Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Hooky Map of America

The Hamilton Project at Brookings has created an interactive map which visualizes the rates of chronic absence at every school in the country. Chronic absence is when a student misses 10% or more of school. Students who miss this amount of schooling are academically at risk.

Individual schools on the Chronic Absence Map are colored to show the percentage of the students who have a record of chronic absence. The red markers show the schools with the highest percentage of chronic absence and the yellow markers those with the lowest. If you click on individual schools on the map you can view the school ratings for a number of other educational outcomes, for example math / English proficiency, the student / teacher ratio and the rate of teacher attendance.

The map also looks at community factors that affect learning in each zip-code area. On the map zip-code areas are colored to show the level of community support for learning. Zip-code areas colored light blue have more supportive community conditions and zip-codes areas with a darker blue have less supportive community conditions. The level of community support is defined by such factors as the share of children living in poverty, household medium income and local employment rates.

One community factor that the Brookings' map doesn't consider is the rate of school funding. The amount of money that schools have can obviously effect levels of learning. To find out how much each school district spends on education you can instead refer to another interactive map. NPR has created a map which visualizes how much each school district in the USA spends on individual students. Why America's Schools Have A Money Problem colors each school district based on the level of school spending in the district per individual student.

The map shows that local funding is usually dependent on the levels of local property taxes. If a district has a number of successful businesses contributing a lot of money through property taxes then the school district is more likely to have higher levels of school spending per student. In essence schools in affluent areas are likely to be much better funded that schools in less-affluent areas.

Unfortunately the data on the NPR map is a little old now. The NPR map shows spending per student for each school district in the 2013 fiscal year.

Friday, September 13, 2019

D.C. Under Water

A new interactive map shows the projected flooding which could affect America's National Parks in 2050. Reveal has used data from the National Park Service to show the areas which could be inundated if a category 3 hurricane hit one of America's most popular National Parks.

The interactive map allows you to view the affect of a storm surge on ten of the U.S.'s most popular National Parks. The map includes a slide control which allows you to switch between a visualization of the current high tides and the likely storm surge in 2050, after a category 3 hurricane. The map sidebar includes quick links which will zoom the map to points of interest within the selected National Park.

Maps like this can be very powerful illustrations of the disastrous future effects of climate change. For example the screenshot above shows how the map can be a dramatic visualization of the effects of a storm surge. However I think that this particular map might be more effective with a little more information on the data used to calculate the storm surge levels. I also think some explanation is needed on why the year 2050 was chosen and why a category 3 hurricane could have more disastrous consequences for National Parks in that year as compared to now.

If you want to know how sea level rises will effect all locations in the USA then you can refer to Surging Seas. Climate Central's Surging Seas is one of the best interactive mapped visualizations of the likely effects of climate change. This particular map also includes a much better explanation of what is being shown and why this data is being visualized.

The Eel Rents of England

In my childhood jellied eels were a reasonably common part of the diet in East London. You can still find a few Pie, Mash and Jellied Eel shops dotted around the East End. However cafes that sell jellied eels are now a much rarer sight in the East End and the consumption of eels has largely gone out of fashion.

The demise of eels as a staple of the English diet is on the face of it very odd. For centuries eels have been a cheap and nutritious food source, readily eaten by the English. In fact for centuries eels were so much a part of the diet that many landlords would accept rent in the form of eels. This isn't as strange as it sounds. In pre-industrial times rents were often paid in livestock, fish, ale or other types of foods. Eels were therefore no less strange a method of receiving or paying rent than any other common goods or produce.

You can learn more about eel rents on the fascinating Eel-Rents Project. This project includes an interactive map which shows where the mention of eel rents can be found in original documents from the late 10th Century through the 15th Century. On the maps the number of eels mentioned in the rent is represented by the size of the marker and the color of these marker indicates the century of the historical record.

The map comes with a note of caution that this isn't a complete record of eel rents but just a map of where they have been revealed by surviving historical records. Therefore the cluster that seems to exist around the Cambridgeshire fens may just be a result of where the historical record has best survived. Or it may reflect the fact that eels were once plentiful in the fens and were a staple part of the local diet for thousands of years. In fact eels are so much a part of the culture of the fens that they even named one of their most important cities 'Ely'.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Two Degrees Hotter

The 2016 Paris Agreement on Climate Change set a long-term goal to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. Unfortunately many places across the globe have already exceeded a 2 °C rise in average temperatures.

The Washington Post has used data from Berkeley Earth to map the global rise in temperatures compared to the average temperature in the years 1880-99. An animated map at the beginning of the article, Dangerous new hot zones are spreading around the world, visualizes how the planet has heated since the end of the 19th Century. Another map, later in the article, takes a closer look at where temperatures have risen the most. According to the Post around 10% of the planet has already heated by more than 2 °C. Around 20% of the planet has heated by 1.5 °C.

