 contributors now who have started “to share interesting content from many parts of the world. You can take a look at new models mainly in the USA, South America and Europe. Among others, you will find many important landmarks, like for example the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Memorial, the “Fiscal Island” in Rio de Janeiro, the University City in Buenos Aires and il Ponte di Rialto in Venice.”

Humble Beginnings for Local Data: Parcel Data in the IndianaMap

National and statewide GIS coordinating bodies have sought for some time to build statewide and nation-wide cadastre, or parcel, frameworks. The Mapping Science Committee – National Research Council cite the many benefits of having a national parcel database in its report, “National Land Parcel Data: A Vision for the Future.” In Indiana, a statewide parcel database may be used for such things as quickly identifying affected property during large natural disasters, such as flooding and tornados. A national (as well as statewide) fabric of land data has been elusive as it inherently relies on the most local of sources of those data – counties, parishes, cities, and towns. Reasons technical, political, financial, and institutional can all be cited as reasons why we don’t already have a national cadastre. While there is still a long row to hoe, Indiana appears to be slowly overcoming those hurdles with the IndianaMap.

Land Parcels in the IndianaMap

Land Parcels in the IndianaMap

With quiet announcement this week, the IndianaMap partners released the first view of a multi-county parcel database. The counties and the State have entered into IndianaMap partnership agreements, in which the counties provide parcels (limited attributes), address points, street centerlines, and administrative boundaries delivered through web map feature services (WFS), and the state provides a bit of seed funds to help establish the WFS, aggregate the data statewide, and channel it out through the IndianaMap to agencies, the original providers, and the public. It is important to note the state also provides a couple hundred statewide data layers available to local governments through the IndianaMap. This week’s view is the very first in what promises to still be a lengthy process, and I’m told it is provided “warts and all.” No matter how humble, it demonstrates a complete flow-through of the data in this process and proves the concept that a statewide (and I’d extend, national) public land parcel fabric is indeed accomplishable. This view shows parcels extending across Kosciusko and Wabash counties. In all, more than 70 (of 92) Indiana counties have agreed to participate.

Maps Using Virtual Digital Holograms? It’s Only A Matter of Time.

I’m looking forward seeing the first mapping application using virtual digital holograms. What is a virtual digital hologram you ask? It is very cool technology that creates a 3-d image you can move around via tracking from your webcam. The best place to check it out is GE’s fantastic implementation Plug Into the Smart Grid.
GE Smart Grid Virtual Digital Hologram

Think of the pieces that might be used for a mapping implementation – it may be aerial photography, digital elevation models, Sketchup and other 3-d models of buildings and cities. And now FLARToolkit is available as a free non-commercial license to pull those pieces together to create virtual digital holograms viewable by anyone with a webcam, printer, and Internet connection. Due to the novelty aspect of the technology, its biggest potential may be its use for marketing, communication, and education campaigns. If you’ve seen mapping or other fun uses of this technology, please share them!