Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Nice Guys Maps of 1970's LA


The Nice Guys, starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, is set in 1970's Los Angeles. If you want to re-familiarize yourself with LA in the '70's before seeing the movie then you should take a look at The Nice Guys Map.

This Google Map takes you on a little tour of some of LA's most famous locations, including the Sunset Strip, the Hollywood Sign and Venice Beach. Each of the featured locations is accompanied by photos from 1977 and 2015. This allows you to directly compare the LA of today with the LA of the 1970's and assess how Los Angeles has changed over the last thirty odd years.

The Google Map itself has been given an appropriate 1970's orange tinge using the Styled Maps feature of the JavaScript Maps API.

Bird Spotting on the Okavango


In May of last year a group of explorers and scientists traveled down the Okavango Delta in Botswana. The aim of the expedition was to find new species and collect data on the environment of this mighty river.

Thanks to National Geographic's Into the Okavango you can follow the progression of the expedition and explore the Okavango yourself via an interactive map. Into the Okavango is an animated map which shows the paths taken by four of the explorers. The map automatically plays through the whole expedition but you can take control of the map by pressing the pause button and then using your scroll wheel to progress through the map at your own pace.

As well as the paths taken by the four explorers the map shows the location of bird's spotted along the river during the expedition.

The data from the Okavango expedition and data from previous expeditions of the Okavango Delta is available from the Okavango Database and API. You can navigate to the data by using the 'Data' button on the interactive map. The database and API gives you access to data on animal sightings, audio recordings and photographs.

It is possible to query the database and automatically view the results on an interactive map. For example you can enter 'hippo sightings' into the data explorer and view the results automatically output on a Leaflet powered map.

Put the Wind Beneath Your Maps


You can now add animated wind layers to your maps thanks to a new API from Windyty.

Windyty is an animated wind forecast map based on NOAA wind data. It allows you to view forecast wind patterns for the next five days on top of an interactive 3d globe. The map includes a number of other animated weather layers (including cloud cover and temperature) and allows you to view animated wind patterns at a number of different altitudes.

The Windyty API allows you to add the same animated weather forecast layers to your own interactive Leaflet.js maps. You can see the API in action and some example source code for adding a Windty layer to a Leaflet map on this Hello World demo map. For now the API is free to use.

If you want to add an animated wind layer to other interactive map platforms then you should have a look at Windy-JS. With Windy-JS Esri has adapted Earth.nullschool.net's original 3d globe of animated wind into a canvas layer which can be added to a variety of mapping APIs.

Esri has created a demo map with Windy-JS, Wind Animation, which allows you to view global wind conditions animated on top of an Esri slippy map.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mesmerizing Commuting Maps


Mark Evans has used the Google Maps API to create a hypnotic visualization of commuting flows, showing the distances and 'journeys' that American's make to and from work.

Using the ACS Commute Map you can zoom in on any U.S. county and view an animated map showing where people live and work. The maps don't show the actual journeys that commuters make but do give a great sense of how town and city centers suck in commuters from surrounding suburbs.

The data for the maps comes from the American Community Survey. You can learn more about how the map was made from this data on Mark's blog post ACS Commuter Data Visualizations. Mark's ACS Commute Map was originally inspired by Alasdair Rae's mapped visualizations of commuting in the Bay Area.

Turtle Tracking Maps


The WWF Species Tracker is a wonderful Google Map which allows you to follow the movements of a number of animals around the world. The map includes mapped tracks of a number of polar bears, yellowfin tuna, jaguars and whales. However, on World Turtle Day, you will probably want to use the map to follow the movements of marine turtles.

The World Wildlife Fund tracks several populations of marine turtles around the world. If you select the Marine Turtle link from the WWF Species Tracker sidebar you can view the current position and tracks of turtles off the coast of Australia, the Caribbean and the Persian Gulf. In total you can view the tracks of 8 different marine turtles in the Persian Gulf, 4 turtles in the Caribbean and 5 turtles off the coast of Australia.


Map Reporting in Local Government


There seems to be a mini resurgence in the use of interactive maps by local government as a means to gather information from residents about environmental problems in their neighborhoods.

In the early days of the Google Maps API a number of 'pothole' maps emerged. These, usually non-government, maps were developed to allow anyone to report where roads needed urgent repair. Interactive maps are obviously a very handy resource to use to gather local information and it quickly became apparent to some developers that this kind of map reporting system needn't be restricted to just the reporting of poor road conditions.

In the UK FixMyStreet developed a system which allows residents to report the existence of a wide range of local environmental problems, such as graffiti, fly tipping, broken paving slabs or poor street lighting. The system allows residents to enter the location of a problem on an interactive map. FixMyStreet then sends a report of the problem to the relevant local government agency.

In the United States 'Vision Zero' initiatives have been instituted by a number of cities to try and reduce the number of traffic accidents. At the the heart of these initiatives are map reporting systems which canvas local opinion on safety concerns and gather local knowledge of the city's streets. You can learn more about these initiatives on the Vision Zero - New York and Vision Zero - Boston websites.

