NY ESAP Law… mapping high-risk neighborhoods

Following the mid-term proposal I was considering ways to map high-risk neighborhoods across New York’s five boroughs by representing pharmacies participating in ESAP. I was considering using Google Maps API and then Jonathan and Nicholas told me about the Cloudmade API which is a commercial product but the great thing is that they source their maps from the Openstreetmap project.

After working with Cloudmade, the next issue was that the dataset didn’t have addresses though I was able to get Zip Codes for each pharmacy. Cloudmade has this example of their API called Marker Clustering which groups markers that are close to each other. Using another tool GPS Visualizer I was able to go back into the dataset and convert Zip Codes to their latitude and longitude values; GPS Visualizer also automatically gives you the latitude/longitude center point for your map. After working with the API I was finally able to come up with a nice map representing all of the pharmacies in NYC participating in ESAP by Zip Code. Finally using the Style Editor in Cloudmade I was able to render different versions of my map simply by changing the Map ID in the API… these two turned out to be my favorites:

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Driving forces… 21st century voting

The core element of our Future of the Infrastructure class is the practice of scenario planning or telling possible stories about the future. A key element of the scenario planning process as practiced by Art Kleiner is to identify driving forces: “forces that influence the outcome of events. Driving forces are the elements that move the plot of a scenario, that determine the story’s outcome… without driving forces there is no way to begin thinking through a scenario.” For my paper on scenarios (“Mobility, New Innovation and How 21st Century Voting Could Re-Shape Democracy”) I’m looking at how voting might change in the 21st century and the two driving forces I’m considering are the possibility of Internet Voting; and the growing impact of mail-in or absentee voting. Below I’ve included a couple of sections from the paper… for context, I completed this the week of mid-term elections which was top of news.


Internet voting has been discussed and tested in the U.S. for years. Vijay Ravindran who is currently SVP and Chief Digital Officer of The Washington Post Company says that, “there is no good technical reason why” Internet voting could not happen soon. Mr. Ravindran speaks from a key vantage point given his previous position as chief technology officer of Catalist LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based political start-up that built the national voter database of information on more than 260 million people in the 2008 election which carried the Democratic Party to victory. Internet voting, he says, “would change everything from communications to the composition of the electorate.”


A second and key driving force on the way voting might change is the growth of absentee and mail-in voting. During the 2008 Presidential election more than 30% of voters voted by absentee ballot or early vote.5 While there were many historical reasons for these increased numbers, such as more military personnel overseas voting, it is possible that its growth is also related to a lack of trust and the need for more convenience in the system. Vijay says that early voting and “its cousin” vote-by-mail, which he believes is bigger, changes elections in two important ways: “they shift an election at a single point in time to span a long period, so you can imagine the communication as well as operational differences that accompany that.” He also says that they “allow data to really be used to change outcomes. Most states release daily those who have requested a ballot and those who have already voted.”


This paper has taken a close look at voting in society. It argues that by 2022 a new voting culture could emerge in our society and that two driving forces are Internet voting as well as the time shift and grouping of voters due to the increase in early voting. As this new culture of voting takes hold, shifts in our connection to the current system will change in radical ways. “Everything about voting today is guesswork,” says Vijay Ravindran. But with a new such system in place Ravindran says that societal norms of privacy around voting will change; that the “psychological effects would be amazing.” Take for example the idea of Internet voting and cross-reference it with the rapid growth of social media. “Imagine if when you voted it also posted your vote to your Facebook page?” That with the diffusion of technology in voting and our willingness to share personal information online that a new form of “social-based voting” could become the norm. The ramifications are extensive. Ravindran also says that “you can’t separate voting from its two other important pillars, fundraising/money, and volunteer/activism… they are massively interconnected.”

Posted in NYU ITP Fall 10, The Future of the Infra- Structure | Leave a comment

Exploring central question of ESAP dataset

After closely studying the ESAP law and considering the dataset, I’ve come up with a direction for a final project, which includes attempting to answer a key question: Are there more public health minded pharmacies in high-risk NYC neighborhoods? This seems to be a central question from this particular dataset and my goal is to Visualize this in two key areas: 1. looking at perceptions and attitudes of pharmacists; and 2. mapping high-risk neighborhoods where instances of IDUs are highest. Here’s my complete proposal:

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