Access Score is part of the Sustainable Neighborhoods Toolkit, an initiative by CCRPC to assess mobility, accessibility, and health at the neighborhood level. I wrote the IDOT State Planning and Research grant that funded the work and led the technical team for the project. In it, we developed a suite of tools using Python and R to analyze mobility, accessibility, and health by calculating level of traffic stress, using it to measure access to destinations, and correlating urban accessibility with incidence of diseases. I also developed the Access Score application using data and analysis from the toolkit. Access Score is an interactive map that allows users to select from four modes of transportation and ten destination types and displays a customized accessibility score for every street in Champaign County.
Web Map Exporter for QGIS allows planners to prepare interactive web maps using familiar desktop GIS software. Along with my colleague Edmond Lai, I developed this open source QGIS plugin as part of the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission's transition to an open source GIS. Edmond wrote a Python library that converts QGIS symbology to a Mapbox GL style, and I created a user interface that allows planners to configure, preview, and export maps. The plugin has been used to publish dozens of maps, including the maps for CCRPC's Long Range Transportation Plan 2045.
Sidewalk Explorer is an interactive viewer for accessibility and condition data about the pedestrian network in Champaign County. It visualizes data and displays photos from the Sidewalk Network Inventory and Assessment, an ongoing effort to collect data about Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and condition of sidewalks, curb ramps, crosswalks, and pedestrian signals. Measurements from the inventory are used to calculate compliance and condition scores that help to quantify improvements in accessibility throughout the county.
Transportation Voices 2045 is an app used to collect public input for the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission's Long Range Transportation Plan 2045. I created the interactive web app using components from Web Map GL. It allowed participants to add locations to a map, choose from a wide variety of predefined comments using a touch-friendly interface, add custom comments, and like comments left by others. The input from the application was recorded in our PostGIS database for storage and analysis. The app was used at outreach events and promoted on social media, and more than 750 comments were recorded, providing valuable input for the plan.
Web Map GL is a library of reusable web components for creating engaging and interactive map applications. It combines mobile-friendly user interface components from the Ionic Framework with vector map technology from Mapbox GL JS to create the building blocks for successful of map-based web apps. I created Web Map GL to reduce the amount of time needed to develop web applications for transportation planning and have used it in apps like Access Score, Sidewalk Explorer, and Transportation Voices 2045, as well as in web map templates for Web Map Exporter for QGIS. My colleague Edmond Lai added table components to the library and used it to build our online Transportation Improvement Program.
BikeMoves Explore is an interactive viewer application for bike trip data submitted using the BikeMoves Illinois mobile application. It allows users to visualize the aggregated data by the number of users, trips. average speed, and preference—how likely riders are to go out of their way to use or avoid a route. Planners at CCRPC can also log into the application to access advanced filters and to view individual trip details.
To power the interactive map, I developed by a Node.js-based server application that manages a PostGIS database. It uses the Open Source Routing Machine to match GPS points to the street network and to create a segment-based route that can be mapped and analyzed. The cleaning and processing of rider-submitted trip data is fully automated, allowing new trips to be integrated into the dataset as they are submitted.
BikeMoves Illinois was a hybrid mobile app that allowed cyclists to record and share their routes with Champaign County Regional Planning Commission staff for planning purposes. I developed the app for a partnership between CCRPC and the Illinois Department of Transportation to test the possibility of crowdsourcing bicycle route data. During the pilot project, more than 900 trips comprising more than 2,000 miles were submitted by local cyclists, exceeding in detail and quantity of data CCRPC's previous bicycle data collection efforts. Trip data from the application are visualized and analyzed in the BikeMoves Explore web application.
The Sidewalk Network Inventory and Assessment is an ongoing effort to collect data about Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and condition of sidewalks, curb ramps, crosswalks, and pedestrian signals in Champaign County. I managed the field data collection for the first two years of the project, in which field staff collected data for a sidewalk network of nearly 700 miles. Using these data, I developed compliance and condition indices to rate features, found gaps in the network using PostGIS, and identified priority areas for accessibility improvements. I also developed the Sidewalk Explorer web application to present the data online and visualize regional trends in accessibility. In 2017, the project won the award for Outstanding Overall Achievement for a Non-TMA MPO from the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations.
The Local Accessibility and Mobility Analysis was my first project at the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission. Together with my colleague Prateek Mittal, I developed a neighborhood-level analysis of mobility and accessibility in the Champaign Urbana Urbanized Area. Using R, we developed indices to score the quality of the transportation network and rank access to destinations. We also compared the scores to public input from LRTP: Sustainable Choices 2040. The analysis methodology we developed in this project was later extended in the Sustainable Neighborhoods Toolkit and Access Score.
Urban trails are frequently described in terms of their health benefits to a community, but they also offer other types of benefits: recreation, mobility, and reductions in automobile use, among others. In this class project, I used techniques derived from recent transportation planning research to estimate the benefits and costs of the Schuylkill River Trail, an urban trail that passes through northern and central Philadelphia. The benefits outweighed the costs in eight out of nine cost-benefit scenarios, with a benefit-cost ratio of 2.77 in the most likely scenario. Under this scenario, recreation and health accounted for about 95 percent of the total benefits. I also found that, though small, the mobility benefit was increasing in importance based on a spatial analysis of bicycle commuting trends.
