Saturday, February 27, 2021

Making History with Maps

Making History Sandbox is an interesting interactive mapping tool which allows you to make maps which show developments over time. It is probably easiest to explain this tool using a working example - so here is a little demo map of an animated timeline I created with Making History Sandbox.

Essentially the tool consists of a timeline and regions which can be colored on the map. To create a history timeline map you add frames to this timeline with different areas colored on the map. By adding additional frames to this timeline you are then able to show geographical developments over time. 

By default the world is mapped to the state level. However Making History Sandbox allows you to import your own region/territory data as a geoJSON file. So, for example, in the United States you could import county boundaries to plot developments over time at a higher resolution than the state level.

It is possible to save and load your created timelines. Unfortunately Making History Sandbox doesn't have a 'share' option so it isn't easy to share your created timeline with anybody else.

Friday, February 26, 2021

The Affordable Housing Map

The average house price for all home types in the United States is now around $295,000. The days of being able to buy a five figure starter home are fast coming to an end. But they aren't over just yet.If you want to know where your can find a home for less than $100,000 then you can refer to Social Explorer's Housing Units Less Than $100,000 interactive map.

Housing Units Less Than $100,000 uses data from the 2015-19 American Community Survey to visualize the density of affordable starter homes in the United States. This choropleth map shows the number of homes valued under $100,000 at the census tract level.If you click on an individual census tract on the map you can view the exact percentage of homes in the tract valued under £100,000.

The map reveals that the lowest density of affordable starter homes are along the east and west coasts. Texas appears to have the highest percentage of homes valued under $100,000. Seven of the ten counties with the highest percentage of five-figure homes are at the edge of the South Plains in Texas. These include King County, where 96.2% of homes are valued under $100,000, Stonewall County (90.2%), and Hardeman County (86.6%).

The Coronavirus Monitor

The map I have consulted most often in the last few months has been the Berliner Morgenpost's Coronavirus Monitor. The German newspaper's visualization of the epidemic not only provides a global overview of the present number of new infections in countries around the world but also allows you to explore how the virus has spread in those countries since the beginning of the outbreak at the start of last year.

Circles are used on the map to show the total number of cases of Coronavirus in each country (the red circles), the number of people who have recovered from an infection (green circles) and the total number of deaths (black circles). The larger the colored circle then the larger the number of cases. If you select a circle on the map you can also view the rates of cases, recoveries and deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. A timeline running along the bottom of the map allows you to view the data for any date since Jan 29 2020.  

Beneath the global Coronavirus monitor is another interactive map which shows the number of new infections over the last 7 days in each German state. You can also find graphs on the R rate in Germany over time, a bar chart of the number of weekly deaths, and data on the number of Germans who have been vaccinated against Coronavirus.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Stars & Warming Stripes

In 2018 Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading, released a powerful data visualization to illustrate how temperatures have risen around the globe over the last century. His visualization used colored stripes to show the average annual temperatures for every year of the last century. This type of data graphic is now commonly known as a 'climate stripes' visualization.

You can view the climate stripes of every U.S. state using the Stars & Warming Stripes visualization. Select a state from the drop-down menu and you can see the climate warming stripes which show how average yearly temperatures in the state have changed over the last 115 years. The visualization includes an option to view a scatter plot superimposed on top of the state's climate warming stripes.

You can also create warming stripes for each state and for other regions and countries around the world from Ed Hawkins' own #ShowYourStripes website. Select a region and then a country from the drop-down menu on #ShowYourStripes and you can view and download an image showing how temperatures have risen over the last 100+ years at your selected location.

Global warming stripes are a very powerful way to visualize a complex issue with one simple and easy to understand image. The general progress from blue to redder stripes is both visually striking and very hard to dispute. The temperature data used for creating the stripes on both Stars & Warming Stripes and from #ShowYourStripes come from the Berkeley Earth temperature dataset and from a number of national meteorological agencies.

100,000,000 OpenStreetMap Edits

Update: The 100,000,000th edit has now been made to OpenStreetMap. The edit was made by user Lamine Ndiaye, who made a change to OSM in Nianiane, in the Fatick Region of Senegal. Lamine has been a registered user of OpenStreetMap since 2013 and has made 2,151 edits to the map.

