Mapping for Investigations

Video in TIB AV-Portal: Mapping for Investigations


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Mapping for Investigations
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Shaw, Al
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FOSS4G, Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo)
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Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo)
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Portland, Oregon, United States of America

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Closing Keynote Speech, FOSS4G 2014, Portland, Oregon.
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Word Lecture/Conference
al is a news Application Developer at ProPublica a nonprofit investigative news outlets based in New York City he is equal parts designer developer and reporter as covered campaign finance schools disaster-recovery and other topics before joining ProPublica he was the designer and developer that Talking Points Memo and creator of TPM is popular poll tracker application and he was honored with the society professional journalists sigma-delta try Award for his map surrounding the response to Hurricane Sandy this also and awards from the Society for News Design the Online News Association and investigative reporters and editors the that thing an of I know you know you don't embedding he knows the words of most recently if you haven't seen it and then as you will hear more about it today of ProPublica and ALS work of called losing ground cannot just a couple weeks ago about land loss in the bios of Louisiana is just absolutely great work from I haven't had much time to dig into it for obvious reasons but I fully intend to over the next couple of weeks because it's deep and rich and wonderful and it is exactly the sort of tool over exactly the sort of product that enabled by the tools we build here and for that you all photograph and get they the pause but don't give it yourselves give it to Al I'll get offstage you're done with me but your optimal and we the what the
the the the the thank sterilant thanks to everyone's been naturally fantastic event and totally blown away and we don't get this kind of of competence of it's pretty also and I not a in advance or I don't have a lymphatic edges so you just stuck with me and 1 you think for a start this URL appears the slides there's a lot of time euros throughout the presentation and I won't have enough time really to get through all of them so you might want bookmark that ticket out later so the mine in South I work at a
place called ProPublica which is a nonprofit investigative news outlet and based in New York City 1 were pretty smaller about 50 people
we usually do long uh long projects and 1 thing that unique about us is that we have a mission and we do stories with moral force we do stories that on that can already be found the disenfranchised reduce stories that represent the underrepresented on and I work on a small team within that group called the news applications team and we are reporters just like the rest of the reporters in the group but we also make graphics and we call news apps
but we also write stories we pitch stuff we can do the same journalism than all the other journalists and reporters on staff do we channel into that of a few different other places besides just text and you may know graphics and stuff like with the New York Times does is fantastic and that's what we like to call graphics news apps are little more complicated news apps so
what we like to call telling a story with software instead of words and pictures so a traditional story on your read through it and at the top you might get a little bit about the story and you'll read through it and you might get to an anecdote about a person and then you read about them and they may be indicated that might be indicative of of of a larger trend or something but news apps actually let you find yourself in that trends and they let you put yourself inside stories not so I'm really excited about new that's on just for
example for example this is a map I wrote a couple years ago called the opportunity gap it's about education inequality in America and about how various states over and are different at providing equal access to stuff like advanced placement classes advanced math sports stuff like that you could actually sort of sort the states by programs and see how well each state does and so that's that
initial page 4 we like to call the FAA that's if the readings a story and traditional news story that the top the leader and these are kind of traditional journalism jargony words the readers the just pulls you in at the beginning and then not graph tells you the gist of the story and it used to be that sound you know before we had computers people write stories and editors with chop them off on you know when they ran out of space in the paper and that's usually later on the anecdotes like they cut out stuff later on might it out but in news apps we have the far end of the we and not and then the most important
thing is this thing called the new year which is where you can find yourself in a story and In this academic you look up the school look up the address and the as the information about it and see how well educational
opportunity is provided at the school so for example in the in Williamsburg Brooklyn and it's kind of interesting because of the pretty well area these days and 99 per cent of kids are on reduced-price lunch and that's that the proxy for poverty at a reduced price lunch and the enrollment rate in Nietzsche classes a staggering so far I was a local news organization I might want to write a story about that but and
and a lot of news organizations have
but there is 1 of the things we like to do is put our data out there and let local news organizations right stories and likewise in the unique thing about us is that all of our stories are re publishable under a Creative Commons license so we're always doing you might say is open source journalism 0 yeah we also we also do a lot of
maps so in the same opportunity gap application you can see these 2 views of Southern California and those are the 2 maps we do and what is the thing about them is that he sort by a reduced-price lunch verses AP classes you'll see 2 very different maps the almost the 2 inverse maps which highlights the and the lack of a equal edges educational opportunity in southern California so we do times the maps ProPublica a
lot of the state maps some other and we did attend the different kinds of maps and we also like to open source code so we do is
on the when we have the right that's abstractable we like to open source in order to lose to a tool and then release that add to the greater public so in this and in this instance this is a simple SCG and SCG graphics SPG maps all that it takes JJ sign turns it into an SVG maps the site and we also have a thing called state space which is an open source fonts and it's every state plane projection in the country as as a fog and lots diffuse organizations have used this from the New York Times The Guardian The Washington Post but just tons of news organizations of users search and got a lot of its super popular but today I don't really want talk too much about tools I wanna talk more about stories to that we do we do we do
