POPS Site Launch

Last week we launched a new site that maps Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) in NYC.  The unveiling took place at the Municipal Arts Society Summit.  A POPS is a plaza, arcade, or other outdoor or indoor space for public use provided by a private owner in return for a zoning concession.  Zuccotti Park is the POPS that everyone knows about, but there are 500 or so other POPS in NYC.

The goal of the site is to publicize this little-known public resource for NYC residents and visitors and to serve as a resource for urban-planning enthusiasts.  People can find out information about the various POPS, can rate, comment, post photos, post announcements about a POPS and can also voice complaints when a particular POPS isn’t meeting regulations.

We built the site using WordPress.  The theme is fully responsive so works well in all devices.  We have plans for further improvements and ideas as to how to hook this site into Google Maps to make it the canonical resource on NYC POPS.  So check it out and let us know your comments.

Jerold Kayden and Alexis Taylor of APOPS presenting the site

GeoJSON Maps

I’ve just uploaded a new plugin to WordPress.  GeoJSON Maps facilitates displaying multiple GeoJSON feeds on a map. It has a custom legend to toggle on/off each data layer. The map can be displayed on a WordPress post or page via a short code. All you need is some GeoJSON feeds (both json and jsonp) and some styling markup. See here for a demo.

This plugin is a result of work we have been doing with the NYC Dept. of Transportation.  It allows city administration to easily publish data on a map in a WordPress blog without the need of any custom programming.  Here is an an example of where this type of map is used, in showing the results of a study of the Jackson Heights neighborhood.

Street View Comments v. 0.2 released!

Today I release v. 0.2 of the Street View Comments plugin.  This release fixes a few bugs and also allows for running multiple concurrent Street View Comments tools on one WordPress site.  All you need to do is tag the intersections and then specify that tag in the short code.

The DOT is currently using the tool to get feedback on 4th Ave in Brooklyn.  They are now able to run additional instance of the tool on the other sections of 4th Ave.

Street View Comments

I just uploaded a new plugin to WordPress that we’ve been working on over the last few weeks called Street View Comments. It’s really quite a simple and brilliant tool to gather feedback on a street, to ask questions like “What do you like about your street?” or “How would you change Canal Street to improve pedestrian safety?”

Anyone can post a comment associated with a particular view. Comments can be moderated in the back-end.  Check out the demo. 

Street View Comments was built by Aaron Ogle, Andy Cochran and myself. The standalone non-Wordpress version is here.

PlanningPress, for online community engagement

For the past several months, I’ve been helping to chart the development of PlanningPress, our web platform for engagement in urban planning projects. We’ve been working on it in partnership with the NYC Department of Transportation. PlanningPress powers DOT’s Transportation Feedback Portals.  Each portal presents a project and helps the public to be part of the planning process.

Take a look at the Jackson Heights portal. The website introduces the changes proposed for the neighborhood and shows them in detail allowing people to comment on the plans.  It lays out a timeline for events concerning the project, has an interactive map, news updates and other resources. NYCDOT used a portal to gather input on the forthcoming city-wide bike share and received over 10,000 suggestions for station locations in NYC.

At the moment, I’m working on improvements to the features that help cities present specific changes and get comments, like the Recommendations section on the Jackson Heights site. I’m making it easy for administrators to add new “slides” and group them by geography or topic. This will make it easier for staff to add and revise the proposals for a neighborhood as they receive feedback.

We want to make PlanningPress the best toolkit for inclusive, responsive, authentic citizen engagement in urban planning. Like our other projects at OpenPlans, PlanningPress is open source. We’re using WordPress, so we have a great foundation to build on.  Check out the code and get involved!

The new slideshow administration interface

Looking for a WordPress developer

I’m looking for an experienced and versatile web developer/producer to develop and modernize the digital presence of the Mountains and Rivers Order of Zen Buddhism.

The Mountains and Rivers Order and its mainhouse, Zen Mountain Monastery, is one of the more significant Zen Buddhist training centers in the West. Ranked first on Google for searches such as “Zen buddhism” and “Zen meditation,” the Order also maintains a strong presence on the web with large archives of teaching material, web radio, an online journal, and an online store.

This is an excellent opportunity for the right candidate with the technical knowledge and project managerial skills to coordinate a team of designers and content editors who will be working closely with a religious organization. See the full RFP and please contact me for further details.

Two Views of One Site: The EdNews Colorado Jobs Board Launches

EdNews Colorado has just gone public with their new Jobs Board.  The Jobs Board, however, is actually not so new.  Instead it’s a re-brand of the GothamSchools Jobs Board.


Behind the scenes, both sites use the same WordPress instance and the same database.  I managed to do this by using the Domain Mirror WordPress plugin.  It allows a WordPress instance to be accessible from multiple domains.  I could sniff out the domain requested and serve up a different header, footer and stylesheet for each of the sites.

I also sorted the jobs list on the home page of each site to favor recent jobs that are local to each site.  I laid out the plans for this here.  Various widgets, contact emails, featured post prices, and site copy are also unique to each site.

Hopefully this jobs board will gather momentum and will help to support the news reporting on EdNews Colorado as it is doing for GothamSchools.  I also hope that partnering both sites like this will be an added incentive for people to post their listing, knowing that it will show up on both jobs boards.  Perhaps in the future we can roll this out to other education news sites across the country.

My Curing RSI Report

I’ve just republished my Curing RSI report that I wrote back in 2004 after recovering from a crippling seven-year struggle with Repetitive Strain Injury in my hands.  Over the years it has been distributed widely and I’ve been in touch with many people to help them recover.  I had it up initially at Fred Amir’s site but have relocated it here after touching it up a bit.

It has been a long time now since I’ve experienced any chronic pain and I’ve almost forgotten what it was like back then, searching for a cure to my condition.  I continue to be grateful for the groundbreaking work done by Dr. John Sarno.

GothamSchools jobs board and EdNews Colorado UNITE!

GothamSchools is partnering with EdNews Colorado to create an education jobs network based on the success of the GothamSchools Jobs Board.  I’ve been thinking a bit about just how to do this that will be a win for both communities and will lay the pattern for rolling out future versions of the jobs board to other cities.


It’s conceivable that someone looking for a job on the EdNews Colorado board may be interested in a posting in NYC and vice versa, so we wanted to integrate both of these boards in a way that added value to each of them.  The trick to do this is to list the jobs in a way that is most relevant to the particular board.

Here is what I think it should look like for the GothamSchools Jobs board.  The EdNews Colorado version would be the same, except centered around Colorado:

As a future idea, once we have more cities represented, we could expand the design to have a map showing the locations of all the available jobs.


Both jobs boards will be hosted on one server and hitting the same database.  I’m hoping we can get the jobs.ednewscolorado.org to hit an appropriately themed copy of our WordPress code. (more…)

Google Analytics and SEO

Google Analytics has recently launched a new Search Engine Optimization reporting module that I’ve just rigged up this morning for all of our sites.  It integrates with data from Google Webmaster Tools to produce reports on the performance of the site on Google search.

As an example, let’s take a look at the Streetfilms‘ report.  First, we should note that Streetfilms gets about 30% of its traffic from Google search.  The Search Engine Optimization reports are nested under Traffic Sources in Google Analytics.  For Streetfilms over the last month we get this information: