This week, I was contacted by www.LightBlueLine.org and www.Canary-Project.org to help draw a line throughout New York City tracing the perimeter for a 40-foot sea wall that would have to be built to keep out oceans that (unless Global Warming is curbed quickly) are estimated to rise 7 meters from today's levels. Light Blue's already tracing Santa Barbara's risk of rising sea levels (inset).
Eve Mosher has a similarly strong idea to illustrate sea change: http://www.seachange-nyc.org/long.html.
These public art as advocacy projects build on the urban appetite to feel and sense unusual visions of the present and future world. Recall Christo and Jean Claude's installation of The Gates that swaddled Central Park in saffron back in 2005: http://christojeanneclaude.net/tg.html.
During the 1990s, my nonprofit Urban Logic championed a composite digital map of NYC, ultimately built by the City as NYCMAP: http://gis.esri.com/library/userconf/proc01/professional/papers/pap949/p.... NYCMAP was invaluable in enabling the City's 9/11 Response and paints context for the My Neighborhood tool used by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his team to manage 311 public service call priorities and other daily challenges.
With Google Earth, ArcView and other platforms implementing interoperability standards for viewing and combining geospatial datasets, street installations like LightBlueLine will be possible without expensive engineering CAD/CAM/AM/FM drawings.
Since the early 1990s, I have also championed making spatial data used in government policy decisions freely accessible to the public, so that citizens can spatially analyze the impacts of official decisions in neighborhood and regional contexts. (The one exception being :national security" defined as (i) spatial data depicting anything not visible to the naked eye from the street and (ii) not otherwise publicly available and filed in public records.)
Making spatial data "freely available" in useful formats, Web-ready for viewing, is something state and local open records laws have had difficulty embracing and assuring. The federal government's approach opened the spigots of its spatial data through the NSDI Clearinghouses, a concept pushed largely by VP Al Gore's Digital Earth vision, and maintained by OMB as an essential element of intergovernmental coordination since then.
All of this public mapping empowers social change agents to take to the streets, with digital maps in hand, and illustrate in real time, the Climate Change affecting where we walk, shop and live.