At the best of times the relationship between cyclists and motorists is tense. Given that the amount of dedicated routes available to cyclists in many cities is quite limited, motorists that opt to stop or park in what should be a thoroughfare really aren’t endearing themselves to the cycling community. A gargantuan SUV parked in a bike lane will put a cyclist in an uncomfortable situation as they’ll have to steer into the roadway in order to make their way around the vehicle – an act that is inefficient and dangerous. A collective of cyclists/designers in New York City have decided enough is enough and they’ve developed a web workflow to raise awareness about bike lane blocking and draw attention to streets and neighbourhoods where it is a chronic problem.
BKME.ORG is the brainchild of ITP students Martín Bravo, Alex Kozovski and Fred Truman and acts as a community-driven archive for geotagged photos posted to twitter. Whenever a cyclist encounters a vehicle blocking a bike lane they can stop, whip out their smartphone, snap a quick photo and tweet it with the hashtag #BKME to auto-publish to the site. The various map views track these crowdsourced parking infractions (green pin icons) and sites where actual bike lane parking tickets have been issued (orange dots) so that visitors can cross-reference this data to understand how and where related ‘no stopping’ regulation is being enforced.
The metadata and media within an individual post lists the location of the infraction, a timestamp, author credit, tweet permalink, geodata, a map for local context and the photographic ‘evidence’. While this framework is quite simple, it provides a valuable service to NYC cyclists by giving them a means to assert their agency over the roadway while heightening their awareness of regulation that directly affects them. As more information is collected, one could see this platform being leveraged in everyday contexts like route planning and as a research tool to inform constructive dialogue with the NYPD. As noted by Martín Bravo on his ITP research blog, a major issue associated with the user generated content that drives this workflow is the amount of time it takes an individual to stop and tweet, so a no-nonsense app is presently in the early stages of development (see this demo video, recorded a few days ago).
It will be really interesting to see how BKME.ORG evolves – we will undoubtedly see this service (or similar ventures) springing up in other cities with an active cycling community in the very near future.
via Jer Thorp
- Livehoods – Use-Based Urban Analytics In conceptualizing and exploring the city we rely a range of smaller areas—neighbourhoods, boroughs, wards and districts—in order to make urban space intelligible. While we can readily discuss how neighbourhoods are shaped by physical geography (topography, adjacency to lakes or rivers, etc.), ordinance (zoning, access to public transit) and economics (real estate prices, average resident income), machine learning does not really spring to mind when we are considering how we might define 'a neighbourhood'. Livehoods is a new project hatched within the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University that leverages 18 million Foursquare check-ins to draft up new urban 'activity zones' based on the patterns of frequent visitors. The venture essentially asks how does a location-based service reflect our sense of place within the city? The central hypothesis of the project is that the character of an urban area is defined "not just by the the types of places found there, but also by the people who make the area part of their daily routine" and to this end, the researchers have prototyped social maps of New York City, San Francisco and Pittsburgh. Drawing on the analysis of check-in data, these maps propose new spatial clusters, 'livehoods' as a means for representing the use-patterns of various regions of the city. This aggregation and analysis yields funky polygonal zones whose geometry is tied to social practice rather than an orthogonal street grid or municipal incorporation. On focusing the map interface one of these social constellations, a user can scan popular venues, dial up an analytics view of daily and weekly 'pulse' of activity and also access a bar graph comparing the types of venues people are frequenting. The most interesting option within the interface is the 'related' view, whereby the majority of the map content disappears leaving the selected livehood and the top five livehoods that the same user base frequents – these are often adjacent, but sometimes across town. Thus far the developers have not revealed too much about their methodology but they'll be presenting a paper, "The Livehoods Project: Utilizing Social Media to Understand the Dynamics of a City" at The 6th International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media in Dublin this June. Hopefully we'll see maps rolled out for more cities soon. Livehoods.org | School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon […]
