If you are interested in contributing to this project in any way send me a message or leave a comment.
I’ve been spending a lot of time recently working on a project for my “Advanced Multimedia Storytelling” class. I dove into a lot of different tools to throw together an interactive map-timeline flash app. I used a great little library called ModestMaps. You drop it into a flash project and you can get an instant draggable, zoomable map that can pull map images from Microsoft, Yahoo!, OpenStreetMap or images you generate yourself. I used a bunch of public domain GIS stuff – from the City of Chicago and State of Illinois – to generate a map that clearly highlights the CTA rail lines in Chicago. I used the wonderful Mapnik project to generate the image. Check out Paul Smith’s A List Apart article for more on rolling your own maps – it’s a great starting point.
My goal for the project was to compile accidents and derailments on the CTA rails from the past two years. I was surprised to find that there really isn’t a good public record of this. It’s easiest to find first or second day stories for about 3/4 of incidents, but many of those articles have important parts missing. Unfortunately I spent most of my time getting the flash together, so I only put a few incidents in at this point. I am working on a FOIA with the CTA to get some reports about the under-reported incidents. I worked with the media affairs department at CTA to get some of the data I wanted, but apparently they have no easy way to fill my request. I tried to the RTA, but after a couple weeks of phone tag, still haven’t received a report I asked for and was promised.
I would like to put this app up on it’s own site with a user-editable back end. Make it easy for others to records incidents on the CTA, and other time- and geo-tagged stories.
If you have any thoughts or ideas, drop me a comment.