Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Animating Commuter Journeys


flowmap.blue is a great tool for creating interactive flow-maps. To create a flow-map with flowmap.blue you just need to save your date in a Google Spreadsheet. flowmap.blue will then automatically create a flow-map from your data.

Commuter Flows Between Swiss Municipalities 2014 is a great example of flowmap.blue in action. This interactive flow-map visualizes where commuters travel from home to work in Swiss towns and cities.The map uses different sized flow lines to show the number of people who commute into different municipalities from outlying areas.

You can hover over any location on the map to see the number of people who commute into the location every day and the number of outgoing commuters from the selected location. If you select the 'Animate flows' option on the map you can see these commuting flows animated on the map, with the animated flow lines showing the direction of commuting traffic in and out of the different municipalities.

Another example of commuting flows that was created with flowmap.blue is Commuters in the Netherlands. This map uses data from 2016 to show the commuting patterns of Dutch towns and cities. Commuters in the Netherlands includes the same option to see these commuting flows actually animated on the map.


Mark Evans has created animated maps of commuting flows in the USA and in the UK. Mark's hypnotic animated maps show workers traveling to and from towns and cities in both countries.

The Commute Map is an animated map showing where people commute from home to work in the United States. The maps don't show the actual journeys that commuters make but give a great sense of how town and city centers suck in commuters from surrounding suburbs. As the animations play out on the map you can see the movement of workers into the cities in the morning and the movement home again in the early evening.

Mark's Commute Map of England & Wales shows where people commute from home to work in the UK. With both the US and UK map you just need to use the two drop-down menus to first select a region and then an individual city or town.

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Story of The U.S. in 141 Maps


Manifest Destiny - The Story of the US Told in 141 Maps tells the story of the United States in 141 maps from the Declaration of Independence right up to the present day. Manifest Destiny uses small multiple maps to show how the territory of the United States has grown throughout its history

Click on any one of the small maps and you can view it as a larger map. On each map different colors are used to show the extent of U.S. territory at the time and the disputed & unclaimed territory. Each map reveals the changes which occurred due to a significant event in U.S. history. The first map in Manifest Destiny comes from March 4 1789. This is the date when the Constitution of the United States came into effect forming a new nation. The last map in the series is from August 21 1959. This is the date when Hawaii became the 50th state.


The belief in the Manifest Destiny of the United States was widely held in early America. It was a belief that the country's settlers were destined to expand across the whole of North America. You can see how this Manifest Destiny played out on another mapped visualization. The US Census Bureau has created an animated map which shows where the mean center of the population has been for each U.S. census from 1790 to 2010. The Mean Center of Population for the United States 1790 to 2010 shows how the mean center of population in the US has shifted westward in the last 220 years from Kent County, Maryland to Texas County, Missouri. 

How Boeing 737 Flights Came to an End


After the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and the death of 189 people, countries around the world began grounding Boeing 737's. In the days after the crash I saw a lot of links to real-time flight tracking websites, such as FlightRadar24, to show areas around the world where the Boeing 737 had been grounded and where flights of the plane were coming to a stop.

When the USA grounded the plane on March 13th the plane was effectively grounded worldwide. The New York Times has used data from FlightRadar24 to create an animated map which shows how the grounding of the Boeing 737 spread around the world after the crash of Flight 302 on March 10th right up until the FAA's suspension of flights on March 13th.

From 8,600 Flights to Zero: Grounding the Boeing 737 Max 8 shows flight paths used by Boeing 737's around the world. On the map the active flight paths are shown in blue and the flight paths where flights have been grounded are shown in orange. As the map animates through time from March 10th to March 13th you can see the grounded flights (shown in orange) spread across the world until flights come to an almost complete halt


Despite the suspension of commercial flights there have been some flights of Boeing 737 planes around the USA since March 13th. Airlines have flown Boeing 737s from one location to another location where they want the planes to be stored during the suspension. Boeing itself has continued to run test flights from its facility in Renton, Washington.

You can view an animated map of Boeing 737 flights over the United States on Bloomberg's animated map Where Boeing’s 737 Max Planes Go When They’re Grounded. This map shows Being 737 planes flying across America from March 12th through March 17th. On March 12th you can view an almost normal day of flights of Boeing 737 planes. On the 13th the flights almost grind to a halt after the FAA grounded the plane. On the following days you can view the few flights of Boeing 737 planes that took place as airlines moved planes around and Boeing continued running test flights.

Where is Your Surname From?


When people research their family trees they often don't consider searching for the geography of  surnames. Researching the current and historical distribution of your last name may provide some very useful clues as to the countries, regions and even individual towns where you should concentrate your search for genealogical records.

If you are from Italy or have an Italian surname you can search for the geographical spread of your last name using the Heatmap of Italian Surnames. Just enter your name and you can view a heatmap showing the distribution of that name in Italy based on data from Pagine Bianche.

