Very Large Maps Help Municipal Property Revaluation

Posted on May 24, 2012 in Thinking

During its lastest revaluation in 2010-2011, West Hartford, CT took advantage of GIS to create maps that explained the valuation changes for the benefit of property owners.

In West Hartford, this meant very large maps measuring four feet wide by more than six feet tall that were posted on the wall of the conference room where hearings were held.  One large format map illustrated how the Assessing department mapped its neighborhoods.  A second map of similar size illustrated individual property level valuations (each property colored using a color gradient related to valuation), which made it easy to compare the valuation of properties within and between each  neighborhood.  A third map showed the degree of valuation change from the prior period (percent).

Studying a  neighborhood map can be a revelation.   Residents have different interpretations about which properties constitute a neighborhood.  Some people perceive their neighborhood as the street they live on.  Others might think of it in terms of their association with a local feature or landmark, a hill or pond or park.  Assessors interpret neighborhoods using a number of variables – physical location, adjacency to or proximity to schools, parks, and central business districts, architectural styles, age of development, lot size restrictions, waterfront, and so forth.  The different geographies of neighborhoods imagined by residents and studied by assessors don’t always match up.  For certain situations, the maps helped residents quickly see what constitutes their neighborhood (as defined by the Assessor) and the range of valuations.  These maps helped to resolve questions, provided useful information to residents, and made the process proceed more smoothly.

By Tom Harrington based on discussion with Joseph Dakers Sr, Director of Assessments, West Hartford, CT, and support from Michele Giorgianni, AppGeo Project Manager

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GIS Consulting Firm Makes Hardcopy Map

Posted on April 24, 2012 in Thinking

Although most maps are now designed to be distributed via internet devices and viewed interactively, there is still a need for hardcopy maps and the art of (hardcopy) cartography has not completely disappeared.  The larger size and crispness of a printed transit map, for example, can be particularly useful when large geographic areas are being viewed, such as when a person is planning a trip that may transit several communities, or when they want to see many routes all at once in context.

When designing for hard copy printing, however, different sorts of design decisions need to be made in contrast to designing for interactive web display.

By way of example, AppGeo has produced several editions of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) statewide map of their bus and trolley services. For the 2012 edition, RIPTA requested a complete redesign including better highlighting of the Providence metro area.  This Rhode Island transit map needed to show both the entire sweep of RIPTA services in Rhode Island as well as very detailed routing for downtown Providence.

To solve this cartographic problem on the printed page, we developed a map covering all of Rhode Island on the front side of the publication, and two detailed insets of Providence area on the reverse.  To aid the riders in their trip planning we used color and line weight to highlight the highest frequency routes.   The printed map also presents a table showing detailed time-of-day and bus frequency, plus a map of the layout of the Kennedy Plaza terminal in Providence.

Another of the challenges of designing for hardcopy is what I like to call “map origami” or how the map gets folded for ease of use.  At the outset we created a folding pattern to match the desired folded dimensions.  Then we aligned the map components logically within the grid formed by the fold lines.  It is a back and forth process of adjustments to maximize the utility of the map.

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