- N Building.app [iPhone] N Building is a commercial structure located near Tachikawa station amidst a shopping district. The team at Qosmo working together with teradadesign architecture studio thought of using QR Code (two-dimensional bar code) as the facade of the building. By reading the QR Code with your mobile device you can obtain up to date shop information but the fun doesn't end there. Using the iPhone with specially developed application you can see what is happening inside the building with people's comments made on online appearing in speech bubbles. You can also browse shop information, make reservations and download coupons (see video). The building is detected in real time by its shape. Characters are then superimposed over the live video. Twitter feed comments are located via GPS tagging. Store information, reservations and other infrastructure is part of the iPhone application. The iPhone application is not for sale in the iTunes App Store, but is available to interested parties on request. The project is a collaboration between teradadesign + Qosmo. For more information see this post by Nao Tokui, CEO of Qosmo Inc. (Thanks […]
- MindMeTo Development [WebApps] MindMeTo is a reminder service which makes use of Twitter to introduce the concept of social task management. We launched the service earlier this week and so far reception has been great. It was my first time working withÂ Alexander Kohlhofer andÂ Filip Visnjic, and I enjoyed the project immensely. How MindMeTo works: 1. Follow mindmeto on Twitter mindmeto will quickly follow you back. 2. Add a reminder by tweeting: @mindmeto buy some milk tomorrow or, for private reminders, DM: d mindmeto buy some milk tomorrow This will add "Buy some milk" to tomorrow's schedule. (You can also add your reminder privately by sending a direct message.) 3. At the scheduled time mindmeto will send you a private direct message to "buy some milk". The mindmeto.com includes a page where all your reminders are listed. You can manage your reminders by deleting them or add new private ones. The Process Perhaps the most interesting aspect of working on projects such asÂ MindMeTo is that problems will come along that totally knock you out of your comfort zone. In terms of web programming, itâ€™s pretty easy to get yourself in a groove. You create countless websites which essentially use the same techniques, the same database and session abstraction classes, the same schema and queries, etc. One of our major goals withÂ MindMeTo was to make a service which was both quickly accessible, but also highly extensible. It became clear that, in order to allow the service to feel instantlyÂ familiar for new users, we would have to rely on a human-readable command structure. Take the following MindMeTo request as an example: 1 @mindmeto buy some cat food tomorrow. Even if you had no comprehension of whatÂ MindMeTo was all about, youâ€™d still understand the request. Whatâ€™s really interesting is the social implications of running a reminder service through Twitter. Given that reminders can be set via @reply (as well as Direct Message and through our web interface), the request is already framed within a particular context. When put in context, the full command reads a little something like this: Remind me to buy some cat food tomorrow Now ask yourself how many times youâ€™ve said something similar to a loved one, and hopefully youâ€™ll see what Iâ€™m getting at. Reminders are largely a social construct, and I think itâ€™s interesting to see how theyâ€™ll behave on a service like Twitter. Of course, the problem with introducing a service to such a social environment is that people naturally expect to communicate as if they were talking to a person. Specifically when setting a time and date for reminders. To tackle this problem, I considered timestamps in two basic capacities:Â specific andÂ vague. Itâ€™s possible to set the following reminder: 1 @mindmeto pickup milk on May 16th at 4:35pm But itâ€™s also possible to do something like this: 1 @mindmeto pickup milk tomorrow afternoon Perhaps the hardest aspect of developing a system devoid of any form of syntactical delimiters is that our parsing engine has to make an informed decision based on a number of potential results. Firstly, we must figure out where a reminder finishes and itâ€™s timestamp begins. To do this, our parsing engine relies on what I call contextual flags. Letâ€™s take another look at our two previous examples: 1 2 @mindmeto pickup milk <strong>on</strong> May 16th at 4:35pm @mindmeto pickup milk <strong>tomorrow</strong> afternoon While they differ greatly in the level of detail used to set the reminder timestamps, both carry contextual flags that MindMeTo recognizes and acts upon. Contextual flags also (as you may have guessed) help us to put the timestamp in context. A contextual flag of â€˜inâ€™ suggests that the timestamp weâ€™re receiving is relative to the current time, for example: 1 @mindmeto pickup milk in an hour Is the system perfect? Far from it. But it doesnâ€™t need to be. The beauty of introducing a human-readable is that we accept the possibility of error (to err, after allâ€¦). If you were to ask someone to remind you of something and they didnâ€™t understand the request, theyâ€™d simply ask again. Provided the service fails gracefully, the userâ€™s given another opportunity to express themselves. Itâ€™s our job to give them enough options so that hopefully they find a way that is most suitable for their personal usage. For more information about MindMeTo visit http://mindmeto.com MindMeTo [WebApp] from CreativeApplications.Net on […]