Later today the 100,000,000th edit will be made to OpenStreetMap. OpenStreetMap is a free crowdsourced map of the world which is edited and maintained by millions of volunteers all around the globe. Since its inception in 2004 over two million registered users have added millions and millions of new data and changes to this free map of the world. 

You can watch the 100,000,000 edit being made to OpenStreetMap live on the OSM in Realtime interactive map. This map displays in real-time the changes being made to OpenStreetMap around the world. At the time of writing the OSM in Realtime counter shows there have been 99,958,361 changesets made to OSM. When users edit OSM they can add new features to the map or edit existing data. When these edits are made the user writes a short message describing the change and then this message & the edit are saved as a 'changeset'. As you can see from OSM in Realtime the number of changes made to the world's leading crowdsourced map are fast closing in on 100,000,000.

You can also watch live changes being made to OpenStreetMap on ShowMeTheWay. ShowMeTheWay is an interactive map which highlights edits being made to OSM in real-time on top of satellite imagery. The map shows you the nodes, ways and relations actually being edited and provides information on those changes.

You can also view information about individual edits made to OSM on OpenStreetMap Changesets. This map allows you to view details about each individual edit made to OSM, including the name of the user, when the edit was made, and what data was added or edited on the map. After the 100,000,000 edit has been made to OpenStreetMap you will be able to explore details on the changes made at:

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Street Fashion on Street View

European fashion retailer Zalando has launched a new and unique online shopping experience. With its new Street It All campaign Zalando allows customers to view and buy street fashions directly from a Google Map.

Using the Street It All interactive Google Map you can explore custom street views shot in four different Spanish cities. Click on the map markers in Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga and Valencia and you can view custom shot 360 degree panoramic images captured by Zalando. In these custom Street View scenes you will find models wearing Zalando's street fashions. 

If you like any of the clothes being modeled in these street scenes you can click on the featured item and buy the item directly from the map.


Of course when I say this is a 'unique' online shopping experience I am stretching the truth a little. Very little online is truly original and Zalando's Street View campaign is very similar to a campaign launched two years ago by Fred Perry and Raf Simons.

In 2019 Fred Perry and Raf Simons released their own virtual reality shopping experience. Fred Perry x Raf Simons is a custom Street View tour which you can navigate around just like you can move around in Google Maps Street View. However, unlike on Google Maps, on these virtual panoramas you can click on the people and buy their clothes.

All the models that appear in Fred Perry x Raf Simons are interactive. Click on a model and you can browse the clothes that they are wearing and even click through to buy an item on the Fred Perry online store. As on Google Maps all the models have their faces blurred. Some of the items of clothing are also blurred. This means that the item is not yet available to be purchased on the online store.

Mapping Attacks on the Press

Every year the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) releases an annual report on the number of journalists imprisoned and killed by countries across the world. This year the CPJ has created a story map Attacks on the Press 2020 which explores in detail attacks on the press around the globe. 

In its annual global survey the CPJ report that across the world at least 274 journalists are in jail as a direct result of their work. This exceeds the previous high of 2016 when 272 journalists were imprisoned. Last year China was the worst country in which to work as a journalist for the second year in a row. In 2020 China imprisoned a number of journalists in response to how they reported on the outbreak and spread of Covid-19 and how their government were responding to the epidemic.

The CPJ map colors the world's countries based on the number of journalists that were imprisoned during 2020. The yellow dots show where journalists were killed in 2020 in relation to their work. As you scroll through the story the map pans to explain the attacks on the press in the worst offending countries. A menu allows you to switch between imprisoned journalists, journalists killed in 2020 and an 'explore' option. If you select 'explore' you can then click on the individual yellow dots on the map to learn more about the individual journalists who were killed around the world during the course of last year.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A Dot Map of Half a Million Covid Deaths

Almost half a million people have now died from Covid-19 in the United States. Yesterday, in Visualizing Half a Million Deaths, I looked at how data journalists at the New York Times and the Washington Post have attempted to visualize the scale of the tragedy experienced over the last year. 

Both the NYT and the Post have created data visualizations which attempt to portray the scale of half a million deaths to their readers. In 500,000 Lives Lost NBC News has taken a different approach, using an interactive map to visualize where those 500,000 victims of Covid lived. The map plots half a million red dots, each dot representing one death from the coronavirus. 

