Upcoming course: Mapping Urban Data


Mapping Urban Data” will be the first in a series of video courses dedicated to exploring and visualizing data about cities. The course is coming soon on Morphocode Academy and will provide you with all the necessary skills to create web maps, work with data and explore urban insights.

You will learn how to collect and use geospatial data, as well as how to style and publish your maps on the web. “Mapping Urban Data” takes a hands-on approach to data visualization through a range of New York City–based case studies covering topics such as built density, energy consumption and mobility.




Exploring the City: Case Study NYC

New York City is exemplary for its thorough use of data in urban analytics and policy evaluation. The success of large scale projects such as the reconstruction of Times Square; Green Light for Midtown and NYC Plaza Program is largely due to the data-driven approach applied by city departments. Currently, the Big Apple’s open data portal provides public access to over 1,500 datasets from various agencies, making the city a great starting point for data explorations.



The course will introduce you to interactive web mapping through one of New York city’s most valuable datasets –  PLUTO. Containing detailed information on the tax lot level, PLUTO was first released to the open data community in 2013 and was considered a huge win. We will use PLUTO and a handful of other interesting datasets to explore urban insights and create interactive maps from the ground up.



Key Takeaways

“Mapping Urban Data” will guide you through a series of practical examples. You will start with a raw dataset, explore its attributes, design a map, add interactivity and finally publish it on the web. You will gain understanding of data formats, information design principles, cartography fundamentals and the coding skills required to finish the project.

The course is designed to be beginners-friendly and is suitable for architects, designers, urban planners, journalists or anyone genuinely interested in the topic. We will cover the following topics:


Learn how to handle open data sets and common data formats such as CSV, GeoJSON and Shapefiles. Work your way through data fields, types and file formats.

Information Design
Create beautiful maps and data visualizations. Learn the fundamentals of information design, color scales, qualitative and quantitative maps.

Transform data into maps. Handle map projections, inspect features, modify data attributes and style geometries.

Web Mapping
Export your visualizations for the Web. Learn the fundamentals: raster and vector map tiles, Web Mercator, zoom levels, feature collections.

Provide additional levels of interactivity. Handle user interactions and design a functional interface for your visualization.

Learn JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS and bring your data to life. Combine data, map and story into a single web page and share it with your friends.




The Big Picture: Data and the City

Rapid urbanization and advances in Information and communication technology are the most pervasive processes shaping the course of contemporary culture and society. “Data & The City” video series is about the intersection of these two global trends. As mobile devices become ubiquitous and spatial information even more abundant, data visualization allows a critical evaluation of active policies and city services by transforming otherwise hidden patterns into visual arguments. The act of transforming raw data into an interactive map creates visual narratives and opens up new possibilities for context-sensitive analysis conducted by urbanists, civic organizations, journalists and policy makers.




The course is launching in the beginning of 2017 with special discounts for subscribers to Morphocode AcademyYou can subscribe in the form bellow and we will notify you when the course is available.

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Data and the City: Urban Visualizations

According to Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, the amount of data collected between the dawn of humanity and 2003 is equivalent to the amount we now produce every two days.

Urbanization and the spread of information technologies transform Cities into huge data pools. This big data provides new opportunities to reveal the hidden dimensions of the city and better understand the processes taking place within its physical boundaries.

In one of his recent editorials for “Environment and Planning B” – “The database of intentions“,Michael Batty notes that, despite its long-standing presence in urban studies, the theme of Complexity and the systems approach are no longer as popular as they once were:  it is urban data that will play a major role in understanding how city areas have changed and are likely to change in the future.


Understanding Urban Data

On July 25, 2013, the City of New York has released its biggest source of land use and geographic data: the Pluto Database. This “epic win for NYC’s open data community” was the result of a big community effort to open urban data that was once unaccessible.

Urban visualizations can create awareness about important urban conditions and provide a valuable insight into how cities perform and how people interact with the urban environment.

Here are some of the most interesting urban data visualizations that we’ve come across:


PLUTO Data Maps

This is a project created by Anrew Hill, developer at CartoDB.

The project presents a series of maps that reveal some insights and hidden patterns of New York’s built environment. For example: “Who owns the private land of Manhattan?” and “Which lots are the farthest from public spaces?

Visit the project



The Beijing City Lab (BCL)

The Beijing City Lab (BCL) is a virtual research community, dedicated (but not limited to) studying China’s capital Beijing.

They also have published a series of maps, exploring diverse themes such as “Communities of public transportation in Beijing” and “Beijing Planning Permits Vis (1997-2003)

Visit The Beijing City Lab 



Block by Block, Brooklyn’s Past and Present

This is a map of Brooklyn’s building blocks by age. “The result is a snapshot of Brooklyn’s evolution, revealing how development has rippled across certain neighborhoods while leaving some pockets unchanged for decades, even centuries.”

Visit the Map



We are Here Now

A project of Spatial Information Design Lab that uses FourSquare check-in data from different cities around the world.
The data is plotted on a map, in order to explore urban patterns that might be hidden otherwise.

Visit the Flickr Set of the project.



Locals & Tourists

Eric Fischer from MapBox and the Gnip team have used Twitter data to create a map of local allegiances.
Blue points on the map are Tweets posted by “Locals”. Red points are Tweets posted by “Tourists”.

Visit the Project





Flocktracker is an android application, designed to easily collect urban data in order to create “inexpensive, highly accurate, and robust data sets”. It has been developed by the Urban Launchpad – a global team of urban planners, designers and researchers. The app was used to create the first ever Bus Map of Dhaka.

Learn more about Flocktracker



Upcoming at Morphocode Academy


Data and the City: Urban Visualizations” is an upcoming course at Morphocode Academy. It will discuss how to collect, store and visualize urban data in a useful way. The course is under development at the moment and will soon be available online to subscribers.

Subscribe here