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Al Shaw

News Applications Developer

Photo of Al Shaw

Al Shaw is a news applications developer at ProPublica. Equal parts designer, developer and reporter, he uses data and interactive graphics to cover environmental issues, natural disasters and politics. A year before Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Shaw was part of a team that produced “Hell and High Water,” which warned of the region's vulnerability to coastal storms. The project won a Peabody Award in 2017. Shaw's project, “Losing Ground,” about the century-long erosion of Louisiana's coast won a Gold Medal from the Society for News Design. His interactive maps surrounding FEMA's response to Hurricane Sandy were honored with the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi award. Before joining ProPublica, Shaw was a designer/developer at the political news website Talking Points Memo.

Journalists: Send ProPublica Your Redaction Classics

The Obama administration’s take on transparency can be rather opaque. Send us your most memorable FOIA documents for our Redaction Classics collection.

How We Made the 3-D New York City Flood Map

We used features only available in the most modern web browsers to create the interactive map of the city's flood zones.

Sharpening the Government’s Blurry Maps

The Senate may soon vote on legislation that would require FEMA to prepare more accurate maps before flood insurance rates can be raised.

How Well Did FEMA's Maps Predict Sandy's Flooding?

When Superstorm Sandy struck New York and New Jersey last year, the accuracy of FEMA’s flood-risk maps for the area, used to help guide development and set flood insurance rates, varied widely. In some cases, the data behind the maps dated as far back to the 1970s. Click a county below to see more about FEMA’s data for that county.

Federal Flood Maps Left New York Unprepared for Sandy — and FEMA Knew It

The agency ignored state and city officials' appeals to update the maps with better data until it was too late.

How We Analyzed FEMA's Risk Maps

How Much Acetaminophen Are You Taking?

Many common over-the-counter drugs contain acetaminophen. Taking more than one at the same time increases your chance of “double-dipping” -- accidentally overdosing.

Why You Should Be our 2014 OpenNews Fellow (and Join the Epic Team of Awesome)

For the second year, the ProPublica News Applications desk has a unique opening for a ten-month-long fellowship as part of the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews program.

Transcribable: Free the Files to Go!

Today we’re releasing a new open source project, which will enable any organization with a DocumentCloud account to do crowdsourcing using documents.

Timeline: America’s Long Civil Rights March

ProPublica has created a timeline to appreciate the key moments and often differing aims of the government's judicial and legislative branches in the ongoing clash over civil rights.

New Maps and a New Plan for New York

FEMA's released new, preliminary flood insurance maps for New York City, which specify how likely areas are to flood. The new maps, which replace maps that used data from 1983, double the number of structures in flood zones.

Without a Final Map, New York Rebuilds on Uncertain Ground

A 2012 law now puts over 67,000 New York City structures at risk of skyrocketing flood insurance rates. Can Bloomberg's ambitious plan save the city's coastal neighborhoods?

A Super-Simple Tool to Search Instagram by Time and Location

We wrote a little tool to search for Instagram photos taken at certain times and places

Play Our Experimental News Game: HeartSaver

HeartSaver is an experiment in news game design, built in two days for the April 2013 GEN Editors' Lab Hackathon. How many lives can you save?

HeartSaver: Experimenting with News Games to Tell a Story

HeartSaver, ProPublica's entry into the April 2013 GEN hack day, lets players steer New York City heart attack victims to the closest hospitals.

No Windows. One Exit. Free Drinks: Casino-Driven Design for Crowdsourcing

Casino-Driven Design, a technique we developed for Free the Files, cuts away all distraction and drives the user's attention toward staying focused on a single task.

Between Human and Machine: Thoughts on Malofiej 21 Day 2

One of the main undercurrents during the Malofiej World Infographic Summit was the tension between illustrative graphics, often borne out of photographs and sketches, and data visualization, whose raw material is often the very machine-based spreadsheet.

Outsider CAR: Quick Thoughts on Malofiej 21 Day 1

While the big graphics teams presented at the Malofiej Infographic Summit in Pamplona, Spain, there were also examples of artists and designers applying their own brand of CAR.

Interactive Map: See Where the Government is Lending after Sandy

See where the over 20,000 SBA rebuilding loans are, half of which fall in FEMA's new advisory flood zones.

After Sandy, Government Lends to Rebuild in Flood Zones

A ProPublica/WNYC analysis shows the federal government has approved $766 million to rebuild in areas prone to flooding.

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