by Soledad Hernandez & Pinar Dursun


The millions of tons of waste disposed of into our environment every year. As urban growth continues to take hold in many cities, our levels of all types of waste, combined with the problems created when it comes to disposing of them, are constantly increasing. In front of this situation, an efficient management waste system can solve a basic problem in the cities.

Chicago generates 7,299,174 tons of waste every year and residents recycle just more than 200,000 tons of materials per year.

Chicago has two recycling systems: Blue Cart and Drop-off

The goals

The aim of this project is to analysis how is the recycling system en Chicago

Examining the effectiveness of Chicago Recycling System.

How the recycling system of Chicago can be improved?

Recycling amount distribution by location.

Correlation between recycling amount and demographical information.


After preparing the spreadsheets of the data and uploading them in iituim server database via PostgreSQL software as tables, shape files were imported to QGIS software where the contacts between the amounts and locations were made. Thus, equations for analysis were created.



22 wards have neither drop-off center nor blue cart system. 1,186,364 people living in this wards without any recycling service.

It is obvious that blue cart system is more efficient than drop-off centers due to its easiness. Travelling miles to throw the recyclables into the drop-off center instead of putting them into the blue cart in front of their house is a dissuasive effect for the people who do not live in blue cart covered neighborhoods.

It also seems like the people living in the north neighborhoods are more eager to recycle. Northwards can be proposed for the location of blue cart area future expansion.

For complete presentation with all the maps: RECYCLING 5.4.12

Case Study: Noise Maps

A noise map is a graphic representation of the sound level distribution. Noise maps are used for calculating the areas affected by noise, determining the number of sensitive buildings affected by high noise levels, getting noise prediction models. The spatial database and spatial analyzing tools of GIS is useful to monitor the effect of noise and its impact.

European Union Member States are required to produce strategic noise maps in their main cities.

What are the necessities for a noise map?

3D city model of the area

Software packages: ARCVIEW/GIS, (ArcMap, Spatial analyst, 3D analyst, and ArcScene extension), standard noise calculation software, Point Cloud Mapper (PCM), FIELDS

The steps for 3D noise maps:

Step 1: Collection of data

Step 2: Building 3D city model, extracting and organizing the data about the objects of the 3D city model for noise calculation.

Step 3: Generating the 3D noise observation points and building 3D noise model.

These observation points represent location of virtual microphones where the noise levels are to be calculated. The acoustic indicators can be determined by computation or measurement methods. However, computation methods are widely preferred. Noise levels are calculated at each observation point by using noise calculation software.

When results are obtained, spatial interpolation was applied to give a continuous graphical representation of sound levels by using GIS tools.

3D noise map shows the volumetric view of noise levels on the road surface of study area.

These are the 3D noise map and noise contours of the Delft. Inhabitants on lower floors are more affected than on upper floors.

The size and position of noise barriers can be decided most optionally using 3D noise models. Higher barriers located close to the road are more effective to prevent the noise.

For more information about noise maps:


For Delft noise map:


For Paris noise map:


Urban Information Modeling Platform

This is a Final Project presentation for the Urban Information Modeling class at the Illinois Institute of Illinois. Both authors were interested in an interactive platform to view and create 3D building models. Originally, it was just meant to be another way for citizens to take part in the modeling of their cities in the United States and eventually across the globe.

As the project evolved, increased user participation and the integration of 2D geographic information became key elements. The capability to break down users into subgroups and allowing them to edit models on top of uploading originals was significant. Attached is the presentation with a complete outline of how the platform would be organized and displayed.

Rome Reborn

This is an interesting thing I saw in a Yale Lecture on Roman Architecture regarding the digital reconstruction of Ancient Rome. Similar to Google’s attempt to bring the information from the Sanborn Fire Maps back to life, this urban-scale model of Rome features digital recreations of all the ancient buildings comprising the Seven Hills of Rome. Officially entitled “Rome Reborn,” the initiative was started at the University of Virginia in 1997 and allows users the same functionality of GoogleMaps.

The coolest thing about the project is the ability to pan back and forth through different time periods and have the buildings reconfigure themselves based upon the chosen period. The platform allows users to experience the city from its first settlement in the late Bronze Age (ca. 1000 B.C.) to its depopulation in the early Middle Ages (ca. A.D. 550).    In addition to the accuracy of the structures and their corresponding footprints, designers had to be conscious of the surrounding topography of the landscape and estimate its changes over time.

