Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The World's Trains in Real-Time


A number of interactive maps now allow you to watch the train networks of entire countries in real-time. These incredible maps show all the trains across a whole country moving at the same time.

A good example is Belgium's Train Map, which shows all of Belgium's trains moving in real-time on top of an interactive map. The map shows inter-city trains (IC), peak hour trains (P) and slow trains (L). If you click on one of the moving trains on the map you can view its entire schedule, including its expected arrival time at every station on its route.

The map also includes a handy search facility which allows you to search for individual trains by train number or to view all the trains currently travelling on a particular route.


The first real-time map of an entire country's rail network was probably the Swiss Railways Network map. This map shows all the trains on the Swiss Railway moving in real-time based on the national rail timetable.

The Swiss Railways Network Map includes the option to automatically follow any train in real-time. If you select a train on the map and select the 'follow' button (which appears in the map sidebar) the map will then automatically follow your selected train. Fans of Swiss trains will also like Trafimage, which also shows all Swiss trains moving in real-time (select the 'Train Tracker' option from the map menu).

Also See

UK Train Times - a real-time map of UK trains
Réseau SNCF en Temps Réel - shows the live position of all SNCF's trains throughout France
OSM Tchoutchou - shows real-time trains in France, Ireland, Denmark and Finland

If you can't find your country in the list above then try Travic which provides animated maps of over 700 transit systems around the world.

If you are only interested in individual towns or cities then you might be able to find a more localized live transit map using the Maps Mania real-time or transit tag.

If you prefer traveling by sea then you might want to look at MarineTraffic, a real-time map of the world's ships, boats and other sea-faring craft. Fans of planes will probably prefer Flightradar24, a real-time map of all the world's commercial flights.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Australian Cancer Atlas


The Australian Cancer Atlas is a new interactive map showing the incident rates of different cancers and their survival rates across Australia. The map makes it easy for people to see where in the country incident rates of different types of cancer are higher or lower than the national averages.

Among the interactive map's many excellent features is a 'Tours' facility which provides more details about the data shown on the map and the geographical patterns in the diagnosis rates for different types of cancer. For example if you select the 'lung cancer' tour you can view a choropleth view of the average risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer across the country. As you scroll through the tour the map side-panel points out some of the geographical patterns of lung cancer, including those areas with significantly higher or lower rates of lung cancer than the national average.

The map menu allows you to select the type of cancer to view on the map. You can also select whether you want to view the diagnosis rates for males or for females. The 'tutorial' view provides a nice guide as to how to use the map and how to navigate to the different cancer types and data views.

The Deadliest Highways in the USA


The deadliest stretch of highway in California is a 3.51-mile segment of the Sierra Highway in the Santa Clarita Valley. This small segment of highway had 11 fatalities in 2015 & 2016. The second deadliest stretch of California highway in 2015 & 2016 was a 3.70-mile stretch of State Route 74 in Hemet (also known as Florida Avenue). This stretch of road was responsible for 10 fatalities.

Panish Shea & Boyle have mapped out the deadliest stretches of highway in California. In order to create their interactive map they looked at the number of fatal highway collisions in the state during 2015 and 2016. The Deadliest Highway Stretches in California includes an interactive map showing the 15 most deadly stretches of highway. The article also includes a small multiple map visualization of these 15 locations.

As well as these two different map visualizations Panish Shea & Boyle has created a list of the top 39 stretches of California highway. Overall, when broken down by county, Los Angeles County is the most dangerous county in California. 16 of the top 39 stretches of road are in Los Angeles County.


America's most dangerous highway is the US-1 in Florida. According to Geotab it has the highest number of road fatalities & fatal crashes (adjusted for average daily traffic counts) of any highway in the United States. The section of US Route 1 located in Florida has had 1,079 fatalities in the last ten years.

You can find out the most dangerous roads in each state on Geotab's new The Most Dangerous Highways in America map. A large map of the USA shows the most dangerous road in each state. You can find out more about each state's most dangerous roads in the smaller state maps beneath this large map of the USA.

You can click on the small state maps to learn how many fatal crashes and fatalities there have been on the state's most dangerous highway. You can also adjust the order that all the individual state maps are shown by the fatal crash rate, by the most crashes and by the most fatalities

Germany's Most Dangerous Roads


The Accident Atlas is a new interactive map from the German government which reveals information on where road accidents have occurred on the country's roads.

Roads on the map are color-coded by the number of accidents that have happened on each section of road. If you zoom in on the map you can view the number of accidents which occurred on each section of a road and on each side of a two-way road. The menu in the side-panel allows you to select different types of road accident, these include accidents that involved pedestrians, accidents involving bikes or those which involved motorcycles etc.

The Accident Atlas only shows road accidents which resulted in personal injuries. Accidents which resulted in only material damage are not shown on the map. Unfortunately in some federal states the police do not record the coordinates of traffic accidents. Data for these states are therefore missing from the interactive map.

Tea or Chai?