In the UK Bristol City Council has recently released the Bristol Bugbears map reporting initiative to gather information from local residents on cycling and pedestrian problems in the city. The Bristol Bugbears campaign is designed to improve the experience of cyclists and pedestrians. Using the Bristol Bugbears map local citizens can report the locations of problems in the city and view the cycling and pedestrian problems reported by other local residents.

The Vision Zero and Bristol Bugbears initiatives are all fixed-term campaigns. So we seem to be seeing a move away from open-ended map reporting systems in local government. These are being replaced with budgeted fixed length campaigns, with identifiable goals & aims, to address specific local problems.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Maps of the Week


This week Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger created an interesting mapped data visualization exploring the demographics of Zurich neighborhoods. The visualization centers around the magically transformation of bus route lines into interactive line graphs, in order to highlight the demographic differences between the different neighborhoods.

The interactive map in Zürichs Gegensätze presents two bus routes in the Swiss city of Zurich. As you scroll through the visualization the bus lines transform into interactive line graphs showing the demographic differences around each bus-stop, such as average incomes, average age, the immigrant population, birth & death rates, male & female ratios and marriage & divorce rates.

If you click on the 'schematisch' and 'geografisch' links at the top of the page you can switch between the graph and map view. When you switch between the two views the route polylines magically animate between a route line on the map and a demographic line graph.


This week the Center for America Progress also released an impressive mapped visualization. The Disappearing West interactive map allows you to explore the huge amount of natural land which is being lost to development in the Western United States.

Every 150 seconds a football field's worth of natural open land is lost to development in the Western United States. Scientists from the Conservation Science Partners have analysed satellite imagery and public data to determine how much land in the West is being developed, at what rate and why this is happening.

The map presents a choropleth view of the Western United States showing how much land has been lost to development in every county between 2001 and 2011. If you press the 'Local' button you can view a heat-map of the same data, providing a more localized view. Press the 'State' button and you can view a choropleth layer showing the amount of land lost in each state. The map also includes a timeline which allows you to select a different year to see how much land was lost from 2001 until your chosen year.


Jewish Warsaw is a fascinating account of the long history of the Jewish community in the Polish capital. It examines the city through the eyes of some of Warsaw's most influential Jewish citizens and examines some of the important, often turbulent, historical events that have effected Jewish citizens in Warsaw.

The Janusz Korczak section of Jewish Warsaw presents two interactive mapped journeys exploring the life of the famous Jewish educator and children's author. One of the maps takes you on a journey through Korczak's life in pre-war Warsaw. The other map recounts Korczak's bravery in World War II and his deportation and death at Treblinka extermination camp

In the Past and Present section you can lean more about the history of the Jewish community in Warsaw through a series of interactive vintage maps of the city. This section includes an account of the long history of Jews in Warsaw, a mapped account of the Jewish ghetto and the Holocaust in World War II and a number of walking tours through the Warsaw of today.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Bike to Work Color Wheels


DataShine has created an interesting visualization of commuting journeys made by bike in a number of UK cities. The map uses data from the 2011 census to show the number of bike commuters between different neighborhoods.

The flow lines on the Great British Bike to Work map show neighborhood to neighborhood biked commutes which are made by more than 24 people. The colors of the flow lines on the map reveal the direction of travel.

Looking at London you can clearly see that the main centers of employment are in the city and the West End. It also appears that bike commuters who live south of the Thames are prepared to commute further distances than north Londoners. This could be partly due to the scarcity of the London Underground service in south London.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The New York Zoning Code


Forty percent of Manhattan's buildings couldn't be built under the present New York zoning code. Under current zoning regulations these buildings would not get planning permission because they are either too tall, have too many apartments or too many businesses.

The New York Times has created an interactive map showing Which Buildings Couldn't be Built in Manhattan Today. The footprints of the buildings which would fall foul of the current zoning code are colored on the map. You can find out which particular codes they would break by using the filters in the map sidebar.

In the accompanying article the Times looks more closely at a number of iconic New York buildings which couldn't be built today. The Times even redesigns a couple of these buildings to show how they might look if they had been constructed under today's zoning code.

This article also includes static maps of the same data used in the interactive maps. These static maps highlight Manhattan buildings which would fail to meet New York's zoning codes for height, the number of apartments and the number of commercial businesses.

Bike to Work Day Around the World


Strava held its first Global Bike to Work Day on May 10th. On that day 148,602 cyclists around the world rode their bikes to work and uploaded their routes to the Strava app. You can view all of these cyclists setting off for work on Strava's animated Global Bike to Work Day map.

The map uses CartoDB's Torque library to animate uploads made to Strava throughout May 10th. In truth the map doesn't really communicate much aside from where Strava has penetrated the global market.

The day / night layer which moves across the world as the animation plays out is a nice touch. It is kind of interesting to view the sudden burst of activity as the day starts around the world, However again this layer doesn't reveal much apart from the fact that most people around the world work during daylight hours.