Though released under UVA, the project was a collaboration between the University’s History and Architecture departments, the UCLA Experiential Technology Center (ETC), the Reverse Engineering (INDACO) Lab at the Politecnico di Milano, the Ausonius Institute of the CNRS, the University of Bordeaux-3, and the University of Caen. According to the developers: “A secondary, but important, goal was to create the cyberinfrastructure whereby the model could be updated, corrected, and augmented. Spatialization and presentation involve two related forms of communication: (1) the knowledge we have about the city has been used to reconstruct digitally how its topography, urban infrastructure (streets, bridges, aqueducts, walls, etc.), and individual buildings and monuments might have looked; and (2) whenever possible, the sources of archaeological information or speculative reasoning behind the digital reconstructions, as well as valuable online resources for understanding the sites of ancient Rome, have been made available to users. The model is thus a representation of the state of our knowledge (and, implicitly, of our ignorance) about the urban topography of ancient Rome at various periods of time.”

The models also represent different levels of complexity. For lesser known structures, the models are level 1 with an applied texture on a simple mass. Of course, better documented structures are level two with articulation of the roof plane. The most famous landmarks (such as the Circus Maximus and the Colosseum) are rendered in level three complexity (some even level four complexity).

The project website can be found here:


And an article and video about the project can be found here:


Showcasing St. Louis’ virtual and physical vitality

The suggestively named St. Louis collective “Brain Drain” has come up with an interesting idea to display what they termed the city’s “creative talent.” Seeking to counter the general view of St. Louis as a sleepy city, they’ve designed a system to display, both physically and virtually, the vitality and human capital of the place.

The physical visualization would be comprised of light beacons spread throughout the city, equipped with proximity sensors so that they would grow brighter when people approached them. They would also serve as additional lighting and landmarks for the urban landscape.

In the virtual realm, users would be able to access a on-the-fly heat map of the city’s activities, which would combine the beacon sensors with social media information such as Tweets, Foursquare check-ins, Flickr pictures, etc.

Another branch of the physical system would be creating digital kiosks that could display this information, so people could find activities going on in the city as they are happening.

PS: I was pretty scared about one statistic mentioned in the video: that 1/4 mile is generally the longest distance people are willing to walk before resorting to a car (so that would be the radius of the beacons’ coverage).

Esri Developer Summit 2012

This past week in Palm Springs, CA this annual conference was held. It is a gathering of developers to learn and teach about new tools used to create mapping applications or adding mapping to existing applications. The meetings cover various aspects of Esri’s ArcGIS system and gives insight on several other Esri products/technology.

The video linked here was from the session called “10 Killer Apps”. I only have this one video which is a demo of a UAV(unmanned aerial vehicle) Shark being controlled by a flex mapping system in an app. Although the mapping system isn’t “driving” something very relevant in this demo, you can see how this could be used for intelligence purposes in the future.

I will keep my eye out for more posts or reports on the conference regarding the 10 killer apps.


Loacation-based Services

In the beginning, there was Dodgeball.

No, not that Dodgeball. Dodgeball was a service to which you could text your location and other members of your service would receive the information with the potential of meeting up with you (or robbing your house if you’re not home). You could also receive information such as crushes, friends, friends’ friends and interesting venues nearby. Dodgeball, created in 2000, was purchased by Google in 2005 and discontinued in 2009, superseded by Google Latitude. One of the makers of Dodgeball went on to create Foursquare.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/35640651″>Hi! I want to learn more about foursquare!</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/foursquarehq”>foursquare</a&gt; on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Foursquare exists somewhere between reality and the virtual realm. While users can “check in” to physical venues, they can also earn “badges” for certain activities and if someone checks in to the same place more than anyone else they become the “Mayor” of that place. Foursquare has also worked out arrangements with businesses to offer specials to users, frequent visitors and especially the Mayor. Checking in is a manual process, developers citing technical issues such as the i-phone not allowing applications to run in the background as well as the drain on battery power that the GPS has. What is not mentioned on their site, however, are the privacy concerns. pleaserobme.com was one of the first websites to point out how exposed people were with geo-tagged social media technology.

Foursquare is making use of many of the technologies we’ve discussed in class and some we haven’t. PostGIS, MapBox, OpenStreetMap are used as well as Google’s s2 library to store cell IDs for geo-indexing and geonames.org dataset to reverse geocode addresses into coordinates.

Opting-in to share your location may be a nice option for some but as we have seen you don’t need to be a Foursquare member or opt-in to anything to unintentionally divulge your location with unintended results.

IIT hosts Hackathon 2012

IIT will be hosting a Hackathon starting this friday, March 30. In a 24-hour marathon, participants will have to create an app in one of these three categories: HTML 5 Game; Web/Cloud app; and Mobile app. Also, no code can be written before the beginning of the competition.

The apps can be developed for any purpose, and will be judged based on their functionality, usability, interactivity, user experience and market potential. Prizes range up to $500 for the best apps in each category.

Sounds like a good opportunity to give our projects a try, if anyone is feeling like it.

All the details at: http://www.iithackathon.com/