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


DataSF App Showcase

The DataSF App Showcase is a collection of applications that have been developed and built by individuals and organizations using datasets published by the City & County of San Francisco. The apps in this showcase are a tangible result from individuals & organizations having open access to city data.

There are different data categories such as Crime, Dining, Environment, Local, Maps, News, Politics &Transportation to create an app. In the DataSF App Showcase you can fine different example, but one case that I’m really interesting is SF Solar Map because this app lets residents view buildings that are equipped with solar power and read case studies on installed systems. Users also can type their address into the Solar Map site to get an analysis of how much solar power or solar water heating they could produce on their roof, and provides links to information on technologies and financial incentives available. If you are interning in this app , click here.

Certainly, DataSF App Showcase is a good example of what we should do with the data available in the network. If you are interesting to build an app, click here

More Information

San Francisco Data

San Francisco APP

San Francisco Solar Map

By Soledad Hernandez

Case Study – Opening Cities’ Data

data.cityofchicago.org and other initiatives

The city of Chicago Data Portal has been live since February 2010. It’s official goal is to promote access to government data and encourage the development of tools that use that data to build ‘creative’ tools.

So far, it has provided 717 items on its website, including:

  • 197 datasets
  • 4 external datasets (CTA)
  • 133 files and documents (GIS; shapefiles; kml)
  • 338 filtered views
  • 19 charts
  • 27 maps
Those are updated at different rates: yearly, quarterly, nightly, real-time (bus and train trackers). They can be exported into the following formats: CSV; JSON; PDF; RDF; RSS; XLS; XLSX; XML. Data can also be harnessed using the Socrata Open Data API (SODA).
The website also features ways of visualizing data, such as maps and charts, that are intended to be user friendly. However, there are some issues with the data and the way it’s organized that hinder the initiative’s goal of reaching wider audiences. First, with so much data and no hierarchy, it’s difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Second, there is little analysis or interpretation such as the last two visualization examples; most of the information is just raw data.
Other cities such as New York and Seattle also have their own data portals. These were all created in the wake of the federal government’s Data.gov portal, launched in May 2009 as part of the Obama administration’s Open Government Initiative. It’s principles are: transparency promotes accountability; participation allows people to contribute ideas; and collaboration encourages cooperation within government and with industry.
These data portals are all based on the Socrata Social Data Platform. This allows for governmental agencies to link data from their networks to Data.gov in real-time; to integrate to social networks such as Twitter and Facebook (‘liking’, sharing or commenting); to map data both on Bing and Google Maps; to create visualization such as charts, graphs and maps; and allows for third-party apps, using Socrata’s API. (check the comments on this newsfor some of Socrata’s intentions and goals while working for the government)
While some apps have been developed using data from the City of Chicago portal, most of them consist mainly of more friendly ways of displaying that data, e.g., Clear Streets, and app that allows you to see when snow was cleared and streets salted, and Chicago Lobbyists, which allows you to see which lobbyists have received more money and from whom.
However, I am more interested in apps that allow for user input to contribute to planning and urban policy issues. One good example is Trail Blaze Chicago, an app for Android that allows bikers to record their daily trips, through their phone’s GPS. Using this information, planners could be better informed of where bike lanes are most needed, and build them accordingly.