CirculatorBuddy – A Real-Time Transit Map for Baltimore’s Charm City Circulator

We recently released CirculatorBuddy, a website that maps the locations of Charm City Circulator Buses in real time.  The site is intended to help Circulator riders plan their departures from home and work. The site pulls GPS coordinates from the Circulator’s publicly available feed, and plots them on the map.  The bus markers are then updated and animated every few seconds or so. As a website, mobile users can quickly load CirculatorBuddy on the go for a quick glance at the bus locations without downloading an app. CirculatorBuddy is available at    

Mapping Maryland State Assessment Pass Rates

We recently completed an interactive map displaying Baltimore Region school pass rates for the Maryland State Assessment (MSA).  The MSA is administered to elementary and middle school students to evaluate their proficiency in reading, math, and science. Click here to view and explore the map. The map was developed using GIS software Google Fusion Tables, and the Google Maps javascript API.

Arduino & Pusher-Powered Remote Control Hexbug

Control the hexbug live at Hopefully the lights are on, the batteries aren’t dead, and nobody else has walked the robot off the desk! After success with the Arduino Air Conditioner Remote Control, and getting Pusher authentication and client events working from an Arduino, I was in search of something a bit more fun and interactive to connect to the web. I looked at LEDs, little electric fans, a pocket SIMON game, and few others before choosing an off-the-shelf IR controllable Hexbug. For about $25 at radio shack, the Hexbug spider comes with a teeny little remote control, and can be…

Prezi Presentation on 3D GIS mapping with Open Data and ArcGlobe

Charm City Networks Co-Owner Chris Whong spoke during the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance‘s Data Day last Friday, presenting a few examples of what is possible when combining civic data with 3D GIS extrusion tools, such as ESRI’s ArcGlobe and ArcScene.
The Prezi presentation is embedded below, for those who wish to view it.
Contact us for more information about GIS and Spatial Data Services.

City Paper Publishes Our GIS Map

 A 3D GIS map created by Chris Whong was published in today’s City Paper under the Info Art section.  The map shows the U.S. Census’ data for Median Household Income in each census tract of the Baltimore-Towson Metropolitan Statistical Area. In addition to color coding, each tract is extruded above the surface of the earth relative to its median income.  The picture that emerges is typical of post-industrial monocentric cities.   A densely-packed, less wealth urban core, surrounded by sprawling, wealthier suburbs. The City Paper Online Entry can be found here.

Sending Pusher Client Events from an Arduino

A few weeks ago, I got my first arduino and set out to make my window air conditioner web-remote-controllable. Following some examples online, I created an Ethernet Server that displayed a simple web page with a power button. Clicking a button on the page simply reloaded it with “?status=1” in the URL, and the arduino pulsed the power button. It was neat, and came together quickly, but was not a very elegant solution because it requires port forwarding on my router and a dynamic DNS listing in order to work. In my search for something that would allow an Arduino to work anywhere without port forwarding or additional configuration, I came across Websockets and Kevin Rohling has written an awesome library for connecting an Arduino to…

Web-controlled Window Air Conditioner Using an Arduino

It’s done. It works. The internet of things has come to my little apartment in New York City. After about a week of tinkering, soldering, and piecing together bits of code from here and there, I can now load a web page from any browser, see the current temperature in my apartment (and a graph of the last 12 hours), and turn the AC unit on or off with the click of a button. This was accomplished with an Arduino, the open-source prototyping platform and the community of artists, techies and hackers behind it. I’ll show you what it looks like, then I’ll show you how I put it all together (my code is at the bottom if you want to try it yourself! The End Results: The screenshots below are from the web server that is…

Municipal Broadband: A Need for Federal Policy

This paper was written in May 2012 for Intelligent Cities, a Master of Urban Planning Elective Course at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service.  The first paragraph is presented below, the rest of the paper can be downloaded as a PDF. Crucial to the idea of smart cities is a municipality’s ability to quickly move information across a network. In recent years, some cities have developed and installed publicly-owned municipal broadband networks to facilitate the flow of their data, many of which serve double-duty as a low-cost internet service provider for residents and businesses. This approach considers internet access as a public utility, an infrastructure investment for the public good just like a road or bridge. The government can take full advantage of the coverage to allow its many public services to communicate more effectively, and citizens get…

Mapping Open Data: Baltimore City 311 Calls

What can you do with Open Data?  Make awesome maps, of course!  This map was created using Baltimore’s Open Data for 311 Calls.  Each call has a street address associated with it, which was geocoded and then spatially joined with BNIA’s shapefile for Baltimore Neighborhoods.  This is simply counting the number of 311 requests by neighborhood, but much more is possible when you drill down to the specific type of request, whether requests are still open, etc.