Friday, August 07, 2020

Virtual Tours of the World

Over the last few months I've been slowly curating a list of my favorite virtual tours of museums & galleries across the world. This list provides links to virtual tours created by museums and galleries around the globe, using a variety of technologies, such as 360 degree panoramic imagery. Of course I'm not the only cultural vulture who has been scouring the world's museums for interesting content. During lock-down a number of interactive maps have sprung-up which provide links to the best virtual tours created by the world's cultural institutions. is one of these interactive maps of cultural virtual tours. It provides links to virtual content created by museums, galleries, aquariums and zoos around the world. The virtual tours on can be filtered by category and by country, which makes it very easy to search for the kinds of venue which you are most interested in. Another really useful feature of is that is keeps a record of which tours you have visited. This means that if you return to after a few days you can quickly see which virtual tours you have already visited.

Digital Museums is another interactive map dedicated to curating the best interactive content being created by the world's museums. This map is part of a project looking at museum digital strategies developed in response to lock-down, which is being led by Dr Chiara Zuanni at the University of Graz. On this map content is categorized into 'virtual tours', 'streaming content', 'online exhibitions' etc.

Virtual Museums has also created an interactive map of virtual tours created by cultural institutions around the globe. If you create an account with Virtual Museums you can create a favorites list and track which virtual tours you have visited. Virtual Museums also includes an option to submit missing virtual tours via a very short form.

An Atlas of Literature

An Ocean of Books is an interactive map of over 100,000 authors and 145,162 books. On this map every island is an author and every city is a book. If you search the interactive map for your favorite writers you can find other writers that you may enjoy based on how near they appear on the map to your favorites.

The size of an author's island on An Ocean of Books is determined by the amount written about them on the internet. The more times they are mentioned on the world wide web then the bigger their island on the map. The position of the islands and the proximity of authors to each other is determined by the number of connections between them on the internet. If two authors are mentioned in lots of the same articles on the web then the closer they will be on An Ocean of Books.

The connections between authors and therefore their proximity on the map is determined by a machine learning algorithm. If you select an author's name on the map then you can read a short biography. If you zoom in on an author's island then all the writer's books will appear as cities on the map. Click on a book's title and you can read a short introduction to the selected book.

An Ocean of Books is not the first interactive map which has tried to arrange the world's literature based on machine learning algorithms. 100 Years of Sci Fi is an interactive map of science fiction novels listed on Good Reads. All the sci-fi novels on this map are organized by thematic similarity. In other words novels which share common sci-fi themes are grouped closer together. Using the map you can therefore search for your favorite sci-fi novels and authors and find other works of science fiction which share common themes.

Novels on the map are linked when they share common keywords on Good Reads. The novels are placed in clusters of works which share similar keyword signatures. If you click on the 'Legend' button in the map sidebar you can filter the map to show all the works that share a common keyword theme. The map menu also allows you to filter the maps shown by theme, concepts and date of publication.

If you click on an individual novel on the map you can read a brief synopsis of its plot, view its list of keywords and its date of publication.

Last year The Pudding created an interactive map from the covers of 5,000 books, in which the books were arranged by their visual similarity. All 5,000 books mapped on 11 Years of Top-Selling Book Covers, Arranged by Visual Similarity have appeared on the New York Times' 'Best Selling' or 'Also Selling' lists since June 2008.

Color seems to play a very prominent role in determining 'visual similarity' in the machine algorithm used by The Pudding. If you zoom out so that you can see all 5,000 book covers you can see that a lot of the grouping and organization appears to be strongly influenced by the dominant color of each book.

The Pudding's map comes with a number of filters which allow you to explore the book covers by genre and by visual motif. The visual motif filter allows you to highlight on the map images which contain 'faces', 'landscapes', 'smiles' etc. Therefore the motif filter provides another way to explore the book covers by visual similarity.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Satellite Imagery of the Beirut Explosion

The devastating ammonium nitrate explosion in Beirut yesterday damaged windows and walls up to 5 km away. It is also being reported that 300,000 homes have been damaged, many of them now left uninhabitable. DigitalGlobe has released satellite imagery of the Beirut explosion as open data. Under the DigitalGlobe Open Data Program anyone is able to copy and reuse this satellite imagery of the devastating damage caused by the explosion.

