Safe Routes to School

The IMSOCIO students participated in a second Safe Routes to School (SRTS) community mapping event on June 23, 2012!  They completed this project in an effort to assess and document the safety and pollution levels of sidewalks and crosswalks in Somerset, NJ.  Since this is the second walkability and cleanliness mapping event they completed in the same area, the data collected will not only allow them to document safe routes to school for the elementary school students, but also see what changes have or have not been made since the previous event.

To view more information about IMSOCIO’s SRTS project, visit the SRTS 2012 page on  Photos from the event and charts displaying the data collected can be found there as well!

Below is the interactive map the students created


IMSOCIO is an organization that was created through the partnership between SOCIO,Scholars Organizing Culturally Innovative Opportunities, and Dr. Wansoo Im of Vertices, LLC. IMSOCIO aims to encourage the academic progress of Hispanic high school students in Franklin Township by providing the support and resources necessary to facilitate their progression to higher education.

They recently had a Geocaching event on Saturday June 2. SOCIO students were asked to locate 20 markers placed across the College Avenue campus of Rutgers University.  Each group was given latitude and longitude coordinates and hints to locate each point.  Using a GPS application on their smart phones, the students were able to search for the points and plot them on an interactive map using the Mappler Mobile application.

The event had an excellent turnout! Since the students were told the group that collected the most points would receive a prize, the simple task of locating the points turned into an exciting competition to collect the most markers.

To learn more about IMSOCIO, visit

Click on the link to see the interactive site -

The Geraldine R. Dodge Grant

The Geraldine R. Dodge Grant is accepting applicants for 2012.  The pillars of the foundation are leadership, innovation and collaboration for a better New Jersey . In order to qualify for the grant, there must be an interest in the Arts, Education, Environment and especially Public Policy initiatives.

For more information on the grant and how to apply click here for their site.

Sandy Cao, VERTICES Intern
Community Mapping Intern
Center for Community Mapping


ESRI Releases New Community Analyst API

ESRI’s Community Analyst sofware is a mapping solution that provides GIS capabilites in a simple and easy to use format.  You can access it through a web application and it can also be used as a add-in for ArcGIS for Desktop.  Customized web, mobile and desktop applications can be produced that detail thousands of data variables.  These can include demographic, health, and crime.  This will give developers more control over the data in specific areas they want to show.

The program has a trial version available at the ESRI site, click here.

For the original article, click here.

Sandy Cao, VERTICES Intern
Community Mapping Intern
Center for Community Mapping

Lawrence NJ Creates The Green Maps System to Serve Communities

Lawrence New Jersey volunteers have begun developing an interactive map this month to highlight the township’s green initiatives.  The project is called The Green Maps System and it will be serving 14 NJ communities.  The types of green spaces it will display include, community parks, trails, open spaces, and sustainability projects.  Community members add original content like pictures, ratings and tips.  They will even be able to share it via Facebook and Twitter.

Lawrence Township earned a grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation last year and have been collaborating with Montegomery, Hillsborough, and Princeton townships to train instructors and provide resources to support the green maps.

To access the Green Maps, click here.  You can also access it on your smart phone browser!

To read the original article, click here!

Sandy Cao, VERTICES Intern
Community Mapping Intern
Center for Community Mapping

Somalia Speaks Project Gives Unheard Somalians a Chance to be Heard

The “Somalia Speaks” Project was developed by Ushahidi to aggregate the unheard voices from inside Somalia and plot them visually on a map.  Somalia is a developing county that is plagued with war, famine and drought; it is crucial for the words of it’s people to be heard.  Ushahidi collaborated between a NGO called Souktel, Al Jazeera, Crowdflower, and the African Diaspora Institute to develop this platform in which Somalias are prompted with the question “How has the somalia Conflict affected your life?” and asked to provide an answer through a text message.  The responses are then translated to English and then plotted on a map.  The following is a picture of the Somalia Speaks website.

Patrick Meier of Ushahidi hopes that the project will inspire lobbiest groups to “leverage the content generated by this project to redouble their efforts in response to the escalating crisis in Somalia.”

