Category Archives: maps

Seeding nature in cities with geospatial analysis

When New York City first dreamed of a great Central Park in 1844, it began a 29-year massive landscaping process over 700 acres that required the demolition of entire villages. Cities today don’t have the luxury of three-decade timelines and vast spaces to move earth, and yet with urban manufacturing fading and populations rising, the need to give citizens healthy outdoor areas to breathe, exercise and congregate is more important than ever.

Local Code : Real Estates is a proposal to use geospatial analysis (sophisticated mapping) to pinpoint tiny sections of urbanity in New York, LA, Chicago and DC that have fallen into disarray — and then consider how to build networks of green spaces at the street level. Here’s what Revere Street in San Francisco would look like before and after renovation:

It’s an intriguing dream: hundreds of small, soccer-field- or street-sized parks giving residents local opportunities to experience nature. The designs would breathe life into the blighted areas of major cities which often have higher incidence of pollution, bad air quality and poor health. And because of the hyperlocal structure, each area of residents could weigh in with the balance of trees, grass, cobblestones, benches or sports facilities they’d want most. Rather than one vast park acting as a city’s heart, you’d have thousands of green pathways acting as arteries.

WPA2 : Local Code / Real Estates from Nicholas de Monchaux on Vimeo.

Via Emmanual Vivier.

A year of edits in OpenStreetMap

OpenStreetMap is a collaborative, user-generated project similar to Wikipedia in which volunteers can upload GPS data on road locations — creating perhaps the world’s most accurate map. The video above shows one year of edits from users around the globe (with white flashes showing map edit uploads). It’s a brilliant snapshot of collective intelligence at work, with a bit of dark irony: all this labor was done amidst a global recession for free.

Video animation by

Those Northerners and their non-sweetened tea

In our analytics services for clients we’ve been playing with heatmapping recently, where you take inbound phone numbers, identify the originating callers, and map them to ZIP Codes to see where demand is coming from. Pretty basic idea and yet most marketers don’t do this — you pay big bucks for advertising, why not see where the responses originate?

Concentrations in demand can be amazing. Here is an old study via StrangeMaps showing the sales of sweet tea in Virginia. The dots on the map show locations of McDonald’s stores across the state in 2004; light dots show the heavy sales of sweet tea, loved by consumers below the Mason-Dixon line. Stores up north don’t even sell sweet tea. A small bit of information invaluable to anyone trying to carve out share in the U.S. tea market.

Find your customers and then map them. The results may surprise you.

In central Africa, the doctor will not be seeing you soon

Brilliant poster by creative shop EuroRSCG of Amsterdam, Netherlands, showing a world map of patient-to-doctor ratios in each country. The mission was to educate the Dutch people about how fortunate they are in health care, plus raise awareness about the urgent needs elsewhere. Michael Moore would appreciate the top-performing country in terms of doctors per patient population: Cuba.

Erase your demo maps and start over

So many ways to cut demo data, but we love this one. Back in 1981 Joel Garreau sliced North America into the politics of place. Seems he thought people should be segmented by commonalities of culture, politics, local industry, and geographic features such as watersheds. In the U.S., it means media planners should consider that consumers in New England are very different from Dixie vs. “the breadbasket” and “MexAmerica.” Might explain those strange election results every few years.

Still doesn’t explain why the creatives next door wear funny sneakers.