I’m so excited to write about this particular project, one that has been in the works for a while.
I’ve been working with Situ Studio, a firm that utilizes emerging technologies at the intersection of architecture and a variety of other disciplines, to develop demographic mapping and data visualization solutions for public libraries. I cannot speak highly enough of the work these guys have done and are capable of doing.
Urban public libraries are not in the business of collecting demographic data; other agencies do the collecting. Our business is correctly interpreting the data in order to create a strategic plan and implement appropriate library service. Libraries need a clear, efficient means of displaying data for internal analysis. Further, they need a display format that serves as a simple means of communication with external parties, a visual tool within which they can frame arguments and demonstrate demographic shifts and trends. With training, a presenter using this tool can illustrate compelling, anecdotal, case-study style scenarios with facts, statistics and metrics.
Large sets of data are most easily interpreted when represented visually, rather than in a tabular or textual presentation. As a means of communication, information visualization has surpassed the archaic database and spreadsheet formats we are accustomed to. The screenshots below use a digitally rendered map of Brooklyn to display demographic data in a spatial context. The data fields represented are merely examples of what such a map can offer, and should be considered a foundation from which a more complex map can be built.
Below are a few teaser images that really only halfway describe the possibilities associated with the work we’ve accomplished so far.
The image above shows a bus map, library facilities in red with the diameter representing the size of the collection, and schools in green with the diameter representing the size of the student body.
Above is a map showing Red Hook, displaying census data by tract as well as physical boundaries to library service (for example the BQE, in yellow).
Another display of census data by tract.
Again, this is really just the beginning of something important, and I’m happy to share some sample images from the much more extensive animation sequences the crew at Situ put together. This represents a new way for libraries to communicate internally and externally. Stay tuned for further developments.