- Playground NDSM – Interactive photomontage of 7 years at NDSM-warf / Amsterdam Created by Marc Faasse, Playground NDSM is an interactive photomontage that includes 7 years of photographs taken by Marc and mapped on the […]
- BakerTweet [WebApp, Objects] I amÂ beginningÂ to think that maybe CAN needs a new category titled "Twitter". With the sheer amount of apps and devices using the platform it isÂ increasinglyÂ evident that Twitter is here to stay and become not only closely integrated into our daily lives as a social platform but also within the devices we may use day in, day out. If you have read our post 'A Different Twitter' it is not hard to see that application of Twitter goes beyond the 'social'. Is Twitter becoming a protocol? "In its simplest form, a protocol can be defined as the rules governing theÂ syntax,Â semantics, and synchronization of communication. Protocols may be implemented by hardware, software, or a combination of the two. At the lowest level, a protocol defines the behavior of a hardware connection" wikipedia. When we consider a social aspect ofÂ protocol, the area of exploration is both vast and exciting. This is anÂ interestingÂ for discussion but this post is aboutÂ Baker Tweet so without further ado, say hello to the first "commercially available" product whose core protocol is Twitter. BakerTweet is a way for busy bakers to tell the world that something hot and fresh has just come out of the oven. It's as simple as turning the dial and hitting the button. All of the baker's followers get a Twitter alert to tell them that it's bun-time. Or bread time. Or whatever. Created by London based Poke,Â a creative company that focuses on inventing and making interactive things, BakerTweet Â is aÂ prototype is made up of anÂ Arduino Duemilanove,Â Arduino Ethernet Shield,Â Ladyada Proto Shield, a Linksys wifi adapter, and a whole bunch of little parts that make up the rest. One of the highlights of BakerTweet is that it interfaces with a Django CMS for all it's information. This means that an owner can sign into their account onÂ bakertweet.com and edit the number of items, how they want them labelled on the device, and the body of the Tweet is sent out for each. To update the device with the latest information, the owner simply spins the dial "Update Items List," hits the button, and the box grabs the latest list of items. Exciting and innovative,Â BakerTweet brings together software, hardware and 'social' in a very creative way. Maybe you don't like visiting your local bakery nor you areÂ particularlyÂ interested how this relates to your daily life, what is for sure is that we are notÂ very far off from when your newÂ washing machine's installation manual will include "how to set-up twitter account" because the only way you will know your washing is done is by the message you received on Twitter. If you wantÂ BakerTweet, drop the team a line for more info, or any inquires.Â firstname.lastname@example.org Btw, did you know your plants can twitter […]
- Twitter Friends on a Map [Pipes] Here is a great way to display your twitter friends on your blog or your website. Using Yahoo Pipes Andy M has created pipes that allow you to visualise your friends or followers on a Yahoo map.Â There are two pipes to choose from, one for your TwitterÂ followersÂ (requires your Twitter password and you'll need to edit the source)Â and one for your TwitterÂ friends (easy).Â Click the link and enter your Twitter username. Click â€œRun pipeâ€ and wait a few seconds... Here is an example of our friends on twitter. You can get more information on Andy's blog. Platform: Yahoo Pipes Cost: FREE Developer:Â Andy Murdoch Twitter Friends Map [xrr […]
- Mediated Cityscapes 03: DIY Cartography [Theory] [Eric Fischer / Locals and Tourists #45 (GTWA #133): Los Angeles and Pasadena / 2010] A month ago in Minneapolis, nestled amidst the brilliant programming of the inaugural Eyeo Festival, Mark Hansen organized a panel on data visualization and social justice that brought veteran designers Laura Kurgan, Michael Migurski and Lisa Strausfeld together to discuss visual communication, representation and agency. The conversation that ensued was extremely provocative and challenged many of the basic assumptions underlying data visualization's capacity as a polemical or exploratory medium. This critical engagement was perhaps best summarized by Kurgan when she reminded her fellow panelists and the audience that it is dangerous to confuse data with knowledge. Later, Migurski described his optimism in thinking about "people as pixels" within these representational systems whereby designers have the opportunity to highlight spatial inconsistencies and (ideally) engender engagement and civic action. Migurski summarized this question of responsibility in a blog post in advance of the session as "do we reveal new things about society by viewing data, or do we bend society into new forms by choosing data that can be viewed?" This introspection was timely, not only within the milieu of a creative coding summit, but as a reminder of the far-reaching implications of the visual representation of urban space.