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Helen Slottje – Upstate’s defense against Fracking

New York State’s local tactics to counter the threat of widespread, unmitigated fracking across the Marcellus Shale have only gained strength over the last few years. It comes down to individuals with conviction, concern and importantly legal facts on their side. Helen Slottje has just been awarded the 2014 Goldman Environmental Prize for North America. She is the embodiment of what individuals can do in the asymmetrical defense against the encroachment of the extraction industry throughout the Marcellus Shale, and acutely in New York State.

Helen Slottje- Recipient of the North American 2014 Goldman Environmental Prize  ]

The Marcellus Shale Extent spanning across Northeastern States, each with varying degrees of local resistance to gas extraction:

MarcellusShale6 Marcellus Shale Extent ]

A quick look at FrackTrackers mapping for PA to the immediate south is a startling portrait of New York State’s future if the current ban is lifted and the local level is found unorganized. Thanks in part to Helen Slottje, part of the equation is being addressed as seen in the numerous local actions in New York state as tracked by Food and Water Watch, located here. While the state maintains it moratorium against fracking, local measures such as those instigated and promoted by Helen Slottje ensure that extraction pressure most visible at the state and federal level has a clear, decisive and sound legal retort at the local level.

FrackTracker’s PA Fracking Map ]

“Russia as Gas Station”

In the spirit of Senator McCain’s classically grumpy quote today via CNN | State of the Union “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country” a quick survey of recent, high-profile news desk cartography capturing the developing, uncertain geopolitical status of Crimea…

The NY Times features a series of reference and thematic maps, and – to McCain’s point – a handsome pipeline (Gazprom, essentially) network map centered to Ukraine:

[ NY Times ]

The preceding map was sourced in part to East European Gas Analysis, interestingly based in PA, USA. The EEGA map below is a smaller scale version focused on the larger region; the resulting gas line features are simplified over those shown in the previous NY Times map.

[ EEGA ]

The Washington Post features its own series of reference and thematic maps; the following is an interesting, if slightly odd, multi-variable thematic of Russian Language predominance coupled with military base qualifications (not sure exactly or ideally how these are supposed to relate to each other, if at all):

[ The Washington Post ]

Finally National Geographic has a historical overview of the geopolitical ebb and flow of Crimea across centuries. This series is a nice accompaniment to Robert Kaplan’s piece for Forbes entitled Crimea: The Revenge Of Geography? In classic National Geographic style, restrained and handsome, spoken with authority:

Vulnerability Resources/Readings in the spirit of NCADAC

Yesterday The “National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee” or NCADAC released their climate change draft for public consumption, or probably lack there of as things go. From the Executive summary:

1. Global climate is changing, and this is apparent across the U.S. in a wide range of observations. The climate change of the past 50 years is due primarily to human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuels.

2. Some extreme weather and climate events have increased in recent decades, and there is new and stronger evidence that many of these increases are related to human activities.

3. Human-induced climate change is projected to continue and accelerate significantly if emissions of heat-trapping gases continue to increase.

4. Impacts related to climate change are already evident in many sectors and are expected to become increasingly challenging across the nation throughout this century and beyond.

5. Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including impacts from increased extreme weather events, wildfire, decreased air quality, diseases transmitted by insects, food, and water, and threats to mental health.

6. Infrastructure across the U.S. is being adversely affected by phenomena associated with climate change, including sea level rise, storm surge, heavy downpours, and extreme heat.

7. Reliability of water supplies is being reduced by climate change in a variety of ways that affect ecosystems and livelihoods in many regions, particularly the Southwest, the Great Plains, the Southeast, and the islands of the Caribbean and the Pacific, including the state of Hawai`i.

8. Adverse impacts to crops and livestock over the next 100 years are expected. Over the next 25 years or so, the agriculture sector is projected to be relatively resilient, even though there will be increasing disruptions from extreme heat, drought, and heavy downpours. U.S. food security and farm incomes will also depend on how agricultural systems adapt to climate changes in other regions of the world.

9. Natural ecosystems are being directly affected by climate change, including changes in biodiversity and location of species. As a result, the capacity of ecosystems to moderate the consequences of disturbances such as droughts, floods, and severe storms is being diminished.

10. Life in the oceans is changing as ocean waters become warmer and more acidic.

11. Planning for adaptation (to address and prepare for impacts) and mitigation (to reduce emissions) is increasing, but progress with implementation is limited.

Hurricane Katrina Aftermath

[ Hurricane Katrina Aftermath ]

In the spirit of NCADAC’s findings, a collection of readings/articles for an upcoming class for mapping vulnerability:


Skybox 1st video imagery preview now available

Via MapBox, Skybox is clearly showing the way towards the future of satellite base layers for cartographic development…at least that’s one use, I’m sure they have more profitable ventures – and clients – in line around the building. Amazing…

[Via Mapbox blog ]

NYC Student Showcase @ Geo NYC Meetup

This past month, two final student project’s from my Co-Taught, GIS + GeoWeb course, were featured at GEO NYC’s Meetup. Very pleased to see Laura Guzman, & Jesse Mae Metts present Creating Sustainable Urban Ecosystems; and Troy Andrew Hallisey present Rethink the Block.

Jesse & Laura presenting Creating Sustainable Urban Ecosystems

[Jesse & Laura presenting Creating Sustainable Urban Ecosystems ]

Troy presenting Rethinking the Block

[Troy presenting Rethink the Block]

These projects were 2 of 4 final projects accomplished in the Fall term of a new course being taught in the Design & Urban Ecologies program @ The New School entitled GIS and the Geoweb.

