Monthly Archives: September 2014

Secondary Synthesis

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Chicago has been attempting to reform it’s education system in the last ten years by relying more on test scores, syllabus standardization and the privatization of schools. This has inevitably left schools with the decreasing scores, increasing debt and less community autonomy over facilities. As a result, Chicago Public Schools have begun focusing more on social factors that may effect a child’s schooling and have realized that the gap between minority and white students is widening from 35% gap in 2001, to a 47% in 2007. For many students, school may be a sanctuary of resources and so the facilities need to be able to develop them culturally. Community involvement in schools overall increases public opinion of the environment, test scores, and behavioral evaluations equally in minority and white students, which is the foundation of a strong community. New initiatives, such as CPS’ Community School Initiatives, and other grassroots programs successfully aim to create schools as a center of community for all ages. Chicagoans should be shown how their direct involvement within schools vastly improves program sustainability and functionality. This will hopefully represent students as more than a test score and innervate citizens to actively participate.


How is the school day partitioned?

What is your personalized perspective of school or initiative’s mission statement?

To what extent is your group able to fulfill its mission and what has been the most successful aspect and biggest fault?

How has your school or initiative developed since its origination?

How long does the school stay open for alternative events after class time and how is the attendance usually?

How do you incentive participation and contribution?

Can you describe some of the social dynamics in your community and your organization’s response?

What means of networking with user do you use?

Bike Safety in Chicago – Research Statement

Danny Tirado, Rob Schulz, Kimi Oyama

“Bike Safety in Chicago”


In the last decade, Chicago has majorly evolved as a bike friendly city . This may correspond to recent improvements in bike lane structures, or the newly implemented bike share program Divvy. Since 2000, the number of bicycle commuters has increased by 150 percent with an estimated 15,000 cyclists daily. However, growth in cycling has not come without challenges and tragedies. There has been an increased concerned about bicycle safety as motorists have been forced to share the road more and more. An average of 1,500 bicycle crashes are reported each year and that number has been rising. While crashes that result in major injuries or fatalities are reported, minor crashes are often not reported or recorded by the cyclist community. Although focused programs and efforts by the city to improve bicycle safety are underway, more can be done to highlight and reduce preventable hazards. By continuing to support and improve bike safety in Chicago, cyclists can be freer to enjoy the healthy, environmentally friendly trend of cycling in Chicago.


Primary Research Questions:

1)   To Law Enforcement: Can traffic camera footage be pulled up to investigate hit and run cycling accidents if a specific time frame and location is given? (What is the standard procedure for investigating hit and run incidents involving cyclists?)

2)   To Cyclists: How many times have you been hit or doored by a vehicle this year? Out of those incidents, how many have you officially reported. How many were serious injuries?

3)   Whom or what is responsible for crash incidents? Motorists? Cyclists? Road conditions? A combination?

4)   What current initiatives or plans are in place to help reduce the number of bike accidents around the city?

5)   What neighborhoods of Chicago or specific intersections have the heaviest rate of bicycle accidents, categorized by fatality or level of injury?

6)   What times of the day are accidents happening the most?


Secondary Research Synthesis: Children’s Health & Nutrition


Rising rates of childhood obesity and a decrease in parents’ ability to properly identify healthy children is likely to drastic effects on the health of future generations. As the disparity in healthy diets between high and low socioeconomic classes has doubled in the past 10 this issue becomes relevant to South Side of Chicago as many of its residents live over ½ mile away from fresh or healthy food sources. According to former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, “we may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents” thus we aim to counter-act this trend by addressing parents and policy-makers who can make the biggest impact on children’s health. Chicagoans have already demonstrated their ability to make nutritious choices when presented with the option by spending more money healthy items rather than “junk food”. IF parents could see the consequences of the food they consume they could help change dietary habits to positively impact their children’s health.


  1. How are parents trying to help their children maintain a balanced diet?
  2. What kind of choices do parents and children have in the food they eat daily?
  3. In what ways can public government and policy help to promote nutrition?

