Final Project

Project Overview


The objective of the final project is for you to work with your instructor to find a community based data visualization research project. The project work entails:

  • technical deliverables back to the community (maps, posters, data-layers, web pages etc.) that will also be displayed in a portfolio/blog site
  • a theoretical essay (referenced with course-based theoretical material) and
  • a presentation to the class (and if applicable to the community) of your work.

Examples of previous community projects are listed below.


Nov. 28 in class time: Presentation of project is scheduled for the last class. I will extend class time from 1-5:30 to fit all projects and students in, and I will split the class in half, and have students sign up for the first or second half. For SEEDS projects, or other community based projects, your community partners can come to this class for the presentation.

Tues Dec. 12, 1:00 pm. Email to me a link to your blog site if it is different from your portfolio site.  If you don’t post your essay to your blog site, email me the essay. I would also welcome hard copy of the essay in my box but it is not necessary.


45% of your final mark (overall portfolio additional 5%) encompassing 4 components of the project:

  1. oral presentation (10%)
  2. technical geospatial data visualization (60%)
  3. blog site for final project (5%: includes executive summary, presentation of project visuals/interactive maps)
  4. Theoretical essay (25%)

Late penalty: 1% /day, weekends = 1% (one mark off your mark out of 50)

Project Details

  1. Picking a Community

Ultimately, you should find a community to work with, either by picking one of the projects already available, or through interests and contact you may have.  Some of these projects are in groups, some are done individually. Once you have a project idea, you are expected to review the project idea with your me and I will guide you as to the legitimacy of the project, scope of the project, expectations for the project, and if the project merits group work or individual work. There are some community projects that I have for students to work on – I will present these projects to the class, and students will be asked to write a brief email if they are interested in the project, and why.

  1. Working with communities

When working with a community partner, whether in a group or alone, here are some steps for follow:

a) Review any information you have on the community. Get to know your community.

b) Set up an initial meeting with the community partner. At the meeting discuss:


  • What does the community want:  paper, digital, interactive, big, small?
  • An infographic or map?
  • Do they need an 8.5×11″ black and white map to photocopy cheaply?
  • A brochure folded, double sided?
  • A colour map? A poster (either 11×17 or, we have a big plotter in geog)
  • A web based static map? An interactive map? Google ap map?
  • Or what combination of the above.
  • What other visuals could you create – photographs, graphs?
  • digital files: what format?
  • maintenance and updating: how is the community partner going to be able to update the deliverable – if necessary.


  • Can they pay for printing if a poster is required? or a brochure? if they have alot of data, hosting a web site?


  • What data does the community have, what is the format of the data
  • Is the data digital, paper maps, tables of coordinates.
  • How much of the data are you given versus have to create through field work
  • What other sources of data can you think of that may be useful for the project (for example, openstreetmap, DMTI base data, National Topographic Series data, world datasets from ESRI, etc.)


  • What is reasonable for you to do for a school project (ie be careful with your commitments)
  • Make sure you review your project and deliverables with your instructor.

3.  Process

Set up how you will communicate with the community partner for input during the mapping process. For example:

  • an initial meeting to review deliverables and and data, e-mail.
  • email communication re progress
  • a meeting/or email exchange to review drafts of deliverables
  • email of progress
  • final meeting to hand off deliverables, or present deliverable to community

4. Deliverables for Project (Marking)

  • Technical Work (one per group) 60%

You may use any technical software for mapping GIS work.

If you are doing a group project, only one copy of the technical deliverable has to be handed in.  All members of the group will receive the same grade on the technical aspects of this project. If you are writing code, you must include your code and supporting documentation embedded in your code.

You will include information on your data on your blog site in your executive summary: Introduction to the project, Ben Fry’s data visualization pipeline (where did you acquire your data, how did your parse, filter, mine your data, any comments on represent refine and interact – similar to the metadata you did for your infographics)

  • Theoretical essay write-up (individual, one per student, optional to post on blog site) 25%

Approximately 3,000 words, double spaced paper discussing:

a) Introduction to your project

b) Geospatial data visualization pipeline: summarize whole process, but detail should be on design decisions, (representation, refine and interaction (if applicable) decisions. Your discussions must draw from the lecture material and readings throughout the term, and from the course textbooks (Cairo and Tufte and cartography texts in GIC) as well as research articles that you find relevant to your particular topic when you discuss your mapping process and design decisions. The paper must be properly referenced.

c) a reflective learning about working with a community partner.

EVERY student, even in the group projects, must hand in an individual essay which is your own work. These will be individually graded for group projects and members of the same group will not receive the same mark. You need to work independently on this part of the project.

  • Presentation schedule: time-slots (individual 10%)

You have to present your project in lecture time, during the last week of classes. Your allotted time is 10 minutes. Plan for speaking for 5-7 minutes with time for some questions. Group projects have longer time – plan for 5 minutes times the number of students, add 3 min per person for questions at the end.

For your presentations, describe your project: your community partner or idea/audience; your deliverables, and how you achieved this – data, software, cartographic considerations. If you have specific questions for feedback, let us know.

  • Executive Summary/Project Summary (group work) 5%

This is for your portfolio/blog site, and for your community partner, that will accompany and explain your technical project. The executive summary should be approximately 500-1000 words, or be 1-2 pages double spaced.

Generally, describe your project, and summarize the process/methodology (community partner meetings, geospatial data pipeline steps…), discuss any design decisions, and any limitations of your project. The project or executive summary will be similar to what you will present to the class.

  • Other

In some discussions with community partners, there were other deliverables outlined – mostly your technical datasets (AI files, ArcGIS shapefiles). The deliverables are for you and your community partner to clarify but please where applicable ensure you deliver to your community any datasets that will allow them to build on this project in the future.

Examples of Community projects 

Community projects for 2017:

2016 Community Based Reserach Projects

UBC SEEDS projects

other projects:

  • Jericho park bird sighting interactive map
  • subdivision planning
  • new town centre in Jakarta
  • mapping Vancouver public spaces

2014 Community Based Research Projects

  • UBC sponsored Special Olympics – series of maps

2013 Community Based Research Projects

  • Grouse Mountain: snowshoe map
  • Neighbourhood group: traffic calming
  • LadySport running map
  • City of Victoria Heritage Trust with 200 level Civil Engineering Class (Hayley, Anson Lau, Andrew, Hannah Guo)

2012 Community Based Research Projects

  • Stanley Park Ecological Society
  • Red Cross Mapping Project
  • Barnston Island Mapping with Metro
  • South Vancouver Food Security
  • Department of History UBC: Selden Map (Tim Brooks)
  • Carbon Emmissions and Climate Change (Simon Donner)