stories and and I won't tell you 3 stories today that came out of geography and and there 3 places in time and 3 3 places on in the US and 3 points in time and and they did these stories came out of out of geography and the presentation also informed by geography so I'd like to start in California in 2010 so were all were all
sensors nodes here and we know that every year the Census does and releases a whole bunch of these files called aligned files well ruined those and and they
do they release this every year because every year the senses there's a survey and they find where people of moves what demographic changes that happens and they release all these files but the other thing happens every year is is a process called redistricting and redistricting was when they see where people moved in the world demographic changes have happened and actually we draw the line the congressional districts 2 match and in the and what also happens in the course of redistricting is the nefarious side of that which is where people who have an interest in keeping lines a certain way like to draw those lines to match their interests and that's all we like to call gerrymandering the so we all these new files from the census and you hasn't been 2010 and we want to figure out
is there a way for us to detect gerrymandering is there some kind of algorithm is a classical beautiful machine that we can build the to detect gerrymandering and so we know that we have looked around call a lot of people we talk to people we wrote some code and what happened was we
we landed on northern California but not for the reason that you might think on you see a lot of stuff in media
in in the media and stuff like this that and tries to predict gerrymandering there's these weird post on voxel is I tried to have trod diamonds the MIT equal districts he she selects uncle bear these crazy districts that are a long dated and and in all different shapes the mapping company is AVI even and
even created the gerrymandering index and with a look for compactness basically how close to a circle a district is on and you know with all respect is a today at some top intended it to the 2nd 1 but there's another 1 called holes
the Popper which looks for the parameter and the printer link premier of the district and to try to predict gerrymandering but when you look at all these algorithmic techniques they all owned failing because you get districts like New Yorker
Baltimore and New York for example in in Queens there's the Rockaway Peninsula which if you've ever been there you know is a barrier islands and long and skinny and that's just the way it is written in is a community of their community of interest and so on and the same thing with Baltimore Baltimore is right on the coast and its rel harbor and the rest of the city is a kind of a parallelogram so you can't really
but you can't really say that
this is a gerrymandered districts just because it's long and skinny and that's what Baltimore look
like in context but then someone might say to you alright what about landlocked
district what about places like Illinois we have this this half the jammin look at how narrow that is in some places well fuel if you look at this and this also some graphic New York Times didn't 2010 where they looked at where they put together a graphic showing and ethnicities of where people live according to the 2010 census you'll see that that district matches a pretty good pretty well and the area that Latinos live this is actually Voting Rights Act aspects of this has to be shipped this way so no there's we can't actually projected predict
gerrymandering through an outer on and that's something that we came to an end so we're we're music that gerrymandering was happening and so we decided to kind of do some reporting and see if we could figure out we stepped away from my computers for a 2nd and put on a reporter happened actually flew out to California and tried to figure this out and it's always happening we read
through on some the districts that have been created we saw that there was a lot of funny stuff happening so for example this district and district 48 is on 1 of the things that bind the stick this together is a common love of intensity each recreation and there's another district farther up on and this was a few years ago a over a few decades ago and farther up the coast it was united was along the district is united by a common the common ground of an of an endangered condors so people use all kinds of things to justify district and this led us
to look into this Deininger McNerney who is and who is represented in northern California and we did some reporting and we found out that I'm according to an internal memo Democrats recognized that early on that they could basically control all of northern California as long as they didn't as long as no district across the Golden Gate Bridge and as long as they can pull off some Democrats from this come from this district which is district 11 top left into 1 pull that triangle into a unified district which encompassed all of San walking so too little Odyssey there but this that'll triangle in in the bottom right is mostly democratic and the rest District 9 there's is republican an and the way it works in California is there's an independent redistricting commission that supposed to be nonpartisan as poster on poster was in the people testifying and then made make the recommendations for districts but we we found was that that people that the people
running the people that had that had a vested interest in staying in power stayed in power mostly by and hiring redistricting consultants and working with certain public groups which testified on their behalf as a so this is Gemignani new district and you can see it is that part of Democrats in the corner which offsets the Republicans and in the rest of the district and there that the Democrats strategy he
was actually really brilliant what they did was they set up this group called once and what he which on the surface looked to be actually a group that was on that the favored Republicans it there all the rhetoric was about and you find out you find this area and in treating 1 unified San Martino but in reality it benefited the Democrats and you can see from this FEC report in the top left there that that Jerry McNerney a redistricting partners which is that consulting firm to draw these maps and those the maps that essentially became and the
maps that we see uh in the census today in the districts that are in effect today this also happened in southern California there was
a were there is a representative name Judy Chu who represented an area called Rosemead as well as a lot of other cities in in Los Angeles but forbidding constituent use in Rosemead and there is also some other cities that and there were nearby but her she had a vested interest in keeping Rosemead within her district and if you look at the initial this trick before redistricting and no District