Web Geo Data Vore has used DigitalGlobe's satellite imagery to create a before and after visualization of Beirut. Their Beirut map allows you to directly compare satellite imagery from before and after the explosion using a number of different comparison tools. The map includes a side-by-side view, an above-and-below view and a magnifying glass view. All of which allow you to explore the damage caused by the explosion across the Lebanese capital.

The interactive before & after interactive map was created using the OpenLayers mapping library. In particular it uses the ol-comparison-tools library for comparing two different map layers in OpenLayers.

Mapping U.S. Unemployment

The New York Times has mapped out an estimation of unemployment levels in every American neighborhood. In These Neighborhoods, the Jobless Rate May Top 30% the NYT has mapped the estimated unemployment level in every census tract based on national economic statistics.

The NYT article includes side-by-side maps for New York, Chicago and Los Angeles which compare the unemployment in each city's neighborhoods in February of this year and in June. The article also includes a larger interactive map which shows an estimation of unemployment rates in every U.S. census tract. The maps reveal that unemployment has hit some communities much harder than others. In general people living in the census tracts with the lowest average incomes have been hit the hardest by job losses. Conversely census tracts with higher average incomes have not been hit as hard by the shrinking economy. 

Sites USA has created an interactive map which also visualizes the astonishing rise in the unemployment figures over the course of this year. The Unemployment Map shows the AGS labor force estimates at county level across the whole of the United States. 

The map includes a date option which allows you to view the weekly unemployment numbers since the beginning of March. As you can see in the animated GIF above there was an incredible rise in the unemployment figures during lock-down across the whole country. If you want to know how your local job market has performed since March then click on your county on the map. You can then view a graph showing the unemployment figures from the 7th March to the end of July in the selected county. 

The History of Women's Voting Rights

In 1838 Kentucky allowed widows and some unmarried women who owned property to vote in elections relating to schools. It was the first time that women were allowed to vote in any state election. It would be nearly another eighty years before the 1920 19th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, requiring all states to allow women to vote. (although it is important to remember that black women were only officially allowed to exercise their vote when the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965). From 1838 to 1920 there was a slow spread of women's suffrage across the United States as suffrage campaigns steadily won voting rights for women across the country.

The University of Washington's Mapping American Social Movements Project has created an interactive timeline map of women's voting rights in the United States. The Woman Suffrage Timeline and Map shows when each state introduced women's suffrage, covering the years from 1838 to 1919.

The animated map of women's suffrage is just one of a number of interactive maps chronicling the history of the women's suffrage movement in America that have been created by the Mapping American Social Movements Project. The Woman Suffrage History and Geography 1838-1920 includes links to a story map exploring the history of the National Woman's Party, a map of the National Woman's Party offices and political actions in Washington D.C. and a map of National Woman's Party actions nationwide.
In the UK women over 30 (who met minimum property qualifications) were allowed to vote from 1918. Younger women had to wait until 1928, when all women and men over 21 were given the vote on equal terms. These voting rights were only agreed after many years of campaigning by the women's suffrage movement. 

Mapping Women’s Suffrage is a map of some of the thousands of Votes for Women campaigners who were active across England in 1911. By 1911 the women's suffrage movement in England had been active for over 50 years. In the 20th Century many women, frustrated at the lack of progress, became more militant in their campaigning. Many suffragettes pursued a strategy of ‘spectacle politics’, which included smashing windows, arson and other headline grabbing protests.

The Mapping Women's Suffrage map uses data from the 1911 census to map the locations of women suffrage campaigners in England. The 1911 census itself became an issue in the campaign for votes for women. Some suffragettes called for women to boycott the census with the slogan 'No Vote, No Census'.

On the interactive map the location of suffragettes are shown using colored markers. The colors of these markers indicate the suffragette society belonged to. If you click on a marker you can view the selected woman's census and all available information, including home address, age and occupation. Where available there is also detailed biographical information about her role in the suffragette movement.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

From Mountain High to Valley Low

Over the last few months, during lock-down, I have been enjoying expanding my horizons by exploring virtual tours of the world's museums. However it is not healthy to spend so much time inside - even virtually. Sometimes you also need to virtually explore the great outdoors.

