Monday, July 28, 2014

Create a Customized Trip Map


The KLM Must See application is a pretty cool tool to create a nice customized map for an upcoming trip. Using the application you can choose a city which you plan to visit soon and create a map of places you want to visit.

Using the application you can easily add places to the map which you want to visit on your trip. The map uses the Google Places API, so that as you type in a venue it should automatically appear beneath the search box. You just need to select the correct suggestion and a map pin is automatically added to the map. This also means that you can type in generic terms, such as 'museum' or 'gallery' to view a list of these venues in your chosen city.

The application also allows you to connect with your friends, via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail invite, so that they can recommend places on the map for you to visit.

The KLM map also makes good use of the Styled Maps feature in the Google Maps API to create a map in the KLM livery colors. The folded paper effect on the KLM map uses a well established image masking trick.

Mapping Buildings by Tax Revenue


Harvesting Our Cities' Land for Dollars is a map which shows the tax revenue per hectare of every building in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Building plots on the map are colored by the amount of tax revenue per hectare generated by each building. If you select a building on the map you can view the tax revenue per hectare of the building for 2011 and 2014. Another map shows the median change in the tax revenues of each building between the two years.

The maps are accompanied by a an interesting article explaining how the map was created with TileMill and Mapbox.

Mapping the Growth of OpenStreetMap


OSM Then and Now allows you to view OpenStreetMap coverage around the world in 2007 side-by-side with today's OpenStreetMap.

OpenStreetMap was started in the UK in 2004. OSM Then and Now shows that by 2007 OpenStreetMap was still a largely European project. By 2007 European cities, such as London, Amsterdam and Berlin had been comprehensively mapped. Conversely coverage in the rest of the world was very patchy and practically non-existent in most countries.

Even in many European cities OSM in 2007 was nowhere near as comprehensive as it is now. The screenshot above shows the map of Paris. You can clearly see that in 2007 (on the left) although the road map was fairly detailed the map was largely free of points of interest, building plots and other map features.


However Paris in 2007 was still mapped in far more detail than say Washington D.C.. In 2007 Washington D.C. did have a few major roads mapped but the sparse coverage meant that OSM in 2007 could never really have been used to navigate the US capital.


Because OSM is a crowd-sourced project its growth depends on its ability to attract active members. The Stats page on the OpenStreetMap Wiki has some useful information on the rising popularity of OSM. Back in 2007 OSM had less than 50,000 members. It is now quickly approaching 2 million registered users.


In 2011 Skobbler created this nice timelapse video showing the growth of OpenStreetMap coverage in Europe. The video shows the growth of OSM in Europe between 2006 and 2011.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Maps of the Week


This week a couple of news maps really caught my attention. First up is Liveuamap, a Google Map reporting incidents from the crisis in Ukraine. The map is a nonprofit, volunteer run project with a mission to inform the world about the on-going conflict in Ukraine.

The latest events in the country are plotted on the map using categorized map markers and are also listed in a map side-panel. The blue map markers relate to Ukrainian government actions and the red markers show the actions of the pro-Russian rebels.

The map includes a date picker so that you can select to view reported incidents from any date during the conflict. It also includes dynamic URL's so that you directly link to any incident reported on the map.


There have been quite a few news maps over the years and none of them have been better than Breaking News. Breaking News is an impressive website highlighting the latest news stories around the world. The site includes two main elements, a map and a news stream. Users can either read the posted news stories by clicking on the map pins or on the streamed news story headlines.

One of the nicest features of Breaking News is the 'ongoing stories' function. The news stream includes an 'ongoing stories' section and the headlines in the news stream are also tagged with these 'ongoing stories'. If you select an ongoing story from the news stream the map updates to show only the geo-tagged news items related to your chosen news topic.

The site includes a number of other neat features, such as the ability to search for news stories and to save topics.


I Know Where Your Cat Lives is not the most innovative of maps but it has to be included in this week's round-up of the best maps, if only because it has been the most popular map on social media over the last few days.

One of the earliest popular uses of the Google Maps API was Gawker Stalker. The now defunct Gawker Stalker allowed you to track the movements of your favorite celebrities thanks to the detailed stalking carried out by Gawker and their readers.

If there is one thing more popular than celebrities on the internet then that is pictures of cats. It is therefore surprising that we have had to wait seven years for someone to finally get around to releasing I Know Where Your Cat Lives.