afterwards Rosemead stayed and within a district yet all these other and Andrews is primarily in Asian American and all these other districts which used to be continued in the same district . split apart
in these districts are all primarily with Latino no Northumberland state infer district Sal Comónta element and he's still a all went to separate districts now this was an accident this was a concerted effort on on her part and on public groups that were set up and you can read more about this story the Urals back here
at the bottom and trajectory it's it's really
fascinating and and if you look at the maps
that the that the consultants true for her and the final maps there's not a whole lot of different so this is
the the maps that the consultants true for her and this is the the final map that and that was put into the place so read so gerrymandering Israel redistricting is not and not a totally impartial nonpartisan process but there's all whole lot of different ways that redistricting happens are gerrymandering happens 1 is a process called cracking now cracking is where to a bunch of districts boats are where 1 community interest is split up into many different districts of the city of often in the city of Rochester inside the city of Austin and the
City of Rochester here are are um all crack our cracked in the sense that they're split up into multiple districts and hacking is another
example of of a a of a strategy to to gerrymander but this is kind of the opposite of of packing and this is where cut where communities are all putting the 1 distance so these and the cities in in the south in Florida and Alabama are all packed into district into 1 district in user primarily African-American districts after American cities at a packed into into 1 district now this now you can you can even
get a little more specific so hijacking is when you actually look for a certain house and draw someone out of their own house similar running and you have 4 office and kidnappings the opposite when you draw someone into another district and that that they don't want being but but what
about these matters so we did a lot of cool
maps for this project and I want to talk a
little bit about the the actual maps we put on the web because what we do is not just on the not always match the recordings that we also care a lot about the presentation side and in
in 2011 the state of online mapping in news in was not and not that amazing and you guys are all probably more in not in this world so you don't know that you know help primitive we are in the using this him but in 2011 we were mostly using Google Maps to put maps on the web and other tools like that at this point I think town was still pretty much in its infancy but the correct me on that and there is there some other tools but most of the time we're using rule maps and google maps is primarily a way finding instrument it's primarily its primary users to help you find certain points and they make decisions about what points of interest donors maps and what's important what and what's not and they make it really really easy for you to add as many points as you want to this match and 1 this this 1 out of the sort this newspaper in the Hudson Valley in 2011 put up a map of a gun permit owners of war who had gone from where in in the Hudson Valley and this caused a huge uproar as you may imagine and the map was called and I think that they even passed the law locally saying that this data would be available anymore so I think is that we develop a lot of common and I would argue that 1 of the reasons this map happened was because of this tool the tool that made it easy for you put all the data onto a map and that's up on the web and and and and go with it go with the story and so we
we did a lot of with Google Maps we try to make it work for news we tried to limit the features highlight the features we want Google is still making a lot of decisions about what is important on these maps these freeways these parts these and this water and stuff like that so but so what we watch what we were
trying to do is make maps you traditionally seen a print newspaper this map I really like this map a lot it's a map of New Orleans after Katrina and it shows you the area that flooded and shows you the just the point should you care about the hospitals the medical centers on which medical centers are open which are close to the extent of the flooding in that since the funniest theory labeled in the same color as the flooding itself and don't get bogged down with the flight freeways and and stuff that's not pertaining that doesn't pertain directly to the story and Amanda Coxeter near Times has a
has a a famous quote where she says it should be here's some data so you you can find that were doing that were failing in news about we like to tell people exactly what's important show them what's what's important news and so what we wanna do is create a system that allowed you add just the layers you want to add and and have a map that showed readers exactly what we want to show them so they would get the story
immediately and so for the redistricting maps we want like just a very clean natural earth base layer and 1 of course the census layer we want to use the census layer of of the districts the ones of this text the the demographics in ethnic chinese behind the districts we wanna rich annotation later to let people know what they're looking at these maps In the most importantly want the limited amount of navigation win what and the Google Maps style you know slipped any place on on the Earth that you could do we want to limit you to looking at our story and that led us down to us through some choose Apple wind up
running around tile generated platform and we rode in C and this is what we call simple tiles and we also have this thing called simpler tiles which is the ruby bindings to to see which is important because we're a are absent rails and we like to a answer maps directly from our army that's a and DAPI
super simple and actually the API i think reflects exactly we're trying to do in news we're trying to add just the lazy what we're trying to filter them exactly where we want adding the styles we want we're using we're using Cairo here to the to add to create the context for the paintings uh for the things that we that's split out so that's that out so there's a go very simple styling language in here and it's even simpler Ruby is Ruby base we just you know point to shape file that could also be up which JFA-based but at a certain filter and then add your styles and spit out opinion Mr. was really really well inside say and you know you rails controllers to spit out at to spit out files on the fly when someone asks so it's it's really really simple it's basically just a set of structures that all of work with each other might Michot my colleague Jeff Larson wrote this and use it is a kind as his brilliant vision in keeping simple tiles super simple and the name and all you do here is you set some balance a set of projection the set U you add some over data to it are you filter that ends and you send you style the current context using a super simple Cairo of Paris style and language and then you got a king and even just this year we added Rasta support to it which is even simpler and all you do is just throw anything right g doubt and read out at any kind GeoTiff for any of them many members of of formats that GDL can can handle you be projected total entire context in Canada now we got a demo running at this