In Germany you can use GeoGen to view a map showing the geographical distribution of German surnames. If you have Irish forebears then you can use the Geo Genealogy Map of Irish Surnames.

The Geo Genealogy Map of Irish Surnames uses data from the 1890 census to show which families were living where in Ireland at the end of the nineteenth century. The surname labels on the map represent the relative birth counts of names. The larger a surname label on the map then the more people with that name were living in the county in 1890. If you zoom in on a county then more surnames will appear on the map.

You can also search for the geographical distribution of a name by using the search box. Search for a name and the map will reveal the number of people with that name in each county at the end of the nineteenth century.


If your family is from the UK then you can use named to research the origins of your family. Enter a surname into named and you can view a heat-map showing where your surname is unusually common in the UK. The application is very easy to use. All you do is enter a surname and named shows you a heatmap showing you where there is an unusually high number of people with that name. For example, 'Clarke' is a fairly common surname across the whole of the UK but named shows that it is actually unusually common in the Midlands area of the UK.

Named also allows you to enter two surnames to generate a heatmap showing mutual locations with the most people with either of the two surnames. This is very useful if you know both surnames of two married ancestors. The generated heatmap shows the locations in the UK where those two surnames are most common.

You can use Forebears to undertake a global search for your family surname. If you enter a surname into Forebears it will tell you the meaning of your name and show you a map of the global distribution of your name. Beneath this generated map you can view a list showing the number of incidences of your surname recorded in each country around the world. It also shows the ratio of people with your surname in each country and the rank of your name in comparison to the incidence of all over surnames in each country.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Map Breakout!


The classic Breakout arcade game, first released in 1976, is probably one of the most addictive computer games ever created. In fact all that was missing from the original Breakout game was a map. Which has now been rectified with the release of Map Breakout.

The purpose of the original Breakout game was to destroy rows of colored bricks by deflecting a ball with a player controlled paddle. In Map Breakout the rows of colored bricks have been replaced with a map of the world. Your objective in the game is to keep the ball in play using your paddle and knock out as many countries as you can.

Use the 'a' and 'd' keys on your keyboard to move the paddle left and right. I can't find a 'start' button so I've just been refreshing the page to start a new game.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Global Flight Patterns


Flight paths over New York City

The real-time flight tracking application Plane Finder allows you to follow the real-time location of planes around the world on an interactive map. This month Plane Finder is celebrating its ten year anniversary and to mark the occasion Plane Finder has released a Global Coverage Map.

Plane Finder uses data from a network of ADS-B receivers around the world to map the flights of plane in real-time. The Global Coverage Map uses a week of this data (15th-21st March 2019) to reveal the flight paths taken by planes around the world. One week's worth of data has been merged together and compiled to make this single interactive map.

If you zoom-in on individual cities on the map you can clearly make out traffic into and out of major airports. For example, in the screenshot above of New York you can see John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport and LaGuardia Airport. You can even make out the location of the Statue of Liberty as a small circle on the map. This circle is made from the circular flight paths made by helicopters as they take a sightseeing loop around the statue.


Flight paths over London

In London you can clearly see the two main flight paths taken by planes as they approach Heathrow's two different runways. West of Heathrow planes quickly fan out after take-off depending on their destinations. In the east you can see the single flight path taken by planes as they approach and leave London City Airport and its single runway.

If you don't like flying then you might prefer the World Map of Shipping Traffic. This interactive map reveals the world's major shipping lanes based on AIS shipping data.

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Latitude & Longitude of Population


About 88% of the world's population lives north of the equator. One reason for this is that there is more landmass north of the equator and more water south of the equator. However the north of the planet has only around 68% of the world's landmass. This means that nearly 90% of the world's population is squeezed into the 68% of the world's landmass north of the equator.

You can see where the world's population lives in terms of latitude and longitude on Engaging Data's World Population Distribution by Latitude and Longitude. This map shows the distribution of the world's population as a population grid. The map also includes two buttons which allow you to reorganize the population data. One button redistributes the world's population into a graph showing the population distribution by longitude. The other button organizes the population data into a graph showing the world's population distributed by latitude.


You can also see the distribution of the world's population by longitude and latitude on Andre Andersen's World Population Map. This population density map includes two graphs views which show the distribution of the world's population by latitude and longitude.

Both these maps reveal that a huge percentage of the world's population not only lives north of the equator but also lives in a narrow vertical band east of Delhi and west of China's east coast. That is between longitude 72 E and longitude 123 E. Or in other words a huge percentage of the world's population lives in India and China.

Understanding China's Belt & Road Project


China has spent more than 25 billion dollars on its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The initiative is designed to create the infrastructure to secure China’s trade routes and energy supplies. It is also being used to increase China's influence in the rest of the world. Kontinentalist has published a great introduction to China's Belt and Road Initiative in the form of an interactive story map.

