Thursday, October 23, 2014

Closing the Race Gap - The gif

condensing a 10k word report into a graphic interchange format image.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bike Tour of DC's Bridges

I can't think of another 17 miles that demonstrates the diverse beauty and challenges of our city.  

I've tried a continuous route of DC's bridges before but usually got stuck or had to double back due to an incomplete trail, lack of nerves over a too busy road, or even the Navy Yard closing off their section of the Anacostia River-walk trail. Last week, I made the tour successfully: A West-to-East, criss-crossing tour (no backtracking).

This ride is really special; it brings together so many diverse views and experiences of D.C. The majesty of the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, industrial remnants near Buzzard Point, the raw flow and speed of 395 traffic, booming commerce around Nats Park, RFK Stadium's fading glory, D.C. General Hospital homeless shelter (looming over Congressional Cemetery no less), and some pretty darn serene nature scenes along the Anacostia and Kingman Island. Of course, starting in Georgetown and ending on Benning Rd produces its own socioeconomic contrast.

The route's a little grueling with the traffic and way-finding but I can't wait to get out there an do it again; maybe starting at Chain Bridge? There's also the Ohio Dr bridge that crosses the Reflecting Pond. I also included the bridge at Yards Park for fun, and the semi-secret bridge going from Ohio Park to L'Enfant. That one's fun because it gives a great view above the Maine Ave Fish Market. Trickiest one is probably East Capitol St, it takes a little doubling back on the East side. 

Methodology: Tracked the route on Map My Ride app and exported the kml file from Map My Ride. Just did a but of annotation in QGIS (will someone buy my ArcMap already), scalebar, satellite image basemap.

Turn list after the jump (honestly some of the turns are pretty complicated):

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mapping ABC Licenses

In 2005, our family broke ground on Reynard Florence Vineyard, planting 140 petite manseng grape vines. We thought it would be a fun hobby.

Almost ten years later, we're selling about 1,500 cases of wine a year and our tasting room (a converted tool shed) is bustling with tourists jus about every weekend. We're pleased with our success, but at the end of the day, we're still basically selling one bottle at a time (after providing a tasting for up to eight wines, telling our story etc.) A few local shops and restaurants sell our wine, but we still do 95 percent of our business in the tasting room.

So we want to expand our retail operation. But where are the establishments that are a) licensed to sell wine and b) close enough to our farm for us to self-distribute?

Luckily, Virginia ABC publishes every license they issue. It's a huge dataset with over 18,000 licenses.

These licenses run the gamete from gas stations, grocery stores, breweries, caterers, anyone that can produce sell or serve any type of alcohol. ABC also breaks each license down by type of establishment, address, the year the license was first issued, and what type of license.

We're interested in an establishment that is licensed for On premises and/or Off premises sales. Basically we don't care if a restaurant is selling our wine to drink there, or if a shop is selling our wine for folks to drink elsewhere. Just sell our wine!

Once the data was cleaned up, I geocoded it in QGIS and projected the points, symbolized with different colors for type of establishment; Throw in our local country boundaries, along with our local and state roads for orientation, and presto.  

We're the yellow star in the western edge of Orange County. The three closest locations are the ubiquitous Horton and Barboursville Wineries, with Stone Fire Kitchen nearby. Not surprisingly, most of the licenses are in Charlottesville, the biggest near-by town. But there are other locations to consider in Madison County, Culpepper 

Maybe the next map will be statewide, of all the establishments that carry Reynard Florence wine!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Why the Feds Should Regulate For-Profit Colleges

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post:

For just two more weeks, the Department of Education is seeking public input on a regulation for colleges and universities that promise gainful employment -- essentially, the ability to find a job that can pay off a graduate's student debt. The Department was right to propose a rule, but the one being considered fails to sufficiently protect students and taxpayers.
The rule affects many public and private non-profit, institutions as well as for-profit schools, but the will have the greatest effect on the latter. The for-profit college lobby,the Washington Post editorial board, and others argue that the Department shouldn't write and enforce a rule that disproportionately affects one sector of higher education, and not others (full disclosure: Young Invincibles served as a negotiator on the rule and has publicly criticized the rule for being too lenient).
But when you look at the interactive chart below, you realize that the real disproportion is how the for-profit schools serve their students.

