All posts in Trawling - a blog by Big Lake Data tagged with milwaukee

Economic Forecasting

We’re happy to have added our analytics expertise to the development of the Harbor District’s land use plan. We project that Milwaukee could see more than $860 Million in property value increases and more than 2,300 new, family-supporting jobs.

Urban Milwaukee explains what this means for Milwaukee.

Interested in learning how spatial analytics can support your work? Drop us a line.

A used park is a safe park

Edgar Mendez of Milwaukee’s Neighborhood News Service has a nice story up about the Urban Ecology Center‘s role in creating safe environments where city kids to play and explore nature. As mentioned in the article, my prior analysis of crime data supports the anecdotal evidence that parks where UEC has started or expanded its programming have indeed become much safer.

And –as a personal aside– let me also say that these parks are no doubt much more enjoyable because of the Urban Ecology Center. This past Winter, my family and I got to ski through the industrial heart of Milwaukee at Three Bridges Park thanks to equipment we checked-out from the UEC. It’s quite something to ski past the 100-year-old FALK manufacturing company and take in a spectacular view of downtown . . . all the while hoping that you have not disturbed newly planted native species!

Building non-profit capacity

Milwaukee’s IMPACT Planning Council has a new blog post about a recent web map training I led with Virginia Carlson.

Two weeks after the training, attendees returned for a discussion and the opportunity to share maps. Several of the group members had successfully created a map, and most people came back with questions. The group spent the second meeting discussing the maps that had been created by attendees, sharing frustrations, exploring solutions and celebrating successes. Virginia and Matt went through step-by-step solutions to problems brought up by participants.

With rise of open source software and open data, today’s non-profits have new ways to effectively analyze and present their spatial data. Having a lean budget is no longer a reason for not doing this well.

By sponsoring these type of skill-building trainings, IMPACT Planning Council is shaking things up in Wisconsin’s non-profit community. They’ve identified a need and are enthusiastically moving to build this type of capacity in our community.


High Traffic

Wow. The Milwaukee Ages web map has really been making the rounds – it surpassed 28,000 views this week.

We’re pleased to help improve the world’s impression of Milwaukee. This little city by the big lake really is quite beautiful.

Want do drive traffic to your organization’s website? Let Big Lake Data build an awesome web map for you.

Coming Soon

Coming soon adventure, excitement, the numbers you crave – in Trawling – a data blog by Big Lake Data. Bits of research, maps, graphs, figures, and all kinds of quantitative whatnot.

Rustbelt Makeover

”Whatever their purpose or subject matter, even the most rudimentary of maps have an inherent beauty, an attraction in their way of ordering things.” – Antonis Antoniou

Milwaukee Ages Map

This map is built with a simple data series: the ages of 139,931 residential buildings in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The building data, maintained by the City of Milwaukee as part of a larger property dataset, has been hidden in plain sight for years. (Click here to explore the complete, zoomable map.)

Using only the age of a building plus the shape of the property that it sits upon, this map invites you to explore a city in a new way. Even a casual user can find quick insight in the data – perhaps noting new infill development in Milwaukee’s core (an indicator of urban renewal?).

Milwaukee Ages Histogram

Or, seeing how past housing booms still shape the nature and distribution of the City’s existing housing stock.

Milwaukee Ages Histogram

One of Big Lake Data’s core competencies is building custom interactive maps for clients.

Yet, this particular map is simply for the city itself. Here’s some of your rough government data, Milwaukee. With a new cut and polish, you really shine.


Building age data and parcel geometries come from the January 2014 Master Property and September 2013 Parcelbase datasets maintained by the City of Milwaukee. 139,931 residential parcels are colored by the year the building that stands upon the parcel was built. Identifying parcels by building age highlights meaningful historical periods in the growth and development of the city.

Roughly 21,000 Milwaukee parcels have no associated building age. This includes not only vacant land (6,501 parcels), but also tax-exempt property (i.e., public schools, non-profit institutions) (4,817 parcels), condominiums and large apartment buildings (1,182 parcels), commercial (9,134 parcels), and industrial properties (620 parcels). They are not colored, but if you zoom in you can see their outlines.


This map is chiefly inspired by WAAG’s magnificent map of every single building in the Netherlands. The color palette takes its cue from this Ken Kornacki treatment of a cream city brick building, which is typical of Milwaukee.


This map was made entirely with open source technologies. R was used to process the data and plot the histogram legend. Quantum GIS was used to join the building data to parcel geometries. TileMill was used to style and create the map tiles.

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