bmetro magazine recently wrote an article on the importance of open data and civic programming and focused a bit on the work I have been doing:
Click that ‘hood is a fun site developed by Code for America where you test your knowledge of the neighborhoods in your city. Being an activist for Birmingham, along with my fondness of maps, I decided I would get Birmingham up on their site. After all, they just need some GIS data formatted properly. No problem, I’ve worked with GIS data plenty of times before!
Unfortunately when it comes to GIS data, neighborhood boundaries are difficult to come by. This is probably because neighborhood boundaries are fluid and aren’t completely defined like political boundaries. The most popular site for neighborhood boundaries, Zillow.com, didn’t have any available for Birmingham. I kept searching and came upon Birmingham’s Map Portal. This site has some great data on it, including all the neighborhoods. It was just what I was looking for, except, you can’t actually export any GIS data off of it. You can only view it and take screen shots. (It sounds like it’s time to get an open GIS site running for Birmingham… maybe my next project?)
I had images of the neighborhood data now, but this meant I still had to draw the vector data to overlay on a map. Using QGIS, openstreetmaps, and finally Google Maps, I traced out each of the neighborhood boundaries as vector data. I have it available in both KML and GeoJSON formats:
You can also view my Google Map of the neighborhoods.
With that, I was able to upload the data to Click that ‘hood. So, go play and see how well you know Birmingham’s neighborhoods!