Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Geospatial News Apps

The Tribune's "Englewood" module helps you create very
scalable dot-desnity maps and is named after a well-known
Chicago neighborhood.
My background started in the newspaper business so I was pleased to see "The Chicago Tribune" has its own developers who maintain a newspaper technology blog.  Newspapers have always worked with census data to back up news stories but the Tribune staff takes it much further.  Through their blog they document apps they have created and release them as open source.  In an age when many newspapers have folded because of advances in technology this team is using it to take Journalism in interesting new directions.

In a recent post on the Tribune's "News App Blog", they published a module for creating elaborate dot-density maps named "Englewood".  They referenced my post "Dot Density Maps with Python and OGR" and turned that sample into the Englewood module named after the beleaguered Chicago neighborhood which often appears in the news.

The Tribune team pulls in several other tools and goes through the details of going all the way from census data to online dot-density maps.  In addition to the basic how-to of producing the data they cover how they made the production really fast and deployed it to a massively-scalable S3 Amazon server.  The blog gives a lot of insight into how a newspaper uses technology to apply geospatial technology in support of the news.  Way more info than you get from your typical code-snippet blog.  Fascinating stuff.

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