Dotspotting Expands to Track Homicides, Food Vendors, Road Trips

    by Eric Rodenbeck
    January 20, 2011

    Since my last post, we’ve been busily working on extending the functionality of Dotspotting, the first project in our larger Citytracking project aimed at helping people tell stories about cities. It’s still, as my colleague Aaron puts it, very much in a “super alpha-beta-disco-ball” state — which mainly just means we don’t want anyone to put data in there that they expect to keep — but it’s getting there.

    A few things have happened that I want to update you about:

    • Import has been expanded from only accepting .csv files to include .gpx, .json, .kml, .rss and .xls files. Various people around the studio use a variety of GPS tracking software. I use Trails for the iPhone, Julie uses Mytracks for Android, and so on. We’ve been starting with those formats as a baseline, using the files that different applications export and pulling them into Dotspotting.
    • Export has been expanded to include all of the above file types, and also includes .png files. We’re hoping this is going to be particularly useful for journalists who want to include images of geographic content in their articles but don’t want to use the screen-capping-a-google-map-and-hoping-the-legal-department-doesn’t-catch-on technique. So these kinds of images become easy to export out of the system.
    • Search is coming along. This report from DataSF about 311 activity in District 6, where the studio is, has 392 dots, showing the wide variety of calls for service that the system handles in a week. You can now search these kinds of reports fairly comprehensively, so it’s now possible to make maps of only those requests having to do with Catch Basin Maintenance, graffiti, or tree maintenance. These are the kinds of queries that we want to enable journalists and others to make when telling stories about city data, and they’re the kind of thing that lots of current city data services don’t report, so it’s gratifying to see those come together.
    • Search is also working in a limited fashion relative to position, and PDF export is next on the list. More on these next time.
    • We’ve squashed a lot of bugs related to importing and exporting, and found a bunch more of course. We’re keeping track of these on the project GitHub account; if you find one, please let us know.
    • Uploads are starting to trickle in from outside the studio walls: Homicides in Richmond, New Food Vendors in Vancouver, and trips along the coast of California are a few of what we’ve seen. We’re in conversations with a couple of cities and other groups, more on that next time.


    Tagged: bugs citytracking dotspotting food vendors homicides mapping open data stamen

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