Mapping City Neighborhoods

by Connecting.nyc Inc.

We want people to bike (or walk) around their neighborhood's perimeter between 7 AM and 1 PM on Sunday, May 13, 2012, and share that information with us so we can draw border maps of city neighborhoods.

We are a NYS non-profit created to educate New Yorkers about using the .nyc Top Level Domain as a public interest resource. (The .nyc TLD is like .com and .org but just for our city. It is scheduled to be activated in late 2013.)

One of our goals for the .nyc TLD is that it enable the creation of local civic/media centers using traditional neighborhood names: Astoria.nyc, Bensonhurst.nyc, Chelsea.nyc, GreenwichVillage.nyc, Harlem.nyc, JacksonHeights.nyc, ParkSlope.nyc, etc.

In preparation for the arrival of these "dotNeighborhoods," we are collaborating with the New York Internet Society and Wikimedia-NY on a wiki that gathers neighborhood histories, resources, goals, needs, and opportunities - see http://NYCwiki.org. But a missing element to our NYCwiki.org is neighborhood maps. There are no good maps of city neighborhoods and we want city residents to help us create them by circumnavigating their neighborhoods and then sharing their Open Paths data with us.

May is “Mapping City Neighborhoods Month” and we're working with Bikenyc.org to encourage residents to circumnavigate their neighborhoods by bike (or otherwise, we won't tell) and share their Open Paths data with us. The official Bikenyc.org event is Sunday, May 13 between 7 AM and 1 PM, see details here - http://bikenyc.org/event/468. But Open Paths users can bike their neighborhood’s perimeter at their convenience, then download their data from Open Paths and email it to us as detailed below.

Preparation...

NOTE: This project works a little differently than a standard OpenPaths project. Instead of approving access to your data through OpenPaths, it requires an extra step or two on your part. These are listed in the following STEP by STEP.

STEP BY STEP: To help create digital maps defining the city's neighborhoods, mappers should take these steps prior to their mapping expedition:

1. This is the hardest part: Draw a neighborhood border map. Talk to neighbors, your community board, elected representatives, school officials, the police precinct, retailer stores, and others who might have a sense of the historic and current neighborhood borders. You'll find differences of opinion as there are no official neighborhood borders, and they change with time. Your border map will be merged with maps submitted by others to create a Consensus Neighborhood Map. NOTE: This map is not of “your personal neighborhood,” but that of a named neighborhood.
2. Install OpenPaths on your Android or iPhone. See https://openpaths.cc/ for instructions.
3. Get familiar with how OpenPaths works.

On mapping day... (May 13 or otherwise)

1. Get your map and your Open Paths enabled cellphone, and bike to any point on your neighborhood's border. This will be the Start Point.
2. "Geo-mark" that location as the Start Point. To "geo-mark" a location, press the OpenPaths icon on your cell phone.
3. Circumnavigate your neighborhood and return to the Start Point. Depending up the phone you use, your position will be saved approximately every 100 yards.
4. Upon returning to the Start Point press the OpenPaths icon to geo-mark that location a second time, this time as the Finish Point.

Sending us the data...

This is where we differ from a standard Open Paths project.

1. At your convenience, go to My Data in http://OpenPaths.cc. (After you login to OpenPaths you'll see My Data on the top right.)
2. Download your data file in KML format.
3. Send that data to us.
-- o Attach the data file to an email and send it to maps@connectingnyc.org.
-- o Note the neighborhood name in the Subject area.
-- o It would be helpful (but not required) if the email included background and process information, things like how long you've lived in the neighborhood and the process used to determine the border. Since neighborhood borders are unofficial and change over time, this background information will be help us in making a "quality" assessment to the data submitted.

The follow up...

Upon receipt of your Open Paths data we will:

1. Locate the neighborhood data within the Open Paths data file, using the Start and Finish Points. (You can send us the entire KML file or just send us the neighborhood data if you prefer. But note that we will discard all but the neighborhood map data.)
2. Sort the data sets submitted by neighborhood name. (We're hoping to receive more than one data-set for some neighborhoods.)
3. Create "Consensus Neighborhood Maps" for each neighborhood.
4. Post the maps to the NYCwiki.org.
5. With the activation of the .nyc TLD we'll move the maps over to their appropriate neighborhood names.

Data will be used to help draw neighborhood maps that will become part of the NYCWiki.org site.

We will not share the data files with any other entity. Will will extract and save only the neighborhood data as indicated by the Start Point and Finish Point. We will not identify any map with an individual by name.

We will make the results of our effort available on the NYCwiki.org site. We anticipate this information will provide the basis for the city's dotNeighborhood websites. (See Connecting.nyc Inc.'s dotNeighborhoods site for more on this - http://www.coactivate.org/projects/campaign-for.nyc/traditional-neighborhood-names.) We will present the results of this and other NYCwiki.org experiences at Wikimania Conference in Washington D.C., July 12-15, 2012.