Thursday, April 20, 2017

Example of How Maps Can Be Used

Chicago SunTimes, 1994
This 1994 Chicago SunTimes illustrates how I was trying to use GIS maps to fill high poverty inner city neighborhoods with mentor-rich, non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs.

I was introduced to GIS mapping in early 1993 by a volunteer from IBM who was working on a project with the city of Chicago. I attended presentations where the maps were projected on a large screen, and were interactive, meaning the people leading the conversation could build greater understanding of what the map was showing than you could get just looking at a map in a book. In the last decade there have been a few TV police shows using maps this way.

Last night I toured the Electronic Data Visualization lab at  UIC. We met in a classroom where one entire wall was made up of computer screen panels. You could project a single image to fill the entire wall, or you could have mutiple screens open at the same time. Then I experienced the 3-D CAVE where you could walk "inside" a map or a diagram, along with many others, to get a better understanding of what was being discussed.

I've never had the money to apply any of this to my own efforts. So when I see stuff like this, I feel like a "kid in a candy store". I drool with envy.

Well, I just had another similar experience.  The image below is from an ESRI story map, showing food insecurity (hunger) in the Washington, DC area.  I hope you'll open the map and read through the analysis. As you do, imagine the thinking and collaboration implied in this process.

Here's one PDF showing how I have been trying to use maps.  Here's another.  Read articles on this blog, and the Tutor/Mentor Blog and you'll see many more. Then imagine being able to put this into story maps like the DC folks have done, and to be able to bring people into a technology center like at Microsoft or UIC and lead a conversation, using the maps, focused on generating the public will and resource flow needed to support the growth and on-going operations of mentor-rich non-school, youth-serving programs which are expanding the network of adults helping kids go from first grade through high school and into adult lives with a job and a career free of poverty.

In the image I'm showing above, the red and yellow dots are partners who help distribute food to those who need it in the DC area.  What I don't see on the story map is a discussion of funding. Not the funding of the Capital Area Food Bank, and this mapping project, but the funding of all of the organizations who need to be involved in this food distribution network.  How are all of these organizations supported? Do they each have the money, talent, technology and resources needed to do this work as well as it needs to be done.  Are there other potential food distribution and education partners, such as non-school programs, which could be another layer of information. Who are the businesses, faith groups, colleges and hospitals who could be involved, or who are already involved?

Those are additional layers of information, conversation and analysis that could go into what is already a fantastic use of GIS technology and data visualization.

In the 1990s I met with folks at the Chicago Food Depository and we talked of their use of maps and my goal for using maps, however, this never led to any of the types of collaboration that might have happened if I had been able to bring more resources, or civic leadership, to the table with me.

It's not too late. The newspapers keep reminding us that we need better strategies to reach youth with alternatives to gangs and violence.

If you can imagine this, can you help me build a team of people, and find the money, to build such a capacity and use it in Chicago and other cities?

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