Thursday, October 18, 2018

Flying Over Trump's Wall


The Washington Post has created an impressive fly-over of the USA - Mexico border. The map takes you on a tour of the entire border, from the west coast to the Gulf of Mexico. The Post's Borderline interactive gives you a complete overview of the invisible and physical barriers which already separate the two countries and the huge job that Trump has ahead of him if he wants to build his wall.

The map provides an oblique bird's eye aerial view of the border. As you scroll down on the page you get to fly along the entire route of the border. As you progress along this border information windows appear which tell you about the existing use of fences or walls along the border. The information windows include quick links which allow you to jump ahead, along the border, to the next annotated part of the Post's interactive.

The Washington Post's interactive map is just the latest in a long line of attempts to map and document the huge job that Donald Trump has set himself. For example the Berliner Morgenpost's 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.

KPBS submitted a number of Freedom of Information requests to U.S. Customs and Border Protection in order to learn more about the 653 miles of the wall that already exist. You can explore what they discovered on their interactive map America's Wall. The Reveal has also investigated where the border is already fenced. You can explore Reveal's work on their The Wall interactive map. The map shows the current fence and shows where it is a 'vehicular' and where it is a 'pedestrian' fence. The map also shows where no fence currently exists.

USA Today has also completed a whole series on the US - Mexico border. USA Today's The Wall - an in-depth examination of Donald Trump's border wall includes interviews, podcasts, virtual reality and an interactive map of the border.

Unequal Neighbors


This interactive map is an interesting Visualization of Differences in GDP per Capita of Neighboring Countries. Essentially the map makes obvious where countries around the world have under-performing economies in comparison to their immediate neighbors.

On the map the reddest countries are those with the lowest relative GDP compared to their immediate neighbors. In other words the reddest countries have the poorest performing economies when they are directly compared to the economies of neighboring countries. For example Mexico has a relativity low GDP per capita when compared to the USA. If Mexico's immediate neighbors were in South America it wouldn't appear so red on the map.


Another way to assess the health of a country's economy is to examine its level of debt as a percentage of GDP. Japan has the highest level of government debt in the world using this metric. The Japanese government currently owes 214% of Japan's GDP. The PIG's (Portugal, Italy and Greece) all still owe over 100% of their GDP. The United States just misses out on being a member of the plus 100% club with a government debt of 98%.

McKinsey & Company has created an interactive map that visualizes the debt of 51 different countries around the world. The Visualizing Global Debt map provides a choropleth view of how much debt is held by each of the 51 different countries and how that debt has progressed since the global financial crisis of 2008.

The map doesn't just look at government debt. You can also visualize household debt in each of the 51 featured countries. Switzerland is the country with the highest household debt, with an average household debt of 127%. Household debt includes such things as mortgages, student loans and consumer credit. Household debt in the USA is currently 78% of GDP.

Those who like their GDP served straight up can always refer to the World Bank's map of GDP per Capita. This interactive map provides a simple choropleth view of every country's GDP per person. In 2017 the five countries with the highest GDP per capita were Luxembourg, Macao, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Mapping the Impact of Agriculture


Esri has released the second installment in its Living in the Age of Humans series. This new story map, entitled The Living Land, explores how humans use the Earth's limited land space.

This installment of Living in the Age of Humans focuses on the impact of agriculture, which accounts for the vast majority of the Earth's surface which has been modified by humans. Just half a percent of the total land area on Earth is used by humans as urban areas. However twenty one percent of the land area of Earth is used by us for agriculture, including cropland and intensively used pastureland.

As you progress through The Living Land you can view where this cropland and pastureland exists around the world. You will also learn more about which crops are grown in different areas of the world and in which quantities. You will also discover what effects these crops have on the land where they are grown.

Unequal Education in the USA


ProPublica's Miseduction map shows where black and Hispanic students are missing out on educational opportunities compared with white students. The map uses data from the U.S. Department of Education to show which schools and districts have the best and worst racial disparities in educational opportunities and school discipline.

The map allows you to view racial disparities between either educational opportunities, school discipline, segregation or achievement. You can also switch between viewing the racial disparities for either black or Hispanic students.

ProPublica has also created a table which lists how much more likely white students are likely to be in an advanced placement class than black or Hispanic students in every state. The table also shows how much more likely black or Hispanic students are likely to be suspended compared to white students. The columns in this table can be switched to show the results in ascending or descending order so you can quickly view which states have the best and worst records.


Earlier this year Vox looked at how American schools could become less segregated. They argue that the segregation of students in the country's schools is a political decision. There is no good reason why schools are segregated and this segregation can be easily overcome if there is the political will to give all Americans equal educational opportunities.

In We can draw school zones to make classrooms less segregated Vox looks at how school districts can be gerrymandered to make them less segregated. The article includes a map tool which allows you to visualize how segregated schools currently are in your town. If you enter your school district into this tool you can view a choropleth map showing the percentage of students in each elementary school zone who were black or Hispanic in the 2013 school year.

