Personal Census Atlas
A visualization of the U.S. Census through the lens of one person’s longitudinal location data.
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This project visualizes the U.S. Census through the lens of 1 person’s location data over the course of 3 years. It addresses the potential of self quantification in the personalization of public aggregate data. The dataset included 899 days of usable data, containing just over 21,000 records of time and location, most of which were in the United States. The over 20,000 American locations recorded are not all unique, they fell into 2633 unique census tracts. Of these tracts, over half of the recorded time was spent in just 9 census tracts. These 9 tracts have demographic characteristics in common in contrast to the rest of the country. The maps contained in this project presents these 9 tracts as a hypothetical island and displays the Census information for this combined area in the same style as a traditional census atlas.
Until 1970, the Census was conducted by a team of Census takers that visited each home and filled out Census forms by asking questions of the residents. However in 1970 the Census became self-enumerated, and when many Americans set a pen to the Census forms for the first time, some struggled to categorize themselves. For example, one of the questions that the form asked was “Relationship to Head of Household”. Because no option was given for husband of household, married women saw, for the first time, that they were not able to self-identify as the heads of their own households. In the subsequent Census of 1980, this option was changed. Amid all the other changes that usually occurred between one Census and another, the rewording of this category may seem like an insignificant detail.  However, this is a good example that talks about the difference between how we are being counted and how we count ourselves.
We are being counted all the time. Despite the increasing nuance and sophistication of classification and categorization systems, the formalization of categories is always going to be playing catch up to how we can define ourselves. Is it possible that we can challenge the transactional nature of our current relationship with data by viewing aggregate data through the lens of self knowledge?

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Methods in Spatial Research
A half semester workshop course on critical GIS for the urban humanities. Spring 2020.

Description

Methods in Spatial Research introduces key concepts required for work with geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial research in the urban humanities.

This is a "making & doing" workshop course and is designed to expand the disciplinary locations in which spatial data analysis takes place.

Through hands-on exercises and weekly assignments participants will develop basic fluency with open-source mapping software, QGIS, methods of data collection and creation, and approaches and concepts in critical spatial analysis and map design.

Methods in Spatial Research is a half semester, 1.5 credit course offered at GSAPP by the Center for Spatial Research and is open to students from across the Columbia University. Faculty and doctoral candidates may also apply to participate on a non-credit basis. Enrollment is limited by permission of the instructor. Some students will take this course in conjunction with seminar courses offered in other departments. Faculty interested in pairing their course with Methods in Spatial Research should contact Dare Brawley (dare.brawley at columbia dot edu) prior to the start of the semester.

Structure and Concepts

Modules in the course will include:

The Cartographic View:

  • Basic GIS concepts and techniques applied in QGIS
  • Working with cartographic projections

Making Spatial Datasets

  • Making spatial datasets through observation and sensing
  • Making spatial datasets through archival research

Making Public Work

  • Cartographic design principals
  • Producing public work through interactive maps on the web
Learning Objectives

After completing the course participants will:

  • Develop robust familiarity with QGIS and its functions
  • Gain fluency with foundational GIS concepts (including how the GIS data model abstracts geographic phenomena)
  • Understand GIS spatial data types and the kinds of analysis that are possible with each
  • Create new spatial datasets from field observation and participatory sensing
  • Create new spatial datasets from archival sources
  • Transform archival sources into spatial datasets
  • Develop basic familiarity with html, css, and javascript and be able to make a public web-based map
  • Acquire fluency with visual design concepts central to cartographic representations
Spring 2020

ARCH A4407 - 1.5 Credits

Friday 9-11am, Studio @ Butler

Carsten Rodin, Adjunct Assistant Professor, GSAPP

Open to students within GSAS, GSAPP, Barnard and Columbia Colleges, and others by permission

Spring 2020 syllabus and online tutorials

 

 
Apply for Spring 2019 Student Positions

The Center for Spatial Research is seeking student assistants for the Spring and Summer 2019 terms.

