Steampunk Machine

Another cool project I have worked on was a steampunk map overlays machine, which we made in three weeks for the Produce Row event.  What is interesting about this project was that I was a project manager for this particular project instead of a developer and this was my first time being a project manager outside of school.  I have risen as a project manager in group projects back at school naturally to organize meetings, split up work, and ensure that our team is on schedule.  However, this project was more chaotic than any school project especially since it had a physical and digital component.  I had to organize meetings at least couple of times per week, check up on multiple components of the projects daily to ensure we were on schedule, hone in on the datasets and interactive physical components correspond with each of these datasets, keep the communication line open with the PDC committee and the PDC Refuge owner in order to have all of the necessary information for including in the steampunk machine and setting up for this event, and purchase resources to make sure that our developer and constructors for the steampunk machine were not blocked in any way.  I did some things that are out of traditional project manager role such as helping out the developer with how to collect data related information from websites, wiring up the steampunk machine, and sauntering all of the wires to help out during crunch time.  It was all worth it!  We were a hit at the Produce Row event!  Sam Adams, the mayor of Portland, was astonished of our steampunk machine and showed Sam Royston, the developer on this project, where his house was on the map.  A lot of Produce Row members were so delighted and amazed by our machine.  Their faces brighten up as soon as they started interacting with it.

Which datasets did we use you ask?  We used five property related datasets collected from Sam’s python webcrawler.

  • Property tax
  • Property market value by square footage
  • Property market value
  • Building type
  • Building age

We also used zoning shapefiles from the Portland civics website as the sixth property related dataset.  All of these datasets each corresponded to a button on one of the small boxes of the steampunk machine.  We were also going to include transportation, but those shapefiles were corrupted preprocessing files that had lines disappearing the more the user zoomed into the map.

The other datasets we used were business type categories that were found in the Produce Row district.  These included:

  • Creative
  • Digital
  • Industry
  • Food & Drink
  • Retail
  • Services

All of these were represented as markers on the map and a switch corresponded to each of these categories acting as toggling them on and off on the large box of the steampunk machine.  Since they were makers, they stayed persistant throughout all of the other map overlays.

The final dataset we used was aerial photos of Produce Row district from 2000 to 2011.  We used one dial to transition through these photos and another dial to change the opacity of these photos so the user could see all of the street and building names on the map.  There was also a joystick and a dial close to it to pan and zoom respectively.  All of these components were on the other small box of the steampunk machine.

I will not forget the hard work of Shawn Bernard and Abby, one of our producers, who stepped up to the plate out of their own free time and built the steampunk machine and gathered some resources for it.  Shawn also made the iPad app for collecting data from incoming Produce Row members that the PDC committee needed.

Without this great team, this steampunk machine would not have been brought to life and be the hit of the event.  Thank you guys for everything you do!  You guys rock!

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