The map allows you to view the current situation in your district using the current zoning regulations and compare this with how it would look if students were just assigned to their nearest school. Beneath the map you can see a graph which reveals if your local zoning regulations are lessening school segregation or making segregation worse

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Every House of Representatives Election


Electing the House of Electives is a new interactive data visualization of every House of Representatives election since before the Civil War. The map allows you to explore the historical swings of political power at both the national level and, closer to home, at the regional level.

The interactive map is easy to navigate. You can view the election results for any year simply by selecting a year from the timeline beneath the map. This timeline also acts as a chart showing the number of Republican and Democrat representatives elected in each election. The map itself is colored to show which party won in each district. If you click on a district on the map you can view the name of the winning representative and the percentage of their vote.

The map allows you to switch between a choropleth and a cartogram view. The cartogram view provides a better picture of the political balance across the population as it more accurately visualizes the urban vote which is under-represented in the choropleth view.

Electing the House of Electives was created by the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond and the Department of History at Virginia Tech. The data for the maps comes from a number of sources. This data can be downloaded from Virginia Tech.

Fly Me to the Moon


The movie First Man, about the first ever manned landing on the moon, has reignited interest in our lunar neighbor. If you are interested in following Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface of the moon then you could take your first tentative footsteps by exploring NASA's Moon Trek.

Moon Trek is an interactive map of the moon created by NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and Caltech. The map allows you to explore the named features of the moon, learn about lunar exploration and access current research about our nearest neighbor. The map also includes a 3D globe of the moon and the ability to create your own fly-overs of the lunar surface.

Moon Trek has a number of different layers which can be added to the lunar map. These layers include imagery and observations from NASA's missions to the moon. Moon Trek also includes a number of different tools which allow you to measure distances on the map and create elevation plots. You can also use Moon Trek with VR headsets to take a virtual tour of the moon and download data to 3D print selected areas of the moon's surface.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Charles Darwin Map Projection



Benjamin Schmidt has created a map projection which has been optimized to show the track of the route of the Beagle during Charles Darwin's 1831-1836 famous survey voyage. Data-driven projections: Darwin's world is an Observable Notebook which visualizes the track of the Beagle on a map that preserves continuity near the areas where the Beagle sailed, at the expense of areas of the world that are distant from the path of Darwin's voyage.

Because the map is created in Observable you can change the data to create your own data driven map projections. If you click on the arrow next to the 'path' section of the notebook then you can edit and change the polyline co-ordinates for the Beagle's voyage to any polyline that you want. The notebook will then create a map projection based on your data.


The 'Data-driven projections: Darwin's world' notebook is a fork of the Voronoi Projection. This Observable Notebook creates a map projection based on the centroids of the 43 largest countries in the world.

Mapping the Damage from Hurricane Michael


NOAA's Hurricane Michael Imagery is an interactive map visualizing the damage caused by Hurricane Michael. After the tropical storm struck last week NOAA captured aerial imagery of some of the locations which suffered the most damage in order to support homeland security and emergency response requirements.

If you use the map layers menu you can turn NOAA's recent aerial imagery on & off. This allows you to make a direct comparison of the post-hurricane aerial imagery with the aerial imagery from before Hurricane Michael. This before & after comparison is a little easier if you use Esri's Hurricane Michael Damage Viewer.

This interactive map display's NOAA's Hurricane Michael aerial imagery side-by side with aerial imagery captured before the tropical storm. The two sets of imagery are synchronized with each other so that as you move around on the map the two sets of aerial imagery move to always show a side-by side view or the chosen location.

You can learn more about when and how the post-Hurricane Michael aerial imagery was captured at NOAA's National Geodetic Survey damage assessment imagery.

Flooding Kerala


In August over 200 people were killed in Kerala by the worst flooding to hit the Indian state in over 100 years. One reason for the dramatic flooding was that many of Kerala's hydroelectric dams were forced to release water with little warning to those who live downriver from the dams.

Reuters has been investigating why the waters in Kerala's dams were too high before the monsoon struck. In How Kerala's Dams Failed to Prevent Catastrophe the news organization has mapped the locations of all the state's dams and in particular the Idukki & Idamalayar reservoirs and the Periya River. Reuters argues that if the water levels in these two reservoirs had been lowered prior to the start of the monsoon then they could have coped with the rain that fell in the August storms.

Because the water levels in the Idukki & Idamalayar reservoirs were at 90% of their capacity before the August monsoon they both quickly reached capacity after the rains began. Both reservoirs were then forced to release water into the Periya River. The result was the severe flooding of communities living along the river.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

One Mile of Devastation


The photos and videos that have emerged showing the destruction caused by Hurricane Michael have been shocking and evocative. None of these images has been more effective in showing the scale of the disruption caused by the tropical storm than the New York Times' Hurricane Michael: One Mile of Devastation in Florida.

This simple but powerful visualization simply stitches together a series of oblique aerial views of one mile of Mexico Beach. As you scroll down - the web page scans horizontally, flying over one whole mile of a devastated stretch of the Florida coastline. The aerial images are labelled with road names and the locations of different buildings which used to exist along U.S. Highway 98.

So many of the buildings along Mexico Beach have been completely destroyed that the New York Times has felt it necessary to also add a map of all the destroyed buildings to its article. As you scroll horizontally along this map the footprints of all the destroyed buildings are shown in red and the severely damaged buildings are colored yellow.