We are seeking candidates to assist with several ongoing projects related to the current research theme, “Conflict Urbanism.”

Spring semester positions are a maximum of 10 hours per week, and summer term positions are a maximum of 20 hours per week. All positions will be compensated according to University standards. Current and continuing Columbia University students are eligible to apply.

Specific projects and possible roles are outlined below.

Please send a letter of interest that indicates which project you hope to work on, CV, and relevant work examples to info@c4sr.columbia.edu with the subject ‘Spring 2019 Student Assistant Application.’

 

For an upcoming project related to the concept of Homophily, the Center is seeking 1-2 students to assist in the development of visualizations, exhibition, and publications that draw from archival materials as well as current datasets.

Students working on this project will be asked to perform one or more of the following:

  • Mining archives, learning about, and reporting on historical research
  • Tracing the proliferation of homophily in academic and popular literature from a concept used in urban sociology to a pervasive term underlying network and computer science using web of science data
  • Cleaning and analyzing public datasets related to predictive algorithms used in policing
  • Producing in progress/preliminary maps, visualizations, and other visual assets

In your letter of interest please indicate what parts of this project you would like to work on, and the relevant skills and experiences you have.

 

For an upcoming project related to personal uses for census data, the Center is seeking 1-2 students to assist in the research and development of a series of interactive visualizations as well as a mobile application. Students will be asked to do one or more of the following:

  • Acquire, clean, and prepare public demographic data
  • Perform basic analytics
  • Plan and develop a mobile application
  • Experiment with different visualizations and participate in a iterative design process to develop new public data interfaces.

In your letter of interest please indicate what parts of this project you would like to work on, and the relevant skills and experiences you have.

 

For an upcoming project related to sensor networks and decentralized protocols, the Center is seeking 1-2 students to assist with research and/or programming. Students working on this project will be asked to perform one or more of the following:

  • Survey current tools, technologies, and formats used in epidemiology, sociology, agriculture, ecology, and climate science for sensor-based data collection (mobile phone included)
  • Research emerging decentralized protocols (such as DAT and IPFS)
  • Develop software for mobile devices using Javascript, C++, and Swift
  • Develop server-side software in Javascript/Node and Python

In your letter of interest please indicate what parts of this project you would like to work on, and the relevant skills and experiences you have.

 

The Center is seeking one student to assist with several projects related to publication and dissemination of CSR research work. This role will include assisting with tasks related to the production of a forthcoming book edited by CSR as directing ongoing digital publication projects and social media. The student will be asked to:

  • Correspond with authors
  • Assist in compiling edited material
  • Collect visual materials from CSR researchers for publication on social media
  • Design monthly newsletter
  • Maintain website content

In your letter of interest please indicate the skills and experiences you have that are relevant to this role.

 
Mapping for Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities
This hybrid theory/practice course provides an introduction to critical mapping discourse and geographic information systems tools. Spring 2020.

Description

What role does cartography play in our relationship to space? How does technology make sense of places to which we have never been? Through what material practices are data produced, and how are they located? As a result, what cultural attitudes inhabit our maps, how do they (re)produce our environment, and how can they be contested?

This hybrid theory/practice course provides an introduction to critical mapping discourse and geographic information systems tools. Of particular interest to humanities students, it examines both historical and contemporary questions with reference to the technology of mapping. Additionally, through the use of open-source GIS software (QGIS), browser-based technologies (Mapbox, Mongo DB), and open data (OpenStreetMap), students will learn how to critically use mapping tools and geographic data for spatial analysis and representation. Each class has two parts as a result: in the first half of each meeting we will discuss weekly readings, while the second half serves as a flipped-classroom to address technical and conceptual issues arising from take-home GIS tutorials. The final weeks of the semester will be devoted to developing students' own critical cartographic research.

