We continued to work with our ArcGIS map this week including transforming the excel data into the comma separated format readable by ArcGIS and have begun trying different options for the data visualization aspect. We’re having some difficulties using ArcGIS online, so we are getting in contact with the GIS center person (another David), and trying to set up time with him to help us figure out how to make the platforms work.
Downloaded Tableau software for data manipulation. Tableau is a software designed to take in large amounts of data and help users better navigate, then visualize it. Though we’ve just begun trying out the tool, we hope that with it, we will be able to better break down the large data sets we’ve been given and visualize them in graphical form. We’re communicating with Dave (our partner) to better coordinate what the results of our Tableau analysis will be.
What We Observed and Learned
After converting our data into an ArcGIS readable format we discovered all the options there are for the visualization aspects of the data. From individual points to heat maps there are a variety of options for displaying the same data. ArcGIS also has tools like deriving new locations which could prove informative for things like potential puma locations. In discovering all these possibilities, we also learned that it might take more time to fully utilize all that ArcGIS has to offer.
After our field day last week, we’ve been working to really put all of our work in context. Specifically, we’re trying to see how we could frame our final project deliverable and report around the concepts of land management and balance between urban and wildlife communities. Since the bulk of our project is fairly straightforward (just data organization and visualization), putting it into the right environment is key to building our understanding of the significance of our work.
On a side note, we learned that one of our partners, Tanya, is also working to compile a large database of camera trap data in the Peninsula. At this point we are unsure if she is working on visualizing the data (putting it into ArcGIS or similar). We also don’t know if she will be finished within the timeframe of our project. However, we feel that if we got the chance to work with all of Tanya’s (clean) data, we could see something interesting. Working with that data is almost certainly outside of our original project scope, but the prospect is exciting!
Critical Analysis/ Moving Forward
With regards to our ArcGIS visual, now that we have minimized the data to its core essentials and have transformed it into a readable format for ArcGIS, what remains are the decisions on how to display the information and what information to focus on. In order to decide this we need to relook at who our target audience is and what point the information is trying to get across. The major things to keep in mind are:
How understandable/ readable the maps are - In thinking about this, size and color will come into play as well as decisions about borders and transparency. What seem like aesthetic decisions only will play a role in how easy the maps are to understand.
How effectively the map portrays the story we want to tell about the data - We should probably show the maps to some friends who know nothing about the project before we finish it to make sure that it is understandable at all levels of knowledge on the subject.
Is there enough/ not too much information to get the point across - While more data means more extrapolations from the data set, more data can also just mean more confusing. We need a good balance of interesting points but not too many that the key points are muddled by inconsequential ones.
David has been addressing the interdisciplinary aspect of our project (reaching out to various community members), but unfortunately was out of commission for health reasons this week. Because of this, we were set back on getting qualitative research on the community stakeholders’ opinions. This has caused some frustration on David’s part because of trying to balance external deadlines with responsibilities to the group and to the stakeholders and with taking care of one’s self. This, of course, is a common point of learning, but as this is a project with people outside of Stanford involved, it has reinforced the importance of taking care of yourself in advance and communicating with partners should an error come up so that we stay on track. To that end, a small part of what we’ve learned this week has certainly been simple work dynamics and how to manage responsibilities with delays.
During our field trip to the farm this week, Patrick brought up an issue that was echoed by Ramona on our field day in the county park. People - particularly in minority communities - experience a profound disconnection to nature, their food, and by extension the communities to which they are linked. Parks, like farms, are seen as being isolated entities apart from people’s actual lived experience in cities. The consumption of public parks has been commodified much in the same that food has; a prepackaged experience that can be accessed cheaply and without thought for the process involved. Also similar to food, the low access to good quality spaces has impacts on community health and mental wellbeing. The challenge to link people and nature is prevalent, and the absence of this connection is at the root of many issues our society faces today from public health to a sense of community. The work to undo problematic and systemic approaches to both wild and domesticated ecosystems must apply to both parks and our food systems as the problems are intrinsically linked, as are their solutions.