00:01I would like to introduce the first of our Lightning Talk speakers for today.
00:03It's going to be Tamara Mamik Perlman from Azavea. Hi.
00:10Hi. I just want to say that it's a pleasure to be here.
00:13I have a background in anthropology and geography, but I currently work for a software development firm.
00:20And I didn't actually...I wasn't aware of geodesign as such until we saw the announcement for the summit and agreed to come.
00:27So what I'm going to be talking about today is a fairly narrow slice of what the geodesign picture is...
00:32...which is the importance of web-based applications for collaborative design decisions.
00:41So I'm just going to back up a bit before I get into the technical details and talk about a classic problem which is...
00:47...how do you identify an area that matches your priorities?
00:50And this is a problem that many planners have faced, but it's also one that we face in our personal lives...
00:55...searching for a house, for instance.
00:57So as an urban resident in Philadelphia, I have a set of priorities that matter to me.
01:02So going to a grocery store, for instance, I consider to be absolutely vital and being able to walk there is really important.
01:11Although I like public transit, I tend to bike to work.
01:14So that's another important factor for me.
01:16I'm also a big eater so it's pretty important to be close to nice restaurants...
01:20...and one of my New Year's resolutions is to buy fewer books on Amazon, so it would be great to be near a library.
01:27So these are abstract values that I have, but they can be concretized in the form of a geospatial model.
01:34So we can take each of those factors that I'm looking at and create a geographical representation of each one...
01:40...assign a weight to it corresponding to its importance to me...
01:44...and then combine those to form a composite picture that reflects my aggregate priorities.
01:51So in this case, for instance, the areas in red best match all of my priorities, whereas the areas in orange match them fairly well...
01:58...and so on until we get to the blue areas which probably wouldn't really be of interest to me.
02:04Now this isn't a new idea.
02:05We've heard over and over again that a lot of what we're talking about here are not new concepts...
02:09...and so Ian McHarg, a landscape architect, talked a bit about this process in his book Design with Nature in the '60s...
02:16...and he did this in a pretty low-fi way which was with transparencies.
02:20He was representing things like slope, soil, bedrock...
02:24...and he could combine those different transparencies to come up with an image much like the one on the right.
02:31There's a little formatting problem here.
02:33But Dana Tomlin in the 1990s, also a landscape architect, pioneered the use of math algebra...
02:38...so representing digital data and then being able to add those digital layers together...
02:43...to produce the same kinds of composites that we're talking about.
02:47Now Michael Goodchild referred a bit to small Deed design in one of the opening speeches yesterday.
02:52And I think a lot of the kind of modeling we're talking about still occurs if you're a GIS analyst or maybe a planner on the desktop.
02:58And Esri has some great tools for doing this kinds of modeling.
03:02A lot of you probably are familiar with ModelBuilder...
03:04...but ultimately this is something that in many cases is still happening in back rooms and back offices.
03:10And only the products of that analysis are taken to the public for feedback.
03:14Now there has been some movement.
03:15A lot of these tools are now available online.
03:18So you can publish tasks and models with ArcGIS Server.
03:23Unfortunately, when we're talking about really actively engaging the public in this kind of process...
03:27...we really need to speed things up.
03:29Time is of the essence.
03:31So the kinds of calculations we've been talking and have seen typically take 10 to 60 seconds.
03:37Now, that's great. That seems really fast.
03:40But, in fact, most of us are probably web users or even mobile web users...
03:45...and we know that one second seems like a long time for something to load.
03:49And so if we're talking about reaching out to the public, they're not going to want to wait 10 seconds or a minute.
03:53They're going to want to have things in subsecond times.
03:55If they're performing an analysis, those results need to be returned right to them.
04:00Additionally, if we're talking about not just modeling with a small group of people in a design charette.
04:05If we're actually talking about moving this to the web...
04:07...we're going to have multiple simultaneous users hitting these kinds of applications...
04:10...and they're all going to be impatient, and they're not necessarily going to be familiar with these tools.
04:15So it's really of the essence to change the way that we're doing this modeling, the way that we're representing it...
04:29Azavea was very fortunate to get some funding from US Department of Agriculture to work on rural agricultural development...
04:37...rural economic development.
04:39And we had the opportunity to create a solution that we called DecisionTree.
04:44And it does a couple things for the techies in the audience.
04:46Those of you whose eyes are glazing over, this will be over soon.
04:49Basically, a user with a web browser will construct their model or will weight their preferences.