(1) This instalment of Mediated Cityscapes will catalogue two general approaches for thinking about DIY cartography and then speculate as to the significance of some recent related developments in 'in situ' informatics. Before diving into choice mapping projects it would be prudent to sketch out a cursory overview of the significant changes that have occurred within cartography thus far in the 21st century. - Some Geospatial Context On May 2nd, 2000, a mid-90s Clinton executive order saw high-quality GPS signals 'switched on' for use in civilian and commercial contexts, where the most precise location information had previously been reserved for military use.(2) The same year saw other developments in the proliferation of 'everyday' geospatial engagement with the advent of geocaching and the purchase of MapQuest by AOL and the integration of the service into the 'AOL Anywhere' strategy. Google Maps launched in February 2005 and the popularity of mashups such as Adrian Holovaty's Chicago Crime and Paul Rademacher’s HousingMaps helped cultivate a community of curious developers that were ready to capitalize on the API that was launched the following June. At the same time, the Wikipedia-inspired OpenStreetMap was steadily accumulating users who were collaborating to develop free geographic data and street maps for any and all imaginable uses. Location-based services have figured prominently into more recent iterations of social networking platforms with Dennis Crowley's Dodgeball prefiguring the geospatial ramifications of services like Loopt, Twitter and his most recent venture FourSquare. 2011 is shaping up to be an exciting year in DIY cartography as a range of flexible tools and platforms have been released that allow designers the ability to design and serve custom maps, seize control of the location information logged on their mobile devices and to explore more expressive map design (respectively, see Development Seed's TileMill, The New York Times R&D lab's OpenPaths and Stamen Design's map=yes). Given the propagation of visualization of all stripes, the debate as to whether well-mapped geographic data can reveal trends and truths more convincingly than the rows and columns of a spreadsheet is a moot point, a more interesting question is: now that these accessible, open source tools are out there, what will people use them for? - Crisis, Flow and the Ephemeral In "Carto-City", Denis Cosgrove's contribution to the essential 2006 compendium Else/Where: Mapping, the late geographer described the complex relationship between maps and the urban space they represent. While the adage states that "the map is not the territory" Cosgrove reminds us that—as far as city design is concerned—the map precedes the territory: "St. Petersburg, Washington D.C., New Delhi, Brasilia, countless fortress and colonial cities, existed on paper before they had any material expression." He also draws our attention to how significant urban reconstruction endeavours (e.g. Haussmann's renovation of Paris) are planned and executed through maps and 'great plans', another example of how cartography "regulates and coordinates" the everyday experience and "continued existence" of the city.(3) Cities are of course much more complex than the sum of their representations. The shift that has to be noted here is the transference of the means of cartographic production from states (who used them to assert sovereignty), to web-startups (who conducted platform and protocol r&d in order to offer monetized services) into the hands of citizens. In 2006 Mark Harrower described this emerging phenomenon as a "democratization of mapping" and to expand on this point, as we have become less tethered to corporate interests (i.e. projects no longer have to be bounded by proprietary geodata licensing) and offered more manageable workflows for the collection, sharing and archiving of properly formatted public data, mapping has started to function as public discourse. A great example of 'amateur' cartographers mobilizing in real-time around a breaking event occurred in January 2010, in the immediate aftermath of the devastating earthquake that ravaged Haiti. A blog post by transport web-services provider ITO succinctly described the situation faced by aid agencies arriving in Port-au-Prince within hours of the quake: "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 important to the rescue agencies immediately after the event, and to the longer rebuilding process. In many developing countries, 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." The morning after the disaster, geospatial services provider GeoEye shot and shared 3,000 square kilometres of high resolution satellite photography of Haiti and this material was seized on by the OpenStreetMap community. A globally distributed team of contributors (with varying GIS skills) were able to use this base imagery to trace primary and secondary streets, reference street names from archival maps, note the location of obstructions and geolocate the network of refugee camps that had sprung up.