Thursday, May 14, 2015

Crowdsourcing Neighborhood Boundaries

In maps (as in life) boundaries can be fluid entities. This seems especially true when considering local neighborhood boundaries, where it can be very difficult to find even two people who agree on the borders of their local neighborhoods.

In Los Angeles the boundary of the city's Eastside neighborhood is particularly hard to define because there seems to be no official map of the area's extent. The Los Angeles Times therefore decided to settle the argument by asking their readers to draw Eastside on a map.

On the L.A.'s Eastside: Where do you draw the line? map you can use the Leaflet drawing tools to draw your idea of where Eastside's boundaries lie. You can then compare your concept of the neighborhood with the view of the Los Angleles Times and with the views of other readers.

Bostonography was probably the first website to try and crowdsource neighborhood boundaries, with their project to find out where residents believe Boston's neighborhood boundaries lie.

The project uses a Google Maps tool to allow participants to draw on a Google Map where they think Boston neighborhood boundaries run. This has allowed Bostonography to create a map of all the amalgamated responses so far.

The results for each neighborhood are also being analysed to see which neighborhood boundaries participants have a strong agreement about and to highlight areas where there are contradictory opinions about which neighborhood they belong to.

The Neighborhoods Mapping Project wants you to forget about what Google & Apple maps tell you about your local communities and instead map your own neighborhood boudaries. The result is a crowd-sourced map of Portland, Seattle and Vancouver neighborhoods.

No names or boundaries are included in the initial map view of each city. Local citizens can therefore map their own ideas about their local neighborhoods. To start adding neighborhoods to the map just click on the 'start mapping' button. You can then use the drawing tools to draw around a neighborhood on the map. When you have finished your neighborhood boundary you can name the area and give it a description.

Once you've finished drawing your neighborhoods on the map (or if you just want to see what other people have mapped) you can select the 'view maps' option. Do this and the crowd-sourced neighborhoods will be outlined on the map. Click on an area on the map and you can read what others have called the neighborhood and how they define the area.

If you don't live in Portland, Seattle or Vancouver you can always start your own crowd-sourced neighborhood map by forking the project on GitHub.

The Neighborhoods Project is another experiment in crowdsourcing US neighborhood polygons. The Neighborhoods Project allows developers to download neighborhood boundaries for every city in the US derived from geotags on Flickr photos.

Users can also edit the Flickr derived boundaries and download a custom GeoJSON with the edits applied. Edits to the boundaries are then fed back into the overall results to help improve the boundary data.

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