URL here of new of the New York City lands that this is a true color image that I attended history pansharpened and RGB image and through into into simple tiles and In this entire
this entire demo took about an hour
including the pansharpening and and color treating and about the lines of so in that were using a little a little tool called Sinatra which is like a very simple web framework for Ruby and simpler tiles and you basically just throwing the path to a raft there's a GeoTiff and and you're off so it it helps us a lot because our we like to rival we call deadlines software something comes up in out we need to get in on the Zappa graphic out fast and we don't wanna write a whole lot code so simple thousands of houses helps a lot with that so these is these are the
kinds of maps that we that simple tiles helped us to create and and get us closer to the kind of print maps that that we admired so much before we made them and of course simple
tiles also works on a Google on Google maps based their work anywhere just map tiles and you could see them working in now opportunity gap application as well and right here so that that story 1 story to lose about New York City
and Europe city in 2012 as you all probably know superstorm Sandy uh hit hit New York as well as most of the eastern seaboard and and it it
can paralyze York City for a little while we were and are officers in the financial district in that differ me within a flood zone New York lost Manhattan loft power for a week the subways were down and this this was not a small storm over from New York City and we 1 once have we were back in our in our office in back and have chairs we decided to kind of look into in this book into the recovery the response and how this is all handled New York and a storm awhile and obviously after Katrina stuff didn't really work that well and the response handled to well then so we need kind of have a feeling that there is some stories in there and a few months after the storm New
York City released this thing called there on their new york city resilience of I believe I forget exactly what it's called but we were really interested by this 1 map in in the report and this map shows up and where Sandy flooded and the flood plain maps that were in effect when Sandy flooded so 2 things jumped out as and immediately from this map 1 was wildly is for exams didn't really do too well and didn't really part at 1st they didn't really predict where the implied that well at all and the 2nd thing was this here in 1983 knows the last time the flood maps have been updated in New York City so that connections uses a little a little bit while why had before announcing the largest city in the country not been updated since 1983 and so we called some people we did some reporting and we talk to some the people and you know doing GIS in the city and track trying to figure this out and we got even more confused when we went
back to people told us so you should probably look at the Flood Insurance Study and we got even more confused because the Flood Insurance Study was dated was that it was revised in 2007 so OK why was that clinicians a revised has 7 but this other reports of 2003 or assign 1983 This is all confusing to us what went wrong and what changed when so we actually you know opened up the
recording started reading it and and with men this passage Kunegis that jumped out at us and what super interesting about this is that the coastal flooding the the coastal storm surge analysis and elevation data was super old and especially the coastal storm surge analysis was was from 1983 and so root rule this can confuse so why would they update the mountain not update this this underlying analysis in you know a lot of it has to do with money but we started dating back a little bit more and there's a
whole slew of GAO reports the government and ability office has a whole slew of reports about Sandy or sorry about the map and that was back to the early 2 thousands where we looked into the MOS map modernization plans and essentially their plan at 1st was to digitize all the maps in the country but just get the maps onto a digital formats then will will will will go from there that's not care too much about what these maps out the same as just make sure that the files on the server and and then will handle the next task but well in
2004 geo that GAO report came out saying that that is probably not such a great idea because all these maps were found were in different standards in adhere to a common standard didn't seem to be any kind of rhyme or reason to you how the maps were chosen to get additional data or even which ones were digitized 1st and but but the biggest problem was that most men do not update the underlying data they simply took the same maps and put them into digital format but and so in 2006 issued with
they call mid-course adjustment when they realize this strategy is not not working too well we should actually change our percentage and maybe digitizer load durable update more of them with with the underlying data changes so people will actually see a map was updated in 2000 at the map that was updated and at a certain time actually trust data behind it and
well as far back as 2005 New York State fled chief actually sent a letter to the mayor with great alarm about how about the state of the maps in New York state at the time he said that the maps were are insufficient for quality but what really good looking looking maps and and that they fail to provide the data needed to adequately manage development in flood plain and so that's as far back as 2005 so we can look around you we want a little bit of how other counties around New York City and we
look to Nassau County in Nassau County which is in the eastern part of long island it's basically right next to New York City but to the east and Nassau counties maps were updated in 2009 but and we're all smart this I actually want 1 to see what they did maps we look inside the inside the
book and we found that they were on the whole they didn't new coastal storm surge analysis in 2008 and so that that's really curious so if NASA carried didn't instances analysis in 2008 and the 1 from New York City was from 1983 how well they fared together well we we made that
map and in Nassau County 89 % of the flood area was predicted by the maps were where queens and kings at which are Brooklyn Queens respectively and did not do as well and we did this by working out
