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A Look at the Ohio River: Past, Present, and Future

Ohio River

Image is courtesy of the NASA Earth Observatory, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. The satellite image captured March 2018 flooding at the confluence of the Ohio and Wabash rivers.

Blue Raster partnered with The National Geographic Society, Lenfest Institute, and seven nonprofit newsrooms on a project entitled, Good River: Stories of the Ohio. The Ohio River runs 981 miles from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Cairo, Illinois, where it joins the Mississippi. It provides drinking water for five million people, and is also a thoroughfare of business, supporting jobs and communities. But it is also commonly cited as the most polluted river in the United States. For this project, PublicSource and six other participating newsrooms are producing a series of stories about the environment, economy and culture of the Ohio River watershed.

Good River Newsroom Partners

Ohio River StoryMap

To give readers a sense of how big the Ohio River watershed is, Blue Raster created a series of map graphics for the site’s landing page. The maps touch-upon topics including population concentration and impaired waterways. To create the maps, our team used data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and leveraged ArcGIS Pro to style the map graphics.

In the series, journalists share the beauty of the Ohio River and threats facing the region. To take readers on an interactive tour of the Ohio River, Blue Raster produced a StoryMap called Highlights of the Ohio for the project launch. The StoryMap features points of interest along the river and the watershed region.

The Good River News Partners will be publishing multiple stories from November 2019 through January 2020. To follow along with the project and share stories or questions, text OHIO to 412-528-6575. Additionally, you can follow #OhioRiverStories on social media.

Good River: Stories of the Ohio is a series about the environment, economy, and culture of the Ohio River watershed, produced by seven nonprofit newsrooms. To see more, please visit ohiowatershed.org.

 

To learn more about StoryMaps, you can start here.

Using StoryMaps to Celebrate Arlington County’s 1920 Centennial

Up until the end of the American Civil War, both present-day Arlington County and Alexandria County were included under the Alexandria County name. Then, in 1870, Virginia's re-written Constitution called for the state’s many incorporated cities to become independent from their respective counties. Thus, Alexandria City separated from the County of Alexandria, which was renamed to “Arlington County” to avoid confusion.

Blue Raster partnered with the Arlington Historical Society to create a StoryMap celebrating Arlington County's centennial anniversary. This StoryMap highlights 115 points of historical significance throughout the county, as curated by the Arlington Historical Society. The map displays a diverse range of feature types, including bridges, farmhouses, mansions, schools, and more. Each location also features a high-quality picture, modern-day address, and informative site description.

Arlington Centennial StoryMap

Arlington County Centennial StoryMap

This StoryMap also features a custom basemap, created from scratch by Blue Raster’s GIS and design teams. This basemap gives viewers a better view of what Arlington County looked like in 1920, including historic street and community names. In addition to a view of the past, this basemap also contains elements of the present. Zooming in activates a layer showing current-day building footprints that can help the viewer relate present locations to historical points of interest.

Since our inception in 2002, Blue Raster has been headquartered in Arlington County, Virginia. We always love working with local businesses and organizations, and we look forward to celebrating the county’s centennial anniversary with this StoryMap.

Let Blue Raster create your organization’s next StoryMap. Contact us today to get started!

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Using GIS to Inform Workforce Development


We recently worked with the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to produce a national-level work-based learning map. Built using ArcGIS Online and the Esri JavaScript API, the map can be custom-tailored to specific state or local agency leadership teams. Using these customized maps, teams can better contextualize their workforce development initiatives and refine their understanding of resources and socioeconomic distribution across their region.

Workforce Development with GIS

Nearly five decades of research has demonstrated that the places where individuals live and learn have a dramatic impact on their opportunities and life outcomes. These place effects—the advantages and disadvantages that one inherits by simply living in a particular location—have a particularly strong impact on one’s access to high-quality education, workforce training, and employment, which are the key ingredients to upward economic mobility. It is vital that leaders in state and local education agencies are mindful of place effects as they help districts and schools to develop work-based learning (WBL) systems across diverse contexts.

Through this application, AIR can more easily identify areas of improved workplace development and analyze the factors that lead to this outcome. This could include factors such as education opportunities, health benefits, or a variety of social factors.

How do I use it?

