The City of New York offers a free graffiti removal service to residents and businesses. The City maintains a crew of investigators that travel the streets calculating their condition. One thing that the investigator looks for is graffiti. Recording the location of the graffiti with a mobile device, she initiates the process of graffiti removal. This process is intended to support efficient administration and maintain a record of measurable results - all in the fashion of today’s Smart City.
By mapping The City's current data set on graffiti, we reveal the mechanism that reads and writes the urban environment. Visualizing the data reveals paths and intensities for inquiry. And walking the data contextualizes the trace - an opportunity to experience the city as a stranger and see that tagging graffiti with a coordinate is not enough to locate it among the variety of surfaces that comprise the urban environment.