Saturday, January 20, 2018

The First Modern Map of London


Do you know how many roads there are in the City of London?

None - there are no roads in the City of London.

The reason there are no roads in the City of London is because all those streets paved with gold were named a long time before the word 'road' came into use about 250 years ago.

If you don't believe me then you can search this 1682 map of London for any streets with a 'road' place-name. The London Time Machine is an interactive version of William Morgan's map of London. If you explore the map you will find lots of streets, lanes, alleys and yards. You won't find any roads.

William Morgan's map was the first properly surveyed map of the city released after the 1666 Fire of London. After the Fire of London the city had to be rebuilt and this new city needed a new map. The survey for the map took 6 years to complete. The finished map was made up of 16 copper engravings and is eight feet by five feet in size. Along the bottom of the map is a panoramic view of the city created by Robert Morden and Phillip Lee. The panorama shows a view of the city as seen from south of the River Thames.

Luckily for map fans William Morgan's map was featured in the BBC's great The Beauty of Maps series.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Which Country is Bigger?


You're smart.

You know that maps misrepresent the relative size of different countries. In fact you have a perfect mental map of the relative sizes of most of the world's major countries.

Don't you?

Let's find out!

How Accurate is Your Mental Map? is a fun little survey which tests your knowledge of the size of countries around the world. In the survey you are are presented with the maps of two separate countries. All you have to do is estimate the real size of the two countries by adjusting the maps so that the relative size of each country is as accurate as possible.

After you have compared ten different pairs of countries you are awarded a score based on your answers. I look at maps all day long and I only managed 77%. How well can you do?

The Scaled Size of the Solar System


If the Earth was the size of a tennis ball then Neptune would be about 15 miles away. It would also be about 27 cm in diameter (compared to Earth's 7 cm).

A new interactive map helps explain the size of the solar system by overlaying a scaled representation of the distance from the sun to each of the planets on top of a map of your neighborhood. Basically Solar System Maps shows you how far away each of the planets would be from your home if the Earth was the size of a tennis ball.

If you share your location with Solar System Maps or click on your house on the map then it will place your home at the center of our scaled solar system. Each of the planets' orbits are then shown on the map to scale. You can view a relative comparison of the size of any of the planets to the Earth by clicking on the planet's orbit on the map. Solar System Maps can also show you the relative distance to each of the planets if the Earth was the size of a basketball.

Where Have All the Poppies Gone?


In 2014 artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper installed 888,246 ceramic red poppies in the moat of the Tower of London. The artwork was called 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' and was created in commemoration of the centenary of the start of World War I. Each of the poppies planted in the moat represented a colonial or British serviceman killed in the war.

After the installation ended the poppies were sold for £25 each, in order to raise money for service charities. You can now see where a lot of the poppies have gone on a new interactive map.

Owners of a poppy can plant their flowers on the Where are the Poppies? map. So far nearly 35,000 people have added their poppies to the map. If you click on a poppy on the map you can read the story about the flower that the owner has shared with Where are the Poppies.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Supply Chain Mapping


The Green Supply Chain Map is a new interactive map which shows the Chinese supplier lists of a number of international brands alongside real-time environmental data. The map allows customers to view both a brand's supply chains in China and their environmental performance.

If you select a company from the map sidebar you can view the factories in China which are part of that brand's supply chain. If you select a factory's marker on the map you can then click through to view whether the factory has violated any environmental codes. The Green Supply Chain Map also includes air pollution and water pollution in China.


Many companies are becoming more open about how and where their products are manufactured. As part of this trend some individual businesses have created their own  supply chain maps to inform consumers about the origins of the raw materials and / or the global factories where products are made.

The Nike Manufacturing Map is an interactive map which shows the location of independent factories contracted to make Nike products. The map also allows you to access information about the product made by each factory and data about the employees.

If you select a factory on the map you can view details on the number of employees employed, the percentage of female employees and the number of migrant workers. If you want to learn more about Nike's compliance standards you can click through to read their Code of Conduct and Code of Leadership Standards.


In the UK the retailer Marks & Spencer has also released a supply chain map, the M&S Supplier Map. In order to be more transparent with their customers M&S has created this interactive map to show the factories around the world where M&S source their branded clothing, clothing accessories, footwear, food, non-alcoholic drinks and household products.

Using the map you can view details on individual factories around the world which are part of the M&S supply chain. If you select an individual manufacturer on the map you can view a few details about the factory, such as the total number of employees and the percentage of female & male employees.

May the Map Be With You


If you've ever wanted to map the Star Wars galaxy then you will probably like the Star Wars API. SWAPI contains all the data you might ever need from the Star Wars series of films. This includes data on Star Wars' planets, spaceships, vehicles, people, films and species.

You can discover what kind of data the API includes about the planets in this interactive guide to the Star Wars Planets. This visualization orders the planets by size, population, population density, and how long the planet takes to rotate & how long it takes to orbit the galaxy's sun.


You might get a better idea of the size of the Star Wars planets with this Star Wars Galaxy map. The Star Wars Galaxy is a huge 3d WebGL map of the entire fictional galaxy from George Lucas' series of Star Wars films. The map includes 3d models of all the planets and moons that feature in the movies

This 3d map of the Star Wars Galaxy was sketched out in ArcMap and is displayed using the Esri CityEngine. Using the map you can explore the Star Wars galaxy in 3d, visiting all the major planets and even the Death Star!