The word used for 'tea' in most languages around the world is derived from Chinese. However not all  languages derive the word 'tea' from the same Chinese word. Some languages get their word for tea from the Mandarin 'chá', while in other languages the word tea derives from the Min Nan Chinese word 'te'. The result is that in most languages around the world the word for 'tea' sounds something like 'chai' or 'tea'.

You can see where tea is called chai and where tea is called tea on an interactive map created by the World Atlas of Language Structures. Their Tea Map uses blue and red dots to show where the word for tea is derived from the Mandarin 'cha' (red) and where it is derived from the Min Nan Chinese 'te' (blue).

The map provides a great example of how loan words in languages are not always geographically contiguous. Languages which share common language roots or close geographical proximity may still have a different word for 'tea', with a different 'tea' or 'chai' derivation.

The World Atlas of Language Structures has a whole Tea chapter written by Östen Dahl which has a theory about how different languages come to have different derivations of 'chai' or 'tea'. According to Dahl the difference comes from whether countries were historically on a Dutch or Portuguese trade route. The Portuguese were the first European tea importers and their trade came via Macao. The later Dutch trade routes were routed via Amoy. In Macao the word used for tea was the Mandarin 'cha'. In Amoy the word used for tea was the Min Nan Chinese 'te'. Therefore whether your language uses a derivation of 'cha' or 'te' for the word 'tea' depends if you were historically on a Dutch or Portuguese trade route.


Quartz has refined Östen Dahl's theory a little. In Tea if by Sea, Cha if by Land they agree that trade routes play a major role in determining where the words 'tea' and 'cha' are used around the world. However they suggest that the major determining factor is not the Dutch and Portuguese trade routes but the sea and land trade routes from China.

They use the same data, from the World Atlas of Language Structures, to plot where people say 'tea' or 'cha'. They believe that their map clearly shows that 'cha' is used in locations which are on a land based trade route from China. Whereas 'tea' is used in places which are on a sea based trade route.

The Min Nan Chinese 'te' is spoken in the coastal province of Fujian. Which is why this 'coastal' Chinese word is used by countries in Europe who were on the Dutch sea trade routes (except for Portugal). In inland China the Mandarin 'cha' was used for tea, which is way countries on the silk road routes usually call tea 'chai' or something similar.

Monday, September 24, 2018

China's Religious Re-Education Camps


Up to one million people in China have been detained by the Chinese government because of their religion. Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslims in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have been arrested by the Chinese authorities and imprisoned in re-education camps. People have been arrested and imprisoned for having 'abnormal' beards, for wearing veils or for avoiding alcohol. In fact people have been arrested for any sign of religious belief or cultural affiliation.

Amnesty International has created an interactive map from the reports given to them by relatives around the world. The map tells the stories of many Uighur citizens, most of them who live abroad, who have relatives that have been arrested and detained by the Chinese. You can view and explore the interactive map in Amnesty's Up To One Million Detained in China's Mass Re-education Drive.

One reason why many Uighur have been arrested is that they are suspected of having foreign contacts. This has resulted in many Uighur living abroad being wary of reporting missing relatives and for Uighurs living in China being unwilling and unable to contact relatives living abroad.

Life in the Year 2100


According to most current models of climate change life in the year 2100 is going to resemble the most dystopian visions of the future cooked up by writers of science fiction. We can look forward to a world which suffers from extreme heat, rising seas and practically unbreathable air.

For example, MIT recently modeled how climate change could impact on the future of air quality in the USA. The future air pollution model developed by these scientists estimated the likely increase in fine particulate matter (PM2.5, μg m-3) based on current climate change forecasts. The results are very worrying.

The Revelator has created an interactive map from MIT's air quality estimates for the year 2100. The Revelator's Air Pollution in 2100 interactive map shows where air pollution is expected to increase as a result of global warming. The dark areas on the map show the regions which are predicted to see the biggest increase in the annual average fine particulate matter. If you hover over a US county on the map you can see the predicted increase in PM2.5 and the predicted total PM2.5 for the selected location.


The Climate Impact Lab's Climate Impact Map visualizes how global warming will effect temperatures around the world over the rest of this century.

Using the drop-down menu you can choose to view predicted global temperatures for each quarter of the year or for the whole year. You can also choose to view the number of days which will be below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or above 35 degrees Fahrenheit. The timeline below the map allows you to view a choropleth view of any of these selected temperature predictions for the years 2020-2039, 2040-2059 and 2080-2100.

The map includes two choropleth views. The 'absolute level' shows the predicted temperatures around the world for the year selected. The 'change from historical' view shows how much the temperature will increase above the 1986-2005 averages around the globe.


The University of Hawaii has released a similar interactive map which uses expected temperature increases to predict the number of deadly days we can expect from extreme heat around the world for each year up to 2100. Heatwaves: Number of deadly heat days provides a timeline control which allows you to select any year from 1950-2100. The blue dots on the map show historic extreme heat events that have occurred around the world before 2014.

If you click on the map you can view two charts for the selected location. One chart visualizes the number of annual deadly days over time and the other shows the humidity vs. temperature for the current year.


Thanks to NOAA's Sea Level Rise Viewer we can also observe how these increases in temperature will effect sea levels.

