Friday, March 23, 2018

Mapwork Quilts

When I was a lad we were so poor we had to make our own interactive maps, stitching together the old scraps and castoffs we found on the cobbled streets outside the New York Public Library.

OpenWhateverMap is a very useful map for anyone looking for distinctive map tiles for their latest interactive mapping project. OpenWhateverMap is a random map of the world made up of a hotchpotch of different map styles, sourced from lots of different interactive mapping providers.

OpenWhateverMap is a showcase for a number of different base map styles that can be used with any of the leading interactive map libraries. It includes base maps designed by Mapbox, OpenStreetMap, Thunderforest, Stamen and CartoDB. If you like the look of any of these map styles then click on the tile on the map. This will open an information window containing the base map's template URL and the attribution you need to use the style in your own interactive maps.

When I first saw OpenWhateverMap I thought it might be interesting to create a similar map using random map tiles from vintage maps. I have therefore completely ripped off OpenWhateverMap to create Random USA.

RandomUSA creates a random map of the USA made from 18 vintage maps held in the NYPL Digital Collections. The effect, as I suspected it would be, is a bit of a mess. The good thing is, if you don't like the look of a random vintage map of the USA, then you can just zoom in and out to change the look of the map.

It is definitely not as useful as OpenWhateverMap.

The Submarine Cable Map 2018

Every year the company Telegeography release a new updated undersea cable map of the world. The map shows all the submarine cable systems across the globe that are active or are under construction.

Telegrogaphy's 2018 Submarine Cable Map has a much more utilitarian style than some of the previous years' maps. This year's map is designed to highlight the areas where cables traverse and connect to landing stations. To that end the map is possibly a little less fun than some of Telegeography's previous maps but also possibly a little more useful to those working in the industry.

If you want to view the company's Submarine Cable Maps from previous years you can just change the year in the URL. For example, my favorite 2015 Submarine Cable Map can be found at The 2015 map was inspired by medieval and renaissance cartography and features not only a vintage map style but sea monsters, cartouches and map border illustrations.

Fremont - More Money Than Sense

You can tell a lot about a neighborhood by the types of businesses and stores it attracts. For example, a lot has been written (mostly by me) about how you can determine which neighborhoods are becoming gentrified by the ratio of coffee shops to fried chicken restaurants in an area.

But why only look at coffee shops and fried chicken restaurants? Perhaps the proliferation of other types of businesses and stores could tell us more about the unique characteristics of different neighborhoods. For example, if a neighborhood was dominated by stores offering massage therapy, acupuncture, naturopathic medicine and skincare, what might that tell us about a neighborhood?

It might tell us that the residents of Fremont, Seattle have more money than sense (or if you are Amber Thomas that the neighborhood is 'artistic and entertaining'). But I digress ...

The Pudding has published a great story map exploring the most unique businesses in Seattle and New York neighborhoods. In A Tale of Two Cities Amber Thomas and Ilia Blinderman have mapped out the businesses which are found more distinctly in a neighborhood than in the city as a whole. This 'uniqueness' is determined by comparing the ratio of businesses in each neighborhood to their ratio in the city as a whole.

As you progress through the story map you can explore which businesses are most unique to different neighborhoods in both Seattle and New York. Anyone who knows either city reasonably well will probably quickly recognize that the distinct characteristics of some of the featured neighborhoods are definitely reflected by the types of unique stores and businesses which flourish within their borders.

The method definitely seems to have merit. I can also see how it might be applied by different web services. For example, real estate websites could use this 'over-index' to list the top 5 unique businesses found in each neighborhood to give customers an insight into the characteristics of different neighborhoods.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Pre-Trade War Planet Earth

Data Labs has created a 3d visualization of a pre-apocalyptic planet Earth. The visualization shows import and export rates around the world before Donald Trump's first global trade war. Global Corridors for Trade - Imports and Exports by Country shows how trade helped goods and services travel around the world before the Orange One began to impose arbitrary tariffs.

Using the drop-down menu you can select to center the map on a country of your choice. The map will then show you the total amount your select country spends and makes on importing and exporting goods (in minerals, machinery and agriculture).The lines on the map show the countries around the world that your chosen country has trade deals with.

You can select to view either imports and exports on the 3d globe. You can also break this trade down to show imports and exports of minerals, machinery and agriculture. The date tool at the bottom of the page allows you to view the trade figures for individual years and to a view a graph of import and export totals over time.

Worldwide Climate Change

A new interactive map from the University of Cincinnati shows how climate change could effect every location on Earth. The map uses 50 years worth of data from 50,000 different locations around the globe to predict how the climate could change in the next 52 years

ClimateEx provides a map layer which show the changes to the climate between the years -6000 and 2000. It also provide two different layers which use a predictive model to show how the climate could change between -6000 and 2070 and between 2000 and 2070. The green areas on these three different map layers show where the climate has (or will) change the least. The brown and white areas have (or will) see the most climate change.

