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Recent blog posts

Sep 3, 2009

And the maps just keep on comin'

The State of California launched our most recent project today, a closer look at the $5.6 billion in Federal Stimulus funds that the State has received so far. There's alot there and I hope you'll go play with it yourself but the main thing I want to say is that you can slice and dice it all kinds of different ways and it's just slick as hell.

And this one is from a little while ago, but I didn't blog it when it came out—a live visualization of activity between computers for LogMeIn, whose recent successful IPO is leading some to speculate that perhaps all is not lost.

Both of these projects were headed up by Sha Hwang (whose bio I'm still waiting for) who's been doing some really great work at Stamen since he started about a year ago.

In local news, there's been a huge sting operation in San Francisco's Tenderloin aimed at reducing crime in one of the city's most troubled neighborhoods, which has apparently reduced things like property crime in the neighborhood dramatically. Since we've got access to the city's crime data for the dates of the sting, it should be interesting over the next few weeks to see how the map changes in response to this effort.

Aug 19, 2009

San Francisco Crimespotting is live

Today we're proud to announce San Francisco Crimespotting, an interactive map of crime in the city that Stamen calls home.

sfcrimespotting

We've timed today's release to coincide with the public launch of DataSF, San Francisco's new clearinghouse for city government data. Crime incident data used in SF Crimespotting comes directly from the city this time, and we're thankful to their team for making this data source one of the first ones available at launch.

We've made some improvements to the UI in the process of adapting the map to San Francisco's geography, specifically:

  • The crime type filters are grayed out when no crimes of that type exist in the selected date range. (You may have noticed that there aren't any Alcohol or Prostitution markers, even in the Mission. That's a bug, and we're working on it.)
  • The weekly labels on the date slider are clickable, so you can more easily select weeks at a time.

Because San Franciso is shaped differently from Oakland, we're investigating ways to reorganize the interface elements so that the entire city is visible in the initial map view.

All in all, though, we're very happy with it and agree that crime has never looked so good.

[Cross-posted from the Crimespotting blog, written by Shawn Allen]

Aug 18, 2009

USAID maps used in Afghanistan election coverage

Stamen partner Mike Migurski wrote a few days ago about his experience running around on desert military bases, teaching the Army how to use Walking Papers in Afghanistan after an earthquake. It looks like that effort is paying off, in the form of maps of the current Afghan elections; this is from the Global Development Commons site:

As the 2009 elections rapidly approach in Afghanistan, a new partnership is on the ground with an innovative tool to monitor and disseminate election related violence and other related trends.

The Global Development Commons at USAID is proud to be partnering with FortiusOne’s GeoCommons, Google, OpenStreetMap, Stamen, Development Seed and many others who are working to map data on election related violence and trends around the Afghanistan 2009 Elections. This map is available in real time to anyone with an internet connection, creating an unprecedented degree of transparency. Check out the map and the data available so far, or upload your own data to build it out even more.

Aug 12, 2009

Lower Manhattan as one big parking lot

Our old pal (and semi-recent collaborator) Mike Frumin has been doing some really interesting work on transportation statistics for the City of New York, and his most recent blog post is no exception. It's about how many extra roads and parking lots you'd need to deploy on and around the island of Manhattan in order to accommodate the number of people that the subway moves every day, if they all wanted to drive:

At best, it would take 167 inbound lanes, or 84 copies of the Queens Midtown Tunnel, to carry what the NYC Subway carries over 22 inbound tracks through 12 tunnels and 2 (partial) bridges. At worst, 200 new copies of 5th Avenue. Somewhere in the middle would be 67 West Side Highways or 76 Brooklyn Bridges. And this neglects the Long Island Railroad, Metro North, NJ Transit, and PATH systems entirely.

Of course, at 325 square feet per parking space, all these cars would need over 3.8 square miles of space to park, about 3 times the size of Central Park. At that point, who would want to go to Manhattan anyway?

Mike thinks it'd look something like this:

where entire sections of town are given up to parking and roads, sort of like Harvey WIley Corbett's designs for lifting cars off of the ground entirely:

and enormous bridges covering the entire surface of the rivers, like Gustav Lindenthal's ""bridge apartment houses," proposed in 1925:

Jun 5, 2009

Can I just say something about the pie of time

I know we mentioned it briefly in our post earlier this week about the design update to the Crimespotting project, but I'm so excited about how the project relates to day vs. night that I want to address it a little more directly:

It's pretty good: you can view crimes by time, turning hours on and off one by one, or using a couple different settings: morning commute, happy hour, police swing shift, etc. So that's good, and better than what we had before (and most of what else I've seen online). But!

I've looked under the hood at how a few police departments look at crime, and from what I can tell, most of them use a pretty straightforward mechanism for looking activity in there area, based on the three shift system: day shift (8am to 4pm), night shift (4pm to midnight), and swing shift (midnight to 8am). Reports will say "crime is up on the night shift this month," things like that. It seems to be institutionalized enough an approach that Mike told me about an urban myth where, since the cops at 4pm are either driving back to or leaving the station, you can commit any crime you want between 3:45 and 4:15 pm and there's nothing they can do about it! (snickers, passes doob)

In any event there doesn't seem to be much out there that takes into account not only the time that a crime has happened, but also how light it was outside. It feels intuitively correct that more crime happens when it's dark, and we didn't really have a way to figure this out on an ongoing basis, until now. Each of the images above is from a different month in 2008, and you can see that the amount of time that it's dark and light changes over the year. And selecting "day" or "night" in the interface will do something different in May than it does in December, since there's more light in May. And this potentially has an impact on how you view crime over time, at least I think it does.

