Category Archives: GIS

Johnstown Flood – How Incompetent Dam Reconstruction Cost 2,209 Lives

I have become quite interested in the use of GIS to study historical events like the Battle of Gettysburg and the Johnstown Flood.

You can view my Johnstown Flood assessment video here:

Residential Access to Philadelphia’s Sanitation Convenience Centers

Philadelphia has 6 Sanitation Convenience Centers (SCC) that provide residents  safe, free, reliable disposal sites for excess trash and special items like tires and TVs,electronics.

These Centers are a critical resource for the City’s Zero Waste and Litter efforts, however, there are two residential access issues that must be addressed to ensure their potential effectiveness:

  1. Approximately 33% of Philadelphia Housing Units do not own or lease a vehicle, presenting a serious challenge to residents with excess trash. How do they get their excess trash to an SCC?This map shows the of % households without a  vehicle by Census Tract. More than 50% of households do not have a vehicle in 71 census tracts.
    Residents how do not have access to a vehicle so that they can not use the City’s Convenience Centers without borrowing or renting a vehicle.
    We may need some type of trash taxi service for those households without access to a vehicle.
  2. For those households with a vehicle, travel times from residents’ home to an SCC and back can present a significant time challenge. The following map shows the estimated one-way travel times areas for 5, 10 and 15 minutes trips.I think that a 15-minute one-way travel time (30 minutes round trip) is the upper limit for residents to transport excess trash to a SCC on a regular basis.

Residents access to an SCC is critical for reducing illegal dumping. The City will need to improve access to the SCCs for households without vehicles and those outside the 15-minute travel time zones

 

ArcGIS Story Map of LA’s Clean Street Index

LA is using ArcMap, dashcam, GPS and cameras to develop detailed street cleanliness index. Click this link to see an interactive Story Map of this innovative use of GIS to tackle a pressing urban problem.

la_clean_street_index_story_map

Cleanliness Indexes are available by 39,915 street segment and are summarized into operational grids.

Philadelphia, like LA, has a serious street trash problem.  We need to dramatically improve our street cleanliness efforts. Following LA’s Clean Streets Index would be an excellent start for the Mayor’s Zero Waste & Litter Cabinet.

 

 

Philadelphia’s 311 Open Data and City Priorities

Philadelphia has an excellent Open Data program (link) which provides incredible access to important data that can be used by community groups and others to help focus attention on critical issues.

open_data_philly

Let’s see how we can use 311 request data to understand Philadelphia residents priorities.

Step 1: Get the 311 Service Request Data: The City has made it very easy to access the 311 data. This page provides access to near real time details of the City’s 311 service requests. If you scroll down to the detail table you will see the latest 311 service requests, like the image below:
                               (Click image to enlarge)311_sr_table

The 311 data table also includes a link to a resident submitted photo, if provided, as well as the latitude and longitude for mapping and spatial analysis.

Users can download the entire 1 million+ set of records or subset it by user selections by zip code, service request type (illegal dumping, graffiti as examples),  responsible agency or request status (open, closed). You can export the entire data set or subset to a CSV file for your own analysis.

311_export

I’ve downloaded both All Rows and Illegal Dumping Row to work directly with the full data set and the Illegal Dumping data set.

Summarizing City Wide 311 Service Data311_histogram

When you start looking at the service request details, the first thing that you see is that most of the requests are for information, 728,000 out of the 1.1 million requests were for information in the 12/8/14 to 12/2/16 period. This bar chart shows requests like Illegal Dumping are barely visible because of the high volume of info requests.

Let’s see what the work requests look like if we remove the information requests.

311_service_requests_no_info

Now we can see the specific field service requests that Philadelphia residents have made. Maintenance Residential or Commercial, Rubbish/Recycle Collection and Illegal Dumping were the 3 top requests, followed by Abandoned vehicles, Street Defects (potholes!)  and Graffiti Removal.

Illegal Dumping and Vacant Lot Cleanup warrant  special mention because they both deal with trash dumping. Dumping in the public right-of-way is handled by the Streets Department while vacant lot dumping is handled by CLIP, that is why 311 classifies them separately.  The combined Illegal Dumping and Vacant Lot Cleanup requests (42,440) is the 2nd largest non-information service request.

Philadelphia residents are repeatedly asking for trash dumping cleanup services. We need to recognize this priority. Clearly we need to do more to prevent trash dumping, both on City streets and vacant lots.

Mapping Chronic Illegal Dump Sites

District 8 has 4,049 street segments, 33.5% of them had 1 or more 311 Illegal Dumping Service Requests. 29 of these segments had 11 – 43 requests.

These chronic illegal dumping hot spots need enforcement attention. Removing the latest illegal dump just gives the dumper proof that his/her dumping will be handled by the City at no cost to the law breaker.

Click here or on the map image to see how Philadelphia’s 311 OpenDataPhilly files can be used by civic groups, City Councilors and others to identify critical hot spot problems in their neighborhood.

idsr_by_segment

Mapping District 8’s 311 Illegal Dumping Service Requests

Philadelphia’s 311 system allows users to submit photos related to their service requests. Click on the map below or (link) to see the 304 photos for District 8 Illegal Dumping Service requests between 12/8/14 and 11/16/16.

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You can view details of the Illegal Dumping Service Request by clicking on the black dot symbol for the service request.

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By pressing the More info link, you can see the submitted illegal dumping image.

 

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Looking at Texas Flood with LandSat

Houston, Texas area has seen major rainfall and flooding.  This gif animation shows LandSat images of the Brazos River on May 4, 2013 and May 28, 2016 after the recent Texas storms.  (NASA link)

Texas_flood_landsat

Brazos River: normal and May 28, 2016 flood