Growth in Champaign County is taking place in three municipalities—Champaign, Urbana and Mahomet—but all of these growth areas are not created equal. Environmental factors make some areas more suitable for development and others more valuable for preservation. In this class project, I set out to find the most suitable locations for urban growth.
In his 1969 book Design with Nature, Landscape architect Ian McHarg pioneered a method for considering multiple natural systems in a single suitability analysis. McHarg's method overlays transparent layers: one for each natural system under consideration. In the resulting map, the lightest areas are the most suitable for development.
In this report, I applied McHarg's method to Champaign County, Illinois, the home of the University of Illinois. Using layers representing slope, soil, surface water and green infrastructure, my composite map revealed that the growth area east of Mahomet was the most suitable for development.
First proposed by Henry George, a native of Philadelphia, land value taxation (LVT) is an alternative to the traditional real property tax in which only land value is taxed. By excluding buildings and improvements from the assessment, LVT is theorized to reduce land speculation, encourage maintenance of properties and limit the shifting of taxes from owners to renters. Despite these advantages, LVT has been implemented in relatively few U.S. cities.
Using a PostGIS database and tax records published by the Philadelphia Office of Property Assessment, I examined the impact of LVT on vertical equity in Philadelphia's property tax system in this class project. I found that implementing LVT would make the property tax more progressive than either the 2013 or 2014 tax systems. In addition, it would shift the tax burden from residential properties to vacant land while imposing a similar burden to the 2013 tax system on commercial and industrial properties.
Washington County, Maryland is a county at a crossroads, both literally and metaphorically. Located at the intersection of I-70 and I-81, the county's economy has historically depended on manufacturing and transportation. In recent decades, however, expansion of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area has placed Washington County within the reach of suburban commuters. Using data as its foundation, this class project explores the relationship between the physical crossroads that defined Washington County’s past and the metaphorical crossroads—defined by commuting and migration trends—that promises to shape its future.
Though still relatively uncommon, rooftop gardens promise to provide the benefits of green roofs while also addressing shortages of fresh produce among urban dwellers. In this class project, I evaluated candidate buildings for rooftop gardens in five neighborhoods on Chicago’s West Side: Austin, Humboldt Park, West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park and North Lawndale. These neighborhoods are home to just eighteen buildings with green roofs.
I evaluated six criteria, including the locations of existing green roofs, community gardens, farmers markets and schools; the roof area of the building; and the potential for heat island reduction as determined by the color of the roof. Based on these criteria, I assigned each building a suitability score and identified the three most suitable buildings in each neighborhood.
Urban planner Kevin Lynch attempted to describe the "image of the city" using five elements: nodes, landmarks, paths, edges and districts. In this urban design class project, I set out to identify a downtown neighborhood for the city of Urbana using Lynch's five elements. My analysis of urban form in central Urbana yielded three possible downtown neighborhoods. The Commercial Core definition set the boundaries based on existing uses and barriers, while Urbana Crossings attempted to increase connectivity using seams and paths. Main Street Plus, the preferred definition, brought together activity and connectivity by building on the elements that make Downtown Urbana unique: historic Main Street and Lincoln Square Village.
Champaign County's population is projected to increase 37.7% between 2010 and 2035. Development to accommodate this population growth could disrupt the county's natural systems, but it doesn't have to do so. In this class project, I created a master plan for a fictitious development to demonstrate techniques for developing both sustainably and profitably.
Flaxton Park is a sustainable, mixed-use development proposed for an 810-acre site southeast of Mahomet, Illinois. The Flaxton Park community is designed around the idea of low-impact development, a paradigm that minimizes the hydrologic impact of development by reducing impervious surfaces and applying other best management practices. In its land use, transportation, stormwater, sewer and green infrastructure, the plan takes advantage of—and minimizes the disruption to—natural systems.
Design Thinking is a portfolio of my early graphic and web design work. It includes projects from my undergraduate courses and from the years after I graduated. As a collection, it represents one of my earliest attempts to articulate the idea of design and technology as forces for positive social change.
From application development and transportation planning in central Illinois to engagement technology consulting in Seattle to GIS programming in Philadelphia, I have engaged with planning problems in a wide variety of organizations and topic areas.
Trained as a software developer, planner, data analyst and designer, I am interested in the tools and processes that support informed and effective decision-making.
Whether writing a plan element, querying a spatial database or designing public engagement materials, I enjoy bringing together people and data to build strong communities and regions.
Developed tools and applications for use by staff, partners, and the public.
Land use and transportation, regional planning, planning
Produced plans and technical studies related to transportation and land use.
Adobe Creative Suite, CSS, HTML
Designed print and web publications for planning projects and clients.
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Matt Yoder is an experienced software developer, urban planner, data analyst, and designer. He leads a small team that builds civic technology for urban planning and transportation.