The North Bushwick Community Mapping Project is a dedicated web cartography project that aims to build awareness around the housing crisis specifically facing Bushwick, but also to inform other communities about urban development, gentrification and displacement in New York City. This site improvement project aims to make the website more accessible to community leaders and new users. The goal of this project is two-fold in that its aims to improve the context of the map and the user experience of the overall website.
The map is at the core of the project, however in its former state loading, navigating, understanding and using the map seemed to be challenging. The overall website had a simple and clean aesthetic, but lacked legibility and continuity.
One goal of the site redesign is to add a narrative to help contextualize the project within the housing crisis and to help guide new users.
The first step was to conduct an audit of the site to identify both current problems — eg: broken links, prolonged loading times, lack of responsiveness, inconsistencies in the visual design — and areas for improvement. Our initial goal was to focus on the map experience and the narrative for the user, however it became clear that there needed to be some simplification for both the map and the website.
After presenting the UI revision proposals we received positive feedback from Ziggy and NWB. Ultimately we chose to remove the year built slider and hover descriptions from the proposed UI. The reasons for this were that the year built layer is better conveyed as a choropleth map layer similar to the available FAR map layer. As one of the goals of the stories serves to introduce the various map layers we felt that the pop-up descriptions were no longer necessary and could be redundant if added.
One of the problems with the previous version of the map was how it handled loading the data layers. To improve this technical aspect a CartoDB account was created for NWB and the relevant data was imported into it. The web map now loads data from CartoDB with improved speed and interaction. CartoDB also allows for the automation of processing geospatial data with SQL so that when new, updated data is imported into the account SQL scripts can be run to correctly format it for integration with the map.
As stated previously, the prototype aims to redesign the map into a narrative text. Following discussion with Ziggy and Brigette it was agreed that narrative stories should directly relate to the map’s data layers. This serves both as a method for introducing the various map layers while making the connection to what’s happening on the ground in Bushwick with government datasets that often appear abstract and difficult to understand to the general public. Three stories introduce the map: the Rheingold rezoning, Colony 1206 and 98 Linden. These stories attempt to highlight processes that impact local communities as a way to spread awareness around issues that are being faced by residents when they are facing forces relating to hyper-gentrification and urban development.
North West Bushwick Community Mapping Project – Site Improvements
the site can be viewed live at: http://clhenrick.github.io/BushwickCommunityMap
the code is available at: https://github.com/clhenrick/BushwickCommunityMap
Chris Henrick, Gabriel Gianordoli, Daniel Mastretta and Namreta Kumar