For-profit colleges only enroll about nine percent of all college students in America, yet they cause nearly half of all student loan defaults. Borrowers who attended for profit schools default on their loans 22 percent of the time, well above the average for non-profits. For-profit student borrowers also take on higher levels of debt, with nearly a quarter of borrowers taking on more than $40,000 in debt.
For-profit institutions argue that they serve a disadvantaged population, and they're right. Over two-thirds of students at for-profit schools receive a Pell grant, the largest need-based financial aid program targeted at students from low-income families. It's also true that for-profits disproportionately serve students of color: African-Americans make up 14 percent of the total student population, but make up 29 percent of for-profit student population.
These realities about the for-profit student population are actually arguments for targeted regulation of the for-profit sector. Vulnerable students need a quality, low-cost education, without being saddled with excess debt and degrees that don't show value in the job market. More than anyone else, and these students deserve protections from institutions that don't produce a return on investment.
Taxpayers need protection as well. As the chart also shows, for-profits disproportionately rely on Pell and G.I. benefits to operate. We should invest in institutions that demonstrate results, not those that profit on the public's dime at the expense of students.
It's not that there isn't room for-profits in our higher education system. If a school succeeds in serving its students, the tax status shouldn't matter. And the Department of Education is applying the rule to all career programs - for profit and non-profit alike. But with statistics like these -- where for-profits disproportionately produce loan defaults while relying on taxpayer-funded financial aid -- it just makes sense that the worst actors in the system have the most shaping up to do. Taxpayer dollars should be serve students, not shareholders.
The Department of Education should strengthen its proposed rule by providing financial relief for students misled by promises of meaningful work only to find mountains of debt, preventing poorly performing schools from enrolling thousands of new students, and closing loopholes that leave students exposed to the industry's abuses.
Citations from chart:
1. U.S. Department of Education, National Center of Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, Table 306.50, 2013. 2. The Institute for College Access & Success, "New Data Confirm Troubling Student Loan Default Problems", 2013. 3. Department of Education, 3-Year Official Default Rates, 2013. 4. College Board, Trends in Student Aid, 2009.5. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2011-12 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, 2012, Computation by NCES PowerStats on 5/8/2014.6. United States Government Accountability Office, Report to Congressional Questioners, VA Education Benefits, 2013. 7. Ibid. 8. U.S. Department of Education, National Center of Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, Table 331.20, 2013 9. U.S. Department of Education, National Center of Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, Expenses of Postsecondary Institutions, Figure 1, 2013.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Map of Five Guys Locations (six years ago)

Burgers are a big part of my life. I love making them, trying new ones, visiting old favorites.  But despite the thousands of burgers I've devoured, it's tough to beat an "all the way" burger from Five Guys.

Having spent a lot of time in the Washington area, I expect to find the red and white check logo and distinctive peanut oil smell in most commercial developments. But a lot of the country isn't so lucky. (I remember when New Yorkers lined up around the block when the first NYC location opened).

This dataset displays all of the Five Guys Restaurant locations across the United States and was downloaded from GeoCommons. The dataset contains the store's full physical address and addresses were geocoded to obtain their lat/lon coordinates.

The chain has grown exponentially since 2007, and I'd love to map a more recent dataset. I asked Five Guys marketing department for more recent data, but they declined to oblige:

RE: Message from Five Guys Website Marketing/Advertising Form

Victoria Cerminaro <>
Jan 10 (1 day ago)
to me
Hi Tom,

Thanks for reaching out to Five Guys!

While we really appreciate your interest, unfortunately we don’t have that type of information to give out at this time. However we certainly welcome you to use our store locator feature at our website.

Thanks again for thinking of us! We wish you luck with your map making J

Victoria Cerminaro
Customer Service & Marketing Administrator

I'm definitely not going to copy and paste every single address from their store list into an organized dataset.

Anyone have any other datasets they'd like to see rastered? In-N-Out locations maybe?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Senator Patty Murray on The Crisis in Youth Unemployment

Published on Jan 7, 2014

Sen. Murray joined Sen. Booker, Young Invincibles and unemployed youth to unveil the findings of a new report titled "In This Together: The Cost of Youth Unemployment." The report quantifies the amount of lost tax revenue and benefits paid out, attributed to youth unemployment. Additionally, this report makes the case that youth unemployment should concern everyone, not just young people, by putting a price tag on the cost of youth unemployment to each individual taxpayer for the first time

The Hidden Cost of Youth Unemployment

This post was originally published on Talking Points Memo

As Congress confronts the January 15th deadline to extend the United States’ spending authority, members should prioritize addressing the nation’s youth unemployment crisis. Yesterday, Young Invincibles released a report that for the first time puts a price tag on the country’s millions of unemployed young people. The numbers are staggering.

In the United States, chronic youth unemployment results in a net $8.9 billion annual loss. That breaks down to $53 per taxpayer. Lost tax revenue accounts for nearly all of it. The takeaway is clear: youth unemployment is a problem that affects not just one generation, but the entire economy.

