Sep 5, 2015 - Mapping your neighborhood in Cleveland and Akron

Where is your neighborhood? What is its name? Where is its boundary? Is this boundary fuzzy for you?

Neighborhoods and these answers change from person to person.

In Cleveland, neighborhoods' boundaries are largely left to the imaginations of residents, visitors, realtors, businesses, and non-profits.

The City Planning Commission's Statistical Planning Areas, adopted in early 2000s. These names are argely ignored and not widely adopted with good reason, they are missing and many of the names there aren't used in everyday life.

Here's your chance to say where your neighborhood is and view what others have shared.

Map Your Neighborhood in Cleveland and Akron at

You're encouraged to map (that is draw) the neighborhood where you live but others that you may not live in but may spend a lot of time in or feel strongly about.

No neighborhood or city boundaries are present on the map; to remove biases and to encourage boundaries across city lines.

With projects like and improved technology and software, mapping is not only a noun, but it is being used as a verb - creating and modifying what is (or isn't) on a map - the canvas representing a space.

After you've mapped a neighborhood, view what others have drawn.

I hope this sparks a conversation of neighborhood identity in each of you.

Thanks to work of Nick Martinelli and Andy Woodruff and Tim Wallace at Bostonography, I've been able to build upon their work and customize it for Cleveland.

Identifying neighborhoods has fascinated me for some time and inspired me to create my first map - my (incomplete) interpretation of Cleveland's neighborhoods, in 2010-2011.

To make your own instance for a city, the source code and directions are available on github. I've made a couple adjustments (like directions) that I'll be shortly adding.

Jun 1, 2015 - Recently

What I've been up to (outside of my work):

Setting up tech (registration, website updating/maintainence, and writing the content) for the 8th annual Jake's Invitational.

If you're looking to golf for a great cause in Northeast Ohio, check out the 8th Jake's Invitational on August 9th.

We fund children's futures by giving them financial aid to Lawrence School, a great place for students with learning differences.

Spending more time with open data.

Obtaining the data (especially local data) to be used in maps has been time-consuming. When exploring or thinking about different topics to understand through maps, I am limited by the data that is available.

This has led me to spend more time to advocate for and work with open data on a broader scale. I've been co-leading Open Cleveland which along with OpenNEO and Hack Cleveland has been the open data movement in Cleveland.

We're educating local politicians and city employees that civic data they work with and manage can be useful if it's available to the public like creating a web form so someone can apply online to take formal stewardship of the vacant lot next door to them.

Data alone won't solve anything but it will make a lot of others' jobs easier.

I didn't submit a talk to NACIS this year. Do I regret it? Not yet. I might later.

I'll share some Carto thoughts on animated temporal maps very briefly:

I've been thinking a little about animated temporal maps, maps whose features change based on a specific time. One examples

Torque by CartoDB is one easy to use library that is described to do temporal mapping. I haven't seen as much use of Torque (or many temporal maps) in recent months on cartotalk on twitter.

I hadn't thought of any use of torque either, until last week, visualizing over time, Cleveland's building demolitions.

For the outsiders of Cleveland, yes, many of these were likely houses; it's a visual representation of the housing crisis.

I was wondering how I could see it spread, what areas were hit hardest. I want to see different ways how this can be visualized.

This first visualization is just a proof of concept I got up and running; I've fiddled with torque's API a little since then although not enough to write up for you just yet, will do soon. I am now sleepy.

Listening to Jean-Christian Arod - Detour Nostalgique. from the movie CRAZY. I fell in love with the song back in 05 or 06, and just rediscovered it earlier tonight, listening to it a few times on lop.

Jan 8, 2015 - Mapping Clevelands Building Ages

A quick update to let people know that I made an online map of Cleveland's Building ages

I've wanted to make one for a couple years now but didn't have access to the data. I finally do now and uploaded the raw data on github . Once you click on that link, click raw, and save the file as a CSV.

The Case for Open Data:

I've wanted to make this map for years... Cleveland and Cuyahoga County's data access is less than stellar and falling behind other cities. Open Data policies foster the culture where information like building construction dates is shared and readily accessible and updated on the internet for government employees, non-profits, private businesses, and anyone else.

In Cleveland, there's growing awareness open data's value to communities Open Cleveland , Code For America Brigade, is among several groups and individuals including Cleveland Public Library , Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Case Western Reserve University and One Community to promote open data policies and demonstrate its value.

If you're interested to participate in this, you're welcome to become a part of Open Cleveland and attend one of our meetups and events.

Some technical/cartography details:

It's only the 2nd choropleth map (I usually make base maps or transportation maps) that I've ever made and learned more about that area of cartography. I tried out a couple different data classification methods (jenks, Equal Interval, and others) that are built-in to cartodb, the mapping software library that I used. None of them really felt 'right' to me so I made my own breaks after examining the source data and looking for trends.

I only used 6 breaks. Is it too many or too few? I am not experienced in this area of cartography and found advice for sticking with 5-7 (on the belief too many would confuse the reader). I would have liked to see how a scheme where each increase in year change the color ever so slightly, perhaps increasing the Hue value by 1 or 2 points for each year. I couldn't figure how to do this (and I don't know the proper cartographical term either) in cartodb, so I opted to look at cartodb's data classifications...

Why cartodb:

I actually originally tried mapbox's mapbox-studio as I was more experienced with their softwares and thought it would be a good tool for the job (and I was really itching to use mapbox-studio again - Yes, I know the latter point is not a good reason to base your decision on what tool(s) to use to make a map).. But, mapbox-studio was unable to create the vector layer for me; it give me an error that I couldn't have X (I think it was 50k) amount of points at a particular zoom level. So, I went to cartodb. It handled the 40mb geojson file that I uploaded without a problem.

Why points:

There's been a few building age maps similar to this one (web maps, detailed to the block level) for NYC, Austin, PDX, Chicago. All of them had used the actual building footprint. Unfortunately, the source data only gives point centroid of the land parcel for the geography (lat/lon). I briefly thought about trying to match them up with the publicly available building footprints were last updated in 2007 (!) provided by the County (they're currently updating them now) but they are woefully incomplete in coverage. I also thought about matching them up with the building footprints that the Cleveland Metroparks made (they are the forefront of open source GIS in Northeast Ohio) from ~2012. That data set is relatively complete in terms of coverage. However, I'm doing this in my limited free time and didn't want to go down that rabbit hole, so I decided to just go with the points.

Notice errors or omissions in the source data? I have too and I need to figure out who to contact and send them the corrections. This data was missing buildings built in 2013 and 2014.