Mapping a Year in the Life of Boston

At the end of December, The Boston Globe ran this geographic narrative that mapped 17 events of 2011 in the city of Boston. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • 8. The puck stopped here – In June, the Bruins won their first Stanley Cup since 1972. Their victory sparked riots in Vancouver, home of their opponents. At home, the win was celebrated with a victory parade through downtown Boston.
  • 11. Whitey’s back – After 16 years on the lam, infamous South Boston gangster Whitey Bulger was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., and arraigned at Boston’s federal courthouse.
  • 12. Occupied! – The encampment in Dewey Square was one of the longest-lasting of the Occupy protests in major US cities. Protesters began the demonstration on Sept. 30; on Dec. 10, the camp was cleared by police, resulting in dozens of arrests.

CT GIS User to User Network Meeting – January 27

Mark your calendars and plan to attend the Connecticut GIS User to User Network Annual Business Meeting!
When: Friday, January 27, 2012
Time: 9:00am-12:00pm (networking begins at 8:30am with meeting beginning at 9:00am)
Location: MDC Training Center, 125 Maxim Road, Hartford  ( for directions)
This meeting will include the following topics:
  • Election of Steering Committee members
    • Election of  a new president, secretary, utilities representative, non-profit representative, and member at large
  • Discussion on organization by-law revision
  • Presentation on Mobile Applications
If you are interested in becoming an active member of the steering committee (this can help with your GISP application!), please try to attend this meeting. If you have questions regarding steering committee obligation and related questions, feel free to contact Thad Dymkowski, or speak to a member of the current steering committee at the meeting.

A Geographic Look at the Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline: Where Does Tar Sands Oil Get Refined?

In the United States, the answer is a whole bunch of places (excluding the Eastern Seaboard). In the wake of President Obama’s rejection of TransCanada’s proposed route of the Keystone XL Pipeline, check out this map of refineries in the US that handle tar sands oil (pictured above; source: Mother Jones). As you can see, there are nearly 50 refineries who handle tar sands oil in the country. Besides furthering a seemingly never ending addiction to fossil fuels that will continue to change our climate, an important item that has been glossed over by many reporting on this decision in regards to energy security is the fact that the proposed pipeline would have ended in the Gulf Coast region. From a geographic point of view, this route can be interpreted as a clear signal that the pipeline’s intended purpose is to maximize the ability to export the refined products and maximize corporate profits, without necessarily being the dependable source of domestic energy that some have touted it to be. In fact, according to the TransCanada website, a newly built pipeline from Alberta to Illinois already exists and is in service as you can see in the map below.

With this decision by the Obama Administration, TransCanada is believed to be moving ahead on an alternative route.

Census Bureau Releases New Race and Ethnic Demographic Information from the 2010 Census for Connecticut

The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday January 12, 2012 released new, detailed demographic information from the 2010 Census for up to 331 different race and ethnic groups down to the census tract level for Connecticut.

These Summary File 2 tables add a new layer of detail to the population and housing topics released last year from the 2010 Census. Information, such as age, relationship and homeownership, previously available only for an area’s entire population is now available for specific race and ethnic groups in that community.
Each Summary File 2 table is presented for up to 331 population groups. These include iteration groups for the total population, race alone groups, race alone or in combination groups, multiple-race combinations, American Indian and Alaska Native tribal groupings, detailed Asian groups, detailed Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander groups, detailed Hispanic groups, and race/Hispanic groups.

Geographies Available

The statistics are available for a variety of geographic areas: counties, county subdivisions, places, census tracts, ZIP Code tabulation areas, congressional districts for the 111th Congress, American Indian and Alaska Native areas within the states released, tribal subdivisions, metropolitan areas and Hawaiian home lands.
To preserve confidentiality, only geographic entities with a population of at least 100 for the specified group are available in the summary file.


Accessing the Information

During the embargo period, the Summary File 2 tables can be found on the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder website at <> by using the “Population Groups” filter to select the specific race or ethnic groups of interest. While a variety of tables will be available, a good place to start is the Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics, which shows a summary of characteristics for one geographic area at a time.

A summary file version of the information is also available for users who want to download the set of detailed tables for all of the geographies within a state and run their own analysis and rankings. The summary file contains two parts: a file with the geographic headers (in fixed-length ASCII format) and a file with the statistical information (in comma-separated ASCII format). The summary file is available for download at <>.