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • critically read a map
  • investigate the cultural attitudes and technologies behind cartographic practices
  • use QGIS to analyze and present geographic information
  • build location aware dynamic maps for mobile devices
  • make intentional design decisions when creating maps
Spring 2020 Registration

Fridays 9 -11am 

Ware Lounge, Avery Hall

 
3 points

Call number: 14051

Open to students within GSAS, GSAPP, Barnard and Columbia Colleges, and others by permission.

 
Mapping Historical New York City
A collaboration to map immigration and neighborhood change in New York City during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
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Mapping Historical New York, through web-based, interactive maps, reconstructs the demographic and structural shifts of Manhattan and Brooklyn between 1850 and 1920. During this period, the city grew and diversified through the arrival of large groups of immigrants. Furthermore, the city boundaries expanded in the late 1890s to include a major section of Long Island specifically Brooklyn and Queens.

Through a three year collaboration between the Center for Spatial Research and the Department of History, Historical New York City uses historical GIS and spatial history to develop new understanding of the magnitude of the changes that took place across this time.

The project team is digitizing maps of Manhattan and Brooklyn and integrating individual-level records from historical US Censuses to build a comprehensive web-based resource for researchers and students interested in New York City’s history. In addition to producing maps and analysis for the city as a whole, the project plans to develop detailed case studies designed to deepen engagement with the digitized historical maps and demographic datasets at the neighborhood level. The resulting maps, tools, and information will be accessible to the public.

In addition to the public-facing, interactive webmap, the project aims to train faculty and students in digital research and teaching methods. Courses on historical New York, immigration, urban history, and spatial history, offered in conjunction with project responsibilities, promote faculty and student involvement in the project’s design, development, and production.

Funding for this project is provided by the Robert D. L. Gardiner Foundation.

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We Can
A data driven multimedia project that reveals the way canners - people who pick up cans and bottles on the street - experience the city
 

Who are the canners? How do they experience the city? How much can they make, 5 cents at a time?

Over the past eight months, journalist Francesca Berardi followed a group of canners in their daily activity, collecting qualitative and quantitative information about their work. They come in the form of handwritten notes, sketches, audio interviews, photos and videos taken with an iPhone, which was the only technological tool used on the field. We are now working together to build a multimedia interactive digital platform that challenges the preconceived notion of canners as desperate, homeless, junkies while inviting the users to explore NYC through their eyes.

Through audio vignettes, drawings, mapping and data visualizations, we are telling the stories of a Mexican couple who make more than $50,000 a year collecting garbage, of a young queer who picks up cans and bottles to help his grandma and performs on Broadways shows, of a man who lost his apartment in the 2008 mortgage crisis and that says that canning saved him from depression. 

The funding for this project has been provided through a Magic Grant from the Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation.

Project Team
Name Project Role
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Conflict Urbanism: Urban Language Ecologies
A series of projects that explore the role that language plays in shaping urban space.
 

Conflict Urbanism: Language Ecologies explores the role that language plays in shaping urban space. This project grew out of the Spring 2017 seminar, Conflict Urbanism: Language Justice.

Language interacts with its environment at multiple scales and with diverse media. As an ecology, language either dominates, or is vulnerable to its host environments. In this way it often makes conflict visible in urban settings.  

Language works in extraordinary ways – multilingualism can divide a local community and simultaneously connect a global community. Language also works in the most ordinary ways – it mediates nearly every human interaction, from fulfilling the most basic needs to communicating the most abstract ideas.

We have collaborated with the Endangered Language Alliance to build a map which visualizes the incredible diversity of languages spoken in New York City focusing on the most vulnerable languages. We have also worked on a series of case studies about language in New York City. Our research shows that typical maps represent monolingualism very well, drawing boundaries around ethnolinguistic groups; but language ecology, especially in urban areas, is one of both community as well as individual multilingualism. Each case study seeks to address this by taking innovative and sometimes radical approaches to represent the diversity of languages spoken in New York City. Though the projects focus on New York, the methods of visualization and inquiry extend easily to other multilingual, multinational spaces.

