Let’s do this.
Radar: Drawing Machine
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?
A New Concept for Shape-Shifting Architecture That Responds to Heat
A project from three students at Barcelona’s Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalunya continues that exploration by looking at how physical spaces could someday morph based on various environmental inputs. The project, Translated Geometries, tackles the idea by developing a new use for Shape Memory Polymers, a composite material that can deform and return to its original state when activated by cues like heat, humidity and light. In its proposal, the team (Ece Tankal, Efilena Baseta and Ramin Shambayati) created a modular component that expands and contracts based on temperature. The idea is that by attaching a SMP joint to a tessellation of material (in this case plywood), you can expand that component’s surface area to four times its original footprint.
Six years later and Peter Hall’s insights on the topic of data visualization still holds relevance as data and information continue to explode in every platform around us. In his article, Critical Visualization, Hall outlines three different approaches of information graphics. The first being technological, which looks at effectiveness, the second approach is scientific, where he discusses reducing complexity, and the third view is art, which looks at aesthetics and style.
The technological, as Hall states, is an approach that places a great deal of emphasis on technique, integrity and efficiency. Hall then goes on to say that effectiveness is an unreliable test of visualization because it can become a vivid artifact. For the scientific approach, Hall says storytelling becomes the most important aspect because the data is usually very complex and sometimes constantly changing so it is necessary for research teams ask themselves what they want to show and how. One thing Hall notes about the scientific approach is that the quality of visual design is generally neglected because of the perception that making things attractive is too subjective. The art of visualization, the last approach that Hall discusses, is a creative process concerned with not only the finished product, but also the framing, gathering, connecting, and arraying of data. Hall deems this approach a critical practice.
Although there are different approaches to data visualization and representation, the common thread between them is their ability to tell a narrative. What interests Hall (and myself) is what kind of narrative is being told with the data. The way I understood this was to think about one data set and the different possible ways that data set could be represented. The story could be told in numerous ways, which I think is something that is both exciting because of the potential variations of visualizations, and frightening because of the issue of objectiveness in regards to data visualization. Can something ever really be represented objectively? Will we always be questioning and doubting the authenticity of data? Hall urges us in the last lines of the article to “always make maps; always question maps.” One question that remains in my mind is this: How do we, as designers and makers, attempt to represent data without our own bias view attached? Is that even possible or is it necessary for the narrative of the data?
One related project I found is called Charting Culture, developed by Mauro Martino, research manager of the Cognitive Visualization Lab in IBM’s Watson Group Charting Culture shows the geographical movements of over 120,000 individuals who were notable enough in their life-times that the dates and locations of their births and deaths were recorded.
Topic 1: Security / Police
Article 1— School Starts in Chicago With More Security Guards
Thesis: With additional money from the state, Chicago Public Schools are increasing their security and hiring more “Safe Passage” workers.
Data: An infusion of city money has allowed Chicago to increase their number of safe passage workers from 1,200 to 1,300. An additional $10 million from the state will mean 600 more workers will be lining the streets within the next several weeks.
Article 2— CPS to Pay Police $13 Million a year for High School Security
Thesis: An agreement introduced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel would mean an increase in compensation to the Chicago Police Department for annual High School Security.
Data: From 2009-2011, CPS paid the police department $8 million annually to station two police offices at every high school for the eight-hour school day. That broke down to roughly $80,000 per school.
Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley called it a “sweet deal” that did not reflect the actual cost of police services and supervision that, for years, approached $25 million or roughly $250,000 per high school.
Shortly after taking office, Emanuel stripped teachers of a previously negotiated, 4 percent pay raise and used the $80 million in savings to pay the Chicago Police Department retroactively, going back to 2009.
Article 3— 911 Texting Service Rolling out Slowly
Thesis: 911 texting services are now being offered in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago which may allow citizens to reach police in emergencies more easily and without potential offenders noticing.
Data: Most of the country does not yet have the capability for 911 texting, with just 128 dispatch centers in 18 states running the service so far.
Visualizing the Past Changes in the US Homeland Security Advisory System http://redorangeyellowblueandgreen.com
Topic 2: Chicago Public Housing
Article 1— The Redevelopment Plan for Cabrini-Green
Thesis: Throughout the 90′s the Chicago Housing Authority received numerous federal grants to revamp its plan for public housing, and after years of demolition, the high rises were completely wiped out in 2011. In recent years, new shopping centers and high end homes and condos have sprung up in the area surrounding the , but the city wants to begin construction on new developments to the fallow land starting next year.
Data: The proposed housing project would contain an estimated 2,400 to 2,800 units, and former Cabrini-Green residents would get first dibs on a percentage of these units – although the percentage is not clear.
Article 2— Poor families use ‘supervouchers’ to rent in city’s priciest buildings
Thesis: Using Federal tax dollars, the Chicago Housing Authority has made it possible for four voucher holders to move into a high-rise on Lake Shore Drive. The tenants moved in over the past two years as part of a push by the CHA to expand its housing voucher program so that more low-income residents can leave the city’s roughest neighborhoods and start a new life in places with low poverty and crime and close to good schools and jobs.
Data: Yet some landlords say it’s a mistake to use scarce tax dollars to pay ultra-high rents for a fortunate few when more than 15,000 people sit on the CHA’s voucher waiting list.
The CHA says in a statement that the “exception payments” for high-cost apartments cover less than 2 percent of the authority’s roughly 38,000 outstanding vouchers. The higher payments—known as supervouchers—are necessary to help low-income residents move into better neighborhoods, which have few affordable housing options, the authority says.
Article 3— Transforming Chicago’s Public Housing
Thesis: Due to the financial crisis, the Chicago Housing Authority has fallen behind on their goals and is still having difficulties trying to find the money needed for large, complicated redevelopments. In April, 2013, officials announced “Plan Forward: Communities That Work,” a plan to acquire homes in neighborhoods across the city for rehab to help finish the remaining housing in the CHA’s original plan. The new plan would also boost economic activity around CHA sites and provide job training and educational opportunities for voucher holders.
Data: Chicago’s plan to transform the city’s entire portfolio of public housing is still unfinished after 13 years, more than $1 billion in investment, and the displacement of tens of thousands of public housing residents
Tiny Fabricated Portable Homes in San Francisco
1. Who do you believe benefits the most from open data? Did you ever notice the open data to be used in an unexpected way. If so, how was it used?
2. How do you go about collecting data and how do you know it is accurate? Where do you begin and what is your process of collecting the data?