When the map loads you should press the play button in the bottom left-hand corner of the map to set out on a tour of the whole galaxy and the major planets. You can also navigate to individual planets using the menu that runs along the bottom of the map. If you get lost in your travels around the galaxy you can use the search option to search for individual planets by name.


The above 3d map is quite memory intensive. If you are on a slower computer or a browser that doesn't support WebGL then you might prefer this 2d map of Star Wars. The Star Wars Galaxy Map is a two dimensional interactive atlas of a galaxy far, far away. You may have heard of the legendary battles between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance. Now you can explore the spatial background to this epic galactic war on your own map.

The map shows the location of planets, sectors and regions within the Star Wars Galaxy. You can click on regions and planets to reveal their names and a link to the relevant Wookieepedia article. You can also select which layers you want to see displayed on the map by clicking on the 'visible layers' button. The layers included on the map are Planets, Hyperspace, Sectors, and Regions.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

London's Busiest Tube Stations


Where do passengers get on and off the tube? is an interactive map of the London Underground showing how many passengers enter and exit the tube at each London tube station. The size of each tube line on the map reflects the number of passengers who enter and exit the tube at each station.

The data behind the map is interesting and the resulting map looks quite pretty. As a visualization of the data however the map could be better. For some reason the map's creator has decided to make a 'geographically accurate' map of the London Underground rather than copy Harry Beck's iconic tube map design. This would be fine if the map had station labels. It doesn't. It is therefore very difficult to work out where individual stations are on the map. This would be less of a problem if the map copied the London Underground map design. At least then people familiar with the tube map would have some idea where a lot of stations are on the map.

You can hover over the map to view the names of stations. The map also has a search function. Unfortunately the search engine doesn't appear to recognize half of the names of London Underground stations.

Of course the number of passengers entering and exiting a station doesn't necessarily reflect how busy a station is. On this map North Greenwich appears to be about 8 times busier than West Ham. However, anyone using the Jubilee line in East London will know that West Ham is often far busier than North Greenwich. At West Ham most of the activity is from passengers moving between different tube lines. So although it is often the busier station West Ham doesn't have as many passengers entering and exiting the station as North Greenwich.

Map of the Day


Scotland's Trunk Road Gritter Tracker wins the internet today. This real-time map of Scotland's road gritting trucks is creating a bit of a winter storm on social media.

The popularity of the Trunk Road Gritter Tracker is not because you can follow the trucks in real-time as they grit Scotland's roads. Don't get me wrong - watching the little truck markers moving around on a map of Scotland is lots of fun. However, what has excited the internet more is the hilarious names given to some of the trucks.

Some of my favorite truck names on the map include Gritty Gritty Bang Bang, Sir Salter Scott, Gritty Gonzales, Luke Snowalker and Grittie McVitie,

How to Rob a Country


The problems with having an oligarch as a president is that they will steal as much money as they can while they are in power. The longer they remain in power the better they become at laundering their stolen money. This is particularly true of those oligarchs who are supported by Russia.

Take Viktor Yanukovich for example. As president of Ukraine from 2010-2014 he managed to steal billions of dollars using a global money laundering network. Al Jazeera has used documents recovered after the Ukrainian revolution to map how Victor Yanukovich was able to move his stolen money around the world.

The Oligarchs is an interactive story map which tracks the movements of the stolen money through shell companies in offshore tax havens and other money-laundering hotspots around the world, such as the UK. As you progress through the story map you can follow the trail of the money as it is laundered clean by being passed from bank to bank and tax haven to tax haven. None of the banks used, including those in the United States, flagged the money or its movements as suspicious.

Al Jazeera suggests that the money stolen from Ukraine by Victor Yanukovich is now being used to fuel dissent in Ukraine.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

How Well Does Your Home Score?


Two factors that you might want to consider when buying a new house are how noisy the neighborhood is and how busy the local roads are. Both of these factors can hugely affect your quality of life and neither may be entirely apparent until you move in to your new home.

That is why Total Home Score has been released. Total Home Score is a new interactive map that rates every building in Chicago and Boston (hopefully the rest of the United States will be coming soon) for noise and traffic.

The 3d buildings on the Total home Score interactive map are colored by either noise or traffic levels (you can switch between the two by using the buttons on the map). If you select a building on the map you can view its 'Quiet Score' and 'Road Score'. Each of these scores are out of 100, with a higher rating being better than a lower rating. If you select the 'details' link next to either score then you can view some of the environmental factors which have contributed to the score (details are shown beneath the map).


The amount of traffic on a neighborhood's roads will affect how pleasant it is to walk around the neighborhood. You can discover how nice a neighborhood is for walking and cycling at Walk Score.

Enter an address into the Walk Score interactive map and you can find out how well it scores for walking, cycling and public transit. Walk Score also has a great apartment search facility which helps you find an apartment not only by price but by what nearby amenities are within an easy walk or bike ride.


Trulia Local is another useful interactive map which can help you find out how well a neighborhood rates for other important factors, such as crime, commuting times, local amenities and local traffic. It can also help you find out whether there are good local schools, restaurants, banks and stores nearby.

Trulia Local provides a heat map of local crime. This heat map shows areas of high and low crime and also maps individual crime reports. If you want to find how long it will take you to commute from a neighborhood to your work then you can mark your workplace on the map and view an isochrone map showing all nearby commute times.