GIS Government News Weekly: Screen Reader Friendly Maps, Sensors in Chicago, ROI in Ohio
Lynn Biggs, supervisor of the county’s Geographic Information Systems, said the department began working in November on an online map that allowed residents — including those with visual impairments — to access a list of transportation and park projects within a five-mile radius of a given address.
The work was done in-house and might have cost some $30,000 if done by a contractor. There are no details of exactly what the coders did to make the maps accessible to screen readers.
Tipping NYC Citizens Off to Developers' Plans
The Municipal Art Society of New York has developed a new tool that shows where development could bring the most change across the city's five boroughs. This resource is a continuation of the group's "Accidental Skyline" initiative, an effort to curb the "as-of-right" development (which allows developers to bypass some regulatory hurdles) that has resulted in some of New York's tallest and skinniest new skyscrapers. [image at right]
Sensors Track Chicago Environment, People
Starting in July, people walking along Michigan Avenue will begin to notice some new decorative sculptures on the lamp posts. These artistic flares are not just aesthetically pleasing. They will also be helping architects, scientists and city planners make Chicago better. The curved pieces of metal are covering up a sophisticated system of sensors that will be collecting data on the area’s air quality, light intensity, sound volume, heat precipitation and wind. The project, dubbed the “Array of Things,” has researchers excited about collecting data that will make Chicago safer, cleaner and more efficient.
That's not so bad; there's no people data, right?
They will also be tracking foot traffic by reading the signals from people’s mobile devices. According to the Chicago’s city commissioner on information and technology, no personal data will be collected. The lead computer scientist on the project, which is a collaboration between scientists, academics and the city, says that they are not collecting data that can identify people. “There are no cameras or recording devices,” Charlie Catlett told the Chicago Tribune. “Sensors will be collecting sound levels but not recording actual sound. The only imaging will be infrared, rather than video,” he said.
Boston's Solar Powered Benches are Sensors
The benches are a boon to park visitors because they can be used to charge cell phones.
The high-tech benches were invented by MIT Media Lab spinoff Changing Environments, a Verizon Innovation Program.
The benches also connect wirelessly, using Verizon’s network, to the Internet to upload location-based environmental information, such as air quality and noise-level data. City officials said the first units in Boston will be funded by Cisco Systems, a leader in development of smart city solutions, at no cost to the city.
Big ROI on Mobile Road Evaluation App
Every year Marysville, OH sends someone into the field to evaluate the state of its roads.
The tracking-and-rating system was designed by Mike Andrako, Marysville's public service director, when he was deputy service director for Gahanna. The system, which uses GPS and GIS technologies, cut a job that once took Gahanna more than a month down to 20 hours.
And the idea is spreading across Ohio.