(4) Relatively speaking, these maps offered real-time situational awareness and became the reference of choice for GPS receiver toting aid workers looking to maximize their efficiency in coordinating rescue effort and delivering vital supplies by putting actionable data in their hands. [Hackitectura / Cartografía crítica del Estrecho de Gibraltar / 2004] Operating at an altogether different scale and timeframe than the Haitian aid effort is Cartografía crítica del Estrecho de Gibraltar, a map produced by the Spanish media arts collective Hackitectura. In this project the artists ignored national borders and even mapping conventions in order to analyze the complex flows of migration, capital and corporate influence that link the EU and Africa. In flipping the Mercator projection, familiar terrain is immediately defamilarized and standard points of interest were replaced with naval migration routes, military infrastructure, refugee camps and interment centres. This map problematizes sovereignty while underscoring complex geopolitical interdependencies and how these relations link major landmasses despite their physical separation by substantial bodies of water. While this project 'zooms out' and focuses on geopolitical complexities—depicting how they play out at a continental scale—rather than delineating individual cities, there is much that could be learned here and applied at the community or city block scale. This mapping of flows could be applied to critically explore the economic and social relationships between neighbourhoods by comparing access to infrastructure and essential services and/or exploring related demographic information to reveal social realities that might go unnoticed otherwise.(5) The examples discussed thus far illustrate how mapping can be deployed (and crowdsourced) to create public resources as well as function as a means of schematizing how less visible flows and trajectories play out spatially. Another key shift in the widespread proliferation of mapping tools and techniques is that it is increasingly possible to articulate distinctly personal points of view that reflect specific interests or modes of engagement with the city. [Nicholas Felton / The Feltron 2007 Annual Report] - Personal, Social and Infrastructural Documentary Each year the release of Nicholas Felton's 'annual report' receives considerable attention from design enthusiasts who are eager to inspect the intersection of information architecture and the quantified self movement. It is not surprising that the various iterations of this exercise in serialized self-surveillance devote considerable energy to mapping their designer's migrations through Manhattan, Brooklyn and beyond. Felton's data diaries resonate with the public because they suggest that banal actions can be aggregated into coherent representations and that careful art direction can reveal (and celebrate) the meaningful patterns that emerge from everyday routine. However, to return the focus squarely to mapping spatial relationships, as increasingly streamlined platforms, apps and devices become available for tracking location the standards by which we evaluate 'personal' cartographies need to evolve as well. The fact that a phenomena or personal history can be mapped is often far less interesting than the rigour, agenda or bias a would-be-cartographer might bring to a project. [Grassroots Mapping, Shai Efrati & Hagit Keysar / A 'balloon-mapped' protest in Jerusalem] "Are you embroiled in a cartographic dispute? Do you disagree with the official version of your geography?" Thus reads the intro blurb on the website for Grassroots Mapping, an initiative launched by the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (PLOTS) dedicated to promoting participatory cartography. An outgrowth of a project developed at MIT's Center for Civic Media, the group is well known for their work using balloons and kites to produce satellite-ish imagery to document the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It is now common knowledge that in the weeks and months that followed the 2010 ecological disaster, British Petroleum was less than forthcoming in revealing the scale of the catastrophe that had occurred under their watch (the finger-pointing and PR debacle that ensued led to CEO Tony Hayward's dismissal). To provide a counterpoint to BP's misinformation campaign, PLOTS deployed a simple balloon/camera apparatus that could float up into the sky and collect photo evidence for scientists and the public to evaluate the extent of the spill. The group has since received a Knight News Challenge grant to further this research and their balloon mapping schematics are shared openly as a public resource alongside several other DIY kits. It is worth noting that the balloon mapping endeavour is more of