Selected Mapping Tools:

CartoDB

Refer to link: https://carto.com/  

Introduction: Carto is an open web-based drag-and-drop analysis tool for users to discover and predict the key insights underlying the location data. Making use of widget-driven dashboards and unified workflows, it is also a scalable solution for advanced predictive and spatial analytics. The location data is also enriched with relevant datasets drawn from Caro’s own Data Observatory. Carto also enables visualization, dynamic filtering, and exploration of large location datasets through a complete collection of interactive widgets that can execute and accelerate analytic computations.

What kind of visualizations can this tool produce?

This tool can produce location-based applications that can be private or public via their sharing options on the dashboard. It is able to create dynamic maps that allows users to explore location-based trends. The tool allows users to plot their data points onto the map before visualizing the data for analysis. It is also able to create an animated map for temporal data representation. In short, Carto is able to create a web interface for users to manage data and create maps, enable a set of APIs to access data, request maps and create applications.

How are this tool’s visualization capabilities distinct from the capabilities of other tools you’re considering for your project?

My final project focuses more on the visual characteristics of imagery posted onto social media in today’s society. Hence, the initial choice for the tool to be used was simply to visualize the pictures posted on the gallery and then pick out the similarity in visual styles. As I continue to work on my idea, it started to explore other possibilities of comparing the various visual characteristics of photos and/or frequency of photos posted across different geographical regions which, in the case, Carto can be used to predict and discover such insights.

What kinds of questions might this tool help us answer about our data?

Carto can be used to visualize information plotted onto maps in different ways and aggregated values for particular areas can then be calculated. Hence, for example, the mapping tool can answer questions like: what is the percentage of foreigners in Singapore, and where is the highest concentration of them across varying time periods?

In what format does this tool accept data?

Carto offers support for a broad range of data formats and file types, including point, line, polygon and raster import, as well as analysis and rendering. Additionally, it also supports file extensions like GeoJSON and GPX. For vector file formats that it accepts, they include: .csv, .tab, .shp, .kml, .kmz, .xls, .xlsx, .geojson, .gpx, .osm, .bz2, .ods. It also accepts raster files in the format of .tif.

Users are also able to import data to Carto by downloading data from GME. Carto is also working with certified partners like AppGeo and HabitatSeven to create a migration tool to allow the smooth migration of data.

What would we need to do to our data in order to allow the tool to make use of it?

Before the creation of a map, there is a need to locate external geospatial data and create new dataset. If the user does not have any data, it is possible to use Carto’s data library options. After which, the dataset needs to be uploaded using any of the Supported File Formats so that the connect dataset options is able to allow use to drag and drop a data file. After all the editing and customization to the datasets are done, a map can be created to visualize and style the information. Users can select to view the data in a map view in which data is rendered using default styles, and/or add more features to it. Users can also after visualize the map with any filters/styles added.

How difficult will this tool be to master?

Carto allows the users to interact with simple wizards to modify the style data on the map. However, if there is a need for customization, Carto exposes CartoCSS to users which is a more widely used map styling language that is immediately comfortable to those who are already familiar with CSS. If users possess the CSS knowledge, they will be able to be opened up for a wide range of new features to leverage for the maps, which includes better control of colour, scale, and positioning. That being said, it means in order to be able to unlock more features, users need to have basic understanding of the CSS programming knowledge.

Will you need an outside expert to help us master this tool? If so, what kind of expert?

Yes, a programming expert who knows CSS.

Taking into account the time needed to manipulate our data as well as the time needed to master the tool, could we produce a visualization with this tool in the time available to us?

No. But if it is for a simple exercise using the basic editor with the datasets that are already available, I will say yes.

How do you think you can use this tool for a project?

Considering the tool’s ability to segment and zoom in to certain neighbourhood and/or regional areas, I can use this map to show the intensity of Instagram use across the continents. Not only that, filters can be added to show how the idea of aesthetics differ across different geographical region by using a sample image to see the origins of the likes. Additionally, the widgets available in the tool allows users to ask different context-based questions of a dataset. This allows the exploration of different cultural issues into the research.

Google Fusion Tables

Refer to link: https://support.google.com/fusiontables/answer/2571232

Introduction: Google Fusion Tables is a cloud-based data management system that was initially designed for organizations to make their data available online for online collaboration internally or externally. Being an experimental data visualization web application, it gathers, visualize and shares data tables.  

What kind of visualizations can this tool produce?

Google Fusion Tables is able to create visualizations like chart, map, network graph or even a custom layout.

How are this tool’s visualization capabilities distinct from the capabilities of other tools you’re considering for your project?

The unique selling point of this tool lies in its online collaboration ability. The tool allows the merging of two or three tables together to generate a single visualization which is useful if there is a need to measure several variables at once. Additionally, it allows the embedding of public data for a better visualization. Users can access the data anywhere online.