04:55That set of preferences will be sent by a REST API which sends it to a calculation engine.
05:02That calculation engine is going to break that up into lots of tiny pieces and send those out to distributed worker agents.
05:08They're each going to do their own piece, reassemble them, and then send them back to the user.
05:14And that analytical layer is going to be combined with a visualization layer, a basemap or something of that sort...
05:19...so that they understand the context via analysis that they've just done.
05:24Now you are very fortunate also to have a great client early on in the process in Asheville, North Carolina.
05:31And they had a big store of planning and economic development data that they had...
05:37...and they wanted to leverage and make available to the public.
05:40And so they worked with us.
05:41They saw a little piece about Decision Maps, which was an early incarnation in the city of Philadelphia...
05:46...and approached us about building an application for them.
05:53...and the workflow was pretty similar to what we just talked about, but it runs on the web.
05:57So the first step is for a user to select a set of decision factors.
06:02Now you may not be able to see those, but they're grouped into types.
06:04So there may be proximity to amenities like rivers or interstate exits.
06:09There may be tax incentives, so while an individual business might prioritize something like proximity to an interstate exit...
06:16...Asheville and the state of North Carolina generally also have priorities and opportunities that they'd like people to be aware of.
06:22So state development incentive areas or low tax value areas needing investment...
06:28...are also put in the model to encourage people to take those into consideration in their analysis.
06:33So this is really...this definitely represents a convergence of values.
06:38Asheville also, there's a tab up there that says Scenarios.
06:41Some users might find this interface a bit daunting, you know, picking all these different factors...
06:45...what do I care about, what don't I.
06:47So they've prepackaged some scenarios of selected factors with selected weights so users can just hit Go...
06:53...and then play around and proceed from there.
06:55But any other case, once a set of factors is selected, users will assign relative weights.
07:01So these could be positive if it's a factor that they care about a lot, or it could be negative.
07:07So, for instance, if there's like an environmental hazard or if you're, you know...
07:11...if you're engaging in a form of industry that requires you to be at a certain distance from rivers...
07:15...perhaps you'd weight that negatively in your analysis.
07:20And then finally, user simply hits Create Priority Map...
07:24...and they're returned to a result pretty similar to what we were looking at before.
07:26And this is all on the web.
07:27This is all in a map in seconds.
07:29And this is an interactive map.
07:31So not only are users able to see this visualization, but they're actually able to zoom in, zoom in even farther...
07:41...and up at the top you can see that they're able to change the appearance of the map as well.
07:45So there are different sets of class breaks, different color schemes.
07:49They can adjust the opacity of this decision layer.
07:51They also have the opportunity to add additional layers like zoning information.
07:56And then they can export that map or print it so that they can share it with others.
08:03Additionally, because this is a map that's linked to the City of Asheville's database...
08:07...you can get additional information by clicking on a particular parcel...
08:10...and that's going to retrieve information about that specific location...
08:13...and that's linked up both to Asheville's Development Mapper and Crime Mapper.
08:18So what you see is the integration of multiple different kinds of spatial data in order to inform decision making.
08:24And they've also chosen to integrate that with Esri's Business Analyst Online...
08:29...so they can create a demographic report for the location that they've selected...
08:32...and say, okay, you know, according to my selected criteria, this looks like a great location...
08:38...but let's take a look at the market profile or the housing profile.
08:40So this is really geographic information informing an individual decision-making process.
08:45But it's really in the service of the City of Asheville's overall goals for economic development in the region.
08:51Now Asheville is just one case in which this has been implemented.
08:55In Philadelphia, there's actually an organization we worked with called the Sustainable Business Network.
09:00And we heard a little bit about the triple bottom line yesterday.
09:03They're an organization that's oriented specifically toward people, planet, and profit.
09:08And so they wanted to provide a service for their members that would allow them to make siting decisions as well...
09:13...and in their case, the factors that they were taking into account were a bit different...
09:16...and they reflected these alternate priorities so things like, you know, recycling participation that we had data for...
09:23...served as a proxy for things like interest in the environment.
09:26They might be interested in commercial corridor health which was data that is available for the Philadelphia area...
09:31...or they might be interested in, you know, farmer's markets or street network density if they're [unintelligible] something like walkability.
09:40However, those are both applications that are at the local and the regional scale.
09:45The thing with DecisionTree and this calculation engine is it's really just a technology in a tool.
09:50And so there's a site that's going to be launching in February actually that we've collaborated with OMB Watch and Esri...