YouTube Preview Image

Mobile Media Toolkit has a complete case study on this project.  If you are interested in finding out more about this project, visit their site here.

Sandy Cao, VERTICES Intern
Community Mapping Intern
Center for Community Mapping

Los Angeles Times Empowers Citizens to Define Communities

The Los Angeles Times put together a team of reporters and web developers called the Data Desk to create and maintain a new subdivision of neighborhoods in L.A.  They based their information on the U.S. Census Bureau’s census tracts.  By doing so, their information will be geographically synchronized to constantly updated statistics.  The Times invited users to send comments and draft revisions as soon as the first draft of the map was posted in 2009.  They received over 650 user-generated maps.  The goal of the new neighborhood lines is for accuracy when reporting on an event.  The Los Angeles Times wants people to know exactly where they mean when they refer to places such as Van Nuys or Westwood.

The following is the current Map of L.A. depicting all the neighborhoods.


To synthesis the arbitrary lines of census tracts to easy to digest neighborhood identities, citizens can be better informed of what is happening in their neighborhood.

To find out more information on the project, click here.

Sandy Cao, VERTICES Intern
Community Mapping Intern
Center for Community Mapping

$25 Million Miller Foundation Grant Supports PSU Sustainability Study

Portland State University was awarded the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation challenge grant of $25 million.  It is speculated that this is perhaps the single largest gift to sustainability in the U.S. higher education history.  This goal is to match the grant and collect a total of $50 million worth of investments.  The grant will be used to support the following:

  • faculty positions
  • research projects
  • community partnerships
  • leading edge conferences
  • student scholarships
  • graduate student fellowships
  • faculty fellowships, etc.

To support PSU’s match commitment, click here.

To get more information on the grant, visit the Miller Foundations site here.
To find out more about how Portland State University plans on promoting sustainability, click here.

Sandy Cao, VERTICES Intern
Community Mapping Intern
Center for Community Mapping

RU Safe Project Uses Mobile Mapping to Keep Students on Campus Safe

The RU Safe program is an initiative program that utilizes interactive mapping through GIS technoology to map the potential dangerous places on the Rutgers University New Brunswick campus.  Participants used an iPhone and Android application called Mappler Mobile to provide visual and quantile data of areas around near and on campus.  On December 1st 2011, groups of students went out to survey the College Avenue campus on lighting levels of the sidewalks.  This data was compared to the local police department’s data to make some educated inferences.

The results found that there is a high correlation between areas that have inadequate street lighting and the numbers of crimes that occur in those areas.  This information makes it easier for the Rutgers Police Department to target areas to patrol.

The following is an image of what the Mappler application looks like.  To view the RU Safe Mappler site click here.  To visit the actual map click here.

Students can use their smartphones to categorize the level of safeness that they felt in each location.  Here is a screenshot from an iPhone of what the RU Safe app looks like.

For more information, you can check out the full report:  RU Safe Report

Sandy Cao, VERTICES Intern
Community Mapping Intern
Center for Community Mapping

University of Oregon Professor Uses Mobile GIS Devices to Engage Community

Dr. Marc Schlossberg, at the University of Oregon has been conducting research on the use of mobile GIS devices to improve the quality of life for communities.  The tools he has created include:

  • School Environment Assessment tool (SEAT)
  • Complete Streets Assessment tool (CSAT)
  • Accessibility Audit Tool (AAT)
  • Bicycle Assessment & Safety index tool (BASIT)

These ladies are using Dr. Schlossberg’s tools to conduct a safety audit.

These projects are aimed to fill the gap between average citizens and the GIS mapping technology in hopes to engage communities in the understanding of their environment.  The most widely tested of the tools is SEAT, which helps identify safe routes to schools.  Below is the assessment of walkability around Roosevelt Middle School, using the tool SEAT.

The mapping was done by the parents of the students at the school and it helped them assess which intersections were of concern.  Dr. Schlossberg’s goal is to use these tools as a catalyst for communities to seek engineering based improvements, such as constructing side-walks or encouragement-based improvements like walking to school.

For a link to the full article, click here.

Sandy Cao, VERTICES Intern
Community Mapping Intern
Center for Community Mapping

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