Utilizing civic data

Orbitist has been changing gears over the past few months, as we figure out what works for our company and our clients, and which of our products are the most valuable and impactful. Originally, we thought travel content would be the extent of that value. But much of what we have learned from this time has pointed us in the direction of going bigger and broader by mapping civic data. (This Ted Talk helped us narrow our focus, too.)

Mapping information has the power to help organizations, like the Chautauqua County Land Bank, present the work that they’re doing, such as demolitions and renovations to decrease blight and strengthen communities. Coupled with civic data that illustrates a variety of components of the local community and real estate market, the importance of that work is made clear. It can then be shown to both stakeholders and community members. We're excited to play a role in that.


But mapping data like this has the potential to do even more and on a much larger scale. Data is being collected constantly — whether it be data of crime rates, demographics, environmental issues, etc. — but it’s rarely shared in a meaningful way. This is, in part, because of how large these quantities of data are and how daunting it seems to manage it all. With the lack of utilization of data and its an inaccessible format, there becomes a lack of communication as well.

We want to help change that. Using CARTO, Mapbox, and our own mapping platform (which will be seeing an update soon!), we hope to combine this data with multimedia production to present data in a more complete and thoughtful way — essentially, through storytelling. Because when made accessible, a large number of people can leverage this data and can work to transform entire cities, making for better transport systems, a greener environment, policy changes, and more. At the very least, utilizing this data creates dialogue. This can be both a personal dialogue, as one engages with this data on their device, and a larger dialogue with other community members and policy makers.

Creating a constantly flowing channel of data to the public in easy to understand formats like maps allows for individuals to better understand the world around them. And that’s really what Orbitist has strived to do since the beginning. So we’re eager to continue on this path, as well as begin to focus more heavily on local environmental data communication.