Users are able to activate different layers that fall under categories such as Education, Health, and Social Factors. By looking across states and the country as a whole, we are able to understand which communities are at a disadvantage when it comes to these factors. As we explained earlier, these factors are vital to spark upward economic mobility. When viewing these different layers, we can have a higher understanding of where these lacking communities are located, and where resources need to be more readily available.

Here is a demo of the application in action.

You can view and use the application here.

ArcGIS Urban: Take City Development Further

Blue Raster Project Manager Megan Gottfried took her ArcGIS Urban skills to the next level at Esri’s "Deploying ArcGIS Urban" training. The training, held in San Diego just before Esri’s annual User Conference, included other Esri business partners, distributors, and advanced level users from around the world.

ArcGIS Urban is gaining significant attention in the GIS and City Planning & Development industries. The platform is a complete solution allowing municipal planning departments and development-focused NGOs to improve urban planning practices and decision-making on a city-wide scale. Users can use ArcGIS Urban to create 3D renderings of city landscapes, proposed buildings, and compare proposed site projects across key stakeholders.

ArcGIS Urban case study

Megan Gottfried used San Francisco as a study area for development and used ArcGIS Urban technology to assist the city’s urban planners with the growing issue of overcrowding. Key program features such as theoretical population and employment projections helped officials to understand the regional severity of the problem and work to find innovative solutions, while 3D building renderings with zoning and building setback details gave realistic building city scapes for user exploration.

San Francisco City
"Today's advanced GIS software can now model cities in 3D and integrate the full planning workflow, thereby dramatically enhancing efficiency and effectiveness."

- Scott Edmondson, Senior Strategic Sustainability Planner for the City of San Francisco

Other highlights of the training session included a product demo and an overview of the ArcGIS Urban system. in addition, Megan Gottfried was able to learn both the back-end and front-end ArcGIS Urban platform and provide clients with tips and best practices for deployment. Megan tested the many features of the ArcGIS Urban program and created sample projects & planning files for the San Francisco area. The event concluded with a Q&A session where Megan and her colleagues were able to ask questions about the program and troubleshoot some of their problems.

ArcGIS Urban Site Project

Learn More

Blue Raster is excited to begin offering ArcGIS Urban solutions for our clients. Are you interested in harnessing the power of informed planning for your business or municipality? Contact us today!

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City of Lynnwood ArcGIS Hub Support


Lynnwood Hub

Blue Raster recently worked with the City of Lynnwood, Washington to support their Connect Lynnwood ArcGIS Hub launch. Our team assisted in the design and creation of the Connect Lynnwood Hub Site and their 10 Minute Walk (10MW) Initiative. Part of the Esri Geospatial Cloud, ArcGIS Hub provides a two-way engagement platform to connect government and citizens. The Pew Research Center found that “65 percent of Americans search online for information about their government. Yet, less than 10 percent report finding what they need.” Through ArcGIS Hub, local officials like those at the City of Lynnwood are able to easily publish data and story maps to allow their citizens to get more involved with their community.

Lynnwood Hub mobile

 

Connect Lynnwood Splash Page

Using an ArcGIS Hub Site, our team designed a custom splash page to serve as a home-base for Connect Lynnwood. The page features Lynnwood initiatives, events, open data, and other information about the city. An open data search allows community members to enter keywords or phrases to get content results instantly. The splash page also includes multiple featured maps covering a variety of topics including general history, major projects  and more! The page also features Lynnwood’s Initiatives, such as the 10 Minute Walk Campaign. Lastly, an events calendar enables Lynnwood to create, manage, and share events to inform community members of upcoming opportunities for involvement. When clicking on an event, users can RSVP and also easily share the event with other community members via Facebook or Twitter. The Lynnwood event manager can also stay connected with RSVP’ed attendees by sending  updates and sharing information that might interest them.

 

Initiative Page

The City of Lynnwood launched their 10 Minute Walk Campaign as their first ArcGIS Hub Initiative. On the Initiative page, community members can learn about the campaign and sign up to become “park walk champions.” As park walk champions, community members record their walks around the city’s numerous parks, and complete surveys that will be used by the City of Lynnwood to assess park and green-space accessibility. By leveraging ArcGIS Hub, the city is able to easily and effectively two-way engage with its citizens.

Check out the City of Lynnwood’s ArcGIS Hub here! Then, learn more about Blue Raster’s ArcGIS Hub Accelerate offerings!

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