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#1
benbakelaar

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Hi all, I have been working with my first GIS client since February 1st of this year. 1/2 of the project is web/google mapping, and the other half is gathering data and producing maps for a final report that the grant that funds me requires. Out of all my skills involved in the project, I have the least familiarity with cartography/map design.

That is where I need the critiques here, I have been producing GIS exports throughout my engagement, but now we are nearing the end and trying to develop a standardized template to put our map exports "inside".

Layout... border thickness... framing... placement... font size... basically looking for input on everything except color.

FYI: Every map produced will either be all 5 boros, or one single boro, but never anything outside of NYC proper (5 counties). Also, I'm not ready to invest the time in Illustrator to do proper map design... they don't have enough hours to pay for it either. So, doing the best inside the constraints of ArcMap's design functionality is key.

EDIT: The client - http://www.nyccah.org

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#2
Dennis McClendon

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This looks pretty nice to me. A few minor suggestions:

I'd drop the keyline around the buff blocks at top and bottom. I'd completely drop the box around the legend, and probably the word "Legend" as well. If you keep it, maybe put that title in a buff box to match the other two. Align the logo with the left side of the legend.

I'm no fan of Helvetica (or Arial) in this case because the logo has so many words in Helvetica Condensed. Since you're not using any type small or over colors on the map, I might choose a serif face like Minion or ITC Garamond or Utopia as a way of showing a little sophistication. But, please, no Times Roman. It's too weak for this kind of work, and SO overworked these days.

I think the city outline dominates the map too much. I'd make that white so it disappears without losing the Brooklyn-Queens boundary. Or draw a new Brooklyn-Queens boundary and then have no stroke for the borough boundaries.

I'd invest a half hour in simplifying the shorelines, losing the piers. You don't have to get involved with the actual tract boundaries: since the black boundary is gone, you can just put a white coverup along the bulkhead line of the Manhattan and Brooklyn docks.

I admire you for sticking with a monochromatic color scheme for the tracts. If the client objects that the middle two can't be distinguished, you could safely add a yellow-green at the top end of the scheme or a gray-green at the bottom.

Are there really no facilities in the Bronx at all?
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#3
Martin Gamache

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Are there really tracks with 0 and 100% or could you use the real min/max in your ranges.

I have a couple of suggestions regarding the legend design but they are all stolen from the Mapping Census book that can be found online here: http://www.census.go...2000/atlas.html


Like Dennis I have a real aversion to using the word legend as the title for a legend. I would try to use a short summary title referencing the data being shown such as "Poverty Rate" with the unit on a line below (" Percentage" or "Persons per Square Mile").

For map like this I would remove the box around the legend as you have enough white space around the text.

Including county or city/burrough averages/medians as breakpoints in the legend can be useful and can be used as breakpoint for a hue change in a two color scheme. If you are going to stick with a single color maybe try something other than green which is so visually associated with parks/vegetation or open spaces.

Choosing a two color scheme or another color might also allow you to have a parks layer in the map in light green to provide some landmarks. You may want to describe your data sources a little better but maybe not. I am curious to know whether it is only US Census data or if there was additional surveys that may show homeless groups living in parks/vacant buildings as well. If it is only US Census based then it is likely that large tracks of park space like Central Park or Flushing Meadows have zero values and can show parks as landmarks without obscuring any data.

This is where a dasymmetric approach using Land use data to constrain your analysis comes in handy. I noticed that the Con Ed plant in Queens is part of the highest category. using a dasymmetric approach you would remove such land uses from the analysis. Of course it requires having access to landuse data.

#4
benbakelaar

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Thanks for your thoughtful replies! It's going to take me a while to dig through all the suggestions. In the meantime, to answer somebody's question, there are many more EFP (Emergency Feeding Program) sites. Right now the number stands at 1150, but it's always changing. You can look at the attached map or go to the client's site and use the Google Map to browse/search them.

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#5
Dennis McClendon

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Martin reminds me to comment on the legend numbers. I would change them to be "Less than 12%, 12 to 25%, 25 to 43%, More than 46%." Carrying numbers like this out to tenths of a percent implies a false precision, as does compulsiveness about not having categories overlap.

He also makes an excellent point about large parks. Industrial areas can be a little trickier to show, but the parks should be pretty easy. Even if you have to hand sketch them, it paints a false picture to not show the big parks on Staten Island and out near Kennedy, plus Central Park, Prospect Park, Flushing Meadows.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#6
Geographic Techniques

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Ben,

I agree with Dennis and Martin's comments. You might also consider adding a bar scale, and possibly a north arrow if you haven't planned to already. I also think incorporating aerial imagery* (subtly) might help visualize the busy urban geography.

* http://seamless.usgs.gov/

Have fun.

Doug
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#7
benbakelaar

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Martin reminds me to comment on the legend numbers.  I would change them to be "Less than 12%, 12 to 25%, 25 to 43%, More than 46%."  Carrying numbers like this out to tenths of a percent implies a false precision, as does compulsiveness about not having categories overlap.