Secondary Research Synthesis – Nicky

Guiding Questions


Threats to water quality and quantity are gaining increasing attention worldwide, as climate change and other major environmental concerns have led to detrimental water shortages in drier areas, such as California and the American southwest, as well as impending shortages in areas of relative abundance, such as the Great Lakes region. Although the Great Lake represent a massive transboundary water system that contains 20% of the world’s fresh water supply, scientists have predicted that major Great Lakes cities like Chicago could face water shortages as early as 2050. For the 26 million people in the United States and Canada who obtain their drinking water from the Great Lakes, the preservation and protection of this precious natural resource is essential for their survival.

However, citizens of the Great Lakes basin are often either unaware of potential threats to their water supply, or immobile in terms of civic action that could protect it. To this point, a notable issue facing the Great Lakes in recent years is the possibility of contamination by oil spills, as associated with existing and proposed refineries, pipelines, and transport routes that operate on and around the lakes. Although citizens of the Great Lakes basin have both the right and the ability to participate in discussions and decisions regarding the operation of oil companies in the Great Lakes region, many citizens remain unaware of the issue or uninvolved in it. While it is possible that the citizens are simply apathetic, it is also possible that they are entirely unaware of the issue or lacking information that would empower them to formulate an opinion upon which to act. If citizens understood the rising significance the Great Lakes as a fresh water resource—as well as the risks it faces by the operations of oil companies, relative the benefits of the oil—perhaps protection and stewardship of the lakes would seem more relevant.


Are people aware of oil spills in the Great Lakes basin? How do they understand and explain the potential threats posed by these spills, if they perceive there to be a threat at all?

How, if at all, do people feel they can participate in the management of their fresh water resources? Do they understand how water in the Great Lakes is governed, and where citizens can become involved?

What do people see as the value of oil operations in the Great Lakes? How do they feel about the benefits or risks of proposed pipelines and transport routes in the Great Lakes area? Do they see these developments in a positive, negative, or ambivalent way?

Secondary Research Synthesis

Secondary Research Guiding Questions

Issue / Problem Statement 

Chicago has seen a recent influx in the installation of surveillance systems with an estimated 24,000 cameras installed as of recent throughout the city, including the CTA, streets and schools. In fact, Chicago has the most red light cameras installed than any other city. Officials explain that the increase is a matter of public safety and used to protect citizens against violent crimes and traffic violations, but statistics show otherwise. In reality, surveillance cameras contribute to less than 1% of arrests. The facts and numbers prove that these surveillance cameras are being used more for revenue than they are actually protecting the citizens of Chicago. Even red light cameras are being used as pure speed traps, setting the speed limit lower than what is actually posted. With a system of overwhelming monitoring capabilities, many Chicagoans are subject to unknown surveillance by the city and they are not aware of it. While those in power reassure the public that the system will not be abused, there is still no legislation that requires any transparency when it comes to the use of these cameras. Chicagoans and their privacy are at risk on a grand scale in a city that has a history of abusive surveillance techniques used against its citizens. If Chicagoans could see the facts and numbers associated with this issue visually represented somehow, then maybe the citizens of Chicago will be more aware of the potential impact of this abuse in their private lives.


1. How are the traffic/crime rates affected in areas where cameras are installed?

2. What areas of Chicago have the most density of surveillance systems? Why is that? Is there some correlation between where these cameras are being installed and the demographics of certain areas in Chicago?

3. In what ways are these surveillance systems being abused and used against us? Has anyone been affected negatively by camera surveillance in ways other than traffic tickets? How are they used to invade our personal privacy instead of protecting us as they are originally intended for?

Techky Research

Realitively cheap drones with advanced senors and imaging capabilities are giving farmers new ways to increase yields and reduce crop damage

source:”Agricultural Drones” MIT Technology Review, 2014 []


thesis: Easy-to-use agricultural drones equipped with cameras, for less than $1000.


data: Drones can provide famers with multiple types of detailed views. Close monitoring of crops could improve water and pest management.

