Mapping Long Island

A Project for the Long Island Index

A Project for the Long Island Index

Posted December 2008; data last updated April 2017

The Long Island Index interactive map combines a rich amount of information coupled with easy-to-use tools so you can visualize relationships across several types of data at local and regional scales. It supplements and enhances the work of the Long Island Index to develop and monitor regional community indicators.

The map was officially launched on December 10, 2008 (Read the press release). Several local and industry news outlets covered the story, including a great summary of the map's power and potential from the Times of Huntington (no longer online).

View the interactive map

Key features

  • Detailed property-level patterns of residential, commercial, industrial, and other land use types within each village and across Long Island. This data – provided under license by the Nassau and Suffolk planning departments – has not been mapped online before. It provides a rich picture of each of Long Island’s neighborhoods.
  • Key population and housing characteristics, plus statistics listed dynamically as users zoom in to each community.
  • Transportation & reference features such as satellite photos (provided by the New York State GIS Clearinghouse), bus & LIRR routes, incorporated and unincorporated villages, special districts (such as fire, police, and sewer), and legislative districts.
  • Bar charts comparing Census statistics from 1990 through 2006.
  • Regional views showing villages that meet certain characteristics, such as all the villages across Long Island with more than 10% population growth from 1990 to 2000.
  • New mapping tools such as a “dynamic transparency slider” to reveal land use patterns or aerial photos underneath Census maps and Microsoft’s “bird’s eye view” photos integrated directly into the maps (accessible with the click of a mouse).

How we created the maps

The Long Island Index mapping site was developed as a collaborative effort involving several organizations and individuals. Funding support was provided by the Rauch Foundation. The CUNY Mapping Service at the Center for Urban Research of The Graduate Center, CUNY worked closely with the staff of the Long Island Index to plan the maps, evaluate other mapping projects, and decide on data elements. Several local and regional organizations reviewed the site, and more than 300 hundred local officials, community leaders, and industry representatives worldwide visited the site as part of a beta test from October to December 2008.

At the CUNY Mapping Service, David Burgoon developed the application, Steven Romalewski created the maps and integrated the underlying data sets, and Christy Spielman designed the map navigation graphics. Dave's creativity and focus over several months brought the site to life. He deserves more credit than anyone for his hard work developing a powerful and complex but easy-to-use mapping application.

The technology behind the project is summarized below.

  • mapping software from ESRI (ArcMap, ArcGIS Server, ArcSDE);
  • the open source map navigation framework OpenLayers;
  • the open source JavaScript library ext.js for creating and managing the site's AJAX-like features -- such as the "transparency tool" to transition dynamically between Census maps and land use and aerial photos;
  • Microsoft's Virtual Earth API to display "bird's eye" aerial views for any location on the map;
  • color specifications and designs developed by Cynthia Brewer (see for more information); and
  • several specific components to create dynamic charts and other graphic elements on the site.

The project involved the integration of many data layers from numerous sources. Two sources require special thanks:

  • the Nassau and Suffolk planning departments and tax assessors offices, especially Thomas Isles (Director, Suffolk County Department of Planning) and Patricia Bourne (Executive Commissioner, Nassau County Planning Commission); and
  • the New York State GIS Clearinghouse which provided access to its web service that displays high resolution aerial photo imagery through a partnership with the US Geological Survey.

Finally, other online mapping projects provided helpful ideas that we built upon, such as MapTube, DataPlace, and PolicyMap.

How will it help you?

Doing a workshop on transit-oriented development? You can create a map showing the intersection of key Long Island downtowns with bus and train routes. Want to know which communities have the highest proportion of rental properties? Create a map showing income attributes of a community plus concentration of rental units. This is only the beginning. More data will be coming in the next few months on health, education, open space and brownfields, to name just a few. In addition to adding new data we will also be maintaining the current data with updates as new information becomes available.