a platform than a one-off project and the apparatus has been used for multiple applications ranging from observing how public space is used in downtown Philadelphia to documenting a recent march for Palestinian independence that took place in Jerusalem – depending what individual or collective is at the helm, this apparatus could document any number of possible spatial narratives. [Michael Cook / photo and map of explored Toronto sewerage] An idiosyncratic example of an mapping project being driven by a personal obsession is Michael Cook's ongoing exploration of the Toronto sewer system. Wearing urban infiltration, geography graduate student and photographer hats, Cook has been researching the underground constructed landscapes of the Greater Toronto Area for the last decade. While few who are interested in Cook's work are adventurous enough to don hip waders, the researcher invites the public 'into' his work through photography and mapping. Cook describes his spatial modus operandi in a 2007 interview with Geoff Manaugh: "Basically, I have a starting point – and the way I’m going to do this is just go down there on foot and walk around the various residential streets, starting at the lake and moving north. I’ll see if I can find any viable manhole entrances – which involves being by the side of the road or in the sidewalk, where it will be possible to enter and exit safely." As evidenced by the above map, Cook has covered considerable ground and there is an added gravity to this 'personal' cartography due to the risk and investment of time involved in traversing these infrastructural routes that lay beneath the city. In this case the maps are just a by-product of Cook's urban spelunking but in a world teeming with 'making the invisible visible' projects set in the urban realm, the majesty of his photography is unrivalled. - Situated Visualization I'd like to highlight some related thinking by Golan Levin that I believe to be obliquely relevant to several of the mapping projects discussed above. A month and a half ago, Levin prototyped an adjustable pie-chart stencil kit for the "rapid deployment" of infoviz graffiti in urban environments. While this exercise could be read as a timely arranged marriage of two seemingly distinct fields (the graf writer and the dataviz jockey), it really speaks to the agency that an information designer can and should bring to any visual communication project.(6) The interesting thing about this 'situated visualization' term that Levin has coined is that it raises the stakes of information being displayed in the field by 'tethering' bits of data to specific locations. We're used to screen-based points of interest but what happens when they are embedded in or superimposed on urban fabric? One only need look as far as the terrific reception Timo Arnall, Jørn Knutsen and Einar Sneve Martinussen's Immaterials: Light painting WiFi prototype received to see that there is great curiosity about these kind of representations. That experiment is executed as a dead simple 'mapping' of WiFi signal in downtown Oslo—quite literally a roving bar graph filmed with time-lapse photography—but to actually see the intersection of signal strength, architecture and public space is a truly novel (almost magical) experience. This is a project that truly embodies the potential of DIY cartography – proof that the proliferation of open software and hardware platforms is cultivating a creative milieu that is as boundless and amorphous as the imagination. The next post in this series will consider the good, the bad and the ugly implications of urban screens. Notes: (1) Migurski's Oakland Crimespotting (2007) and Kurgan's Million Dollar Blocks (2005) are textbook examples of provocative, socially engaged visualizations of urban space. (2) For an accessible introduction to the 'dual use' application of GPS technology in civilian and military contexts see Caren Kaplan, Erik Loyer and Ezra Claytan Daniels' collaboration Precision Targets. (3) Cosgrove, Dennis. "Carto-City" in Janet Abrams & Peter Hall (eds) Else/Where: Mapping. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Design Institute, 2006. Pg. 148. (4) For a detailed window into how the OpenStreetMap community mobilized around 'Project Haiti' see this wiki. (5) Imagine a service like EveryBlock in the hands of radical cartographers! (6) See this blog post where Levin responds to the query "Is this project meant for graffiti artists? Data viz designers? Both?" with: "Your question implies that these are two separate occupations. My project hints at a world in which they are one and the same." Food for thought. - About the Author: Greg J. Smith is a Toronto-based designer and researcher with interests in media theory and digital culture. Extending from a background in architecture, his research considers how contemporary information paradigms affect representational and spatial systems. Greg is a designer at Mission Specialist, blogs at Serial Consign and teaches in the CCIT program (University of Toronto/Sheridan […]
Posted on: 05/03/2012
Posted in: WebApp
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