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An interactive map of industrial space in southern California

Here is an interactive map, created by the Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability, showing the approximately 1,573,777,062 square feet of industrial space that can be found in Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino.

The map allows you to zoom in on specific parcels to see things like site area, warehouse size, and year built. You can also play around with different map radii to create a rollup of warehouse space within a specific area, which includes an estimate of daily truck traffic and CO2 produced.

The Guardian also used this data to create the following chart, which is helpful in showing the dominance of certain cities, as well as how much of this industrial space has been built since 2010:

The point of this interactive map, this data, and the accompanying articles is to highlight just how disruptive all of this new industrial space is to these southern California communities and to the environment in general. But I think it is also an important reminder that, whether we like it or not, our online activities have real-world physical implications.

Online shopping requires warehouses and logistics. Online food delivery requires (ghost) kitchens. And online activity, in general, requires the storage of unprecedented amounts of data. All of these “back-end spaces” take up room, even if they’re mostly easy to ignore when we’re just looking at our phones.

This is our new “phygital” world and, yes, it is changing the landscape of our cities. Now our task is to figure out how to do this in a way that respects communities and respects the environment.

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