He also makes an excellent point about large parks.  Industrial areas can be a little trickier to show, but the parks should be pretty easy.  Even if you have to hand sketch them, it paints a false picture to not show the big parks on Staten Island and out near Kennedy, plus Central Park, Prospect Park, Flushing Meadows.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


As far as legend manipulation goes, I don't know if you guys regularly use ArcGIS but it is a major pain. As for those labels though, I do know how to change them and I will. Point well taken about false precision.

Actually we had the parks displayed and the client requested they be taken out. Too distracting for them or their imagined audience. As for the poverty chloropleth, in our "focus district" maps (3 individual census tracts) which are the main product, we have taken a higher level of detail/accuracy and done as you both suggest with the parks/industrial areas. We actually control by removing all census tracts with population less than 100. Arbitrary, I know. So these maps I am posting are one of many "quick maps" they ask me to produce for planning meetings, city council meetings, etc... I don't have the ability to spend as much time on them as the main focus maps. I'll post those in a week or two after another pass.

Again appreciate all your comments, even if I can't integrate all of them into this map, the concepts will stick for future mapping endeavors :) I will post a modified version this weekend incorporating what I can.

#8
Martin Gamache

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As far as legend manipulation goes, I don't know if you guys regularly use ArcGIS but it is a major pain.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I use Arcmap regularly for demographic stuff and it's not that difficult to modify legends...in fact that is one of its superior features when compared to say Manifold....

#9
benbakelaar

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I use Arcmap regularly for demographic stuff and it's not that difficult to modify legends...in fact that is one of its superior features when compared to say Manifold....

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


What I meant is that its difficult for me, I'm used to being able to access each individual element and modify it with toolbars on the top screen (yep I realize that means I should use Illustrator :D). Good to know that Arcmap's capabilities are superior to other packages.

#10
Rob

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some additional comments.

-Why the floating boroughs? I'd like to see the 5 in the context of the rest of the coastline and some type of ocean. The floating thing seems wierd to me; needs more geographic context imho.

-Generalize the coastline.

-Maybe label each borough with a very vague/semi-transparent label, maybe not.

-Although it makes it lose the dynamic functionality, in Arc you can convert a legend to a graphic and then ungroup and modify any piece as you want. However, it won't update when you change a label or symbology, so if you do this make it one of the last steps, or make a copy and do it to the copy.

-I don't mind the green color, but using a orange/tan to red-based scheme might fit better with other colors already in use in the layout and convey a different feeling about what the data is presenting.

rj

#11
Unit Seven

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Hi Ben,

Hope you don't mind me having a quick play with the map. Took it into Illy and just shunted some stuff around for 15 mins ? this might spark some ideas with what you are doing. Find this quicker than anaylising and trying to write down ideas.

Have placed legend, logo, text block in more of a grid layout. Layered pdf so you can swith the guides off.

Added land areas outside area.

Changed colours to reflect the logo a bit better.

Is 0-25% the poorest areas? If so I think you may want to reverse the colour so dark red is the poorest/most dominent.


Cheers,

Sam.

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S a m B r o w n

U N I T S E V E N
unit.seven@gmail.com

Miramar, Wellington
N E W Z E A L A N D

#12
benbakelaar

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rob, thanks, i will definitely add a coastline. also great to know that tip about converting the legend to a graphic.

sam, wow! much appreciated. those guides are really useful, i guess that's how a proper map design starts? 0-25% is the least poor area since we are mapping the census variable "Poverty Rate 2000".

#13
danielle

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Good comments all around.

I would add borough labels. They can be off to the side so they don't cover the census data. Remove "neighborhood" from the legend, since they are really network designations. CB5/305 should be "Brooklyn Community Board 5".

I would suggest taking the time to learn how to manipulate the ArcGIS legends. There are a lot of useful tools hiding in there.

-Danielle

#14
peanut

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Very interesting map!

One thing that I might try that I don't think has been mentioned yet is to make the black outline around each of the points representing the EFP Networks thinner. To me the thickness of this black outline is obscuring your neighborhood color codes.

This can be achieved using the Symbol Property Editor in ArcMap. Use two solid fill circles. The top circle will show the color you are trying to achieve and the bottom circle will have a black fill that is lets say .5 points larger the the top circle.

Rich

#15
Unit Seven

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Ben, not prob. as I said was a quick and dirty throw togeather in Illy to show a few points. Enjoyed it and this often helps me. When you are in a map from the start you tend to get lost in it. Always easy to be critical of anothers with fresh eyes. Have a look at this site for some ideas on a grid layout if you haven't come across the term before. http://www.thinkingwithtype.com/

I agree with Danielle about removing the word neighbourhood, esp in the way I laid the legend out on mine, and with peanut on the black outline being a bit heavy.

Cheers,

Sam.
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