So Six Urban Planners Play SimCity 5…

SimCity 5

Last month, Co.Exist and Greg Lindsay brought together a diverse group of six urbanists, three architects, three journalists, and a video game designer and let them loose in a tournament to build the best city in SimCity 5.

Who can design the “perfect” city

The result: KPF’s XimCity

Writer John McDermott sums it up for the tournament as all teams were destined to fail by the game design:

The game’s beauty lies in the fact that–like in real life–creating a “perfect” city is impossible. What makes cities great, rather, are their imperfections. By placing millions of error-prone humans within a limited vicinity, cities constantly force their inhabitants to bump into one another physically, mentally, and emotionally. A truly great city isn’t governed by an algorithm, it’s one that routinely delivers the unpredictable.

I would probably go one step further to say that “good” or “better” cities are too dynamic to ever really be considered truly designed or planned. Residents and city leaders come and go, each generation puts its own touches on the community, stuff happens. The unexpected and, yes, unpredictable allow and influence cities to be free flowing and exciting.

Planning helps, but not totally.

Edward Glaeser wrote it best in his book “Triumph of the City” (9): “With very few exceptions, no public policy can stem the tidal forces of urban change.” In other words, change happens and generally speaking no amount of tinkering from local leaders can really stop it.

[photo via SimsTrueLife/flickr]

Still Confused About License Name Changes In ArcGIS 10.1?

Still confused about the license name changes in Esri’s ArcGIS 10.1? Don’t worry, Esri’s got you covered.

ArcGIS 10.1 Administrator

In ArcGIS Administrator (formerly Desktop Administrator), Esri keeps lists the new name (Basic, Standard, Advanced) and the original license name (ArcView, ArcEditor, ArcInfo) in parentheses to help those still confused. I understand the reason for the name changes, but no one I know likes them.

For whatever that’s worth. I wouldn’t bet on this license name change help being available in ArcGIS 10.2 or whatever the next version will be called.

[image via PJ]

Simple Way To Batch Export Features Based On Attributes In ArcMap 9.3

This is a tip for ArcGIS 9.3 users.

Today, I was working with a very large shapefile (1GB+), and I needed to parse it into several smaller shapefiles based on attributes from a specific field.

There are various methods to doing this. The most time consuming would be to use ‘Select by Attribute’ for each individual attribute and simply export these features manually. This is simple, but takes a long time.

I didn’t have time to do this, so rather than use ModelBuilder I searched and fortunately found a script for ArcToolbox that automated this process: Split Layer By Attributes (authored by Dan Patterson).

Split Layer By Attributes Screenshot

Script summary:

Splits a layer according to attributes within the selected field producing a separate shapefile for common attributes.

If the FID or some other unique ID field is used, you can effectively produce separate shapefiles for each feature. If you are using a decimal field with a scale of 0 or an integer field or a string field, you can have one or more features in the output shapefile. Date fields need to be converted to a string field and integer fields should contain positive numbers

The selected field is queried for unique conditions. If a prior selection exists, then only those records are queried. The unique values found in the field (or selection within) are used to partition the input layer into the output layers.

4 Steps:

1. Select the input layer.
2. Select the input field.
3. Tpe an optional output filename (the default is the layer name with the select attribute appended to it.
4. Select the output folder.

Viola. The script spits out separate shapefiles for each different attribute within the selected field.

Since I was working with an enormous shapefile to begin with, the process took a few hours.

Say thanks to Dan Patterson for the free script.

[image via PJ]

With New York State License, 1/3 Of U.S. K-12 Students Has ArcGIS Access

Esri School District and Statewide K-12 Licenses

Esri further expands access to its ArcGIS software with the addition of a statewide license for New York and its 2.7 million K-12 students.

Now, about a third of all American K-12 students has access to ArcGIS. Amazing. This is definitely one way to increase teaching and learning geography in schools. The map above shows other states and school districts that have K-12 ArcGIS licenses.

[image via Esri]

Bike Valet: For Elegant Indoor Bicycle Storage

Bike Valet - Grey

If you need something to help store your bicycle inside your apartment/other cramped room/space, consider the Bike Valet for its simplicity and elegance. It also comes in six colors: black (coming soon), navy, red, white, green, and grey.

It’s somewhat pricey at $160, but its handmade from Reclamation Art + Furniture. The price might go drop in the future if designer Steven Tiller decides to scale production of the bicycle rack further. Hint: that might mean mass production (i.e., not artisan) and not made in the United States.

See Bike Valet for more photos.

[photo via Stephanie Birch/Bike Valet]