The Spatial Information Design Lab is now the Center for Spatial Research at Columbia University. Visit our new site at c4sr.columbia.edu to find out about current projects and upcoming events. This site is an archive of work completed up to 2014.

GIS

Close Up at a Distance, Mapping Technology Politics

Close Up at a Distance, Mapping Technology Politics
Author(s): Laura Kurgan
Published on: April 23, 2013
The past two decades have seen revolutionary shifts in our ability to navigate, inhabit, and define the spatial realm. The data flows that condition much of our lives now regularly include Global Positioning System (GPS) readings and satellite images of a quality once reserved for a few militaries and intelligence agencies, and powerful geographic information system (GIS) software is now commonplace. These new technologies have raised fundamental questions about the intersection between physical space and its representation, virtual space and its realization. In Close Up at a Distance, Laura Kurgan offers a theoretical account of these new digital technologies of location and a series of practical experiments in making maps and images with spatial data. Neither simply useful tools nor objects of wonder or anxiety, the technologies of GPS, GIS, and satellite imagery become, in this book, the subject and the medium of a critical exploration. Close Up at a Distance records situations of intense conflict and struggle, on the one hand, and fundamental transformations in our ways of seeing and of experiencing space, on the other. Kurgan maps and theorizes mass graves, incarceration patterns, disappearing forests, and currency flows in a series of cases that range from Kuwait (1991) to Kosovo (1999), New York (2001) to Indonesia (2010). Using digital spatial hardware and software designed for military and governmental use in reconnaissance, secrecy, monitoring, ballistics, the census, and national security, Kurgan engages and confronts the politics and complexities of these technologies and their uses. At the intersection of art, architecture, activism, and geography, she uncovers, in her essays and projects, the opacities inherent in the recording of information and data and reimagines the spaces they have opened up.
Keywords:
Mapping
Urbanism
Memory
Satellites
GPS
GIS
Remote Sensing

New York City Department of Sanitation: 311 Complaint Spatial Analysis Assessment

New York City Department of Sanitation: 311 Complaint Spatial Analysis Assessment
Author(s): Sarah Williams, Nick Klein
Published on: November 1, 2007
New York City rolled out it’s 311 call system in 2003 and according to its web site it “is New York City’s phone number for government information and non-emergency services.” That means if New York citizens have a complaint, instead of calling 911 – they call 311. Calls requiring service are logged by location and time. People call about everything from dead birds and potholes to juvenile loitering and noise control. The 311 system has increased citizen knowledge about the ability to complain about municipal services, and therefore, has raised the numbers of complaints logged into their systems. This increase in data has captured the attention of municipal managers through-out the city. Among the complaints that are logged, New Yorkers use the 311 call system to report missed trash collection to New York City’s Department of Sanitation (DSNY). Incorporation in the 311 program provides DSNY with the ability to create new statistical analysis techniques on their complaint data. Like all 311 calls, complaints are logged, and the department of interest inspects them for service and review. In the case of missed trash collection New York City’s Department of Sanitation (DSNY) reviews the complaints. Sanitation has always had a system for reviewing complaints, however, their incorporation into the 311 system has offered them a new opportunity to analyze their information spatially. This is because the data now comes with verifiable geographic location information in the form of X and Y coordinates. DSNY also benefits from 311’s advertising campaign because it has widened the amount of people who are aware that they can call 311 about trash collection. The combination of the geographic location information and the new 311 system has caused DSNY to review how they evaluate their complaint data. It has also created a heightened awareness about using the data to look at the spatial relationship between high complaint areas and socio-demographic This study looks at the spatial patterns of DSNY missed pick-up complaints. It also analyzes whether there is a relationship between spatially clustered complaints and neighborhoods with low density housing, people living in poverty, and minority status.
Keywords:
311
new york city
spatial analysis
GIS