some over a and C + + and think the other and just looking for a the intersections to see how well these maps performed and how they how they vary so we did this we did this offer all the maps in that area and
penetrate the on Metacritic for fun maps and and just to look at how how all the colonies in the New York New Jersey area fared and and the box size here actually is the is the population of the county and the color represents how well broadly it predicts that county predicted the flood the Sandy flooding and there is not a whole there's not much of a pattern between them between the county population and the and which maps did better or worse as some of these maps in New Jersey actually and were not even digitized the ones in red that is still used on paper and the Atlantic City's maps is still on paper and which is you know that's kind of a funny thing to think about so you could turn go through this Metacritic fun
absent the Rockaway the Rockaway Peninsula as the governmental earlier and they didn't do all too well that 1 that's and that's a barrier island we're talking about there's not a whole lot of television so we want to find since some people in this story and because you
know we like the right words to not software and for the words part of this project we won the find some people that would illustrate the story and we think we thought we could find these people and without computers is kind of funny thing for a the thing to do but but we thought we could find some people that it would represent the story by looking for by by looking for people
that bought houses and after 2007 and not being and and not in the 2007 floods zone butter within these preliminary floods on so few not actually released some preliminary flood zones right after the right after Sandy hit that were in the works for a while and actually traftery well that's a sandy I don't
have that map of right here but on the all everything in the brown area here what's in this preliminary floods and so the flood zones that human made with a neutrophil surgeon at causal stances analysis with light are based television and so all these purple houses in here purple buildings are our buildings that were damaged in Sandy so this is kind of what we want to do find
buildings that word in within the preliminary for them are not in 2007 from them were built an altered after there's an action that should also include an were damaged in Sandy so we're out are over 0 0 more and kind of looked for those buildings in New York City has a 3 dataset call the property address file that lets you find out when every building in New York with delta altered and so we looked for those and that led us to this family who
lives in she said they and this is the Morgan family and they bought their house in 2008 and and they actually look the foot and this this is 1 of the 1st houses we get we came across we actually actually print that this map this attitude yes and that a trend that this map and handed it to a reporter and she went out and knocked on doors of these purple houses and and so she found when the 1st houses she not distortion was the Morgan family and and they they thought
they were finally have look at the 2007 maps they um they even you know did a few precautionary measures and their house did not to to do so well and Sandy there all basement was flooded they they got 17 thousand dollars from the map and 6 thousand dollars from the homeowners insurance but they spent nearly 50 thousand dollars out of pocket to rebuild their homes had the knockout the whole basement and so that this is kind of uh 1 example of of the casualty of these old maps and we didn't
of a couple little mini maps for within the story these appended embedded within the story to look at other neighborhoods that were in the same situations of the yellow areas here are areas there in these preliminary flood zones that can released right out the Mory's right after standard that indeed the blue here is the existing 2007 flood hazard zones so that did not do so well as black buildings of the buildings that were damaged during the storm but we want that to take this a step further and we were really
inspired by maps like this 1 that the new on stance-taking and that actually shows you really really well how and how much of a bold and you lenses is and how the how much the city is actually under water and only only on protected by these levees so we want to make a map just like this so we can like this for a New York so we decided to make a 3 D and we
did we did not use web G for this and some some custom code that we had written and this is what this is what and the village in New York City would look like if those preliminary maps which are the most of new perfect storm maps essentially this is what happened would happen if have that storm hit hit and exactly where the buildings by sorry where the where the flood zones would come up with a water would come to on those buildings we did 1 for our
neighborhood this is where the ProPublica building is Norman happen stand funny to see you can see the battery tunnel in that right there and and I won't talk too much about this but we wrote a lot
of code and and we actually and our own file format called just files and shirt for Jefferson so if you know maybe you can get a file format in that itself as you can write somebody else and but there's a lot more about this in the in this blog posts and so I encourage you all to read it so that brings me to a 2 story
3 which is going to start kind of on selfish node and in 2012 my girlfriend actually moved down to New Orleans and she was in the ready and have but I made a lot of trips down there and when you go in and if if you're there for just a little a little bit the place can get since it's cheap and you on the music the culture the food and everything about is just so unique so I'm different than the rest of America it's of distant incredibly you need place but what might be the most unique about is the geography and and when you go there and have that that you just can't imagine that people live here let alone a city from that used to be 600 thousand before Katrina now about 300 thousand and in this basically dangling off on in this wetland rapidly sinking so
I read start reading a lot of books and I I recommend you you guys all read these this is the fantastic books if you like and environmental journalism and especially this book and by you farewell by dynamited well in this book actually started out as a kind of a travelogue she went down you want to write a little book about the Cajun coast and we got there he realized that there's this huge and phenomenon going on with people's land was essentially disappearing and right underneath their feet and it turned from a kind of lighthearted travelogue and almost an elegy for people that kept having to move farther up by because there they could see their their previous land where they had been living disappearing over time so I read this and you don't have to spend too much time in the ones
