30 July 2014

Mapping out ITINs

A different way to look at the immigrant landscape is to map out where Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs)  have been issued. Think of these as an alternative to a Social Security number that allows a non-citizen to still file taxes.

Mapped in isolation the pattern of ITINs already says plenty about the distribution across New Jersey. While the Northeast corridor seems like a predictable area for a higher density of ITINs, casual observers may be surprised to see the areas in Salem and Cumberland County. But the map shows that the farming communities around Hammonton, Vineland and Bridgeton are all labor markets popular with migrant workers.


Over time, the growth of ITINs shows a very dynamic landscape (click on map to view it up close).



Campus landscape architect

Rutgers is looking for some to fill the position of University Landscape Architect.


29 July 2014

EPA Launches Third Annual Campus RainWorks Challenge

EPA Launches Third Annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, Registration Begins Sept. 2
EPA has launched the third annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a green infrastructure design challenge for college and university students. Student teams, working with a faculty advisor, will submit design boards, a project narrative, and a letter of support describing a proposed green infrastructure project for a location on their campus. Registration opens Sept. 2 and ends Oct. 3. Registrants must submit their entries by Dec. 19. Winning teams will earn a student prize of $1,000-$2,000 to be divided evenly among student team members, and a faculty prize of $2,000-$3,000 to support green infrastructure research or training. More information: www.epa.gov/campusrainworks.

The posts include videos from the winning teams,  like this one from Florida


And another from Michigan State

28 July 2014

Immigration in New Jersey

Immigration is back in the news, again. With that in mind, over the next few days, Places and Spaces will be posting some old maps from our work on the RIIM project. Many our from the final report, Meet the Neighbors. This first one shows levels of limited English proficiency reported by NJ school districts from two different years. It is a measure closely associated with immigrants, particularly young ones. As such, it can be seen as a first glance at the overall pattern of immigration in NJ. But it will be different than some others we'll share and, as you can see, it changes some each year.





Fine, J., A. Mann, D. Tulloch, F. S. Bentley. 2014. Meet the Neighbors: Organizational and Spatial Dynamics in Immigrant New Jersey. Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics.

24 July 2014

Has pre-fab architecture turned a corner?

Lately I have seen more stories on pre-fab architecture as a means for making new and innovative architecture more accessible. But the stories tend to show very stylish homes, sometimes leaning towards vacation homes, like this story on more factory options in Ozy online magazine.

But a subset are closer to the Design Like You Give a Damn school of social innovation, using the increasingly cheaper techniques for lower income alternatives. The new issue of Metropolis looks at how the Chinese are trying to apply the pre-fab innovations from their megacities to building new African urban communities that are safe, solid and more carefully planned than current urban housing. But, it potentially costs African jobs.

As an invention becomes innovation, there is often a moment when it changes social responses and practices. If pre-fab urbanism changes the informal settlement patterns of the urban poor, this trend will have seriously turned a corner.

23 July 2014

More from San Diego

Last week's User Conference also produced an interesting tidbit from the Commerce Secretary, Penny Pritzker. Addressing the plenary session she announced that the Commerce Department (home to the US Census and NOAA) would finally acknowledge their central role in data production and distribution by adding a chief data officer.
"Unleashing the full force of our data will be a source of innovation, a cornerstone of economic opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs, and a foundation for greater prosperity for millions of families," she said.

22 July 2014

Beetles versus Beatles

Beetles killed the George Harrison Memorial Tree in LA.

"For the forests to be green, each tree must be green." - George Harrison

Bike paths improve health

Road.cc reports that a new study finds that people living close to bike paths get more exercise each week. It sounds intuitive, but each little piece of evidence makes it easier to convince decision makers that these small investments are worth it.


21 July 2014

Esri UC 2014

Last week, a massive horde of GIS experts, technicians, fans and "users" descended on San Diego for a week of GIS feeding frenzy at the Esri User Conference. If you missed the world's largest GIS event, here are a few highlights:

A summary of the plenary in which Jack said Geodesign is the thing
The US Commerce Secretary addressed the audience
Scientific data meetings at the US
Esri's new ArGIS OpenData
Minneapolis' ArcGIS site



15 July 2014

Most ambitious transit proposal ever?

Helsinki is proposing a system that, in 10 years, would result in a car-free city. the Helsinki TImes quotes a research as saying that "A car is no longer a status symbol for young people."  The Guardian details the plan explaining how mobile devices will help residents order transportation services.

11 July 2014

Better subway cars

Sophisticated new Russian trains use USB 3.0! (See photo 35)

When will the NY Subways upgrade to USB 3.0? Doesn't even seem like it is on their radar.

08 July 2014

Free global environmental data

When asked for free geospatial data, much of the time I am being asked about local data or something near New Jersey. However, more and more of our students are looking at national and international issues, particularly larger patterns or urbanization, climate change, and global food supply issues.

For those thinking big, I want to recommend the outstanding data resources at the University of Wisconsin's Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (Disclaimer: I am an alum of the Nelson Institute). This is a great place to get FREE maps, data and models on a variety of environmental issues. It includes geospatial data for irrigated lands, a global land use dataset, and urban extent data for some of the fastest growing areas in the world in SE Asia. It also has maps that are part of the Atlas of the Biosphere.

It is a great resource and yet another reason to keep an eye on our B1G colleagues.

02 July 2014

A shadow transit system for NYC

Buses and subways and trams and streetcars make mobility in cities possible. But in many cities there is a second level of  transit lurking quietly in the background. In New Jersey and New York City, that is the dollar-vans industry. The latest New Yorker maps out this shadow transit system in an article by Adam Reiss. Do planners actively take this into account? Or do they ignore this often illegal system that frequently changes to fill the gaps in the official transit landscape?
“You hear about the vans by word of mouth,” Patrice Gibson, a thirty-year-old teaching fellow at Long Island University, said. “A friend told me, ‘Why are you taking the subway for two fifty when you can take the two-dollar van?’ But also, I’m Guyanese, and we have vans like this back in Guyana, so when I saw the van on the street I knew what it was.”

01 July 2014

Is geoempowerment a word?

Apparently. The latest issue of ArcNews has a great article on Kongjian Yu called "Geoempowering Design." As a landscape architect, Yu finds himself looking at the profession and trying to lead it towards more defensible design solutions that are societally relevant.

Turenscape used geodesign to develop the Shuicheng River and Minhu Wetland Park project. Concrete embankments along the river were removed, and natural vegetation was planted and allowed to thrive. Storm water is no longer diverted away from the river. Water no longer goes to waste. A once polluted waterway is fishable again. People stroll along walkways that wind around terraced ponds. Beautiful orange flowers flourish around the wetland's perimeter.

"Now, it's become a beautiful place," Yu said. "People love it. The biodiversity has increased. It has now become a national wetland."
To me, this represents a transformation in practice. Rapid changes in technology and the exponential growth in available land information have created a new opportunity for GIS to empower landscape architecture to address increasingly important societal problems, from climate change to food supply, while providing design solutions that are more defensible that the intuitive approaches of the past.

Turenscape is one of the most relevant firms out there. Geodesign is a big part of the reason.