Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The State of U.S. Housing 2019


The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies has released its 2019 report into the State of the Nation's Housing. It has also released four interactive maps illustrating some of the report's findings.

Among some of the center's key findings on the state of housing in the United States are; rising land prices, large regional differences in housing affordability and the decline of low-rent stock. Despite these pressures on housing the center also found that the share of US households paying more than 30% of their income on housing has declined for the seventh year in a row (in 2017). These four findings can be explored in more detail on the center's interactive maps.

The Burdened by Housing Costs (2017) map shows the percentage of households in each county who pay more than 30% of their income on housing. The map allows you to view the percentage of homeowners and renters burdened by housing costs separately. Comparing these two views reveals that renters are far more affected by relatively high housing costs than homeowners. In fact, although the numbers burdened by housing costs have declined overall, the numbers of renters burdened with housing costs continues to rise.

One reason why the numbers of renters burdened by housing costs are increasing is because the low-rent stock in most metro areas has declined since 2011. You can see how much low-rent stock has declined across the country on the Low-Stock Decline interactive map. This map shows the percentage change in the number of rental units below $800 in different metro areas.

The other two interactive maps, the Rise in Residential Land Prices and the Housing Affordability map show some of the pressures on housing affordability. Both maps show large variations in land prices and housing affordability in different regions. Both land price and housing affordability pressures are incredibly high in California, compared to many other regions of the United States.

The Democratic Candidates on Google Trends


Flourish has mapped out the Top searched Democratic debate candidates on Google during 2019. The Flourish interactive map shows the most searched candidate in each U.S. state from a list of 20 candidates.

It is important to remember that this is a map showing the most searched Democratic debate candidate in each state. Being the most searched candidate doesn't equate to being the most supported. However the map is still interesting in showing where individual candidates are having the most impact.

The map shows that there are some clear geographical patterns in the number of searches for individual candidates. For example Beto O'Rourke is by far the most searched Democrat in his home state of Texas. Similarly Kamala Harris is the most searched candidate in many counties in her home state of California.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders appear to be the most searched candidates in the most counties. Let's take a closer look at where more people are searching for Biden and where more people are searching for Sanders.



We can use Google Trends to compare just Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders over the same period (Jan - June 2019). We can then see which of these candidates is the most searched in each metro area. This map shows that Biden is being searched more in parts of the Midwest and the South. Bernie Sanders is searched more in the West and the North East.



Google Trends also allows us to chart the number of searches for each candidate over time. This chart reveals a huge spike for Bernie Sanders in February, when he announced his intention to run in 2020. Joe Biden announced his candidacy in late April and received a similar spike in searches on Google. After that spike his number of searches leveled out at around the same level as Bernie Sanders, although Biden has been searched more in the last few weeks than Sanders.

FiveThirtyEight are tracking how each of the candidates are performing in all the opinion polls. In their average poll of polls on June 19th Joe Biden was on 31.1% support and Bernie Sanders was on 15.7%.

How Green is Your City


Jena is the greenest city in Germany. Berlin ranks as the 21st greenest German city and Munich comes in at number 16 in the list of the country's most green cities.

In the recent elections for the European parliament the Green Party were the second most popular party. The party more than doubled its number of seats by winning twenty-one. The Berliner Morgenpost has been wondering if the areas which voted in the highest numbers for the Green party are also the most green in terms of lifestyle. It has therefore created a number of interactive maps to measure how green each municipality is in a number of different areas.

The maps in Where Germany is Really Green visualize a number of different 'green' categories. These include the percentage of electric cars, the amount of garbage produced, the share of green energy and the percentage of bicycle use. For each of these areas it has created a choropleth map showing the levels in each municipality and the top three green cities judged by the mapped measure.

