Saturday, 21 September 2013

Review: Designing for the situated and public visualisation of urban data

Journal of Urban Technology, Volume 19, Issue 2, 2012
Designing for the situated and public visualisation of urban data
by Andrew Vande Moere & Dan Hill

THE authors point out recent urban data visualisation still remains on the stage of simply providing statistical data, and it is ineffective to make better understanding about the interaction of the massive and complex urban data. They argue public policy should be changed to open more public data, which are including local characteristics, to raise public awareness and encourage actionable public participation.

Through five main parts; theoretical part (data and public visualisation) – Recent projects – Student projects – characteristics of urban visualisation – conclusion, this article draws the question and tries to answer against how we can visualise the complex and continuously changing condition of cities, where have different problems by particular factors in different parts within a city, and how we can expect the unpredictable condition in the information age.

The authors premise that the character of place has been formulated by economic and cultural patterns based on the rock of physical and geographical aspects, and these patterns adversely facilitate the physical change.  In the past, the production of the place represented the specific character of the place, and it had coupled with the regional change. However, since cities have transformed their industry from material based to knowledge based, they have been showing the movement of hominization. This paper argues that the character of the city in this era can be revealed by the data, which are endlessly producing in the city, and we can find the difference between cities by the analysis of the data.  Therefore, the urban data is not an indicator of urban activities but also the driving force leading qualitative changing of the urban environment.

Particularly, previous data unilaterally delivered statistical data of urban areas, but recent the urban data stimulate active participation of citizen by well-developed mobile devices and illustrate what feedbacks are creating by the citizen. And the authors emphasize the following elements are essential to visualise the urban data.  
1) Situated : contextual, local, social
2) Informative: feedback, insightful, consistent
3) Functional: medium, participate, opportunistic, aesthetic, trustworthy, persuasive

Despite a lot of attractive contents, the most impressive point in the article is the well-organised logical flow of what they use; Neo-industrial city (production of data) - open data (role of public data) - social visualisation (impact of data) – urban computing (technological integration) - urban scene (combination of data & urban environment), to explain the meaning of data in this period, its social role and the combination with the physical environment. When we consider the vague use and weak logical connection of the concepts surrounding the data and urban areas, it is a profound approach. This article reminds us to make a coherent structure and clear correlation is an critical issue to set up the base of opinion and to insist it by writing.

To cite this article: Andrew Vande Moere & Dan Hill (2012) Designing for the Situated and Public Visualization of Urban Data, Journal of Urban Technology, 19:2, 25-46

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The World Protests by GDELT


Image 1. All GDELT protest data for 2013. The image was captured from GDELT's work. (See below)

Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT) is a remarkable organisation to provide, freely, the data of all human behaviours, particularly protest, over the world since 1979. They are trying to make "real-time social sciences earth observatory" by updating the data every day. It is running by three researchers, Kalev Leetaru, Philip Schrodt and Patrick Brandt. 
If you visit their website and their blog, you would be surprised by their enormous data set as well as effective and nice visualisation. For example, recent GDELT’s work is showing protest movement in 2013. (Image 1) This interactive map illustrates how many protests have been raising in the world a year including Egypt, Brazil and Turkey, and we can recognise that the flame of protests are covering the world even though the data would not report all hidden protests.
Image 2. Syria's civil war. The image was captured from GDELT's work. (See below) 
Another map describes the terrific condition of Syria’s civil war in detail. (Image 2) Visualising the location, the number of violence per day and the period of the civil war together warns us how the situation is significant much more than just some sentences and images of broadcasting news. It was issued on The Guardian.  
However, the most important thing is their continuous effort to collect the data, sort it out and provide the valuable data for further research. Opening the data might not be an easy decision and it would be a extremely time-consuming work.
After visiting the website of GDELT, Networking City understood the importance of open data, its impacts and the power of visualisation, and promised to work hard and being more opened.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Going to Cambridge for Cinematic Urban Geographies Conference

Image1. The poster of Cinematic Urban Geographies Conference.
LAST month, Networking City submitted an application for the conference: Cinematic Urban Geographies which is organised by CRASSH, University of Cambridge. The conference tries to understand urban characteristics through cinema. The proposal ‘The Introduction of Architecture: Drawing our route on the map’ was accepted and originally scheduled in a session on ‘cinematic cityscapes within social& cultural practices’. But it was recently relocated in the session of ‘'film as sites as memories'. 

During the presentation, Networking City will be introducing that we can redefine our ordinary life and spatial intimacy by mapping our daily route on the map, and it can imply various social aspects. The abstract is following.  

Image2. The image was captured in the movie of 'The Introduction of Architecture'

The Introduction of Architecture: Drawing our route on the map

It does not require much effort to rediscover our city in the ordinary, everyday city of others. When we draw our daily route on a map, every space I walk in the city re-emerges with spatial organisations, street scenes, movements and sounds. Through the act of mapping, hidden experiences and activities in the city become a small part of the city and accumulate as a social and cultural layers within it. 

The plot of ‘The Introduction of Architecture’, released in 2012, shows a love story between young university students who meet in a class called ‘Introduction of Architecture’. In the movie, a lecturer asks students to draw their commuting routes – from their homes to the university, which is located in the old centre of Seoul – on a map. When the hero marks his route, he finds his way already underlined by the heroine.

The following are some themes that the movie reveals to us: first of all, through a simple action like drawing a line on the map, we can redefine our ordinary life and spatial intimacy. The line illustrates not only the sense of the same social backgrounds, but also the possibility of collective memory with others. Secondly, the movie hints at the growing regional inequality within Seoul by the admiration of the hero, who lives in the old city centre – which is relatively underdeveloped – contrasting it with the wealth and upper-class lifestyle of the southern part of Seoul that people call Gangnam.