on before seeing a map that looks like this which is but you know if you live down there very very terrifying thing this is 1 from the US yes it's a map of all land has disappeared between the 1932 and will it's between 1932 and will disappear by 2060 so I'm uh I Paul doesn't answer the phone seasons math but not created on but it's a it's a very terrifying map I brought this map that to my boss insurance anything he's like yes we must do a story on this is crazy no 1 outside Louisiana knows happening but 3rd of the state is basically sinking into the ocean into the Gulf so why is this happening
and this is something that I was very curious about and and started reading a lot about an from I think 1 the best 1 of the
best of passages that illustrates why this is happening is from a guy named Jonathan typically you wrote a piece in the 19 and 1987 New Yorker called a shuffle lines wanna read this to you because and this this cat hasn't really really spoke to me and I I use these and certain and these emphasized words are my emphasis I just emphasize the because I thought they were so great and he says undernutrition area with many distributaries spreading the floodwaters left and right and cross the big deltate plane visually the whole region would be covered with fresh sediments as well as water in average EER some 200 million tons of sediment on transport in the river this is where the for land Rockies go the western Appalachians southern Louisiana is a very large lump of mountain butter 8 miles thick where rests upon the continent shelf half that and new ones in a mile and a 3rd all at Old River is the nature of unconsolidated sediments to compact condensing trust we think that the whole deltaic plane as super Himalaya upside down is to varying extents citing work has been for thousands of years I recommend that you already read this entire essay it's full of metaphors like that it's amazing what so
here is this is a great graphic from the New York Times in around 2006 where they can just to illustrate what he is talking about here and how the Mississippi River for the last 7 thousand years has shifted course that started out and I guess farther east to India shuffle iris and moved over and that's how this through chief actually got created and the Buddha that we know of is the as Louisiana so leading up to
so in 1927 there was a horrific flood entry on about this because it flooded and you know almost every state up and down the Mississippi city river and leading up to this flood there is a big debate in the scientific community and in the engineering community that how actually keep the river place and 1 of 1 proponents of in this debate was saying let's just build levees higher and higher and higher and 1 other point in the in the debate was saying no we need to have spillways now mental to review the pressure and because the levees will eventually over top and so that's exactly what happened in 1927 and is a closer view of the
of the delta and around the world and and the only way we the world was spared in 1927 flood was because about 60 miles southwest of the city they cut that they cut the levee and flooded almost all these towns and in the Delta south and southeast of new ones and so after after this flood they the army corps and a bunch of other people realize they needed to do something about this and so that's when they actually started building
that the levee system that we know of today and it incorporated both levies and still wears and because they clearly after that they realised there was a pretty good idea of the need to alleviate pressure on the river and what the effect that this was they let the river all the way down to the very edge of the delta what's called the birds with delta in the in the very bottom right hand corner of this of this of this picture and what will and all the sediment that this mountain invited John is talking about would come all the way down the river and it wasn't wasn't Republican adults it would actually go all the way off the continental shelf and would be wasted forever
and this is a great a great a great photo that illustrates that end up in the top this is the bonnet coarray spillway which is I'm a little and when there is hot when the report river runs high the sediment actually and gets gets spilled into Lake Pontchartrain so doesn't come foot and for new ones but all the sentiment here is they're going to 1 the spillways or it's going all the way down off the common shelf was being lost forever in all these areas these these wetlands which need sediment to be replenished and not getting it and this is 1 of the reasons the biggest reason the coast is that the coast is vanishing because the sinking so if if that was all that they had done that we would not be in the situation we were we we are in today we we still probably losing some land but not at the rate that we're seeing it because the other thing that happened in the early in the early
part of century was that they discovered oil in south Louisiana and these are 3 of the main oil pipelines but because they want they need to build these pipelines so that people in the Northeast could turn on the gas ranges in their in their kitchens and get natural gas to to do the cooking and that gas came all the way down from from the gulf and this is the middle of 2 bags is just 3 big pipelines but actually there's thousands of these
thousands of pipelined all throughout the coast and and the pipelines are not the only problem because they actually had to in order to lay the pipelines they had to get to the areas they want to lay the pipelines in order to do that in the canals and up until fairly
recently through the way they don't canals was not in a way that was to the wetlands in the sense that these canals were way way larger than the pipelines that they needed to drill you could see in the bottom image here and a pipe by the delay and what they did was they they don't the the canals and the spoil banks which is what all the stuff that was inside the canals got put over to the to the edges and they do not fill those in afterwards and so what happened was the spoil banks would way down that the wetlands because everything around around the sink in salt water intrusion positive education to died later on
they got a little smarter about it and this is 1 of the and 1 the later pipelines they Internet in the seventies or eighties and in these you could see that the ditches the data for the pipelines were only as wide as the pipelines themselves and they covered up the spoil banks back on to where the where the original and cut list of and you can see the the effectiveness of the user all of
these former canals that and that got wider and wider over time and salt water intrusion came in and these are the spoil banks were looking at that is kind of 1st above above the water and water canals turned in the lakes turn and open water and this is not an isolated an isolated thing to is these canals there's an instance like 10 thousand