Of course this level of global heating is having an effect on environments around the world. The Post's article takes a closer look at some of the most extreme environmental changes taking place across the globe and how these changes are affecting the lives and livelihoods of the people being affected by climate change.

Last month the Washington Post explored in more detail where in the United States the average temperature had risen above 2 °C. and where climate change is having the most visible effects in the country. In 2°C: Beyond the Limit - Extreme climate change has arrived in America the Post uses historical temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature to map where temperatures in the U.S. have already exceeded two degrees Centigrade.

According to the Post's analysis seventy-one counties have already experienced a rise of 2 degree Celsius. The Post's story includes a more detailed look at some of the regions of America which are experiencing extreme global warming and the effect that this warming is having on local environments. In particular the Post's story concentrates on the North East, where extreme warming has led to rising seas, loss of land, warmer winters and many other environmental problems.

The Wealth Divide in Spain

Spanish newspaper El Pais has mapped out the average income per person across the whole of Spain. The map shows a stark divide between the north and south of the country.

The Map of Spanish Incomes, Street by Street visualizes the average income in every neighborhood in the country. If you hover over an individual neighborhood on the map you can view the average income in the area. Immediately below the map you can also view in which percentile the neighborhood's income resides compared to the whole of Spain. This allows you to compare the local average income to the average income across the country.

The article accompanying the map includes an analysis of the income levels in a number of Spanish cities. For example in the northern city of San Sebastian all the city's neighborhoods have an average income in the top 30% of earners. In Madrid there is a larger wealth divide between some neighborhoods. This divide is marked by the M-30 orbital road. With those living inside the orbital earning, on average, significantly more than those living outside the ring-road.

The city of Almeria, in the southeast of Spain, has a number of neighborhoods with some of the lowest average incomes in the country. Like Madrid there is also a stark wealth divide between some of the city's  neighborhoods. Many of Almeria's poorer areas are immediately adjacent to some of the town's richest neighborhoods.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Geology of South Limburg

The Geology of South Limburg is an interactive geological map of the South Limburg region of the Netherlands. On the map different colors are used to show the different types of geological features which can be found in the region. The map also provides a guided tour and explanation of these geological features.

The dramatic geology of South Limburg has been formed over the last 300 million years. The geology has been formed by extreme climates, shifting continents and endlessly changing sea levels. The map provides a schematic representation of this geology and a detailed explanation of how the region has been shaped throughout history.

You can take a tour of some of the geological features which are found in the South Limburg region by using the 'vorige' (previous) and 'volgende' (next) buttons on the map. As you progress through this tool the map zooms in on different regions in South Limburg where you can find distinct geological features. The map sidebar provides a detailed explanation of the geology highlighted on the map and how this geological feature was formed.

The Geology of South Limburg is just a part of the much bigger interactive Geological Map of the Netherlands.

If you are a fan of geological maps then you will also enjoy this roundup of Geological Interactive Maps.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Homeless Should Sleep at Home

Mahatma Gandhi once noted that "the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members." Let's explore a little how the United States treats its most vulnerable citizens.

The City of Los Angeles is currently considering plans to ban homeless people from sleeping on many of the city's streets. These plans will make it illegal to sleep rough within 500 feet of schools, parks, day-care facilities and some popular venues. According to the Los Angeles Times this will mean at least a quarter of Los Angeles will be out-of-bounds to the city's most vulnerable people.

In Could Homeless People Sleep in Your Neighborhood? the LA Times has created an interactive map which shows all the areas of Los Angeles which could be restricted to the homeless under the new plans. The map shows the exclusion zones around every school, park and day-care facility. Enter an address into the map and you can find out what percentage of your neighborhood's streets will be restricted to the homeless under the new plans.

Another way that American cities tries to deal with vulnerable people is by dumping them on other cities. Thousands of one-way bus tickets are given to the homeless every year in the United States. In Bussed out: How America moves its homeless the Guardian newspaper explores the reasoning behind homeless bus relocation programs, their effect on the homeless and the impact on the cities where the bussed out homeless eventually end up.

As you scroll through the Guardian's article an interactive map automatically updates to visualize the results of the homeless relocation programs run by cities across America. This map shows the homeless rate in each state and the number of homeless arriving in cities across the country.

New York city spends the most money of any city on their homeless relocation programs. In fact New York doesn't just bus its homeless problem on to other cities it also give homeless citizens free flights to other cities. As with the bus relocation programs most of the people moved on by plane end up in locations where the residents have a lower than average median income.

Forget Gandhi's words, Americans prefer the saying 'out of sight, out of mind.' In the United States the most vulnerable citizens are treated as a problem which should be passed on to somebody and someplace else. In fact the vulnerable in America are dumped on those who are least able to help solve their problems.

