Riau Urban Data
In line with the projects ambitions of developing a radical tool that helped instigate more informed discussions amongst planners and stakeholders – the research team began the process by setting in place a data protocol to ensure that information would not be lost in translation. In that sense – the Batam research project was a real game changer.
This protocol aimed to serve as a mechanism to ensure that the field research team would relay raw data over to the programmers and researchers at the laboratory in certain formats that were clear and coherent to everyone working. This was by no means a one-way streak as the data collected onsite drastically began to shape the interface and even the intended usage of the visual data platform.
The field team set out conducting variousinterviews, surveys and gathering data using handheld tablets which via the internet were in sync with our internal server. Interviews were conducted with governmental agencies, private players in the industry all the way down to independent surveys at the district and village level. This data (tabulated into spreadsheets) was then directly imported into the platform without any tampering
or additional editing. Most of the datasetsgathered were loaded as CSV files which makes them easily verifiable and editable.
Meanwhile back at the lab, the platform itself was written using Java with processinglibraries. The flexibility and pace of code-prototyping it offered was just what the programmers were looking for in terms of enhancing the visual content. It began with the visualization of existing datasets and relied heavily on well-established approaches such as aggregation and geo- referencing. Spatial data and geo-processingwas handled using GIS software based on the Mercator projection system. This (WGS84Web Mercator) is the same projection system used by other online providers suchas Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, Bing andothers.
However, unlike the others – the data platform was designed not merely as a representational but as a tool which would help iterate various design proposals andscenarios based on live field research. This‘intimately’ sensed close range information empowers planners, local authorities andpolicy makers with exactly the kind of finegrain information and feedback that they need. This however had to be presented in a manner that was intuitively laid out allowing even laymen to walk up to it and begin using it. As well as be visually appealing and engage the users.