Gavin Rozzi awarded first place for New Jersey Population Density Map by NJDEP

April 18, 2022

Gavin Rozzi, Research Computing Specialist with the Rutgers Urban & Civic Informatics Lab, was awarded First Place in the 3D category for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s 34th annual GIS mapmaking contest for his “New Jersey Population Density” map. The map also received an Honorable Mention for Best Cartographic Design.

The 3D category is for works created using GIS software like ArcGIS Pro, City Engine and others and/or incorporates the use of Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR). Maps are judged based on demonstration of innovative and creative 3D cartographic techniques; appropriate use of global or local data with appropriate scales (for example, site scale, regional scale); depicts results of a 3D analysis or compare different scenarios; effectiveness in telling a story or helping a user gain a clearer understanding of the data.

The “New Jersey Population Density” map showcases the diverse population density of New Jersey communities at the Census tract level through the use of 3D visualization techniques and selected annotations of municipalities. The population density of each Census tract in New Jersey was computed using R and used to render the height of each Census tract polygon based on its population density value using the Rayshader R package. Higher tracts had higher density and vice versa.

A 2D version of the map was first produced using the ggplot2 package and converted to 3D by using rayshader. This 3D map was raytraced and a high-resolution render was created in R using the rayshader package, with layout and annotation done in Adobe Photoshop. All code used to generate the 3D rendering is open source and available for reproducibility.

Additionally, a physical version of this map was created via a 3D printer. The physical version matches the 3D rendering and is a unique way of bringing cartography into 3D space.

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