Google Art & Culture's The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks takes you on a virtual journey to parts of America's National Parks that you normally don't get to see. This extended virtual tour uses a combination of Street View, 360 degree video, sound recordings and photographs to reveal some of the hidden wonders of nature in five of America's many National Parks.

There are five virtual tours in The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks. These are:
  • Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico
  • Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah
  • Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida 
On each of these five separate tours of the National Parks a Park Ranger takes you on a virtual journey to see some of the park's hidden wonders. For example in the Dry Tortugas tour you get to dive underwater to view a shipwreck, a coral reef and also get to visit a civil war era fort. In Carlsbad Caverns you get to experience the incredible flight of thousands of bats. In Hawaii you can fly over flowing lava. In Alaska you can Kayak through icebergs and in Utah you can ride on horseback through a canyon.

After diving through a shipwreck you are probably ready to climb El Capitan. In 2015 Google decided to climb El Capitan in Yosemite. El Capitan, Yosemite is an incredibly thrilling Street View tour up the 3,000 foot vertical cliff of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. To capture this vertigo inducing panoramic imagery Google employed the help of three experienced climbers: Lynn Hill, Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell. Are you brave enough to join them by undertaking this virtual Street View climb? The reward is some astonishingly beautiful views.

If you enjoyed exploring the great outdoors with these virtual tours you may also enjoy Submarine Streetview, which looks at the virtual tours created by U.S. aquariums & zoos and also at the wonderful underwater Street View imagery available on Google Earth's The World's Ocean collection.

Who is Buying in Spain?

Germans prefer Mallorca, Brits prefer Ibiza & Menorca

Spain is a popular destination for European retirees. It is also a popular location for people who can afford a second home. The joint attractions of the sea and the sun make Spanish coastal resorts a very attractive destination for people from all over the world.

The Spanish real-estate listings company idealista looked at where overseas visitors to their webiste were most interested in viewing and buying Spanish coastal properties. In Where Do Expats Invest in Property on the Spanish Coast? idealista has mapped out which nationality made up the most overseas visitors to each Spanish coastal area on its property listings website in June.

British, Germans, French & Americans (in that order) are the nationalities which seem most interested in buying a coastal property in Spain. However they are not all interested in buying properties in the same parts of Spain and it seems like different nationalities prefer different coastal areas. The Brits are very fond of the Costa del Sol (Malaga). Lots of Brits are also very keen on properties in Ibiza. Mallorca seems to be a very popular destination for Germans. Americans on the other hand prefer the north-east, where various coastal areas around Barcelona have more Americans searching for property than potential buyers from any other country.

As you move the interactive map around the sidebar updates to show the nationalities most searching in the current map view. The colors on the map show the average unit price of property in each coastal area. You can use the filter control in the map sidebar to show you all the coastal regions with an average unit price of your selected range. You can therefore use this filter to discover where the cheapest and most expensive coastal properties are. Formentera is the most expensive region (most favored by Italians), the region of Xove is the cheapest (most favored by Brits).

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

The Mega Map of Minerals

Last month in Microscopic Mapping I looked at a number of examples of mapping libraries being used to map and visualize high resolution imagery of cells, tardigrades and insects. Now it is the turn of minerals.

British & Exotic Mineralogy is a beautiful visualization and map of James Sowerby’s astonishing 19th Century drawings of minerals. This 'interactive map' allows you to zoom-in and explore 2,242 illustrations of minerals made by James Sowerby’s between 1802–1817. The map is interactive, which means you can click on individual minerals to read James Sowerby's own original notes on the selected illustrated mineral.

James Sowerby was an English naturalist and mineralogist. He was also a very talented illustrator. Among his many achievements Sowerby published two landmark illustrated books on mineralogy. These two books included hundreds of Sowerby's beautiful illustrations of minerals found in Great Britain and elsewhere. You can now explore these illustrations in close detail using the British & Exotic Mineralogy interactive map.

On the map all Sowerby's illustrations have been organized and sorted by color. After determining the key color in each illustration the individual minerals have been sorted by hue and brightness. The huge collage of all Sowerby's mineral illustrations was turned into map tiles by using Zoomify. The created map tile images are then presented as an interactive map using the OpenSeadragon viewer for high-resolution zoomable images.