I'm imagining a Gladwellian situation where, in a stroke of brilliant intuitive analysis, standard crime thinking is upended, as a bright splash of crime emerges out of the data relative to twilight over the year, not time of day... Anyhow, someone hit the Crimespotting API and figure that out, wouldja?

I love working here!

Jun 2, 2009

Oakland Crimespotting update: the pie of time

We're happy to release two updates to the interactive map that address our most frequent feedback requests: you can now filter crime reports by time of day, and link to and view custom reports for the last two years of crime in Oakland.

Hours

Time Pie

The interface we've created to navigate through the hours of the day is something we're calling the “time pie”, a small circle not unlike a pie chart, with the full 24 hour cycle around its perimeter. Noon is at the top, midnight is at the bottom, 6pm and 6am to the left and right. Hours of sunlight are shown as a slight shading in the background of the circle, and these update according to what day you've selected. The hours of the time pie can be individually switched on and off, and you can also click and drag it to enable or disable a range of hours. Any time span can be selected, and we've added a set of buttons that show a few time slices that we think are particularly meaningful:

  • Hours of daylight and darkness based on local sunset and sunrise times
  • Commute hours for the morning and evening
  • Nightlife hours spanning happy hour to last call
  • Three police shifts: day, night, and swing

We're hoping these categories will broaden the project's reach, and make it that much more useful to both the public and the police alike. The last time slices (day, night and swing) are the ways that the police view this information, and one thing we hope will come from the project is a better understanding of how the police view their data as it's collected.

We think the time pie is better than anything else out there in the online crime mapping world- as far as we know, Crimespotting is the only site to offer a filter for specific hours of the day on an interactive map - please leave a comment below if you know different.

Days

Date Slider

We've also upgraded the the map's date slider to include data all the way back to our summer 2007 launch. You can now page back and forth week by week using the two large arrows to the left and right of the date slider, and you will also find drop-down menus to quickly jump to a particular month and year in the past. Finally, there's a button that will navigate to the most recent week of report information.

Years

The data for the new years-long timespan is something we've always kept, but we were reluctant to display it on the site because we lacked a good method for visually navigating it. With the introduction of these hour and day widgets, it now makes sense for us to open the entirety of our archives stretching back to the middle of 2007. This means that old URLs for static representations of crime reports are now newly available, as well as a complete catalog of all reports made available to us in the Police Department's nightly spreadsheets.

Links

The long and the short of this new version is that it's much easier to see and link to a broad range of times and dates. In particular, it's now possible to navigate and link to recent newsworthy events like the assassination of journalist Chauncey Bailey, the Oscar Grant riots from January 2009, and the Lovelle Mixon incident from this past March. You can also retrieve data in spreadsheet form for individual police beats for any time in the past, helpful for a longer term understanding of neighborhood crime patterns.

Together, these two additions to the site make for a richer, more useful historical document and local watchdog tool. Please let us know what you think.

(cross-posted from the Crimespotting blog)

May 1, 2009

Hooray Science!

Well, seeing as we've got a President who's asserting the necessity of science (and that it will no longer be subject to political ideology, hooray, what a rock we've been under for the past eight years, doesn't the day feel brighter?)..

...it feels like as good a day as any to announce Stamen's new work with the California Academy of Science, a map-based browser of their stunning new space in Golden Gate Park:

Which comes complete with a sexy little slider that lets you ride up and down the elevator through the multistory rain forest, up to the roof, down to the below ground giant fish tanks...

Go, enjoy! Even beter, go to the museum & see it for yourself, it's a wonderful spot.

Apr 27, 2009

Tiny Boxes

Stamen eats together.

Every day, the studio gets lunch and shares it as a group. Our Mission neighborhood is ground zero for a crazy variety of amazing food, and most of it's available to-go. As we've grown over the years, we've started to generate progressively larger volume of packaging waste every day, and finally decided that there must be a better way. Inspired by London's Tiffinbites, we bought a set of excellent aluminum boxes, and started bringing them to the local restaurants where we get our lunches.

The boxes look great, the leak-proof lids snap shut, they're durable, and they're perfect for taking leftovers home. Whenever we order food that doesn't come in self-reinforcing log form, we try to get it in our fancy metal boxes instead. Most of our favorite local spots have enthusiastically taken to using them:

Here's the current lunch leaderboard, from Sha's Daytum account:

As more creative companies make their home in the Mission, we're hoping to see more of these amazing boxes in use around the neighborhood.

Apr 8, 2009

Stamen in Icon

We're featured as one of Icon Magazine's 20 designers who are already changing the way we work and think this month, along with Ben Fry and Casey Reas, Area/Code, Troika, and others. There's a vote on for which of us is the baddest-ass; you can make your voice heard (and vote for Stamen, if you like, it will make us happy), here.

While you're there, take a look at Icon's review of LocalProject's (whoops) LocalProject's excellent Tourist Information Center in New York, a project (and studio) I've been paying close attention to for a while. Congratulations Jake!

Apr 4, 2009

Matt Jones on Data as Seductive Material

Dopplr co-founder, blogger and all-around smartie (as well as Stamen advisor and pal) Matt Jones has posted a talk he gave as part of Umeå Institute of Design's Spring Summit 2009. It's chock full of interesting material, including some Stamen projects, as well as the Archimedes Palimpsest, Kevin Kelly's Quantified Self, data patinas, Bruce Sterling's keyboard, Radiohead's House of Cards, and Adam Greenfield's Everyware, and a part of me wishes I had written this instead of him (cause I think it's really good! and I could only get so far as to talk about the intersection of analysis and spectacle), so here it is: