Open World Atlanta / Atlanta Explorer

Virtual City

Open World Atlanta (formally called "The Atlanta Explorer" project) involves building geospatial databases, geocoding tools, and eventually an interactive virtual city for post-Civil War Atlanta to 1940.

The project presents broad potential for urban studies projects to understand the built environment and social history and for using crowd-sourced information about particular sites and structures. It brings together students, staff, and faculty, from Emory and Georgia State University as students get hands-on experience with geospatial data creation, database programming, and 3D modeling and get to work on a large-scale, multi-year open source, open data project.

Open World Atlanta represents one component of a larger consortium using mapping and visualizations to bring historical data about cities into digital scholarship called Urban Spatial History.

Aspects of the Open World Atlanta project include:

  • Atlanta Geodatabases: Geospatial data structures (geodatabases) have been built from two key information sources -- an 1878 map of Atlanta and a 1928 map of Atlanta.
  • Atlanta Historical Geocoders: A geocoder turns a list of street addresses into points on the map with corresponding geospatial coordinates. The first historical geocoding tool was completed for the year 1928. Currently in production is 1929 and on the slate are all available city directories from post Civil War to 1940.
  • Atlanta Historic Maps: All historic maps and aerial photographs are curated by the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library's Historical Map Collection.
  • Atlanta Explorer Interactive: 3-Dimensional models are being built for use in both ArcGIS CityEngine and in Unity.
  • Watch an early promotional video about the project's first stage.