Mapping Natural Gas Drilling in Pennsylvania

NPR’s map of natural gas drilling in the state of Pennsylvania.

NPR has created an interactive map of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania. To find information about a specific site, click on one of the points on the map to view a pop up window with the name of the site, who operates the site, the location of the site, and the number of times the location has been cited for violations of environmental regulations. The page also displays additional information including total number of wells by county and by operator.

Clicking on a point on the map displays a pop up window with more information about the site.

Revisiting the Occupy Movement: Geographies of Protest

As the Occupy Movement spread across the United States this fall, we here at Outside the Neatline documented some of the geospatially-related web content that was created in response to the protests. Recently, I came across an excellent geographic examination of the protests in a two part post on the Regional Geogblog entitled Geographies of Protest and Occupation: From Manama, Bahrain to Richmond, Virginia. The blog is maintained by Professor Donald Rallis from the Geography Department at the University of Mary Washington (my Alma mater!). In Part 1, Professor Rallis discusses the significance of occupation of a place as a form of protest in addition to the events of the Arab Spring in Bahrain while in Part 2 he focuses specifically on the Occupy Movement in the United States.

For Outside the Neatline’s coverage of Occupy-related content, visit these posts:

CT ECO Website Maintenance (Jan 10-11, 2012)

Certain sections of the Connecticut Ecological Conditions Online (CT ECO) website will be unavailable Jan 10-11, 2012 due to scheduled maintenance. The Simple Map Viewer, Aerial Photo Viewer, Advanced Map Viewer, and some of the Map Services for GIS users may not be available during this period. This outage will also impact some of MAGIC’s map mash-ups that utilize imagery from CT ECO and as a result some imagery may not be available during this outage.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and be sure to check the CT ECO website for the latest updates at: 

2006-2010 American Community Survey (ACS) 5 Year Data now available

The United States Census Bureau has released the 2006-2010 American Community Survey (ACS) 5 year estimates! This dataset includes updated socio-economic statistics covering every community in the nation, including all 169 towns in Connecticut. Included below are some examples of the data variables available from the 2006-2010 American Community Survey (ACS) 5 year estimates for Connecticut:

Median Household Income (2006-2010) by Town in Connecticut:

Click the map above to view interactive map

View Median Income Data by Town in Connecticut

Ratio of Income to Poverty Level for Families (under .5) (2006-2010) by Town in Connecticut:

Click the map above to view interactive map

View Ratio of Income to Poverty Level for Families Data by Town in Connecticut

How can I access the 2006-2010 ACS 5 year estimates data?
The American FactFinder provides access to the 2006-2010 ACS 5 year estimates data for Connecticut as well as the entire nation. From the American FactFinder users can search datasets, download datasets, and create interactive maps based on variables from the ACS.

At what geographic levels is the data available?
The ACS 5 year data is available at the national, state, congressional district, county, county subdivision (town), tract, and block group level. For those users interested in examining block group level data the margin of error values could be significant at the block group level so be sure to review the margin of error values closely as tract level data may provide less error.

Comparing ACS data to 2010 Census
For additional details on the American Community Survey and when/if comparisons of the data can be made to the 2010 census visit:

What if I have questions about using the ACS? 
Contact the Connecticut State Data Center at  and we will be happy to assist.

The Atlas of Economic Complexity

The Atlas of Economic Complexity examines the connections of the global economy.

The Atlas of Economic Complexity: Mapping Paths to Prosperity is a fascinating look at the global economy. The Center for International Development at Harvard University, The Harvard Kennedy School, and Macro Connections at MIT have collaborated to create a project that includes both a detailed report and a dynamic set of interactive visualizations regarding countries’ varying economic complexity. The report includes an economic complexity index ranking in which Japan ranks first (the US is ranked 13th).

A map of Economic Complexity Index rankings from the Atlas of Economic Complexity: Mapping Paths to Prosperity.

The aforementioned visualizations can be created at The Observatory of Economic Complexity, which allows you to generate a number of different economic charts and maps. For example, you can choose to show imports or exports, different products, and years. In addition, you can view charts as animations (from the years 1962-2009). Below are a few examples of these with the focus being on beer imports in the United States:

A map of beer imports around the world.
A Tree Map of beer imported to the United States.
A Stacked Area Chart of beer imported to the United States.