Using each municipality's results for each measure the Berliner Morgenpost has been able to rank all German municipalities based on their combined scores. Readers can enter the name of their town or city to see where they rank among all German municipalities. As well as discovering a city's overall rank you can also see how they score in each of the different individual areas.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Here's New 3D Vector Mapping Library


HERE, the mapping and location data company, has released a new open source 3D web mapping library called harp.gl. The library is built on WebGL and three.js so it should work particularly well for 3D data visualizations and map animations.

If you want to see some maps created with harp.gl then check out the examples section of the harp.gl website. This examples section includes working maps and the source code for those maps. The examples include an animated three.js object dancing on top of an interactive map. The examples also include some more traditional demos, showing how to use different map tile providers and how to create 3D globes with harp.gl.

If you want to start building maps with harp.gl then you will also want to check out the documentation and tutorial. In the coming months HERE will be releasing new features for harp.gl. These will include the ability to easily add 3D models from HERE, 3D terrain and cinematic effects, such as depth of field.

Search the World


Once upon a time Google Maps had a Wikipedia layer. If you opened this layer on Google Maps you could discover all the places around you which had a Wikipedia entry. The layer was a fantastic way to learn about all the interesting things around your current location. It was definitely one of the most  useful functions on Google Maps. So Google got rid of it.

Luckily there are a few other interactive maps which can help you learn more about the world around you.

Open up Wiki Atlas and you can immediately view all the places around you which have a Wikipedia entry. Click on any of the mapped links and you can read the entry directly from the map. All the locations with a Wikipedia entry are shown with a 3D tower. The height of the tower relates to how often the entry is viewed on Wikipedia. Therefore the height of these towers can provide a rough guide to the relative importance of all the points of interest around your current location.

Wiki Atlas has a handy search function which allows you to filter the results shown on the map by subject. If you want to find and learn more about nearby parks you can just enter 'parks' and the map will only show you nearby entries which refer to parks.


Geopedia is another interesting way to discover information about places in the world. Like Wiki Atlas Geopedia can be used to find and read Wikipedia entries about points of interest around any location. Geopedia uses the Wikipedia API to load all the Wikipedia entries for places around a location on an OpenStreetMap based map. Enter a location into the search bar or right-click on the map and markers will show all the Wikipedia entries near your chosen location.

If you want to discover more about nearby points of interest then you can also use Wikimapia. Wikimapia is one of the most successful interactive maps of all time. For over ten years Wikimapia has provided a great map based resource for discovering information about locations and points of interest around the world.

In essence Wikimapia is a website which lets you describe locations in the same way that Wikipedia allows you to add and edit articles in its wiki database. Like Wikipedia it provides an invaluable resource for researching and discovering information about the world - only with Wikimapia every entry is a real-world location.

To use Wikimapia you just need to search for a location on the map. and click on any of the highlighted areas to discover information about the selected location. For example, if you see an interesting looking building on your daily travels, you just need to click on the building on the Wikimapia map to read its Wikimapia wiki entry.

Inequality in the UK


The UK 2070 Commission is an independent inquiry examining regional inequality in the UK. In order to make recommendations into how the UK economy can be rebalanced the commission has been exploring the economic health of UK cities and regions. Some of these findings can be viewed in two interactive maps.

The Temporal Clusters map classifies urban areas into one of eight different neighbourhood types. These classifications were determined by using census data dating back to 1971. On the map you can view the classifications for each decade since 1971. You can therefore use the map to explore how inequality has changed over the last five decades.

One striking change which is very apparent on the Temporal Clusters map is how the number of families in council rent has dramatically fallen from 1971 to 2011. This is a result of the failure to invest the money raised from selling council homes in the 1980's & 1990's into new public housing stock. The result has been a stark lack of affordable housing in many UK cities and towns.

By mapping the census data for over 50 years the UK2070 Commission are able to determine how neighborhoods have changed economically during the last half of a century. The Neighbourhood Trajectories interactive map colors neighborhoods based on one of  eight categories. On this map it is striking how many inner city areas, especially in the north, are categorized as 'increasing struggling home-owners'. These neighbourhoods are defined as "areas transitioning from families in council rent to a struggling type".