The Saints of Europe

I was so fascinated by Dirk Kloosterboer's fascinating investigation into the spatial distribution of roads named 'Holleweg' (or 'Holloway') around the world that I decided to try my own investigation into the spatial distribution of place-names. For my analysis I wanted to explore the density and distribution of towns and cities in Europe named for Christian saints.

As a work of data visualization my finished map should be taken with a piece of salt. Soon after starting my investigation I realized my lack of language skills was seriously going to impair my research into towns named for saints across Europe. However despite the fact that my map is next to useless I still think the process of making it is quite interesting.

If you want to view the finished map then you can find it here - The Saints Of Europe.

All the data from my map comes from OpenStreetMap. To get the data I used Overpass Turbo. I queried Overpass Turbo to find towns and cities which included the words 'St', 'Saint', 'San', 'Santo', 'Santa' and 'Sankt'. You can see how the query is formed in the example below:
// gather results
node[place=town] ["name"~"Santo "]({{bbox}});
node[place=city] ["name"~"Santa "]({{bbox}});
node[place=city] ["name"~"Santo "]({{bbox}});
node[place=town] ["name"~"Santa "]({{bbox}});
node[place=city] ["name"~"San "]({{bbox}});
node[place=town] ["name"~"San "]({{bbox}});
// print results
out body;
out skel qt;

Rather than search for specified countries I restricted my search to rough bounding boxes around the UK, France, Spain, Germany and Italy. I wanted to restrict my search to these countries but I was also interested in capturing any towns and cities named for saints in areas closely bordering these countries as well. Therefore rather than querying these countries individually by name I used a bounding box for searching each country. These bounding boxes overlapped other countries to capture towns in other countries near the country border.

I carried out five separate searches in Overpass Turbo (one each for the UK, France, Spain, Germany and Italy. I downloaded the results of each search as a GeoJSON file. I then combined the five separate files into one GeoJSON file using

Once I had one GeoJSON file containing all the towns and cities named for saints I saved it as a tileset in Mapbox Studio. The data downloaded from Overpass Turbo also included the population of every town and city named for a saint. When you load a tileset into the Mapbox Studio style editor you can style how the data appears on the map. I decided to show each town as circles with the radius of the circles determined by the population size of the town or city. Therefore on my finished map the size of the circles represents the size of the population.

Although I wouldn't recommend my map as an effective data visualization I do find it interesting that the Protestant countries of Germany and the UK appear to have far fewer towns named for saints than the Catholic countries of Italy, France and Spain. Germany in particular seems to have very few towns named for saints.

The Beating Heart of Paris is a new collection of interactive mapped visualizations of Parisienne open data. The project visualizes data made available by the city of Paris and its transport networks (Ile de France Mobilités, RATP, etc.).

So far consists of five mapped visualizations. These include an interactive map of all public streetlights in the capital (pictured above), the location and types of complaints filed to In My Street and an animated map which visualizes 41,700 runners competing in the 2018 Paris marathon.

One of my favorite maps in the collection visualizes traffic counts from June 2019. This map includes an animated option which allows you to view the traffic in Paris fall and rise every day during June. As the map plays through the data you can see the traffic get busier during the morning and evening rush hour and falling away at other times of the day, particularly around Paris' Périphérique ring road. In this mapped visualization Paris resembles a beating heart, with its roads delivering the city's lifeblood. Even though this map of Paris traffic visualizes different data it reminds me a little of Mark Evan's Commute Map, which animates commuters flowing in and out of U.S. cities.

I also really like' real-time map of the Paris Metro. This map shows all the subway trains moving in real-time on a map of the Paris Metro. If you want to know more about how all these maps were made then you might want to explore the code behind the different maps on the project's GitHub page.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Holloways of the World

In my twenties I briefly lived in a squat in the North London district of Holloway. Despite having once lived in an area actually called 'Holloway' I never knew what a 'holloway' was - until today.

A Holloway is a road or track which is significantly lower than the land on either side. I only discovered this fact thanks to Dirk Kloosterboer's fascinating investigation into the spatial distribution of roads named 'Holloway' around the world.

Dirk had an idea that if you mapped all the 'Holloways' in a country then you might end up with a basic elevation map. You can read the results of Dirk's mapping in Holleweg. As part of his investigations Dirk mapped the locations of roads named Holleweg (nl), Holloway (en), Chemin Creux (fr), Hohlweg (de), Corredoira (gl), Hulvejen (da), Hulvei (no) or Hålväg (sv). His article includes an interactive map showing the locations of roads with these names around the globe.

I don't think I'm giving too much away by revealing that Dirk discovered that you can't really create a simple elevation map by mapping roads called Holloway. However he did discover that there could well be a link between elevation and the distribution of roads named Holloway. You can discover what that link is at Holleweg.