Program Approval




Submitted by the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairsas a FY1999 U. of I. Program Request


The goal of the Great Cities Urban Data Visualization Program is to establish a high tech URBAN AND REGIONAL DATA RETRIEVAL and COMPUTER VISUALIZATION capacity that will serve UIC faculty, students, and external public and community agencies.

The key characteristics of this program are:

-The focus on spatial, geographically disaggregated data.

-The role as a linkage or access point to data available anywhere.

-The function of translator and visualizer of otherwise hard to use or understand data.

The program will 1) assemble, maintain, and arrange for access to a large number of databases relating to community and economic development and housing; 2) provide a range of pro-active and demand-responsive information services, focusing on disaggregated community and regional data; and 3) support and conduct research and teaching advancing the state of the art in the field of urban and regional data visualization and data access. The project will benefit public and not-for-profit agencies in the Chicago region and the state by enhancing their ability to access and use data related to economic and community development. Students and researchers throughout UIC and elsewhere will benefit by bringing together the latest in data access, manipulation, and visualization techniques.


This program will draw together a range of advances in the use of technology for education and public service that are currently under development in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs. CUPPA will share these advances throughout the University and the wider community, including government agencies and community institutions.

New technologies in computing and visualization make a complex set of skills necessary for successful public presentations and retrieval of data for the public interest or for educational and research uses. These skills include:


Increasingly, students, researchers, government and community agencies need access to a wide range of data in a form that combines the most advanced Geographic Information Systems and visualization capabilities.

Over the past several years, the units of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs have steadily assembled a number of the personnel, hardware, and software resources upon which to develop the proposed program:

-The UIC Center for Urban Economic Development has accumulated multiple sources of community and regional data, along with a computer server for data access. Marketed as the Community Databank, this has clearly established a need for a university-based service that can provide disaggregated community development and employment data.

-CUPPA faculty organized an informal UIC and Chicago regional GIS network, which has grown into a formal university effort for data sharing and an attempt to obtain a university-wide software license for GIS systems.

-The City Design Center, a UIC program in which CUPPA faculty play a leadership role in cooperation with the College of Architecture and Art, has begun to assemble visual databases of the Chicago region, the Chicago Architecture Imagebase Project.

-The Great Cities Institute has established the UIC Neighborhood NonProfits Network, which ties several agencies and community based-organizations in Pilsen and the Near West Side into the UIC computer network and has used this for regular data-dissemination and communication.

-CUPPA’s Urban Transportation Center has done extensive transportation modeling of the Chicago region. It has recently been asked by a coalition of Chicago area transportation agencies to take the lead in establishing a regionwide, shared Geographic Information System capability.

-CUPPA’s Survey Research Laboratory has accumulated numerous data sets shedding light on quality of life in Chicago.

-To this base of hardware, data, and program experience, the College has added a diverse group of graduate students with multiple skills, and junior faculty skilled in a number of the disciplines described above. In addition, CUPPA, through its cooperation in the Learning Illinois project with UIUC and UIS faculty, has begun to use distance learning and Internet technologies for cross-campus courses and research.

The Great Cities Urban Data Visualization Program, drawing together the above technologies for the benefit of UIC faculty, students, staff, and the external community, will provide a base for the University’s interdisciplinary efforts in the area of urban and community data--by integrating these resources into the classroom, into research, and into community service projects, in cooperation with the UIC Sociology Department’s Chicago Community Fact Book project, and with cooperating faculty and programs in Architecture, Art History, Geography, Public Health, Medical Informatics, Economics, Business Administration, Political Science, Urban Planning, Public Administration, and a growing list of other disciplines.

Products of the program will include classes taught by program faculty, an expanding network of urban and regional data visualization resources built and linked to CUPPA and UIC home pages, extensive cooperation with the UIC Library concerning bibliographic control, training, digital libraries, and data archives, and the expansion of these skills and resources into the Great Cities Neighborhoods Initiative projects for greater community access and citizen participation.

For more information, contact Albert Schorsch, III, Assistant Dean, UIC College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, 312-996-2177.


Contact us at:
Urban Data Visualization Lab
412 S Peoria Street, Room B-15 M/C 350
Chicago, IL 60607
Phone: 312-996-3860

Latitude (WGS 84): 41° 52' 33.85" N
Longitude (WGS 84): 87° 38' 59.05" W

image of urban graphics, such as model of neighborhood, drawing, etc.