Clicking on the map opens an information window displaying a climatogram for the selected location. This climatogram shows values of temperature and precipitation. Clicking between the different map layers will update the climatogram to show the results from the predictive model for the chosen location.

Old Toronto

You may remember Sidewalk Labs from such maps as OldSF and OldNYC. They are now back with a completely new enterprise - Old Toronto.

Old Toronto is an interactive map showing the locations of more than 30,000 historic photographs of Toronto from the City of Toronto Archives. The photos in the archives date back to 1856, so Old Toronto is a great way to explore the Toronto of yesterday and to view how Toronto looked in the past.

Using the map you can find and view old photographs of Toronto by location and by date. The date-range tool in the map sidebar allows you to filter the photos shown on the map by the year that the photos were taken. If you click on a photo on the map then you can view the picture, the archival details and click-through to view the photo on the City of Toronto Archives website.

Sidewalk Labs has also released all the photo locations as a GeoJSON file. If you want to view vintage photos of other locations then you might enjoy OldSF and OldNYC. If you want to see vintage photos outside of Toronto, San Francisco and New York then you could also have a look at Historypin.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Award Winning Mapping from the Times

The New York Times has created another stunning mapped visualization. In Easter Island is Eroding the Times has created a 3d map of the island showing the locations of all the island's famous moai statues. It also shows the position of Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean.

The purpose of the New York Times' story is to raise awareness of Easter Island's vulnerability to rising sea levels. One of the purposes of the map is to help emphasize this vulnerability. It does this with a stunning cinematic zoom-out from the island to a view of the whole Earth - revealing the island's isolation in the Pacific Ocean. Easter Island is one of the remotest inhabited islands in the world and this cinematic zoom-out from the island to the whole globe demonstrates this superbly.

If you want to make your own award winning mapped visualizations then you might want to check out Derek Watkins' How We Animated Trillions of Tons of Flowing Ice and Adam Pearce's Hurricane How-To. These two articles, by developers at the Times, explain how the Times' created two of their award winning mapped visualizations from last year.

Mapping UK Taxi Fares

You might think that London's black cabs are expensive. But the capital's taxi drivers don't charge the highest fares in the UK. That honor goes to the city of Coventry, where taxis charge an average fare of £3.11 per mile traveled.

You can now compare the taxi fares charged in the UK's largest cities using a new UK Taxi Price Index and interactive map. The UK Taxi Price Index uses local authority data to compare the price of a taxi journey in different UK Cities. The interactive map uses numbered markers to rank 25 UK cities in terms of the fares charged by the city's cab drivers.

At the top of the list, with the highest taxi fares, is Coventry. Liverpool is the cheapest city to hail a cab, costing a full 20p less per mile than Coventry's taxis. London doesn't even come in the top three most expensive cities, being listed at number 5, with a cab fare per mile of £2.60.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Car Thieves of San Francisco

The San Francisco Chronicle has mapped the thousands of locations in San Francisco where cars were broken into last year. Breaking down San Francisco’s car break-in epidemic is a story map analyzing some of the geographical hot-spots for car break-ins during 2017.

As you scroll through the Chronicle's story the background map zooms in on different locations in the city which experienced exceptionally high levels of car break-ins. Proportional sized markers are used to show the number of break-ins at a location. These are contrasted with the purple markers which show where police actually made arrests of car thieves.

The Chronicle's story doesn't make too many connections between the various hot-spots highlighted on the map. However it does mention that some popular tourist areas and parking garages and lots appear to be regular hot-spots of car break-ins.

Building Up Walls

Donald Trump wants to build a 2,000 mile wall between Mexico and the USA. This American Life has been wondering about the effect that border walls have on the lives of the people who live near them. In The Walls This American Life has compiled a number of stories from around the world. In these stories This American Life correspondents visit and talk to individuals and communities living in the shadows of walls.

The Walls is accompanied by an interactive map which shows the locations featured in all the podcast stories. This map allows you to zoom-in on the various locations and view the border walls (using Mapbox GL's extruded polygons to visualize the border walls). Each location includes aerial imagery and and a very short description of the border wall.

If you are having difficulty envisioning just how far big Trump's proposed wall would be then you can use the Berliner Morgenpost's interactive map. The Trump Wall Comparison Map allows you to overlay an outline of Trump's proposed border wall between the USA and Mexico on any other location on Earth. You can also get a good sense of the scale of construction needed to build Trump's wall in a video from the Intercept. The Intercept downloaded and stitched together 200,000 satellite images to create a huge strip map of the U.S.-Mexican border. You can view this strip map in Visualizing the U.S.-Mexico Border, a short video which pans along the whole border.