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 4.40.15 PM




source: “Solar Aero’s Bladeless Wind Turbine” written by Phillip Proefrock on 04/05/10 []


thesis: Bladeless turbine offeres several advantages versus blade style turbines. It does not present danger to wildlife or military surveillance.


data: The turbine also should have fewer maintenance requirements, leading to lower lifetime operating costs. Total operating costs over the lifetime of the unit are expected to be about $0.12/kWh. 

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Android Mode w/ Processing 2.2.1 Update

Hello everyone.

I took home a Nexus tablet, which has Android 4.3 on it, and was able to upload a sketch to it, along with my phone, which has 4.4.4 installed. This was suspicious as we were having trouble in class getting both versions to work.

I believe I’m using an Android Mode build on my computer that is older and more stable than the ones we were downloading today. After looking at a bunch of blogs on the subject, on August 22 Ben Fry even admitted that Android Mode is broken right now in Processing:

But, I can get both versions of Android to work with Processing 2.2.1 using this older version of Android Mode.

Download this version of Android Mode that I have on my computer:


Unzip it and you’ll then want to place this folder in your modes directory. That is in your Processing sketch book (probably in your Documents directory): Processing > modes

Just to be safe, rename the old version/folder we are replacing so we can go back to it if we need. Something like _AndroidMode. Then place the new one that I provided in the modes folder.

Restart Processing, and this should work. If it doesn’t work, you may need to install the Android API for 4.3 or 4.4.2 form the Android SDK Manager: Applications > android-sdk-macosx > tools > android. You need to open this using Terminal. Only install the SDK Platform for each API, not the whole package.

This is what I have installed in the Android SDK Manager:

Tools Folder: Android SDK Tools 23.0.2, Android SDK Platform-tools 20, Android SDK Build-tools 20

Android 4.4W (API 20) folder: SDK Platform

Android 2.3.3 (API 10) folder: SDK Platform

I hope this helps :)


Water Visualization

Over the weekend, I saw an interesting water-related data visualization / light installation, so I thought I’d share it with the class, in case anyone is interested.

On Friday night, I went downtown to see a light installation that was operating in the “green alleyway” known as Couch Place. (Apparently, the alley is considered “green” because the pavement is permeable.) The installation was called “FLOW/Im Fluss,” and it was created by a German artist (now living in Chicago) who is affiliated with the Goethe Institut. Here is a description of the project: “Inspired by the element of water and its all-encompassing connectivity, Luftwerk’s FLOW/Im Fluss visualizes the characteristics of the Chicago River and Hamburg’s River Elbe through video compositions projected on water screens.”

From what I could gather, the artist used light to visualize various datasets related to the health of the Elbe River (which flows through Hamburg, Germany). Datasets included measurements of oxygen levels, nitrates, and pollutants such as e coli. Each dataset was represented with a different pattern of light (oxygen levels = circles, e coli levels = chaotic swirls, etc.), which were projected onto the many water droplets that were being sprayed into the alley from above. The artist also created a comparative visualization for the Chicago river, which was projected onto another set of water droplets at the opposite end of the alley.

Viewers were able to look at the visualized chemical structure of the two rivers simultaneously and to see their similarities and differences.

Here is a picture of the light installation in action:


In addition to the visualization, the artist also sonified the data. She correlated each chemical compound to a sound (examples included a trumpet, a radio playing, and various objects in motion). A live musician was playing the artist’s composition while the light installation was active. Here is a picture of the musician:


When I spoke to the artist, she pointed out that she was surprised at how difficult it was to obtain open data regarding traces of chemicals in the Chicago River. She said that data regarding the Elbe River is readily available (open to the public) and is constantly updated, so she was disappointed to discover that Chicago did not have a similar offering. She said the Chicago River data was all historical, from records she collected from a group called “Friends of the Chicago River.”