I Know Where Your Cat Lives displays pictures of cats on a Google Map. The pictures of the cats come from popular photo sharing websites and the locations are based on the data hidden in cat photo metadata.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Namesake Towns on Street View


While searching for Street View of Camden, North London this morning I accidentally ended up taking a virtual stroll around the derelict streets of Camden, New Jersey instead. I was struck by the obvious differences in fortunes of the trendy London neighborhood and its run-down namesake in America.

This got me interested in exploring some other towns and their namesakes on Street View. I've put together a few juxtapositions of these Street View images from towns with common names.

Twin Cities places two Street View images from two towns which share a name side-by-side. Among the more interesting comparisons is the hustle and bustle of Times Square in New York with the quaint Shambles in York.

Putting News on the Map


There have been quite a few news maps over the years and none of them have been better than Breaking News. Breaking News is an impressive website highlighting the latest news stories around the world. The site includes two main elements, a map and a news stream. Users can either read the posted news stories by clicking on the map pins or on the streamed news story headlines.

One of the nicest features of Breaking News is the 'ongoing stories' function. The news stream includes an 'ongoing stories' section and the headlines in the news stream are also tagged with these 'ongoing stories'. If you select an ongoing story from the news stream the map updates to show only the geo-tagged news items related to your chosen news topic.

The site includes a number of other neat features, such as the ability to search for news stories and to save topics.

Two Libraries Looking for a Story


I'm still convinced that animating Twitter data isn't the best way to use CartoDB's Torque library. I'm also pretty sure that the Torque library isn't the best way to map the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I'm therefore not overly impressed with Al Jazeera's map of Israeli-Palestinian conflict related Twitter messages. We hardly need an animated Twitter map to tell us that the conflict is currently big news all around the world.

What is interesting about this map is that Torque is being used here within CartoDB's Odyssey.js narrative mapping platform. To that extent the map is a good example of how Torque and Odyssey.js can be combined to create an animated map of geo-tagged data, in which interesting stories within the data can be highlighted on the map.

Combining the two libraries can enable developers to create very powerful animated maps of data and to actually explain the stories and narratives that emerge from that data. Unfortunately at the moment the only other example I've seen of Torque and Odyssey.js combined is another animated Twitter map - Ramadan: How the World Celebrates.

I'm fairly certain that sometime soon someone is going to create an amazing map with Torque and Odyssey.js. There is a lot of time-stamped geo-tagged data out there just waiting for someone to map using Torque & Odyssey.js. It's just not on Twitter.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Urban Elders of Seattle


The Seattle Times has created an interactive map of Nielsen demographic groups in Seattle.

The Nielsen Company categorizes people into 66 different demographic groups in order to help businesses target their marketing more effectively. By looking at the dominant groups in different neighborhoods the market-research company can than infer generalized characteristics of the local residents.

The Seattle Times' What Your Census Tract Says About You is an interactive map revealing the two most dominant Nielsen categories in each Seattle neighborhood. Click on a Seattle neighborhood and you can find out what Nielsen thinks about the people who live there.


These Nielsen categories suggest that there may be a future for Judgemental Maps within the marketing world. These stereotype maps may not be quite as well researched as Nielsen's neighborhood categories but I'm sure they are made with much more real local knowledge.

Looking at the two maps above there does to be some sort of agreement between the two. Where the judgmental map has 'Republicans' the Seattle Times has 'Executive Suites' and where the judgmental map has 'Single Girls Drinking Wine' the Seattle Times has 'Bohemian Mix'

Mapping the US Drought


The New York Times has published an interesting animated map to visualize the spread of drought conditions in the US over the last five months. Mapping the Spread of Drought Across the U.S. includes a number of weekly updated charts with an animated map to show the latest extent of the drought in the western and south-western states.

The map animates through the last five months showing heat maps of where the drought has been most severe. I'm not entirely sure how the map was created but based on the Mike Bostock credit I'm assuming the map was created with d3, using SVG to draw the map and the drought areas. The map may also be using path transitions to help smooth the animations between the different drought by date SVG paths.

Mapping Squatting in Berlin


Berlin Besetzt is a map showing the locations of squats in Berlin from 1970 to the present day. You can view all the houses that have been squatted in this period or you can use the date slide control to view the history of squatting in Berlin over the last few decades.

Using the date control it appears that 1981 was the golden age for squatters in Berlin. It is also interesting to note the rise of squatting in east Berlin after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The map also reveals that Kreuzberg has remained a very popular area for Berlin squatters for more that thirty years.