It seems clear to me that the lack of affordable social housing in cities and towns is contributing hugely to the growing inequality of the UK. If you want to more clearly see which areas in the UK have moved from being areas with 'families in council rent' to 'struggling home-owners' filter the Neighbourhood Trajectories map to just show the 'increasing struggling home-owners' layer.

Via: the Carto Blog

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Can You Name These Islands?


Can you name the eight islands in the image above?

I think this Sunday's map challenge is a little difficult so I'm going to tell you which islands are pictured. You just have to guess which is which. The answers are given at the bottom of this post. The islands are (in alphabetical order): Cuba, Great Britain, Greenland, Honshu, Iceland, Ireland, Java and Sri Lanka.

The islands are not to scale!

This map challenge was inspired by Visual Capitalist's much prettier infographic Visualizing 100 of the World's Biggest Islands.

Answers (select text below to reveal)

Great Britain, Greenland, Iceland

Cuba, Java

Sri Lanka, Honshu, Ireland


If you enjoyed this week's map challenge then you might want to see if you can:

Name the City from its Road Network
Guess the Airport from its Map
Name the Country From its Rail Network

Saturday, June 22, 2019

A Literal Map of Capital Cities


I've added translations of capital cities to my literal map of the world. The Planet Dirt interactive map now includes literal translations of country names, U.S. states and many capital cities across the globe.

Planet Dirt is an interactive map of the world on which the place-names have been translated to provide their literal meanings. If you've ever wondered what the name of a country, a state or capital city actually means then you can use this map to find out. The translations of all the capital city names on the map come from Wikipedia's List of National Capital City Name Etymologies. This list doesn't include all capital cities (and not all the cities it does contain are capital cities). Cities, such as London, which have no known etymology are not shown on the map. I've also left off a number of capital cities with names which don't really need translating, such as Washington DC.

Among my personal favorite city names on the map are the surreal sounding 'I've Just Been Cutting Leaves' (Abidjan) and 'End of an Elephant's Trunk' (Khartoum).

Lots of capital cities around the world are named after natural features, such as rivers, mountains, swamps, forests, bays and springs. Just as many cities are named after their defensive features which promise to protect the city's inhabitants from the dangerous world outside. These cities include Vienna (White Fort),  Kuwait City (Fortress by the Sea), Goteborg (Great Stronghold), Tallinn (Danish Castle), Sana'a (Well Fortified) and Rabat (Fortified Place).

Other city names seem to promise their inhabitants a place of peace and rest. These cities include N'Djamena (Place of Rest), Asmara (Live in Peace), Trondheim (A Good Place Called Home), Lisbon (Safe Harbor) and Dar es Salaam (House of Peace).

Cities in the far east often appear to have been named purely for their administrative functions. These cities include Beijing (Northern Capital), Tokyo (Eastern Capital), Kyoto (Capital) and Seoul (Capital).

Friday, June 21, 2019

Is Texas in the South or West?


Yesterday I learned that it can be a big mistake to innocently call Texas a Southern state. Especially when talking to a Texan. In response to my innocent 'error' I received a long account of the history and culture of the Lone Star state. All of which apparently proves that Texas is a Western and not a Southern state. In my defense I hadn't realized that the location of Texas was such a culturally sensitive issue. However it was obviously time to educate myself on geography of the American South.

Wikipedia says that the American South is "located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Western United States, with the Midwestern United States and Northeastern United States to its north". This would be helpful if we had definitive borders for the Midwest, West and Northeast of the USA. Wikipedia also says that the South "is commonly defined as including the states that fought for the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War". This is much more concrete. The South therefore consists of South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Texas, .

If only it was that simple ...

