Posted on July 23, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research

The Center for Spatial Research is pleased to announce our selection with the Brown Institute as inaugural recipients of Columbia University’s Collaboratory Fellows Grant for Points Unknown: New frameworks for investigation and creative expression through mapping.

Aimed at advancing education that combines data science or computational expertise with domain expertise, the Collaboratory Fellows Grant is intended to support pairs of instructors (one with data science or computational expertise and the other with domain expertise) to develop and co-teach new educational offerings that can help fulfill the data literacy requirements of a discipline, specific cohort of students, or domain.

Points Unknown will offer journalism students formal training in GIS and web-based mapping, both as a product in stories and as an important tool for reporting. Concurrently, the program will provide GSAPP students an introduction to spatial data analysis through the lens of journalism, helping them use investigative methods that can be integrated into a design process.

Jointly founded by the Data Science Institute and Columbia Entrepreneurship, The Collaboratory@Columbia is a university-wide program that seeks to provide the resources and tools required to ensure that all Columbia University students receive the education and training that they need to lead in today’s data-rich world.

More on the Collaboratory Fellows Fund is available here

Posted on June 17, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research

Laura Kurgan's 1994 installation at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, "You Are Here: Information Drift," was featured in The Atlantic in June 2016. Geoff Manaugh revisited this project in The Atlantic in light of new locative technologies. 

Read More. 

Posted on May 16, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research

We’re Hiring!

The Center for Spatial Research is seeking Graduate Research Assistants for Summer 2016 for both full-time and part-time positions to work on various aspects of the Synapse project, a groundbreaking science communication initiative that takes it's physical form as a large-scale, permanent installation located on the ground floor of the Jerome L. Greene Science Center on the new Manhattanville campus of Columbia University.

The JLG Center houses the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute (MBBI) which brings together cutting edge interdisciplinary neuroscience research. Visit our site for more information:

We are looking for interested students with experience in the following areas:

1. Visual storytelling and illustration skills

We are looking for students that are passionate about visual storytelling and illustration to help us refine and develop storyboards for science content as well as for a variety of interactive elements for the stories.

2. Advanced 3d graphics and modeling skills

Students with this skill set will be responsible for helping with the creation of 3d assets and scripts to model the behavior of various installation components. Students with advanced 3d knowledge are also needed to help convert a variety of new brain models from specialized neuroscience software into voxelized meshes.

3. Technical / front-end development skills

For students with knowledge of web-based front end design, the team is looking for help with developing several interactive prototypes that visualize the various stories that the Synapse team has developed in collaboration with the scientists. The team is also looking for students that can help manage and organize the various graphic assets.

Candidates must have experience working on a collaborative setting and possess at a minimum good knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite. In addition, a working knowledge of a range of the following tools is a plus: HTML/CSS, Javascript, front-end frameworks (Angular, jQuery, paper.js etc), Processing, Python, D3, MATLAB, Meshlab, Autodesk Maya, Mental Ray, Redshift

Full-time positions are 35 hours per week for up to twelve weeks. Part-time work will be negotiated by student/project. All positions are $15/hour.

Please send a letter of interest, CV, and relevant work examples to For further information please visit

Posted on May 15, 2016 by Juan Francisco Saldarriaga

Juan Francisco Saldarriaga presented two recent center projects in his talk ‘Activity Mapping’ during the Art of Data Visualization conference held at Columbia University on April 6th. The talk took place at the Davis Auditorium (room 412 Schapiro CEPSR) at 10:50 AM.

Here's a video of the talk:

Here’s a description of the talk: Foursquare check-ins? Citibike rides? Open data can tell us a lot about our cities and how we use them: what we think of them, how we feel about them and how we live in them. In this talk we present two research projects that use this data to explore and understand how people live in New York. We analyze check-in data from Foursquare and Facebook to examine how social media activity relates to socio-economic factors and what this kind of data can tell us about how people feel about the modern city. We also analyze Citibike ride data visualizing the imbalance problems the system faces. All of this, while also exploring multiple ways of representing spatial data.

Read More

Posted on April 25, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research

We’re Hiring.

The Center for Spatial Research is seeking Graduate Research Assistants for summer 2016 for both full-time and part-time positions.

Students will be responsible for research, data analysis, visualization, and exhibition design on projects dealing with current research focus: conflict urbanism. Students will work with spatial data including mining and analyzing data, processing and collecting data, and/or visualizing data in compelling and innovative ways. Working in close collaboration with principal investigators students will develop these projects, participate in writing research papers and create visualizations of relevant data analysis for inclusion in papers, multi-media projects, and upcoming exhibitions in international biennales.

