Mapping Smith Coffee Migration Patterns

How Far Will We Travel for Coffee EditsOn the Smith campus lives a secret coffee machine that dispenses wonderful lattes and cappuccinos at no cost to its users. **For the sake of protecting the machine’s identity we will not explicitly state its location or hours of operation in this article.

This magical coffee machine is a common topic of conversation in Sabin-Reed — the home of the Spatial Analysis Lab. During one of these conversations a question was posed: how far are people willing to travel on campus to access this coffee machine? Furthermore, when people visit the machine are they going out of their way to do so or are they generally integrating the stop into a greater journey elsewhere?

We decided to answer these question the only way we know how — by mapping it.

This week our post-bac fellow, Victoria Beckley, will be collecting data at said coffee machine in an attempt to discover the spatial patterns of our coffee-related movements across campus.

Questions involved in the survey include — campus affiliation, coffee preference, and average visits per week. To conduct the research Victoria spun up a couple of feature services in ArcMap — including specific fields with domains — and inserted them into an ArcGIS Online webmap.

From here the webmap can be accessed and edited in the collector app on an iPhone or iPad (as seen in the image below). As the data are collected in the app the feature services are automatically populated, therefore performing the majority of the data processing upon entry. This process has proven, perhaps for the first time ever, to be simple and effective without requiring any troubleshooting! A true feat in the GIS community.ipad_coffee_map_resized

We shared our survey idea with the Lewis Global Studies Center (who manages and funds the machine).

They loved the mapping project and asked that we include a question to gauge how many coffee consumers engage with the Global Studies Center during their trips.

After two days of surveying, collecting 76 data points, we can say that the visitors of the coffee machine do in fact gain information about the Global Studies Center during their short stay. One student said she visits the machine with the primary purpose of reading the events board, seeing coffee as a secondary benefit.

The survey will be conducted for the remainder of the week (Oct 20-24), after which the results will be analyzed in ArcMap and produced as maps to be shared — most likely in paper and online form. The results will be posted here for viewing. Additionally if you have any interest in the spatial analysis end of the project (the fun part), please contact Victoria Beckley ( to help out!