Category Archives: Christopher Marlow

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?

Secondary Tech Research


Monolitt was created by Syver Lauritzsen and Eirik Haugen Murvoll in Oslo. It is a small obelisk that is intended to portray the mood of a city through color. The structure is filled with different colors of paint, each corresponding to a different mood. It runs on a software that spots keywords on twitter and portrays them by releasing paint from the top of the obelisk. The result is a colorful way of determining the mood of an area via social media.


Reading Response

Peter Hall presents the value of visualization in three different ways: as technology, science and art. What was interesting to me was when he was talking about the science aspect of visualization. He writes about how difficult it can be to explain data across cultural boundaries. For instance, using red in America to symbolize a negative aspect while in Asia, red may symbolize good luck. It was also interesting how in the scientific approach, design is neglected and viewed as “too subjective”, but he then goes on to explain how important it becomes the more complex a dataset.

Quoting Colin Ware, Hall writes, “The data explosion has brought about an aestheticizing of information, to the point that it has become difficult to sort function from creative expression.” I find this statement to be too true, especially in the present day. Too often do I find myself viewing info graphics or other forms of data visualization and wondering what it is that I am actually being told. I think it is important, as a designer, to think about every aspect when visualizing data to ensure the viewer is able to comprehend the information that is given.

The CNN Ecosphere was a digital tool that visualized tweets from the Rio+20 UN conference in Brazil. The tool gathered tweets with the hashtag #RIO20 and compiled them to form a digital tree.

CNN Ecosphere


Secondary Research


Privacy Or Profit? These Firms Want To Help You Sell Your Data

Thesis: New companies are allowing consumers to sell their personal information and data.

Data: Currently, there is very little legislation that calls for transparency or accountability on how data is collected and used by companies.




Militarization of Police

Senators Criticize Growing Militarization of Local Police Departments

Thesis: Democrats and Republicans question federal programs giving military-style gear to local law enforcement, raising concerns of a over-armed police force.

Data: A one man police force in Michigan has received 13 assault rifles and the Pentagon has distributed over 14,000 bayonets to agencies across the country.

Military Surplus Map



Militarization of Police

Thesis: Military equipment is being turned over to local police forces all over Illinois.

Data: Cook County leads the state in military weapons acquisitions, with 1,336 weapons and 1,700 pieces of equipment in law enforcement possession.

Thesis: Local Law Enforcement agencies are being trusted less and less by communities due to an increase in military like behavior

Data: More than 80% of small town law enforcement agencies have SWAT teams; 90% in larger areas.



Thesis: Chicago’s traffic cameras are beginning to be used for more than traffic regulation, instead monitoring the day to day activity of civilians.

Data: Chicago leads the country in red-light camera operation, generating $500 million in the past 10 years.

Thesis: Law enforcement are using drones to investigate crime scenes, crash sites, situations… This raises concerns with public privacy in the future.

Data: The FAA is currently working on regulations for the use of drones in police matters and how the collection of data is used and stored.