Over the past few years cities have rushed to quickly establish data stores and data portals; places in which anyone with internet access can log on, download a dataset, and often, visualize them directly in-browser. This data can be anything that fits neatly into a spreadsheet, and its topic can range from the locations of police stations to lists of “problem landlords.” But aside from an act of novelty or neat visualization, what does it all mean? Can these spreadsheets change the way we perceive our cities, or are they just a trend fueled by the buzzword “big data”?
Of All of the Facts, and All of the Figures takes a dive into various data portals to find out what spreadsheets can tell us about our city, region, and state. What can happen when we begin to look at vignettes of the city with only a single feature mapped? Free from the ubiquitous political map background, can they tell us something more about our city? Through the abstraction and isolation of big data, we find that the city begins to tell a story too often obscured by geography, boundaries, and our own history. By refining the chaos of information into minimal statements, patterns never before seen emerge and perhaps a greater understanding of our landscape evolves.
USDA, USGS, NRCS, NASS, APFO, National Geospatial Center of Excellence, and the Prairie Research Institute.