The bulk of our project will be to use census data to develop maps that show how Bay Area residents commute to work. After our meeting with Adina, the team regrouped to discuss our approach. Discussion centered around figuring out how to visualize the data. While Ma’ayan has worked with census data for other classes in the past, for this project most of our information will come from the American Community Surveys. So far, we explored these surveys a little bit but have not yet fully explored them. Initially, we were keen on visualizing trends among different income level groups, as this map does beautifully. However, given our *current* limited knowledge of GIS and understanding of the census data, we decided to leave this conversation to be determined after Wednesday’s ArcGIS workshop.
While we both are excited to work on this project, we are unsure of the real social impact our efforts will have. It seems like we are “adding icing to the cake”: fixing a functioning and--by American standards--well-running train system, and concerning ourselves with the traffic and congestion problems of one of the richest cities in America. However, as the readings for this week discussed, service learning can still occur in affluent areas like Palo Alto. This region does provide a mix of academic coursework, community service, and reflection, elements critical to our education. Keeping this framework and perspective in mind, we are scheduling a meeting in two weeks with Aaron, a planning director for the City of Palo Alto, to discuss some of the key areas Palo Alto is focusing on for their future improvements in traffic and transportation. We hope from this first meeting to glean some insight on what Palo Alto is prioritizing, and later in the quarter to receive feedback on some of our ideas from the City before presenting in March.
- Sam and Ma'ayan