A few years ago Vox asked its readers Which states count as the South and Which states make up the Midwest. They then mapped out the results to show which states their readers considered as part of the South and which states they considered to be in the Midwest. On the Vox maps each state is colored to show how many people said the state was in the South or in the Midwest. The five states which were identified as being in the south by the most people were Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana (in that order). Of the confederate states Virginia, Florida and Texas got the lowest number of votes for being Southern states. Even so - all three states were still identified as Southern by over 75% of people who replied to the Vox survey.


FiveThirtyEight has also carried out a survey to discover Which States Are in the South (FiveThirtyEight conducted a similar poll asking Which States Are in the Midwest). In the FiveThirtyEight poll Georgia and Alabama were the top two states identified as Southern. Mississippi and Louisiana came in third and fourth. South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and North Carolina were all considered as Southern by over 60 percent.

In the Vox surveys Oklahoma was considered neither in the Midwest nor in the South. FiveThrityEight readers felt similarly about Missouri, which didn't get many votes for being either in the South or the Midwest. Geographically New Mexico is one of the most southerly U.S. states. However in both the Vox and FiveThirtyEight polls New Mexico was thought to be a southern state by less than 10% of respondents. It is true then that the South seems to be more of a cultural than geographical definition when applied to American states.

From the responses to the Vox and FiveThirtyEight surveys the South is still clearly defined by the American Civil War and the states who belonged to the Confederacy. However of those Confederate states there might just be some indications that both Texas and Florida are beginning to be seen as less Southern than other states in the geographical south (culturally speaking of course). If you search 'Is Texas a Southern state?" (or "Is Florida a Southern State?") you will soon discover that this is a highly contentious question. Most of that contention seems to center around perceived cultural differences between Texans (and Floridians) and the rest of the South.


I'm not sure many Texans would be happy to let the government decide on their status but that's who I'm going to allow the final word. Business Insider has mapped out the four regions and seven subregions which the U.S. Census Bureau uses. The Bureau includes more states than Wikipedia in its definition of the South. It says that Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma are all in the South. It also includes Washington D.C. in the South.

The Census Bureau divides the South into three subdivisions; the South Atlantic division, East South Central and West South Central. Florida is included in the South Atlantic division. Texas is included in the West South Central division. The Census Bureau definitely doesn't believe that Texas is in the West. However I am prepared to believe that Texas is closer to New Mexico, both culturally and geographically, than it is to Maryland.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Mapping Ancient Rome


"I curse Tretia Maria and her life and mind and memory and liver and lungs ..."
This curse was found in London, written in Latin upon a lead plate. The curse dates from 43-410 A.D., during the Roman invasion of Britain. The curse is just one of many Roman inscriptions which can be viewed at Roman Inscriptions of Britain.

Roman Inscriptions of Britain records 2,401 monumental Roman inscriptions which were published in R.G. Collingwood's and R.P. Wright's text book of the same name. You can search the Roman inscriptions and their translations in a number of different ways, including by the location where each inscription was found, on the site's interactive map.

The locations of thousands of other historical Latin inscriptions which have been found throughout what was once the Roman Empire can be viewed at EDCS - Map Imperium Romanum. This map uses the Epigraphic Database Clauss-Slaby to show where hundreds of thousands of Latin inscriptions were originally found. The map (shown above) is a pretty accurate map of the extent of the Roman Empire at its peak in around 117 A.D..


If you are interested in Roman history you should also check out Vici.org, an interactive map that records the locations of archaeological finds, including buildings and artefacts, from the Roman Empire. Using the Vici.org map it is possible to search for Roman remains near a particular location. As well as showing where archaeological remains have been found the map shows the locations of museums of Roman history and the locations of ancient Roman roads.

If you want help with place-names used in the ancient world then you can refer to the Pleiades website. Pleiades is a great resource for anyone interested in the history and geography of the ancient world. The site is a community based and open-sourced gazette of ancient places. Pleiades has extensive data of place-names used in the Greek and Roman world (it is also expanding into Ancient Near Eastern, Byzantine, Celtic, and Early Medieval geography).