Understanding Stratification Geographically

Wading through digital projects and readings, where are you finding your inspiration? What parts of things you’re reading and seeing resonate most with you? Where are the gaps in your research and what are you still looking for? What are your thoughts as you get started

If there is one thing that needs to be constant during a project, especially a self-guided one, it is the inspiration behind what you’re doing. Without inspiration or purpose, it makes no sense to construct anything. As such, I am happy to still feel inspired by the complexity of my home city. Socioeconomic stratification, as used in the Colombian context, is not a worldwide phenomenon. In fact, Colombia is the only country (as far as the research I’ve seen) that uses a system of taxing public utilities by socioeconomic division. In my mind, this makes it even more important to research.

I’m at a crossroads however, in terms of what I want to research. As of now there are two questions I’m thinking of answering. The first is related to the representation of stratification. In other words, what stratification looks like in the city. This first approach would be more specific to individual stories of buildings and specific areas of the city. Things I would include here are comparisons between different strata levels, a historical explanation of where strata came from, and whether or not strata are ‘good’ for urban development and its original purpose of taxing differently for different people depending on where they live. The way I would portray this is through Story Map, an ArcGIS software. It would be based on the story I wish to tell, incorporating an interactive map with a user-friendly explanation, based on source heavy material.

The other approach I have is looking more towards the social justice area of stratification. In other words, how is living in strata 1 different from strata 6, quantitatively. This seems to me, I admit, more interesting, but also more difficult to research. This is because to quantify this I need more background on GIS and data gathering. Examples include accessibility to schools, police stations, etc. I’m not sure how this would look like in terms of a deliverable. I can see it as an article but not necessarily a technological tool. So the question I would have to answer is ‘what would the user be doing? What would they interact with?’

One thing is certain however- 3D mapping seems to have slowly grown out of the picture. Esthetically, it would be great to use 3D mapping. Unfortunately- it takes too long (we don’t even have City Engine installed in our computers, which was surprising). Also, I really don’t think there is any value added. The things I can show with 3D mapping can easily be viewed through pictures on google maps. Although I really wanted to use it, I simply can’t find a way to incorporate it without it being a hassle and not a tool. I’m not ready to completely take it out of the picture yet.

As of now, there are still a lot of unknowns in terms of the data I can gather and use. I’ve been hard at work trying to gather data from a government site. Unfortunately, we have kept running into roadblocks with the people who are helping me out. The ability to access this data is what is going to shape my question and the approach I’m inevitably going to use. Currently, Professor Gallemore has run a code to gather the Object ID’s for polygons that described stratification in Bogota. However, some seems to be missing. Even finding this data has been hard, considering that the government has been apparently moving information around and shaping it to their own use. This is both surprising and exciting. It’s surprising because I really didn’t think that the government would even be looking at this type of thing but they are! They created a department called IDECA and its focused solely on geographical mapping of Colombia. It’s pretty cool- if you want to check it out.  It’s also exciting because it means that the Colombian government is working on the same thing right now. For example, the first day I went on their website I saw about 50 items being worked on for stratification. As of today, they have more than 70. I also realize how lucky I am to have the website I’m looking at – not all governments, especially in South America, have this type of dataset. They seem to have also hovered over Bogota and collected very high quality pictures. One thing to keep in mind however, is that it took a few hours to even find this website; you’d be surprised what you can find on the web!

So the real question is: what are the following steps?

First, I really need to start reading a lot more about the topic. This type of stratification isn’t a thing anywhere else, so instead it’d be a good idea to look at Urban Inequality. To this end I have a few readings printed that I’ll start considering. Furthermore, I also think that I need to start creating a historical sense of stratification by looking at the law passed by congress that created stratification as a possible system. If possible, it would also look at why the government considered the law to be necessary. Was it a push, right after the end of the Cold War, for socialistic tendencies. Or was it the influence of the new constitution and the socialist members that composed it? Second, I need to find the data I’ve been looking for. This data is on the website but I haven’t been able to export it. Third, I need to decide how my user will experiment with my tool. Do I want them to interact with it, or should I tell them the story? (a possible side thought- how about a video?)

We, as scholars, are making progress- though I feel as though we’ve all been isolated in our readings. I think once we have a clearer direction, we will also come together more to tackle all the tools we need to make our projects a success.

Here’s to a good week one.

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