Monday, May 23, 2011

Budget Share Widget

Just added a new widget, over there->, that allows you to enter a sum of money and select either HCDE or Chattanooga to see what percent of budget that figure represents. Testing it at this point with- FY10 total for Hamilton County Department of Education = $358,995,245 and City Of Chattanooga passes budget total for FY11 = $185,188,000. I might add more choices later. I did this last week for the HCDE budget but added the City choice today inspired by Chattarati's interactive City budget tool. The idea was to have this handy for when consuming news stories and quickly being able to see how big the figure du jour represents in the big picture.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Road Closure Closure

A bit late for the update, but all dots on the map are green. I think this type of mapping effort is a good idea and the only way to quickly map the majority of blocked roads in our area is for a few dozen people to report them. (Thank you to those of you who submitted info and updates and a huge thanks to @dryan for porting the map over to openchattanooga and adding a submission form.) I am sure a lot of us experienced the same sort of thing on that Wednesday, we were trying to get home and continued to be met by trees and lines down. I had to park and walk as our neighborhood was blocked off from every direction several trees deep at each block. (No complaints though as most of the houses were not damaged.) Then the driving chaos started and continued for days.* People were driving faster and more carelessly than usual and through unfamiliar neighborhoods to boot.**

We are looking in to ways to make the map better in case we need to use it again in the future. I am sure this type of model would work well for coordination of volunteer efforts, both in 'normal' times as well as in times of crisis. If so, we, as a community, only have to decide that it is.

* Four-way stop people, jeez!

** I highly recommend looking at the TDOT Traffic History Fusion app. Zoom in to your neighborhood or to a place where a road was blocked near you. Then click on a dot to see average daily traffic flow through that point. For quite a few locations on the closure map, there were traffic flow stations showing an average daily flow of thousands of cars. Even with a dip in the average amount of traffic, a lot of residential areas saw huge increases in traffic overflowing off of these major roads like Shallowford and Germantown.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chattanooga blocked roads

I tried to start this yesterday but had no power etc. After discussing with some people this morning, it still seems valuable to have a map of blocked or obstructed roads. Please contribute by emailing locations to chattadata - at - or @chattadata for Twitter. These are being geocoded, so be as specific as possible. If you can get coordinates using Google Earth, do so. Otherwise, addresses at the blockage will work. For intersection blocks, specify which road is actually blocked. Include a notes if you like. Map will display blocked roads as red, obstructed(passable with caution) as yellow, and cleared blockages as green. Map link will be distributed once it starts getting populated.
Be Safe.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

American Avant Garde Slept Here

I like houses, especially historic houses. Usually when I visit an historic site, it is intentional. How appropriate that I met this house by Chance.

Almost a year ago I was riding with some friends from upstate New York down to the city. One of the riders lived north of the city and we detoured through Harriman state park to take her home. We pulled into the driveway and to her house, which is part of Stony Point cooperative community. This white house is in her front yard. We got out and she pointed to the house and told us how John Cage, David Tudor and others had lived there in the 50's. Cage later built another cottage further up the hill. I was absolutely fascinated.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Spending cuts to turn lights off?

I don't get it.

After watching this video during Sunshine week, the value of E-Gov spending should be obvious. Yet, HR1 cuts funding to these projects to the point where the IT Dashboard,,,, and all face shutdown in the next few months. If you haven't ever looked at or used any of these sites, or didn't know they existed, take a few minutes and check them out. Do they seem to be valuable tools for informing citizens of government activity and spending?

So what do we do? Some folks, including Tim Berners-Lee, have encouraged people to sign petitions like this one from Sunlight Foundation. Others remind us that the dotcom bust gave way to Web 2.0, so maybe this would give rise to something better on the post Gov 2.0 side of things. However, I think the biggest casualty of this is, and will be, the lack of our elected officials placing value on open government. Having buy in for transparency and open gov from government workers and officials is key to the success of opening data at any level of government. If the benefits of doing this are not valued by those we elect and employ, then we should not expect much transparency. If these federal government sites fall, then we no longer have them to reference, not just for the value they provide, but as an example of open government in action.

So when I read statements from our congressional reps about reducing spending, cutting government waste, and keeping government on the straight and narrow, I don't think that discarding tools that allow us to monitor (some of) their efforts is a good idea.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Crime and Confusion

There are two shooting related stories in today's news, the first a homicide the second this weekend's gang summit. I don't have all of the shooting data from last year at hand, see previous post, but have it backed up somewhere. From what I can tell, we are about where we were last year but one less shooting and one more homicide. As of 3/10/2010 - shootings = 12 and of those, 3 were homicides. As of today we are at 11 and 4..I think. I went to check the shooting list and map that the TFP has on their Right2Know page, but as of today, it is exactly one month out of date, and the last shooting it has listed was upgraded to a homicide.(The bookings, which account for more screen real estate are, however, up to date:) Hopefully they will get that updated soon. I checked to see what it had on the homicides, nothing. (Granted one just happened last night.) This might just have to do with how the incidents are upgraded and how those upgrades do or don't get sent in the file to

It is a bit confusing trying to catch up on this type of thing if you haven't been gathering it along the way. Even though there is a lot of room for improvement, we have come a long way in the last 6 to 12 months. This time last year, there was no CrimeReports map, no Right2Know, no regular Tweets from CPD, no Chattarati Public Safety blog, and I am sure several other things that contribute to our ability to monitor public safety issues.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Somebody Stole My $#!T!

Having your stuff stolen pretty much sucks all the way round. However, there are some positive things in rebuilding. The first thing we did was to list all of our online accounts. There were a lot, more than a page. We then worked through the list and reset all the passwords and took extra time to update other account info and to delete the ones we don't use anymore. The second benefit was to find all of our backups scattered through the house( and the cloud) and consolidate them. Then, and still, to selectively recover the data we need. For the most part this is comprised of photos and music. As iPhoto imports, I got to watch over a decade of life stream by. The first digital pictures I took, lots of trips, first house, kids, second house etc. The music was a similar walk through the past with files gleaned from ftp servers, then Napster, Audio Galaxy, Kazaa, and Oink.

I highly recommend taking the time to do this type of data house keeping before something happens, whether hardware failure or theft. If you have a Mac, you have a lot of power to secure your data and your computer. While a bit pricey, Apple's accounts give you a decent amount of storage, syncing between devices, and back to my mac features. (There is speculation that this service will drop in price by as much as 100% in the near future.) For pdfs of tax returns and other types of sensitive info, you can use encrypted disk images to store them. For other things that are not as sensitive, I use Evernote to keep them. If you can do basic scripting, OSX's Automator app can help you do other security measures limited only by your creativity and time you want to spend on it.

Strangely, our burglary does not appear on the map. Not that I really need it, just saying…..

Oh, you will see to the right a Wolfram Alpha widget I created to compare stats on 2 Zip Codes. You can enter any two zips and get a basic geographic and demographic comparison.