What kinds of questions might this tool help us answer about our data?

Considering the different kinds of visualizations that are available on the tool, they can help answer different questions relating to the dataset. For instance, if a network graph is used, the intensity of the relationships between the nodes can be identified. If it comes in the form of a chart, aggregated figures can be figured out.

In what format does this tool accept data?

Users can upload their data files in various formats such as an Excel spreadsheet, or Comma Seperated Values. Users can upload data sets up to 100MB. Users are able to upload data tables from CSV files too, or even KML. Developers can use the Fusion Tables API to insert, update, delete and query data programmatically. Data can be exported as CSV or KML too. Otherwise, users can find public data on Google Tables easily via the web.

What would we need to do to our data in order to allow the tool to make use of it?

There will be a need to present the data in an excel format or in a table form. Hence, there is a need to categorise the raw data into different sub headings or columns first.

How difficult will this tool be to master?

This tool was used during one of the week’s homework and is relatively easy for a beginning to use.

Will you need an outside expert to help us master this tool? If so, what kind of expert?

Shouldn’t need an expert to help master this tool.

Taking into account the time needed to manipulate our data as well as the time needed to master the tool, could we produce a visualization with this tool in the time available to us?

This tool can be mastered in a short period of time.

How do you think you can use this tool for a project?

Tapping on the tool’s collaboration tool and possibility for real-time editing, this tool will be ideal for real-time reporting. For instance, the tool can be used to show the events that are happening right now on the various areas so individuals can access it and decide to go or not based on the popularity level. Event organizers are able to also use this visualization to evaluate the effectiveness of their event at real time.

Esri StoryMaps

Refer to link: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/en/

Introduction: Esri StoryMaps allows users to combine authoritative maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content to tell a compelling story by harnessing the power of maps and geography. Upon creation of a map, users can also share the map to the public. Basically, the tool makes use of ArcGIS, a geographic information system that connects people with maps, data and apps. This is made accessible to anyone, anywhere and anytime.

What kind of visualizations can this tool produce?

This tool can produce a story map which helps to better author a story. This tool also allows customization of maps if the user is proficient in coding. The various types story map apps include: a sequence of place-enabled photos/videos (Story Map Tour), a rich multimedia narrative (Story Map Journal and Story Map Cascade), a series of maps (Story Map Series – Tabbed Layout and Side Accordion Layout and Bulleted Layout), a dynamic collection of crowdsourced photos (Story Map Crowdsource), a curated set of places of interests (Story Map Shortlist), comparison of two maps (Story Map Swipe and SpyGlass), Story Map Basic and also custom templates.

How are this tool’s visualization capabilities distinct from the capabilities of other tools you’re considering for your project?

This tool focuses on the narrative aspect of the data – how the data can be visualized in a manner to tell a story. It can either come in sequential place-based narrative (map tours), curated points-of-interest list and/or map comparisons as mentioned above. This tool is similar to the other tools evaluated – where the storytelling power of maps aims to bring together words, images, videos and data via one accessible platform.

What kinds of questions might this tool help us answer about our data?

This tool helps users to learn geographic content, develop spatial thinking skills while utilising real-world applications. Maps are most often used to expand the digital worlds to better narrate a story considering it is a visual representation of where events happen. Questions that might be answered with this map include: what are some of the iconic landmarks of Singapore and how has it changed over the years? What are some of the stories behind the conserved buildings in Singapore? These questions can be answered if the project is about the story of urban conservation in Singapore.

In what format does this tool accept data?

The tool is able to extract data from existing online mediums. However, the updated version does not allow the exporting of images from Facebook.

What would we need to do to our data in order to allow the tool to make use of it?

Data, for instance photos/videos, are required to be changed to a landscape orientation and to be stored at a platform, maybe Flickr prior creating a story map. This is so that the application is able to access those media directly and automatically select the best image size, reads in the geotag information from the images to locate them on the map and use the other metadata with the media.

How difficult will this tool be to master?

While the actual creation of a story map requires some technical ability, Esri has designed the interface for non-technical audiences. The tool markets itself as not requiring any coding abilities, and that it is a powerful open-source application for beginners to use.

Will you need an outside expert to help us master this tool? If so, what kind of expert?

No, shouldn’t be. Even if there is a need for simple HTML editing to customize certain font size etc, there are already online guides available on the web.

Taking into account the time needed to manipulate our data as well as the time needed to master the tool, could we produce a visualization with this tool in the time available to us?

Yes, most probably.

How do you think you can use this tool for a project?

This tool can be used to reflect the heritage of Singapore. For instance, there are many places in Singapore undergoing or pending demolition and/or topocide. The loss of such cultural significance will definitely impede on the understanding of national identity for the future generations. That being said, this tool can be used to reflect the old and the new, allows users to see the gradual change of Singapore’s urban development across the years and also allows users to add their own personal experiences and/or narratives to the iconic landmarks.

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