 We already know that youth unemployment has a detrimental impact on the future and financial security of young adults. Unemployment early in adulthood can lead to depressed wages for decades after. But the individual or generational burden is not the only cost; we’re all in this together.

 On average, we calculate that federal and state governments will realize an over $4,100 annual loss in foregone tax revenue and benefits paid out for each unemployed 18- to 24- year-old. The costs to government and taxpayers grow as unemployed individuals age. We estimate that state governments and their taxpayers will lose a whopping $9,875 annually for each unemployed 25- to 34- year-old. Putting that in perspective, the average tuition and fees for an in-state resident at a public college during the 2012-2013 school year was $8,655. In any given year, we lose more money on a struggling unemployed young person than it would cost send him or her to an in-state public university.

While we combined the costs from lost tax revenue and safety net expenditures to reach our cost estimates, the vast majority of these costs come from lost taxes. In fact, 93 percent of the cost of an unemployed 18 -to 24- year-old comes from lost tax revenue. Lost taxes make up 81 percent of the cost of an unemployed 25 to 34 year-old.

Youth Unemployment Costs to States & Their Taxpayers 

 While every American taxpayer will share the $53 per year in federal costs, not all states carry the same burden. Some states have a disproportionate share of unemployed young people, but their wages and state tax policies have an impact as well. Youth unemployment costs Californians $1.7 billion, the most of any state in the nation. That makes sense: there are three-quarters of a million unemployed young people in the nation’s most populous state. New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania also have large populations so bear large burdens over $300 million annually. However, significantly less populous states such as North Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey, Alabama and Kentucky round out the top 10.

But youth unemployment affects every single tax-paying American, so we calculated the cost per taxpayer.

  Southern states, with their high levels of youth unemployment and smaller populations, have paid the most. Residents of Kentucky, Alabama and North Carolina, have all had $80 added to their tax bill. Georgia and Mississippi residents each paid an extra $71. These additional costs reflect a significant burden to taxpayers, particularly those in Southern states, which traditionally have had relatively low tax rates.

But the number of unemployed young people isn’t the only factor that drives these estimates. States like New York and Massachusetts have lower youth unemployment rates, but because incomes are higher there (Massachusetts has a minimum wage of $8 and New York’s is $7.25), the amount in lost tax revenues increases, as does the estimated compensation in unemployment insurance. Taxpayers in states like these pay an extra $60 to $69, despite the fact that there are many more taxpayers to share the burden.

 Fixing the Problem 

 The average unemployed 18- to 25- year-old received only $44 in welfare and $236 in unemployment insurance. Older workers received a bit more: The average unemployed 25- to 34- year-old received $1,736 in unemployment benefits but only $92 in welfare payments. A lot of this is driven by policies that allocate funds based on how much money a worker made before losing a job, particularly in the case of unemployment benefits. Younger workers, with less experience and lower salaries, therefore qualify for fewer benefits. But in a time of budget austerity, it’s also important when we think about the money we’re leaving on the table when so many young people don’t have jobs.

 We’re often told that we don’t have the resources to invest in programs addressing youth unemployment, that we can’t afford to fund workforce and training programs that would give young people the skills to compete in the modern economy. But as these stats show, we can’t afford not to invest in them. Everyone suffers when a young person is out of work, not just the individual. To address this problem, policymakers should implement a number of proven cost-effective solutions, like re-investing in AmeriCorps and the Youth Opportunity Grant.

But moving beyond the scope of what government can do, employers across America stand to benefit from creating roles within their organizations for more Millennial workers. We know intuitively this generation is adept at employing the latest technology and increas¬ing productivity. We know this generation has learned collaboration and an inclusive approach. Polls show we are entrepreneurial in our think¬ing, in part because we doubt institutions will be able to keep their commitments to us in years to come and we have become more creative and self-reliant as a result. These are all qualities that 21st century businesses and organizations need more of to innovate and grow.

So hire a Millennial! We're all in this together.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Heat Map of Every Building Permit in D.C.

The DC Data Catalogue does an awesome job releasing interesting data about our fair city. Above is a heat map of every active building permit, as of January 10, 2014. They have the kml shapefile, and you just have to transform the data into a raster.

The dataset contains locations and attributes of building construction and alteration permits applied for and approved by the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. There's plenty of activity downtown along the K Street corridor. No surprises around Shaw and H St NE as well. I was a little surprised at the activity around Ft. Totten and Benning Rd near Marshall Heights, but I haven't been in those areas in a little while.

 Of course, not every building permit is created the same. This dataset captures large construction projects like the O Street Market development in Shaw, as well as someone renovating their bathroom in Georgetown.

 Next steps: Maybe I'll add a layer of metro lines and proposed street car to see if there are any associations there.