Project Basics

Define projects in terms of project area, canvas type, and context area.

In UrbanFootprint, all work is done within projects. A project contains the scenarios, data, analytics, and reports that allow you to explore existing conditions and growth outcomes for a particular area. Projects are defined by an existing jurisdictional boundary or a custom boundary that you upload, and can be defined at the parcel or census block resolution. This overview covers the basic aspects of project definition: project area, project canvas type, and context area.

Project Area

A project area is defined by a polygon boundary. All parcels or blocks within your project area boundary will be included in your Base Canvas and scenarios. Upon project creation you can either select from existing boundaries in UrbanFootprint or upload your own. Choices of existing boundaries include cities, towns, and other census-designated places; counties; and core-based statistical areas (CBSAs).

You can instead upload your own boundary to represent, for example, a district or specific plan area. Whether you select an existing boundary or upload your own, project areas can contain one or more separate polygons.

New York City boundary; Kings County boundary; multiple polygons for the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan, including smaller islands

Project sizes are constrained by land area and census tract coverage. For parcel canvases, the maximum size is 50 km² or 350 tracts, whichever is smaller. For block canvases, the limit is 100 km², or 2,500 tracts. If you need a larger project size, please contact UrbanFootprint support.

Project Canvas Type

The project canvas type refers to its resolution: either parcels or census blocks. Parcel canvases offer a fine resolution for city, corridor, neighborhood, and site-scale planning and urban design work, while block canvases are relevant for larger-scale work. Development on parcels is generally represented using Building Types, which are detailed in their depiction of development. Development on blocks, which cover "gross" area inclusive of rights of way as well as "net" parcel area, are represented using Place Types, which are comprised of a mix of buildings and specifications for rights of way. Analysis modules are subsequently run at the resolution of the base canvas.

Parcel geographies originate with the parcel source data from CoreLogic. Census block geographies come from the 2010 Census. Individual parcels or census blocks are known as canvas "features."

Base canvas features for the same area at the parcel scale (left) and block scale (right)

Context Area

Defining a context area for your project is optional. A context area, as the name implies, is used to provide context information for areas adjacent to or surrounding your project. A context area might be defined, for example, as the city within which a district-scale project is located, or the county within which a city-scale project is located.

If you specify a context area upon project creation, UrbanFootprint generates a layer called Context Area Land Use. The Context Area Land Use layer contains the same attributes as a Base Canvas, but cannot be edited or painted on — the layer serves as reference data only. The population, households, jobs, and development associated with the context area are not included in project totals, and analysis does not cover the context area.

Project area surrounded by larger context area

Like project areas, context areas can be comprised of parcels or blocks. The resolution of the project area and context area do not need to match. For example, you can use parcels for your project area, and census blocks for your context area.

Parcel-level project area with block-level context area

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