The Melbourne 5km Travel Map

Due to a spike in Covid-19 cases the Australian government has introduced strict new lock-down rules in the city of Melbourne. If you live in Melbourne you are now only allowed to leave your home to shop for food & essential items, for care & care-giving, for daily exercise and for work.

There is also now a 5 km travel restriction in place. You can only exercise and shop for food within a 5 km radius from your home (except if the nearest supermarket is further than 5 km). ABC News has created a simple Leaflet.js interactive map which can show you this 5 km radius around your home. Enter your address into ABC's What is within 5km of your Melbourne home? map and you can view a red 5 km circle centered on your house, showing the area within which you are now allowed to travel.

Philip Mallis has also created a quick map which visualizes a 5 km circle around every Melbourne supermarket. Supermarkets in Melbourne with a 5 km Buffer uses OpenStreetMap data to reveal that most residents of the city will not need to travel further than 5 km to visit a supermarket. Although there do seem to be a number of food deserts in the city's outer suburbs, where residents may have to travel further afield.

Monday, August 03, 2020

Why Won't Wyoming Stay Home?

In 12 U.S. states people are visiting retail and recreation venues more now than they were before lock-down restrictions were put in place. In Wyoming retail and recreation venues have actually seen a 13% increase in visits over the February average. At the other end of the scale Washington D.C. is currently seeing a 48% drop in visits to retail and recreation venues on its February average.

Google's Community Mobility Reports provide insights into how people's movements in countries around the world have altered during the period of lock-down and also how mobility has changed since countries have begun to ease movement restrictions. The reports use aggregated, anonymized data gleaned from your mobile phones to chart movement trends over time. They show how visits to different categories of venues (retail & recreation, groceries & pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential) have been effected by government lock-downs.

Google's Community Mobility Reports show that people in Wyoming just don't want to say home. You can explore this for yourself using Gramener's visualization of community mobility in each of Google's mobility categories.

Gramener's Community Mobility in the United States visualizes how visits in each of Google's movement categories has changed during the period between February 15 and June 23 in each state. The visualization uses small multiples to show the movement history in each state over time from before movement restrictions were imposed up until mid-June.

13 states in the United States now have higher transit station mobility than before the lock-down. Which suggests that in those states more people are using public transport than they were in February. I guess the lock-down is effectively over in those states which are showing increased levels of mobility in both the retail and transit categories. Wyoming is showing increased levels of mobility in both areas.

Apple's daily published Mobility Trends Report also provides a useful insight into how well different areas around the world are managing to restrict movement. The Apple Mobility Trends Reports shows the level of requests made on Apple Maps for walking, driving and transit directions.

Not that I'm obsessed about Wyoming but the Mobility Trends Report shows that there are more and more driving requests being made to Apple in that state. For Wyoming Apple currently only shows driving routing requests. On the latest day with recorded data (Aug 1) there was a 298% increase in the number of driving requests than were made on Jan 13. It is becoming more and more clear that people in Wyoming just don't want to stay home.

Facebook's Movement Trends uses a number of different metrics to estimate mobility rates for people in the USA and in other countries around the world. Currently Facebook's Movement Trends map of the United States shows just one state where the rates of mobility are not lower now than they were in February. You guessed it - that state is Wyoming. Wyoming also seems to have one of the lowest percentages of 'people staying put'.

Google's Community Mobility reports show that in Wyoming there is a 4% increase in people staying home since Feb 15 (the residential category). While it is encouraging that some people in the state are actually staying home more it is still the second lowest state percentage after Montana (3%). Washington D.C. has the highest increase, with a 20% increase in the number of people being tracked at home.

New confirmed cases in Wyoming

Google, Apple and Facebook all seem to show that people in Wyoming are on the move now more than they actually were before lock-down. Wyoming currently has one of the lowest death rates for Covid-19. The fact that people in Wyoming feel relatively safe and have less direct experience of the effects of Covid-19 might be one reason why people in Wyoming are less inclined to isolate at home than in other states. However if I lived in Wyoming I would also be very worried by the Johns Hopkins' Recent Trends graph, which is showing a steady uptick in the number of Covid-19 cases being reported in the state.