Candidates must have experience with GIS and Adobe Creative Suite. In addition, a working knowledge of a range of the following tools is a plus: Processing, Python, D3, R, APIs Access, Stata/SPSS, HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

Full-time positions are 35 hours per week for up to twelve weeks. Part-time work will be negotiable by student and by project. All positions are $15/hour.

Please send a letter of interest, CV, and relevant work examples to


Posted on April 20, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research

Juan Francisco Saldarriaga will be presenting multiple center projects emphasizing process and code for the Data Science Society at Columbia University. He will describe in detail how to gather data from public APIs and how to use different visualization tools to produce compelling graphics.

Read more.

Posted on April 1, 2016 by Juan Francisco Saldarriaga

Juan Francisco Saldarriaga will be leading a workshop on how to download API data using Python in the context of the Art of Data Visualization conference to be held at Columbia University on April 7th. The workshop will take place at the Digital Social Science Center (215 Lehman Library) from 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM.

Here’s a description of the workshop: This workshop will introduce you to basic Python programing and to social media APIs. Students will learn how to write basic Python code to import data, query API's and extract information, and export the results in formats that can be used for analysis or mapping.

Read More

Posted on February 24, 2016 by Spatial Information Design Lab

Laura Kurgan was interviewed about the Million Dollar Blocks project for the PBS documentary "The Human Face of Big Data." The documentary aired nationally on February 24, 2016 and featured Laura Kurgan speaking about the Center for Spatial Research's unique approach to mapping and data visualization: "And there is always that moment in data vizualization where you are looking at tons and tons of data. The point is not to look at the tons and tons of data but to look at what are the stories that emerge out of it."

The Human Face of Big Data explores the impace of our current data-filled age: "With the rapid emergence of digital devices, an unstoppable, invisible force is changing human lives in incredible ways. Every two days the human race is now generating as much data as was generated from the dawn of humanity through the year 2003. The massive gathering and analyzing of data in real time is allowing us to address some of humanity's biggest challenges but as Edward Snowden and the release of NSA documents have shown, the accessibility of all this data comes at a steep price. This film captures the promise and peril of this extraordinary knowledge revolution."

Watch the documenary here. 



Posted on January 22, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research

Four outstanding speakers will visit campus this spring as part of the Disrupting Unity and Discerning Ruptures: Focus Aleppo lecture series. CSR has been thrilled to work with Professor Avinoam Shalem to organize this series and to cosponsor it the Art History Department and the Middle East Institute. The series is running in conjunction with the CSR seminar Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo and aims to give historical, and art historical, context to the contemporary conflict in Syria and in particular in Aleppo

February 18
Yasser Tabbaa
Independent Scholar
“The Remaking of Aleppo under Nur al-Din and the Early Ayyubids”
612 Schermerhorn Hall, 6pm

March 24
Heghnar Watenpaugh
Associate Professor of Art History
University of California, Davis
“Ottoman Aleppo: Experiencing Architecture, Narrating Space”
Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall, 6pm

March 31
Patrick Ball, PhD
Co-founder, Director of Research
Human Rights Data Analysis Group
“Seeing the Forest: Analyzing hidden patterns using (mostly) public data  about people killed in Syria, 2011-2015”
Brown Institute for Media Innovation, Journalism Building, 6pm

April 7
Sussan Babaie
The Courtauld Institute of Art
University of London
“Urbanity and Mercantile ‘Taste’: the Houses of Aleppo”
612 Schermerhorn Hall, 6pm

Posted on December 7, 2015 by Spatial Information Design Lab

Al Jazeera's Ranjani Chakrabortty recently wrote an article about the impacts of incarceration on families and communities that drew on our Million Dollar Blocks project: "Each year, the U.S. spends $80 billion to incarcerate more than 2.4 million people. But when it comes to communities, the costs are even more staggering. A disproportionate number of inmates come from just a handful of neighborhoods in the country’s biggest cities. In this Brooklyn community, Augustine’s story is all too common. Brownsville has one of the highest concentrations of “million-dollar blocks” — places where the state is paying more than $1 million a year to incarcerate the residents of a single census block — in the country. And often, according to research from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Forward Together, and Research Action Design, the burden of mass incarceration is left to women."

Read More.