I’ve been experimenting with simple online tools to create informative mapping applications to access information about Sustainable Sites throughout a particular area. As a side project for information and tours, I have collected and worked with Google Earth and Google Maps for plotting points and doing simple displays, but I wanted something a bit more robust to give users and added level of information and interactivity. Inspired by a former project of mine, using the Greenmap system, this beta version is called PDX Greenmap, a more focused map of sites in the Portland-Metro Region that are focused on innovative strategies for ecological landscape architecture.
As you can see from the beginning interface, there is a hierarchy of sites which are plotted using color-coded icons. These cover some generalized categories including:
- Ecological Restoration
- Information + Education
- Green Streets
- Permeable Paving
- Rain Gardens + Swales
- Stormwater Art
- Urban Agriculture
- Wildlife Habitat.
A closeup shows the icons in context, in this case for The Headwaters at Tryon Creek, as site that includes many different strategies in a smaller area.
The map also gives options for background maps, including my favorite ‘Terrain’ (seen in a closeup of downtown below).
Further scaling and map layers allows users to zoom in and change background display (including aerial photos) and to open up additional detail allowing integration of data to provide links, additional information, address, contacts, and geolocation information.
There is also the ability to create hybrid maps (overlaying streets information with aerials) for easier navigation. The display pop-ups can be customized as well to include project photographs and other information as available. (As I mentioned it is a beta, so those visiting the site will only find this test entry with full info for now).
Further zooming capability, matched with aerial photography, connects to interesting aspect of the ecological urbanism, including aggregations of projects such as the South Waterfront green roofs above, or a closer look at a four-block area of the Pearl District below, showing views of a number of different, but interconnected through proximity, examples of rooftop greening – including Lovejoy Block 1, The Asa Townhomes, The Wyatt, and Machineworks. The aerial aspects also give views not normally accessible to city dwellers, showing some of the green above ground that is often missed. More information will be embedded to show publically-accessible sites that people can visit to learn more.
The interface is ok, but could use some work for additional usability and display of information. The goal is not to focus on issues of proprietary knowledge, but make this an open-source platform that can act as a resource for collecting information, leading those interested to model projects, and increase the visibility of the landscape architecture profession in the region. I’d definitely be interested in 1) what other tools offer customization of mapping data with low cost and little technical programming knowledge, and 2) for those locally-based, who would be interested in working on the data and gathering more sites to provide a clear picture of the Portland areas rich legacy of innovative sustainable landscape architecture.
Kick the tires and let me know what you think.