miles of these canals throughout the coast this is 1 the Louisiana State University Dissertation that looks at the canals just in this 1 section between the Mississippi River River and by you before and and but this density of canals is actually pretty patent system throughout the entire process was just this 1 students area of interest and what's
important beside the obvious the wildlife and and and all that the the estuaries and fish that live in is indeed the wetlands and if you live in the city of New Orleans anything in the metropolitan area areas around their these wetlands are the 1st line of
defense for you when African comes so when a hurricane comes over the ocean and it slows down like have these wetlands and so doesn't put as much pressure on the left on the levees and if these wetlands 1 here these letters were essentially becomes the walls and that wouldn't work too well because the letters are made out of modern sea walls you know like the kind you have in the Netherlands have been made out of concrete would cost billions and billions of dollars these wetlands are super super important on they didn't realize that in the early part of the part of the century when landowners would sell the wetlands to oil companies thinking they were just where alligators and bugs lived and stuff but they know that now and 1 in every district
in New Orleans is actually suing 97 or oil and gas companies for the for the coastal degradation that they've done and to the wetlands over 50 years and this is just another view that the time's ticking data of the other side of the river and the density of the canals over there so this is the intent of 1 its way throughout the
throughout and the courts the Governor has done many things to actually try to kill this lawsuit and the China had asked a federal judge to step in it's it's kind of every day there's a new development here individual parishes which are what are which are
what counties are called in Louisiana also also getting into the act and the ensuing use these destinies and because the coast arrested uh because of this coastal damage on and you can see this if you look
at their if you look at and US SGS aerials over time you if you look at at this area this is 1 of my favorite areas to look at which we call the wagon wheel which is a salt dome in in near the birds with delta and they discovered the salt started drawing from dredging canals all around it and putting wells and so over time you can see how this activity leads to that leads to the the the man disappearing in thinking that this this US image from the fifties and the seventies in 2013 if you look
at an this matter in 2013 NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration do you listed 31 places from the from the US yes maps at that used to be that that don't exist in what is now the open water and places like and they pond or and all these days it used to be their base by using an channels and ponds that are not they're not there anymore and not taken off maps so we
um we decided to do a project around us and we thought that the best the best way to do this was to use satellite data and we don't know a whole lot about that idea you have to remember that were actually you know in the news industry and we and were kind behind on the technological stuff but we try to get up to speed pretty quickly and we thought that
lands that would be the best tool because of all the different bands and because of that because of the resolution that the the the trade off between the different the spectral resolution temporal resolution and and was was a pretty good trade off here and so we decided to to play around and see if we can make a pretty good map to show what the delta looked like in 2014 so we could lay on lay on use older maps on top of them and so this is that this is our 1st
attempt we use just kind of straight true color RGB image here and this and this is this is kind of a good 1st attempt but we were not too happy with it because of because you could really tell the difference between healthy land and dying land and sediment and reverse it all kind of in in met in this kind of group the donkey rats nesting in the corner and this is kind of what you see in google Earth and why wouldn't want do it the worst as we thought we could do a little better so the next thing we did over by we also pansharpened this and next to the next in we tried
was we tried going with a couple different infrared bands green band and we like it's a lot better attested see the difference between the land and water a lot better here we weren't too happy with and have the uncanny valley effect that it when when the late late people and leaders would look at this map they wouldn't we thought they would naturally get a sense of the coast so if their think that this book the little to alien and so this is our 2nd attempt we also pansharpened this 1 and people told us that pansharpening false color images was not to have an idea and I think I kind of agree after looking at this and so we can settle we went back to the true color approach
and decided to put a mask and infrared mask on it and this site which became kind of like our got are like 0 god combination here we've got this looked really really good you could see the differences in the healthy when the diamond the wetlands the water beyond the river metropolitan areas people was see this as a OK this is what I think Louisiana looks like and big props to Brian Jacobs's in the crowd somewhere he he did a lot lay work on this and this is kind his baby so and it's what really really amazing that I'll I just love the snapper were were standing on the
shoulders of giants here we and we took a lot from people like Charlie Lloyd and Robson who helped us understand how to play around and said that data we also around the town center at Columbia for a couple days and they showed us some stuff on and that was really great and so in order to create this this visualization we needed to go back in time and see and and find a map of what the state is to look like before the levying before the Joanne dredging and all that and so we got in touch with
someone at LSU a map librarian at Louisiana State University who gave us 1 of the earliest US maps of Louisiana and we're super excited about this and here here's what that map looks like
after we rectified it that georeferenced it into the same projection that are of are you a man god 2014 Landsat map was put in and and we all related and without this is just a
great contract people about love us and we
we created these like the ISO lines to let you see what the coastline user look like compared because by now based on this 1922 map if you look at say on Barataria Bay which is that kind of day in the middle there just the the size that they were members is now it is passed I bring so that was great for the summer before and after but we want to actually create the land change between 19 22 and 2014 I we want to essentially
create land and and we want effective
looked like this kind of then In order to do
that we use this excellent study
and done by a guy named John Barth and a few other people and which is just fantastic you can call this the model Gram Grammar map because it's like moderate colors and it's in each 1 of these colors is a different
