Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Visualizing the Ridgecrest Earthquake


The LA Times has created a number of animated satellite images to show the immense power of the recent Ridgecrest earthquakes. On the 4th and 5th of July a series of earthquakes occurred north and northeast of the town of Ridgecrest, California. The largest of which had a magnitude of 7.1.

The Los Angeles Times has combined before and after satellite imagery of the desert to show the effect that the earthquake has left on the land. By simply comparing satellite imagery from Google Earth, taken before the Ridgecrest earthquake, with DigitalGlobe satellite imagery of the same area, taken after the earthquake struck, the LA Times has created a powerful visualization of the force of the earthquake.

In this series of before & after images created by the newspaper you can clearly see how the land on either side of the fault line has been forced in different directions. The fact that the earthquake struck in the desert, in an area with little vegetation or earth cover, has enabled the LA Times to create a stunning series of images which portray the sheer force of seismic activity and the effect it can have on the land.

Mapping Game Worlds onto the Real World


One of the perennial questions asked of computer games is 'How big is the map?' It is a question which can perhaps be best answered by comparing the size of a game world with a real world location.

If you ask Google 'How many square miles is GTA V? it will answer '100 square miles'. That is probably a reasonably accurate answer (accepting the philosophical leap necessary when trying to map the virtual onto the real). But how big is 100 square miles? You can use this Google Maps Area Calculator Tool to overlay 100 square miles on any area in the world. For example, here is what 100 square miles looks like overlaid on top of San Francisco.



If you know San Francisco well this will probably give you a reasonable idea of the size of Los Santos in GTA V. But manually marking out 100 square miles on an interactive map seems unnecessarily like hard work to me. If only somebody had already mapped out computer games onto the real world so that we didn't have to do it ourselves.

Step forward Video Game Maps in the Real World.... This new interactive map from Casino Kings uses a map of the UK to demonstrate the size of the game worlds in the 50 largest open world computer games. Select a game on this map and you can instantly see how big it is in comparison to  the UK. The map provides additional details such as the size of the chosen game world (in square miles) and what percentage that is in comparison to the the UK. For example, Elder Scrolls 2 is 62,934 square miles or 67% of the size of the UK.

This is of cause fantastic if you are British. If you aren't from the UK and you want to make a more local comparison then you can at least use Video Game Maps in the Real World to discover the size in square miles of the 50 largest open world video games and then use the Google Maps Area Calculator Tool to overlay that surface area on top of your own home.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Finding Affordable Rent in Canada


The cheapest province to rent a two bedroom apartment in Canada is Quebec. If you earn the minimum wage you would only have to work 52 hours a week to afford an averagely priced two bedroom apartment. This might sound like a lot of hours to work just for your rent but it is a lot less than the 105 hours a week you would have to work to rent an apartment in British Columbia at minimum wage.

A new interactive map from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows the levels of rental affordability across Canada. Rental Wages in Canada allows you to explore housing rental affordability compared to local minimum wage earnings in 795 different Canadian neighbourhoods.

Individual neigbourhoods on the Rental Wages in Canada interactive map are colored to reveal how affordable they are. If you click on an individual neighbourhood on the map you can find out how much you would need to earn an hour to afford to rent in the neighbourhood. The map also shows how many hours you would need to work to afford to rent in the area if you earned the minimum wage.

A minimum-wage worker would only be able to afford to rent in 3% of the 795 neighbourhoods displayed on the map. In the majority of Canadian cities a single person, earning the minimum wage would not be able to afford to rent a one or two bedroom apartment.

Where Democrats Get Their Money


The Democratic presidential candidates have to report all donations over $200. This means that the Mercury News has been able to create an interactive map which shows where in the United States each of the candidates has raised the most money in political donations.

Most money raised by the democratic hopefuls comes from the largest towns and cities in the USA. The Where Democratic presidential candidates are getting their money interactive map visualizes how much money each candidate raised in the top 2,100 donating cities. Colored circles are used to show how much money each candidate raised in each city. The size of the circle reflects the amount of money donated to the candidate in that city. If you click on a city on the map you can view a list showing the amount donated in the city to each candidate.

Pete Buttigieg has raised the most money in some of the biggest cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C.. Joe Biden is leading the fundraising efforts in most cities in the south east of the country. Business Insider has taken a close look at how much each of the Democratic hopefuls raised in total in the second fundraising quarter of 2019. Pete Buttigieg raised the most money, receiving $24.8 million in all, Joe Biden raised $21.5 million, Sen. Elizabeth Warren received $19.1 million, and Sen. Bernie Sanders raised $18.2 million.

