Project 3

Objects in the Rear View Mirror

Project due 11/5 at 9 pm Chicago time

Project 3 will be the second group project and the focus here will focus on geographic data.

We will again have 3 people per group. You can chose who you want to be in a group with, but you must work with different people in each project.

As with Project 2 you should very quickly set up a web page for your new group project and send the URL to andy. Each Friday of the project each team member should post on the project web site an overview of what he/she did on the project that week.

In this project we are going to take a look at data related to highway deaths from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and in particular their Fatality Analysis Reporting System at

There is a great deal of data available on the Query FARS Data tab. Data is available from 1994 through 2010. We will be using the data starting in 2001 when latitude and longitude values appear.

The goal of the project is to produce an application that lest the user easily investigate this dataset to look for patterns, trends, and interesting features. What are the most important factors that affect highway fatalities? Are things getting better or worse and why? Where are the most dangerous places, driving conditions, driver impairments?

The project will involve both graphs and maps as the major visualization elements. Graphs will be good for showing the numeric data and breakdowns of that data into categories (type of vehicle, pedestrians / drivers / occupants, age, sex) as well as looking at that data raw or per population, miles traveled, type of roadway, whether alcohol was involved, etc, and organized by year, month, time of day, weather. You should also be able to graph the data by state but it will be important to correct for population differences. Maps will be useful to mark the specific locations of these incidents.

We will be focusing on Illinois and how the Illinois data compares to the national data.

You will want to condense some of the data types (e.g. car body type) and convert many of the numeric categories (e.g. car body type, atmospheric conditions) into English names in the interface.

For a C you need ...

For a B you need to add ...

For an A you need to add ...

There are various map libraries available for processing. Modest Maps seems like the best choice for the project.
Unfolding maps ( is another popular map library but doesn't seem stable with the current 2.0 beta versions of processing.

You should create a set of web pages that describe your work on the project. This should include:
all of which should have plenty of screenshots with meaningful captions. Web pages like this can be very helpful later on in helping you build up a portfolio of your work when you start looking for a job so please put some effort into it.

Be sure to document any external libraries or tools that you make use of - give credit where credit is due.

You should also create a 2-3 minute YouTube video showing the use of your application including narration with decent audio quality. That video should be in a very obvious place on your main project web page. The easiest way to do this is to use a screen-capture tool while interacting with a scaled-down version of the application, though you will most likely find its useful to do some editing afterwards to tighten the video up. Its also a good idea to have a video like this available as a backup during your presentation just in case of gremlins.
You may want to shoot this video on the wall itself from a phone with one of your team members interacting.

The web page including screen snapshots and video need to be done by the deadline so be sure to leave enough time to get that work done.

I will be linking your web page to the course notes so please send me a nice 1280 x 361 jpg image of your visualization for the web. This should be named p3.<someone_in_your_groups_last_name>.jpg. 

When the project is done, each person in the group should also send me a private email ranking your coworkers on the project on a scale from 1 (low) to 5 (high) in terms of how good a coworker they were on the project. If you never want to work with them again, give them a 1. If this person would be a first choice for a partner on a future project then give them a 5. If they did what was expected but nothing particularly good or bad then give them a 3. By default your score should be 3 unless you have a particular reason to increase or decrease the number. Please confine your responses to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and no 1/3ds or .5s please. I will average out all these scores for projects 2 through 4 and keep them in mind when assigning final grades to projects 2 through 4.

Each group will present their work to the class and describe its features to the rest of the class. Rehearse your presentation ... several times. All team members are expected to participate equally in that presentation. The length of the presentations will be 5 minutes. During each talk each group in the audience should write one good question for the speaking group, and hand it to them at the end of their presentation. The speaking group should add a page to their website by Thursday 11/08 giving the questions (and the group who asked it) and an answer to the question.

last revision 10/22/12 - changed dataset range to start at 2001