The map includes a scollytelling element which provides a chronological view of the spread of Covid-19 across the United States over the last year - beginning with the first reported U.S. death in Washington state on Feb. 29th 2020 (although it was later revealed that the first Covid-19 death occurred a few weeks earlier in Santa Clara, California). As you scroll through the story the map moves to different locations to explore where significant outbreaks have happened during the course of the pandemic.

If you scroll to the end of NBC's story you can actually explore the map for yourself. Enter an address or zip-code and you can view the number of deaths at your chosen location via the density of red dots on the map. The dots don't reveal the actual addresses of individual victims of Covid-19. The location of the dots are randomized within each census block area.

The Dot Map of the 2020 US Election

After both the 2012 and 2016 U.S. Presidential elections Kenneth Field of Esri made impressive dot maps showing where people had voted for the Democratic and Republican candidates. Kenneth has now completed and released his dot map of the US Presidential Election 2020.

The US Presidential Election 2020 interactive shows around 160 million dots (158,383,403), or one dot for every person who voted in the election. On the map blue dots were used to show Democratic votes and red dots to show Republican voters. If you click on the map you can read a more detailed breakdown of the number of Democrat and Republican voters in the selected county and which candidate won the county and by what margin.

The dots don't show the actual locations of voters in each county but are randomized within populated areas. Kenneth's map is a dasymetric dot map. This means that that the county level election data has been distributed as individual colored dots within the county in the areas where people actually live.This leaves areas where people don't live empty (because there are no voters there). The result is a dot map which reflects more truly how many people live in the rural and urban areas of each county.

You can learn more about how Kenneth made the map on a two part blog post on the Esri website, Experiments with Dot Density - Part One and Experiments with Dot Density - Part Two. And, if you are interested, you can view Kenneth's U.S. Presidential Election 2016 dot map here.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Raphael's Cartoons

One of the many wonders of London's fantastic free museums is the Raphael Court in the Victoria and Albert Museum. This large gallery hosts the enormous Raphael Cartoons, which were created by the Renaissance artist in the 16th Century.

In 1515 Pope Leo X commissioned seven huge tapestries which he wanted to hang in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo had completed his ceiling in the Sistine Chapel just two years before the tapestries were commissioned. Raphael was very conscious that his tapestries would be shown beneath this magnificent ceiling, he therefore took great care in perfecting the designs in the cartoons, from which the tapestries would be made.

These seven cartoons, the full-scale designs for the Vatican tapestries, can be viewed in the V&A. At the time of writing the V&A is closed because of the pandemic. However you can now examine Raphael's Cartoons online using the museum's new Explore the Raphael Cartoons interactive site. The V&A's site allows you to examine each cartoon as you would an interactive map, allowing you to zoom in on details in the cartoons. The cartoons depict biblical scenes from the lives of Saints Peter and Paul. Each cartoon on the V&A site includes interactive markers which you can click on to learn more about the scene depicted.

The actual tapestries, created from Raphael's cartoons, are still hung in the Vatican on special occasions. Unfortunately the Vatican's Sistine Chapel Virtual Tour doesn't show the chapel with the tapestries in situ. However the virtual tour does allow you to see where the tapestries are hung (where the plain tapestries are hanging in the panoramic tour). This allows you to get some sense of the scale of Raphael's cartoons (which is not very obvious from viewing the V&A's interactive versions of the cartoons).

The interactive image of each of cartoons on the V&A website has been visualized using the OpenSeaDragon viewer for high-resolution images.


If you want to explore more of the world's best museums and galleries during lock-down then here are a few more virtual tours that you might enjoy:

The Uffizi Galleries Virtual Tour - one of the greatest collections of Renaissance art in the world
The Metropolitan Museum of Art - includes a number of virtual exhibitions
The National Gallery - London's National Gallery has a number of virtual tours
The Rijksmuseum Masterpieces Up Close - a virtual tour of the museum's Gallery of Honour
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural Museum - has created a number of virtual tours
The Stonehenge Virtual Tour - places you in the center of this mysterious pre-historic monument
Beijing Palace Museum - the Palace Museum has created a number of virtual tours which allow you to explore some of the museum's galleries and also some of the amazing buildings of the Forbidden City
Buckingham Palace - take a virtual tour around the Queen's favorite pad
Van Eyck Virtual Tour - the Ghent Museum of Fine Arts' impressive Van Eyck virtual exhibition