Where do Philly’s Cops Live?

I am on holiday for a few days and am visiting Philadelphia. So what better time to cover some Philadelphia-made content? This interactive piece came out last year from Philly.com alongside coverage of the Philadelphia mayoral contest.

Where the cops live
Where the cops live

I want to call out the colour palette for the choropleth in particular. We can see a blue to red system with a stop at yellow in the middle—a divergent palette. With this kind of a setup, I would expect that yellow or the light blue to be zero or otherwise straddle the point of divergence. Instead we have dark blue meaning 0 and dark red meaning 401+. The palette confuses me. It could be that the point of divergence—something around the 200 number—could be significant. It could be the city average, an agreed upon number for good neighbourhood relations, or something. But there is no indication of that in the graphic.

Secondly the colour choice itself. I often hesitate using red (and green) because of the often-made Western connotation with bad. Blue here, it works very well with the concept of the thin blue line, NYPD blue, blue-shirted police. If we assume that there is a rationale for the divergent palette, I would probably place the blue on the high-end of the spectrum and a different colour at the negative end.

Lastly, from the perspective of the layout, Philly has a weird shape. And so that means between the bar chart to the right and the city map on the left the piece contains an awkward negative space. The map could be adjusted to make better use of the space by pointing north somewhere other than up.—why is north up?—to align the Delaware River with the bars. Or, the bars could abut West Philly.

The interactions, however, are very smooth. And a nice subtle touch that orients the reader without distracting them is the inclusion of the main roads, e.g. Broad Street. The white lines are sufficiently thin to not distract from the overall piece.

Credit for the piece goes to Olivia Hall.

Septa’s Silverliner Service Shutdown

Two weeks ago Philadelphia regional rail commuters, a large group to which I belonged for a number of years, experienced a week from hell. On 2 July a yard inspector for Septa, the Philadelphia region’s transit agency, discovered a Silverliner V railcar tilting. For those not familiar with Septa, the Silverliner Vs have been in service for only three years and have been long touted as the future of the Philadelphia commuter rail service. After inspection Septa discovered the tilting railcar suffered from a fatigue crack on the equaliser beam, specifically where it was welded to connect to the wheel bearings. The beam forms part of the truck, which is what connects the railcar to the rails, and any failure at speed could have resulted in an accident, possibly a derailment. The transit agency then quickly inspected the remainder of its fleet of 120 Silverliner Vs. It found the same fatigue crack in a total of 115 cars. By 4 July, Septa pulled all 120 Silverliner Vs from service.

The equaliser beam connects the wheels to the passenger car
The equaliser beam connects the wheels to the passenger car

So what happened? At this point, we do not know. Septa continues tests to discover just what happened and just what can be done to repair the cars. Because, with a fleet of approximately 400 cars, the Silverliner Vs represent 1/3 of the fleet. And with fewer seats and fewer trains, commuters attempting to ride into the city, particularly from nearer-in suburbs, find trains bypassing stations because they quickly reach capacity.

The additional passenger railcars from other regional transit agencies will make little difference
The additional passenger railcars from other regional transit agencies will make little difference

Consequently, Septa has instituted a reduced service—a modification of the Saturday service—with additional service on subways and other high-speed lines. Additionally, Septa has agreed to lease additional trainsets, i.e. locomotives with passenger cars, from other regional transit agencies: Amtrak, New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit), and the Maryland Area Regional Commuter Train Service (MARC).

Philadelphia’s Obesity Problem

Last week Philadelphia became the first large US city to introduce a soda tax. (Berkeley introduced one a few years ago, but is 1/10 the size of Philly.) The Guardian has a really nice write-up on how the tax was sold not on health benefits, but of civic benefits to the education system. But the article made me wonder if somebody had published a map looking at obesity in Philadelphia. Turns out Philadelphia Magazine published an article with just such a map from another source, RTI International. (You can find the full interactive map here.)

The map has three views, one of which allows you to see areas of statistically significant clustering. North and West Philly had some bright red clusters, whereas the western suburbs, in particular along the Main Line have some very cold blues.

Philly and the Main Line
Philly and the Main Line

 

Credit for the piece goes to RTI International.

Where Is Pennsyltucky?

So last week I mentioned Pennsyltucky in my blog post about Pennsylvania’s forthcoming importance in the election. And then on Friday I shared a humourous illustrated map of Pennsylvania that led into an article on Pennsyltucky. But where exactly is it?

Luckily for you, I spent a good chunk of my weekend trying to find some data on Pennsylvania and taking a look at it. You can see and read the results over on a separate page of mine.

Where is Pennsyltucky?
Where is Pennsyltucky?

Pennsyltucky

You may remember my post from Wednesday talking about the likely importance of Pennsylvania in the forthcoming election. I referenced an article from Philadelphia Magazine, which opened with a great map of Pennsylvania. I find the map very much worth sharing, especially on a Friday. I love the island life.

Take note of the other island off to the east, it is another good one on which I have spent many a years of my life. But, yes, anything generally west of the straits is a very, very different experience.

Pennsyltucky
Pennsyltucky

Credit for the piece goes to Mario Zucca.

Securing Philadelphia for the Papal Visit

For those not from Philadelphia, you might not know the Pope is visiting the city in September for a global conference of sorts. While that is great news for the followers and believers, it means absolute hell for the other residents of the city. So finally the security map has been published, detailing just where vehicles can go and where inspections will be held.

Real security map
Real security map

But the best—or worst—part was that for several weeks there was no public knowledge of just what would happen. And that meant maps like the one below were produced. Personally, I think this one would be a lot more fun.

This map would be far more interesting
This map would be far more interesting

Credit for the real one goes to the graphics department of philly.com.

Credit for the more awesomer one goes to B. Wrenn.

Judgmental Philly Map

Happy Friday, everyone. To help you waste some of your time today, here is a link to a set of maps of various cities. The twist? They are judgmental. So here is the map of Philadelphia. Though, to judge this piece, it looks more like it is a map of Jersey than Philly.

Judging Philly
Judging Philly

Credit for the piece goes to R Scott Fallon.

Ballpark Beer

This evening I am going to be taking in a game at Fenway. So I leave you with today’s blog post comparing beer at different ballparks.

Fenway vs. Citizens Bank
Fenway vs. Citizens Bank

Credit for the piece goes to Kevin Schaul, Kelyn Soong, and Dan Steinberg

Don’t Do This At Home…

In fact, don’t do this ever. Today’s bad chart comes from the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities. I saw it and could only shake my head and wonder why.

The Mayor's Office version
The Mayor’s Office version

Something more like this much more easily communicates the story.

My take on the data
My take on the data

Credit for the original piece goes to the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities.

When it Rains…

Today’s interactive piece comes from Axis Philly and it looks at the total amount of rainfall in Philadelphia (1990–2013) to find both which months and what time of day receive the most rainfall.

When it rains…
When it rains…

As it turns out, evenings in the summer months receive the most rainfall. And since 1990, the most rain has fallen between 19.00 and 20.00 in July. A nice complementary piece would have been a small graphic showing total distribution of rain over the months, without segregating the data into hourly chunks. But again, that would have been a nice complement to the piece as it is far from necessary.

Credit for the piece goes to Jeff Frankl, Casey Thomas, and Julia Bergman.