Beyond the Census: Languages of Queens map.

Project Team
Name Project Role
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Mapping for Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities 
This course provides an introduction to critical mapping theory and geographic information systems tools.

Description Fall 2017

We are in the midst of a technological revolution, resulting in seemingly endless amounts of data and the computing technologies to analyze it. From motion sensing to location tracking to GIS, much of this data is spatial, resulting in the ability to represent and understand the world and our relationship to in in new and previously impossibly ways. In response, our relationship to the spaces we inhabit and those that we don't has shifted: we are challenged to make sense of spaces we have never visited, and deeply analyze those that we frequent.

This course provides an introduction to critical mapping theory and geographic information systems tools. Of particular interest to Humanities students, we will address both historical and contemporary questions of space and mapping. Through the use of open-source GIS software (qGIS) and open data (OpenStreetMap) students will learn how to critically use mapping tools and geographic data for spatial analysis and representation. In addition to using existing data, students will also be able to create or bring their own sets of data and questions from other courses and will be able to work with these in our class.

Using a hybrid flipped-classroom/seminar approach, students will work through web tutorials and hands-on in-class exercises to gain a better understanding of how these tools and data can be leveraged to analyze, represent and study past or present urban phenomena.


 
Conflict Urbanism: InfraPolitics
This seminar focuses on infrastructure as a major force in shaping cities, as well as a medium through which the politics of urbanization is visible. 

Description

This seminar focuses on infrastructure as a major force in shaping cities, as well as a medium through which the politics of urbanization is visible. Our work will address historical comparison and the politics of mapping by focusing on three cities and three continents – Mumbai, Johannesburg and Medellin.

The cities have been chosen because they offer important ways to think about how infrastructure organizes social life, and its ongoing political effects. By exploring different histories of how space is governed, segregated, or utilized as a key economic resource, we want seminar participants to think about the significance of space and spatial regulation in structuring social relations.

Our work will be organized around a set of keywords: informality (Mumbai), apartheid (Johannesburg), and populism (Medellin) -- that are entry points for thinking about the infrastructure of inequality. Each of the case studies uses a critical event as a point of entry for asking how land, capital, government, and the social relations of daily life structure, and are in turn structured by spatial order.

Visualizing and mapping thus form key techniques for linking urban history with contemporary urbanism, and for thinking about the materiality of spatial politics.

Note: This is the third in a series of multidisciplinary Mellon seminars on the topic of Conflict Urbanism, as part of a multi-university initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities.    

This year Conflict Urbanism is being offered in the Fall, and not in the Spring semester.


 
Project
Conflict Urbanism, Aleppo: Mapping Urban Damage
person role
Author(s): 
Laura Kurgan
Publication date: 
Sunday, January 1, 2017
Publication name, page number: 
AD / Architectural Design
Description (optional): 
One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on the planet, Aleppo now lies in tatters. This devastation of a designated World Heritage Site is a poignant example of the human and cultural cost of armed conflict – in this case the Syrian Civil War. The Center for Spatial Research has analyzed satellite imagery and reports from the ground to assess the damage in Aleppo. In this article, Laura Kurgan discusses the initiative and its sometimes puzzling findings.
Initiative: 
Intro text (homepage): 
In this article for Architectural Design, Laura Kurgan discusses the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo project and its sometimes puzzling findings. One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on the planet, Aleppo now lies in tatters. This devastation of a designated World Heritage Site is a poignant example of the human and cultural cost of armed conflict – in this case the Syrian Civil War. The Center for Spatial Research has analyzed satellite imagery and reports from the ground to assess the damage in Aleppo.
Lead image: 
Author C4SR: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Kurgan
Publication short title (carousel): 
Conflict Urbanism, Aleppo: Mapping Urban Damage
Is Website?: 
no
dashboard_sort_date: 
Sunday, January 1, 2017
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