09:57...to develop which is a site that allows users to explore Recovery Act funding expenditures.
10:03And this is a national-scale application.
10:06So in this case, users are looking at a different set of things.
10:08They're not actually, you know, weighing a personal decision.
10:11What they're doing is assigning a set of criteria weights.
10:15So they say, okay, you know, where do I consider need to be, and they can weigh each of those factors.
10:20And then what they would do is incorporate spending and then they would be returned a map that shows...
10:27...listen, you know, given the priorities that you've set...
10:30...these places are receiving a disproportionately high amount of funding, these places are not.
10:34So this is something...it's really a technology, not simply an interface.
10:39And finally, a developer in our office is really interested in walkability so he created an application called Walkshed...
10:46...which enables users to visualize walkability to different amenities.
10:49I'm not going to talk about that too much, but I encourage you to visit.
10:53We've also been working increasingly on collaborative applications.
10:56So common spaces, our most recent effort using the same calculation engine, users are able to define a starting point...
11:03...to find a transit method and the amount of time they're willing to travel, not necessarily a distance.
11:08And then in real time, they're able to play with this transit shed, so as they change the amount of time on the slider...
11:13...it grows and shrinks.
11:15They can add additional destinations.
11:17They can add people that they want to be meeting.
11:20So if you have a friend, you know, using a different mode of transit and starting at a different spot...
11:24...you'll see the areas that are common to both of you, and you can search for points within those areas.
11:29This is definitely individually oriented, but it really emphasizes collaboration and speed.
11:37So what's the relationship of the technologies I've talked about to geodesign?
11:42Well, geodesign as a concept is clearly far, far larger than anything we've said...
11:47...and I know that speed is not necessarily always the best thing.
11:52But in terms of engaging a public that is very much oriented toward web and mobile devices...
11:58...it's one way of reaching people who aren't necessarily in a position to show up for a design charette...
12:03...or who're constrained by their work schedules who can't necessarily come to public meetings.
12:07It's a way for people to do modeling on their own and to solicit feedback and be returning that feedback.
12:12So there are two major implications.
12:14One, it's really important to design for the web, to make sure that these technologies aren't constrained to the desktop.
12:21And the requirements of that, in terms of technology, are performance breakthroughs.
12:26And that's something that we've been spending a lot of time researching.
12:29Secondly, people are increasingly using mobile technologies.
12:33They want to either collect data or even submit data from the place that they are in the field.
12:38And the implication of that is actually a change in the way that we design our user interfaces.
12:42So a lot of us who've used desktop tools think very much like analysts...
12:48...but thinking about mobile devices and designing for mobile devices forces us to think of it in a very different way...
12:54...and think not about the names of the tools or the processes as we conceive of them...
12:59...but the ways that might more intuitive to the public.
13:01And that lesson can actually be applied to the web and anything else.
13:05So I'm going to finish up by talking a little bit about what we do in these two areas.
13:09Currently we're rebuilding DecisionTree from the ground up.
13:11So right now, it's just able to do weighted overlay, but we're actually going to enable it to do a full array of map algebra operations.
13:19So the kinds of models that Carl Steinitz was talking about can actually be built.
13:24It's just a series of tools, and you can assemble the models that you need, create them on your site...
13:30...provide the tools to the public, and allow people to do modeling...
13:32...and it can be technology that's appropriate to your model and your data and your situation.
13:38We've also sped it up so that we're down to 40 milliseconds from what was about a minute just a few years ago.
13:45So it allows this to happen a lot more quickly.
13:48And finally, we're experimenting with GPUs.
13:51So if there are any gamers in the audience, you're probably aware that GPUs are what allow you...
13:56...to play those first-person shooter games, which are not something I'm into, but they render graphics really quickly.
14:00Well actually using that technology to do raster processing because images like raster data are simply raster forms.
14:09You can actually speed things up 10 to 20 times faster than on a CPU.
14:12So increasingly, the technology is there to bring these tools to the public...
14:16...provided that there's the political will...
14:18...and it would create the social structures that can mediate the use of these tools appropriately.
14:23Thanks very much.
Community Planning Tools that Prioritize Place Based Decisions
Tamara Manik-Perlman from Azavea presents "Community Planning Tools that Prioritize Place Based Decisions" at the 2011 GeoDesign Summit.
- Recorded: Jan 7th, 2011
- Runtime: 14:32
- Views: 32842
- Published: Feb 24th, 2011
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