Urban Open Data




One of the more frustrating aspects of mapping is finding mappable data. Often the data needed is deceptively mundane — something as simple as finding the coordinates of every hospital in a given city or the taxable value of properties in a county — so you’d think it would be easy enough to locate. Yet sometimes finding this very common data can take longer than building the map itself.

Part of the problem is that many municipalities have yet to organize and make public the wealth of data generated by and within their territories. Additionally, cities that have ported their data to publicly-accessible websites don’t always do a great job of promoting their data portals, which can be buried deep within the city’s main website.

To speed up my own data collecting process, I started gathering the open data portals of towns, cities, counties, states, and countries into a single site: Urban Open Data. I built it in literally 2 hours; so it’s not pretty and the code could certainly be better. But it exists and when I have a moment I’ll make it more designerly. Until then, make use of it and send me any sites that should be added.


A Brief History of Detroit: Migration, Manufacturing, Memory

Last Saturday, I gave a talk at Contested Spaces, a collaborative course taught by Ana María León (University of Michigan), Tessa Paneth-Pollak (Michigan State University), and Olga Touloumi (Bard College) where they investigate how architecture intersects with race, class, and gender. The Saturday session where I gave my talk was part of the final workshop for the course, which focused on the contested spaces of Detroit. My talk, "A Brief History of Detroit: Migration, Manufacturing, Memory," attempted to convey a few broad themes in Detroit's history that have contributed to the city's current struggles. See the full video of the talk here.

In the Life of Cities: Parallel Narratives of the Urban

Lars Müller Publishers has released In the Life of Cities: Parallel Narratives of the Urban:

"What is it that gives places their individual qualities and defines the life of a city? Architects and urbanists are accustomed to describing and creating the organizational structures, the layouts and physical attributes of our cities. But what are the relations between the design of a city—its form—and the life engendered by that form? Responding to this question is the inspiration for In the Life of Cities. Contributors from a wide range of fields address the role and life of cities as diverse as Baku, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Detroit, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Paris, Quito, St. Petersburg, Tel Aviv, Tirana, and Toronto. Portfolios of contemporary photography present the layered realities of urban life today.

With contributions by Arjun Appadurai, Eve Blau, Svetlana Boym, Lindsay Bremner, Jana Cephas, Felipe Correa, Rahul Mehrotra, Mohsen Mostafavi, Antoine Picon, Gyan Prakash, Nasser Rabbat, Rafi Segal, Jorge Silvetti, AbdouMaliq Simone, and Charles Waldheim."