The projects can be accessed via the course blog with descriptions, or via the direct project links:

GIS and the Geoweb

Creating Sustainable Urban Ecosystems

Rethink the Block

Summer in the City- NYC Datasets

As we segue into the later part of summer, NYC and state has made a few interesting dataset additions. First and foremost, at the end of July NYCDCP finally stopped swimming against the tide and drop the fees for MapPLUTO. This is a huge relief to nonprofits, community organizations, academics and small companies that really struggled to absorb the crazy cost of the dataset. A next major step would be to backdate this new spirit of openness to all versions of MapPLUTO that dates to the early 2000’s. It boggles the mind how many amazing projects and understandings of the city could come of a coherent MapPLUTO data profile for property across a full decade. For a ‘MapPLUTO Lite’, Bryan Mcbride has an interactive quick view.

At the end of July, there was some fanfare regarding the ‘release of hundreds’ of new datasets….hmmmm. As noted at Streets Blog, this amounted to updates to current datasets as well as some new agency trip and crash count table data, but no overly dramatic geodata per se. I did notice on NYC Socrata that it looks like the some if not all subway lines/stops have been updated, and it also looks like the the General Transit Feed Specifications (GTFS) for some MTA data/feeds has been added/updated.

Regarding Socrata, its often the case that the available datasets are so rich and the search functions so broad, that one ends up piling through a mass amount of data returns per query. Segmenting by category often helps, and Health Data NY seems to have built a site around this strategy.

On the environmental side, New York Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP) has launched a dataset for, as the name suggests, New York Protected Areas (NYPAD). Downloads currently as a geodatabase. The interactive is by way of MapBox.

Back in the city, the Furman Center is out with their 12th year Housing and Neighborhoods Study, chocked full of data summaries featuring the fallout from our recession years. Here’s a really depressing classic:

NYCHALAND- 20th Century Idealism meets 21st Century Markets

As NYCHALAND gears up to join the rest of NYC in monetizing every potentially available square inch it owns, its worth paying attention to not only recent headlines, but this fantastic historical dissection authored by Samuel Zipp of the cold war impetus for public housing in greater NYC. In Manhattan Projects: The Rise and Fall of Urban Renewal in Cold War New York, detailed diagrams, archival photos and incisive argument go a long way towards exposing factors underlining public housing’s increasingly precarious existence in a 21st century New York- a city governed by global financial forces increasingly at odds with 20th century urban idealism.

A quick rejoinder here are all 820 unique lots that NYCHA owns & manages, snapped to Lower Manhattan, and then some. “A lot of land” is an understatement.


And few more quick references…. New York Magazine’s most recent overview of NYCHA’s plight and plan; and NY Daily New’s inspiring reference map….


[NY Daily News

The Insurance Industry’s New Role: Climate Change Leader

Hurricane Sandy has definitely ushered in a new era of expectations for the National Flood Insurance Program- NFIP. After the debacle of Katrina, the agency is now offering a product with a huge built-in downside for all of us as taxpayers. Going forward, our prospects look less secure each year we witness ‘unexpected’ climate events.


[Hurricane Betsy Wikipedia- 1965

Its becoming increasingly evident that the current special flood hazard area (SFHA) stipulations between the federal government and local coastal communities will be strained as losses grow ever more severe with Sandy-like weather events within the FIRM 100-year boundary. Indeed, the new Hurricane Sandy Advisory Base Flood Elevations (ABFEs) and preliminary FIRM maps for the New York coastal zones which capture approximately 35,000 new buildings are very obvious, visual reminders that ‘business as usual’ is over.


With growing evidence of unsustainable risk in our regional coastal zones, politicians like New York’s Andrew Cuomo are simply proposing ‘too good to be true’ proposals to stressed property owners: buy up risky property and return it to nature. Its a hard deal to pass up for all of us- effected property owners and federal taxpayers alike. To follow are diagrams/maps and source links to the new ABFE elevations and associated insurance rates; new ABFE panel revisions and NYT’s map of proposed flood revisions in the NY region.

[New ABFE Elevations & Rates


[Revised ABFE Panels in the NY/NJ Region

[NYT’s Proposed Flood Zone Revisions

Moving Van Ins & Outs

Early last month United Van Lines released their 36th annual ‘migration’ study wherein the company tracks the most moving van activity for top 5 states performing ‘in’ moves; and the top 5 losers that are rolling trucks to locations far and wide. The bulk of the lower 48 is deemed ‘balanced’ by the study; that is, the diffference between ins and outs is negligible. Surprises or maybe not: New York is a definitive ‘loser’; and despite all evidence that moving to Las Vegas is a terrible idea, they keep coming. Below is a Google Fusion Intensity Map that I compiled from the simple data array.

Foursquare Visualizes 500 million, and in the process reveals critical infrastructure

fs1[Source: Foursquare Visualization Map] 

Earlier this month, Foursquare released a spatial visualization of its user’s data- 500 million check-ins worth. While many have commented on the striking ability of the check-ins to denote the urban footprints of famous cities, its equally interesting to follow transporation paths out of cities through suburban terrain into jet black hinterlands interspersed infrequently with gleaming clumbs of data. Like timelapse landsat imagery of urban peripheral growth, Foursquare’s visualization underscores that exurban space follows its own set of rules.

fs2[Source: Foursquare Visualization Map] 

fs4[Source: Foursquare Visualization Map] 

fs3[Source: Foursquare Visualization Map]