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Tag Archive: mapping

Creating Tools for Civic Engagement and providing a home for activists and hacktivists

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog. Tom Tresser is the Chief Tool Builder at the CivicLab. He teaches civic engagement, public policy and creativity at several local universities. In 2009 he was a co-leader of the No Games Chicago campaign and in 2010 he was the Green Party candidate for Cook County Board President. Wouldn’t it be great to have a place to connect with activists, practitioners of civic engagement, inventors and artists interested in social change? A place that is a combination of a lab, a lounge, a theater, a clubhouse and a school for social change. In Chicago there isn’t one that combines all this in a storefront space with a grassroots vibe that invites people to walk in and connect. A gang of like-minded civic scientists and makers are well into the process of designing and launching one! The CivicLab will be civic maker space. Think of Pumping Station One meets FreeGeek meets 1871 meets the Knitting Factory with a dash of open source tool making and the Little Red School House plus CommuniTeach. Chicago is the home of modern community organizing and has also been a hotspot of innovation and research. We want to be a meeting space where old school organizers and educators can meet with new school technologists and designers to do research, teach civics, and build tools that accelerate social change and community improvement efforts.

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Tools for Transparency: A Crowdmap for Open Government

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Crowdmap is the hosted version of the Ushahidi platform, which allows you to quickly crowdsource information to a map in real time. Crowdmap has typically been used to monitor elections in developing countries, map crisis information as an event unfolds or to curate local resources. Two examples include Syria Tracker which tracks the missing, arrested or killed in Syria while Vacant NYC keeps tabs on vacant properties in and around New York City. We've been using the service for the past few months to curate Sunlight Meetups and open government events taking place around the United States. You can see the latest events on our Participate page.

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ClearMaps: A Mapping Framework for Data Visualization

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Despite the recent explosion of web based cartography tools, making effective maps for data visualization remains a challenge. While tools like Google Maps are great for helping navigate the world they fail terribly at data presentation tasks. Many features like roads and cities only get in the way of telling compelling stories with data. In fact, even the distance between places can be a distraction – who cares how far away Alaska is when the goal is to make a simple comparison between US states?

To overcome some of the limitations with existing mapping tools, Sunlight Lab is releasing ClearMaps, an ActionScript framework for interactive cartographic visualization. In addition to giving designers and developers total control over presentation the project aims to address some of the common technical challenges faced when building interactive, data driven maps for the web. ClearMaps is designed as a lightweight, flexible set of tools for building complex data visualizations. It is a framework not a plug-and-play component (though it could be a starting point for those wishing to make reusable tools).

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