If you want to know who is donating to each of the Democratic hopefuls then you might be interested in Common Dreams analysis of Which 2020 Democrats are Taking Money from the Healthcare Industry. America's expensive healthcare sector is likely to be a major issue in the 2020 presidential election, so it is interesting to note which candidates are being funded by pharmaceutical and health insurance companies and how much money they have received.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Prepare for Killer Heat


Since the 1960's the United States has been seeing a gradual rise in the number of days when the temperature reaches extreme levels. Locations across the country have witnessed more intense and longer lasting heat waves than in the past. A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Killer Heat in the United States: Climate Choices and the Future of Dangerously Hot Days (2019), says that the number of days of extreme, dangerous heat are going to significantly increase even more during the 21st century.

In ‘Off-the-charts’ heat to affect millions in U.S. in coming decades National Geographic has used the study to map out which areas are going to see the highest increase in the number of days of extreme heat. The map is colored to show the predicted increase in the number of days per year which will experience dangerously high temperatures. The map shows that the Central Lowlands and Coastal & Staked Plains will see some of the biggest increases in extreme heat. These location won't necessarily see the most days of extreme heat, just the biggest increase of days of extreme heat. Florida and Texas will actually be among the most dangerous states to live. For at least five months of the year (on average) Florida and Texas will see the heat index exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit.


If you want to know how many days of extreme heat you can look forward to then you can explore the Union of Concerned Scientists' interactive map Killer Heat in the United States. This map shows how global heating will effect every county in the contiguous United States. It includes choropleth maps showing the predicted number of extreme days which can be expected in each county by 2050 and 2100. It visualizes the predicted number of days of extreme heat for four different heat index thresholds: above 90°F, above 100°F, above 105°F, and “off the charts.” (Off-the-charts days are so extreme they exceed the upper limits of the National Weather Service heat index scale)

If you wish to know how to cope with extreme heat then the Union of Concerned Scientists' 5 Great Public Health Resources for Dealing With Extreme Heat should help. This article explains how to spot the signs of heat-related illness and how to stay safe during an extreme heat event.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Autocomplete - Cities Edition


I've updated the Autocomplete Map so that it now also shows what Google thinks of American and UK cities. On this interactive map country, state and city place-name labels have been changed to show Google's autocomplete suggestions for different locations. For example when you type "New York is ... " into Google the search engine suggests "New York is Killing Me".

Google autocomplete suggestions have a strong dislike for a lot of U.S. cities. According to Google lots of cities are dumps, boring, ruined, dangerous or a ghetto. But you shouldn't blame Google. Google's autocomplete suggestions are based on the previous searches by other users. In other words the autocomplete suggestions are what most users type into Google when searching for those cities.

Google autocomplete makes lots of weird and surreal suggestions. According to Google 'Fort Wayne is Seventh on Hitler's List' (a collection of short stories by Michael Martone), 'Albany is Eggscellent' (apparently from a t-shirt slogan), 'San Diego is Spanish for Whales' (a misquote from the movie Anchorman - "they named it San Diego, which of course in German means ‘a whale’s vagina"), and 'Madison is Banquo' (from a line in a song from the musical Hamilton).

Methodology: The autocomplete suggestions used on the map are based on searching Google in England. You may get other suggestions depending on which country you search from. I have tried to use the top autocomplete suggestion for each city - except where the suggestions are too repetitive (for example '(city name) is a dump' appears as the first suggestion for many, many cities). I may also have ignored the top autocomplete suggestion when another suggestion was more interesting. If a city is missing from the map then it is probably because Google had no interesting autocomplete suggestions for that city.

The Poetry Sounds Map


Italian poet and sound artist Giovanna Iorio has created an interactive map of poetry recordings from around the world, spoken in each writer's native language. The Poetry Sounds Library allows you to both listen to poets' voices and see where those poets come from.

If you click on a marker on the map you can listen to an actual recording of the poem read by the poet. On the map the yellow markers indicate poems by living poets, while the blue markers show poems by poets who are no longer living.

Among the non-living artists is an 1890 recording by Thomas Edison of Alfred Lord Tennyson reading his poem, 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'. The Poetry Sounds Library map also includes an even earlier recording made by the English poet Robert Browning (made in 1899). In this recording Browning begins to recite from his poem 'How they Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix'. However, near the end of the first stanza, Browning apologizes and says "I can't remember my own verses".