By the end of this century the National Climate Assessment estimates that sea levels may rise by up to 6.6 feet. NOAA's interactive map uses the most accurate elevation data available to model how different extents of sea level rise will impact coastal areas in the USA. You can adjust the sea level displayed on the map by adjusting the water level tool from 0 to 6 feet.

You can also use the 'Local Scenarios' tab to view the potential impact of different sea level rise scenarios on different areas of the country. The Local Scenarios option allows you to adjust the map to view the impact of sea level rise of different orders of severity. It also allows you to see how this impacts the local area by decade (up to the year 2100). 

World Radio Maps


The BBC World Service radio station broadcasts around the world in over 30 languages. The BBC World Service Radio Map is a new experimental way to switch between the different language versions of the World Service using an interactive map.

Click on a country on the Radio Map and you can listen to the BBC World Service language service provided for the selected country. The map provides an intuitive and graphical interface for choosing the language service required by listeners. It also provides an interesting way to explore some of the BBC's regional radio programs just by clicking on random countries around the world.

If you select a country on the Leaflet powered interactive map the small radio control shows the name of the World Service program which is currently being broadcast. If a BBC World Service station is not live then the radio player will play the last broadcast from that language service.


If you are fan of world radio then you might also like Radio Garden. Radio Garden allows you to listen to music from around the world, from the Pacific sounds of Radio Guam to the Siberian tunes of Radio Sabir. 

Radio Garden features radio broadcasts from hundreds of countries around the world. Just click on a marker on this interactive map and you can tune in to local radio stations which provide live internet radio streams. Radio Garden is a great way to explore the sounds of different cultures around the world. It also provides an interesting insight into the broadcasting traditions of different countries.

The 3d globe interface used by Radio Garden was developed using the Cesium JavaScript library for 3d globes.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

How to Make a Viral Map


The most popular interactive map of this week has to be the New York Times' How Connected Is Your Community to Everywhere Else in America?. The NYT interactive map visualizes the connections people have on Facebook and comes to the conclusion that we are much more likely to know people who live near us than those who live a long way away.

I know! You're shocked, right?

The conclusion that we are more likely to be connected to people on Facebook who live closer to us than all the people we don't know who live on the other side of the country is not exactly Earth shattering. The popularity of the NYT map may have something to do with the fact that it shows that even in these days of the internet and virtual online communities distance still matters in our social relationships. However the success of this visualization may also be partly due to its simplicity and speed. In other words it is a very effective visualization of the underlying data.

Hover over a county on the NYT map and you can immediately see a choropleth view showing the likelihood of people in other US counties being connected on Facebook to any of the selected county's residents. The speed of the map is especially impressive. If you move your mouse around the map you can instantly see how this close zone of friendship on Facebook plays out across the United States.

I believe that the viral popularity of the NYT map is partly down to its speed. This speed of interaction means that the map is both a great interactive data visualization and also fun to play with.

So how can you make a similar map?

Benjamin Td asked himself the same question and set out to create the same map using Mapbox GL. You can view Benjamin's resulting Friendship Map here. The Friendship Map shows exactly the same Facebook friendship likelihood data as the NYT map. It also allows you to hover over a county and instantly view the friendship likelihood in every other US county. Benjamin's map like the NYT map is also lightning quick.

If you want to know how Benjamin's map works then you can look at the map's source code. This shows you that the data for the map is loaded via a GeoJSON file. The map uses Mapbox's Feature State API to dynamically style every county based on this data every time the user hovers over a county on the map. The map is able to style the counties so quickly because Feature State updates the state of each feature at run-time without having to re-parse the underlying geometry and data.

This probably sounds a lot more complicated than it is. Luckily Mapbox has just published an easy to follow tutorial Live Electoral Maps: A Guide to Feature State. Follow Mapbox's tutorial and you will quickly be up to speed with creating lightning fast maps just like the NYT's Facebook friendship map.

However - I can't guarantee that your map will go viral.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Mapping Meteorite Strikes


Displayr have been busy mapping where meteorites fall. They have created a number of mapped visualizations of NASA's Meteorite Landings database. The database contains information on all known meteorite landings. The Displayer maps however only contain information on the 1,107 meteorites that were recorded as they fell.

In What Are Your Chances of Being Hit by a Meteorite Displayr unveils a number of reporting biases which make it difficult to determine where in the world you are most likely to be hit by a meteorite. Their interactive maps show that more meteorites are spotted in areas with a high population density. In other words the number of people in an area looking at the sky can effect how many meteorites are seen.

Displayr have also discovered a reporting bias in favor of larger meteorites. After mapping the size of meteorites Displayr discovered that larger meteorites are much more likely to be seen than smaller meteorites. And - if you are worried about being hit by a meteorite - you will be happy to learn that you have more chance of being killed by lightning or a tornado.


You can view a more dramatic mapped visualization of meteorite strikes on the Visualizing Meteorites across Spatial & Temporal Attributes interactive globe. This WebGL globe shows meteorite collisions with the Earth by decade.

You can select to view a decade using the timeline at the top of the page. The mass of each meteorite is represented by the size of the cylindrical projection and the color of the projection indicates the meteorite type.