From Twitter with Love: GIS Challenge Pushes Creative Mapping

A 30-day Twitter mapping challenge is inspiring data professionals worldwide to showcase publicly available data sets. Syracuse CDO Sam Edelstein participated by using his city's open data portal during his off-duty hours.

by / November 11, 2019
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A 30-day GIS challenge has garnered an excited, international following on Twitter after a Finnish geographer proposed different ways to display data for each day in November.

The #30DayMapChallenge started from a post by Topi Tjukanov, who listed everything from points on Nov. 1 to population on Nov. 23. Tjukanov works for GISPO, a GIS consulting firm based in Helsinki, Finland, and invited GIS enthusiasts to use any tool at their disposal to participate.

The hashtag piqued the interest of Syracuse Chief Data Officer Sam Edelstein, who decided to take part in his downtime using data from the city’s open data portal.

“For better or for worse, I am an avid Twitter user and I am pretty linked in with all of the different data science, mapping and civic tech folks on Twitter,” Edelstein said. “I saw this 30-day map challenge come up and I just like to look at what creativity other people like to use, but also then it is a chance for me to test out my own skills ...”

He said his favorite part of the challenge so far has been the "points" portion, where he mapped water main breaks in Syracuse since 2004. But the creativity derived from the challenge has brought to light new and innovative ideas on how to use data openly available to the public.

He has also mapped the broadband rate by U.S. Census tract, active liquor licenses and building fires reported in 2018. He said many of his contemporaries across the U.S., at the state and city levels, have also joined in the fun.

The hashtag to date has featured examples from around the globe with everything about the density of bombs dropped on London during the Blitz in World War II to worldwide airline flight paths.

“I thought it would be fun to try and participate as much as I could,” Edelstein said. “Whenever I can use the data that the city is producing, that’s always a good time to do it.”

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