Understanding the Belt and Road both visualizes the physical infrastructure being built by China and explores the reasons why China is investing so much money in creating these transport links with the rest of the world. The interactive map first displays the six economic corridors that China are developing to connect the super power with Europe, Central Asia, Russia, and the Middle East. Each of these corridors can be selected on the map to learn more about each of the six individual routes. As you progress through the story the interactive map updates to explore the economic reasons behind the Belt and Road Project. To help visualize the economic reasoning behind the project the map is updated to show the population of China's major cities and regional GDP from 2012-2016.

Understanding the Belt and Road includes a number of other data visualizations which look more closely at how China is funding the initiative. In particular Understanding the Belt and Road examines the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which China is developing to counteract the power of the Bretton Woods institutions of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Development Bank.

Understanding the Belt and Road also explores the diplomatic partnerships that China is developing with other countries. The interactive map is used to highlight on the map the '16+1 Initiative', China's partnership with 16 Central and Eastern European countries. It also shows how in Asia the 'Lancang-Mekong Cooperation', is building a partnership with all the Mekong countries. The map also explores the partnerships China is developing in the Middle-East and in Africa.

Finally Understanding the Belt and Road looks at some of the issues that China is facing in building such a huge initiative. These problems include territorial disputes where other countries might not be entirely supportive of China building economic corridors on disputed territory. It also explains some of the debt-trap diplomacy that China has used to impose its Belt and Road Initiative on countries which are heavily in debt to China.


You can learn more about the BRI on the Mercator Institute for China Studies' Belt and Road Tracker, an interactive map which shows some of the many BRI projects spanning Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. These projects include huge transport and oil & gas pipeline networks. The map sidebar allows you to show or hide different types of infrastructure project on the map. These include the railroads, ports and gas & oil pipelines which China has already constructed as part of its BRI. It also allows you to view railroads, ports and gas & oil pipelines which China plans to construct in the near future.

In One Belt, One Road the Financial Times also explores some of the construction projects being created by China to transport people and goods around the world. In The five main projects of the Belt and Road Initiative the South China Morning Post explores five huge Chinese infrastructure projects. These include a rail route from China to London, Gwadar Port, a rail route to Iran, the Asian gas pipeline and the Khorgas Gateway.

Britain's Most Expensive Wrong Turn


The UK is obsessed at the moment with the concept of expensive wrong turns. Which is why insurance company Quotezone has released a thinly veiled attack on Brexit in the form of an interactive map.

The Worst Places in the UK to Take a Wrong Turn purports to be an interactive map visualizing the worst 18 places in Britain to take a wrong turn or miss a junction on a motorway. The map shows the locations of each of these 18 most expensive wrong turns on the motorway network. For each of the 18 turns it also shows the total number of detour miles motorists will end up driving, the time needed to rectify the mistake and how much money the driver will have to pay for the extra fuel use caused by their mistake.

The worst place to take a wrong turn in the UK is on London's orbital motorway, the M25. If a driver misses the southbound exit on the M26 and accidentally ends up on the M25 then they will have to travel for another 18 miles to correct their course, adding 31 minutes onto their journey at a cost of £3.44.

Of course we all know that The Worst Places in the UK to Take a Wrong Turn is a clever metaphorical attack on the Brexit referendum. That wrong turn will cost a little more than £3.44.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Can We Save the World's Forests?


The Bonn Challenge is asking governments and people around the world to help restore 150 million hectares of forest by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030. To help with this effort the World Resources Institute has released an interactive map designed to show where in the world degraded forest lands actually have the potential to be successfully restored.

The Atlas of Forest Landscape Restoration includes a number of different map layers which allow you to see the current levels of forest coverage around the world, the condition of those forests, the human pressure on forest landscapes and where in the world forests have the potential to be restored. The map also includes a layer which allows you to see Bonn Challenge pledges made across the globe. This layer adds a number of markers to the interactive map showing where governments and organisations have pledged to restore degraded forests. You can click on these markers to learn more about the individual projects in different countries around the world.


The World Resources Institute is also one of over 40 global partners who maintain the Global Forest Watch interactive map. Global Forest Watch is an organization dedicated to monitoring and detecting deforestation around the world. Since the year 2000 the world has lost more than 500 million acres of forest. The Global Forest Watch map visualizes current global forest coverage and where forests are being lost.

Global Forest Watch is attempting to establish a global forest monitoring network. The Global Forest Watch interactive map is part of an initiative to provide the tools for anyone to explore forest loss and forest gain across the globe. The map includes a number of layers, including forest cover and loss since 2000, worldwide tree height data, tropical forest carbon stocks and data about global forest use. The map also includes links to forest-related stories. The links to these  stories are embedded on the map at specific locations and the stories include photos, video, and explanatory text.