If you are interested in discovering poetry which is actually about different locations across the world then you should refer to the Poetry Atlas. The Poetry Atlas is an interactive map of poems which have been written about specific places around the globe.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Europe's Boom & Bust


Zeit has published an interactive map which shows which areas in Europe are becoming more popular and which areas people are leaving. Zeit's The Commuter Belt Effect map visualizes population growth and loss from 2011-2017.

The orange/red areas on Zeit's maps are the areas which have seen a growth in population over the last six years. The blue areas have seen a fall in their population during the same period. Spain, Portugal, Latvia and Lithuania seem to be countries which have seen some of the most widespread falls in populations. Many areas of the former East Germany, aside from Berlin, have also seen a fall in population.

On Zeit's map Europe's Blue Banana shows up as a more appropriate yellow-orange color. The Blue Banana is an area which stretches from northern England through the Benelux countries & Germany and down to northern Italy. This area has traditionally (since the industrial revolution) been an area of very high population density and urbanization. It is interesting to note that on Zeit's map most of the Blue Banana is still seeing population growth. Only its southern tip, in Italy, seems to be experiencing a fall in population.

Zeit point to a 'commuter belt' effect across the whole of Europe. The outer suburbs of cities across the continent are experiencing a growth in population. At the same time many rural areas across Europe are seeing a decline in their populations. This commuter belt effect can even be seen in countries which, like Spain and Portugal, have seen a large overall decline. Even in these countries cities, such as Lisbon, Madrid and Barcelona, are seeing population growth, particularly in their suburbs.

The First Men on the Moon


Neil & Buzz is a super scrolly-telling account of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's first two hour walk on the moon. As you scroll through Neil & Buzz you can follow the conversations between the astronauts and mission control using the transcripts from the original transmission log. A small inset map shows the Lunar Module and the positions of  Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as they move around during their moon walk. Make sure to hover over the small inset illustrations which appear on top of this map to view actual footage from the Apollo mission.


Apollo 11 was just the first lunar mission to land astronauts on the moon. In the few years following the landing of Apollo 11 a number of other Apollo missions successfully landed astronauts on the moon. Esri's History of the Lunar Landings is a 3D interactive globe of the moon, which shows the locations of all the Apollo landing sites. If you click on the markers on this map you can learn a little more about each of the Apollo missions to the moon.


Google Earth has also released an interactive tour which explores the history of the Apollo 11 mission. Apollo 11: Countdown to Launch is a short tour of some of the important developments which led to the first astronauts walking on the moon. This tour keeps its feet firmly on Earth but it does allow you to explore some of the locations essential to the Apollo 11 mission, including Mission Control in Houston, the launchpad in Cape Canaveral (which you can tour in Street View) and the splash-down location in the Pacific ocean, where the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on their return to Earth.


National Geographic has also been exploring the history of lunar space mission. It has created a new map of the moon and has used it to plot the history of lunar exploration. In Explore 50 Years of Lunar Visits National Geographic has plotted out all the manned and unmanned landings on the moon. The map includes a timeline of all the missions to the moon since Russia's Luna 2 space probe landed on September 14th, 1959. The map itself shows where all the lunar missions have landed on the moon. The vast majority of these landed on the near side of the moon. Only 8 lunar missions have so far landed or orbited on the far side of the moon.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji


Katsushika Hokusai's 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa' is one of the most iconic pictures of all time. His famous woodblock print is just one of a series of prints of Mount Fuji from 'Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji'. In these prints Hokusai depicts Mount Fuji from many different locations and at different times of the year.

You can now place yourself in Hokusai's geta clogs using the Views of Mount Fuji interactive map. This map overlays seven of Hokusai's prints of Mount Fuji on top of the actual view as seen in ArcGIS Scene Viewer. The seven prints in Views of Mount Fuji includes The Great Wave of Kanagwa. It also includes the print 'Fine Wind, Clear Morning', which can be seen in the screen-grab above (also known as 'South Wind, Clear Sky' and 'Red Fuji').


Hokusai belonged to the school of ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) artists. Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese art which flourished from the 17th century through to the 19th century. Hokusai was one of the finest artists of the genre. Perhaps the only other ukiyo-e artist to rival Hokusai was Utagawa Hiroshige. Hiroshige is probably most well-known for his series of woodcut prints, such as The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō, One Hundred Famous Views of Edo and Famous Views of the Sixty-odd Provinces.

You can view some of the views from these three series of prints on the Ukiyo-e Map. This interactive map has placed each Hiroshige print on the actual location depicted in Hiroshige's landscapes. If you select a marker on the map the image will open in a new tab or window. It is a shame that the images don't open in their own information window on this map. However Hiroshige's brilliance makes it worth the effort of switching between different tabs in your browser.