range of landing land lost so sometimes land was Jane and sometimes land lost and we use this to
create these layers and we didn't wanna show this all on 1 that we thought that readers wouldn't understand it when it's all although that gain and loss at the same time and intuitively just see a big mass of land so
we found out what all those colors were kind of put them in a bigger at the end the road our
little and this is our new little task here which was creating taking all the layers and for each time period creating an image that combines the land loss from that period from the current period so I'm Sarah 1932 to the laughter and man gained from the current period to the 1st going to the currently in order to create a little snapshot of what the land looked like at any given point in time and so that's exactly we did and we
also wrote a little a little code to make some graphs just by cops canon transparent pixels transplanted cells there
on to to show you what the land Haviland changed over time and and and so from then we we decided to you know we knew we want this all into an act and news application as I was saying before and we were inspired in doing that by
couple different sources 1 was this amazing map Nat National Geographic map of the Gulf of Mexico it shows just all of those oil leases and oil infrastructure and pipelines and wells in and it's just the wealth of nations to define this map I recommend you try to track down and look at it and it's big here but an you know look at in tables it's awesome and this other little app
called thinkable that we we really liked which I'm just at an app for and looking at various heights you could take around the around the world story like this up a lot because it gave you contextual information about the heights and it's all due to point of interest and it splits up in the days and you can kind of go through and see what you might see on each day of the height and and we can lot of ideas from it so that anyone they're out there and worked on this then I owe you a beer so this is kind of what our final
products looked like an it started we start out with this 1922 map and we let users can affect between all the layers I was talking about before so you go from there
to and 2 2014 and then look at
all the layers like the levee
system the the the canals and this is just the canals in that 1 area of interest but it the all the oil and gas infrastructure so these are all the oil wells around the coast and all the pipelines around the coast and then for the Canada is part of yet we 1 to show people what would happen if we didn't take any action what what would happen if the if the if so we didn't do any interest the restoration and because how the coastline receded father but there but the most poignant part of yet I felt it was the the was 1 you got in a little closer and you looked at and you using the when these areas of
interest the and you and we have this we have a bunch of these areas where you can see readable stories and listen to them speak and and few people people's livelihoods that that that depend on this land and where and how they've watch the land disappear over time and you can you can slide slightly this time on this size timeline insulin change over time and you can see these orange points of interest here which are those those genus points that don't exist on but you know a maps anymore and we thought this was really really powerful and people the logic and just to conclude today I kind of wanna play and an audio clip from from what is that I think that this guy Ryan Lambert who lives in various Louisiana I think his words and about land last year and I think are a lot better than mine and he's a lot more to do with me to a have a fisherman than in and in coastal Louisiana and I just want to say something from him didn't work and would call the
high Chaparro OK at this sits on the loans would use to be the make some guy Cyprus canal it was just just a campus so we can use a common in people only would come out here can spend the weekend like like everyone in Louisiana this camps throughout the history you know people came the cancel weekend and uh so is the norm for quite some time now as all the land is this because you know a different days with read lost all of our culture actually you know the camps like the 1 right behind this war they were throughout this whole more state communities that people live people want those steps there we go and what traps are the backbone of frontloading shipping gravitate the of across the by a native fish fries and stuff it's yellow across abided neighbors in all that make and in the early eighties late seventies you that we will navigate your way to the more developed makes to my user needs and you know this going to . 3 miles from march with with all the different from a nanomolar raccoons in them has something to make that muskrat hours ducks as you press that would begin number where analysis namely the goal it's only open more the man who was equally Hill on in the use of make may not mention shit I have witnessed would people can only dream about the states to infer that could be going on in a loser more every day physically makes me feel like it's all relative to where you at the time you appear young person you think this is what is false a look like salt water intrusion is such a stressful that intimidating cancer but good people get complacent and they think blend I remember back in the day when when when you old enough to know was too late but he can put this project and better word I've and and that's kind of you we we want people to get a kind of this whole reaction when we when we retrieve and use application we when we make maps and
and you know when that happens I think they kind of that shows us why we're all doing this and why we're why we like to make maps and I and this kind so that all of the head and and so that kind of brings me to the
end just want to say that this is what we do we like to can bring a sense of geographic accountability on the and and so much for having me thinks the
fossil due this is this is fantastic and you're right here is is the slides you wanna read anything more things if it the and take a couple questions in have please you might good as an interval once peers I just 1 quick question was the were the all lines that you displayed on your maps how did you get that is publicly available we we got a lot from the Louisiana and couple the sources of a lot of oil pipelines are not available because of a massive security purposes so that they tell us that we tried to find anything and through different this is a lot of them from the null and alternate so that we were still museums sorry I don't have a question and I just want to make a comment from the grass video exit red card game woodpeckers still endangered if the yeah the well thank you with Wikipedia lied to me the notion of the I thank you so much all coming that was fantastic on
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