Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Geography of European Drug Taking


Amsterdam is the European capital of ecstasy users. According to an analysis of European wastewater treatment plants more MDMA is consumed in Amsterdam than in any other European city.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has estimated the levels of consumption of different recreational drugs in major European cities. The Centre uses a process of back-calculation to estimate the consumption of drugs based on the trace amounts entering wastewater treatment plants. You can browse the results of the EMCDDA's analysis on an interactive map of European City Drug Use.

The map shows the estimated levels of drug use for over 70 European cities. The map allows you to view the estimated consumption of cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine and MDMA. The scaled markers on the map represent the estimated consumption levels of the drug selected. The map includes a number of filtering tools which allow you to view the estimated levels of consumption for different years and for different days of the week.

Cocaine use is highest in western and southern cities in Europe. Cocaine is not used so much in eastern Europe. Amphetamine use is very low in southern Europe. Amphetamines are used much more in cities in northern and eastern Europe. Methamphetamine use has historically been low in Europe, except for Czechia and Slovakia. It now seems to be becoming more popular in parts of east Germany.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Mapping the World's 7,111 Living Languages


There are 7,111 languages still being spoken around the world. However at least a third of those languages are in danger of dying out. Ethnologue's Living Languages interactive map shows where all 7,111 living languages, as of 2018, are spoken around the world.

The language markers on the map are colored by region (with locations assigned to primary countries). Nearly two thirds of the world's languages are from Asia and Africa. These two continents have the densest concentration of different languages. However the vast majority of the world speak a European or Asian language. 18.5% of the world's languages are Pacific languages. However on average only about 1,000 people speak each of those languages, therefore only a very small percentage of the world's population speak one of those Pacific languages.

Papua New Guinea is the country with the most different languages. There are 840 different living languages in Papua New Guinea. Indonesia comes next with 710 languages. Nigeria is third with 524 languages.


You can learn more about many of the languages on the Living Languages map using the Langscape Map, a map which provides information on around 6,000 languages spoken around the world. You can click anywhere on the Langscape Map to view which languages are spoken at that location.

As well as helping you discover which languages are spoken where, the map includes information about demographics, language families and audio recordings & text materials. After clicking on a location on the map you can select any of the listed languages to view information about it beneath the map.

Moving From Coal to Gas & Renewable Energy


The United States is undergoing a major shift in how it generates electricity. Over recent years there has been a large shift away from coal and towards gas, wind, and solar. Electricity Transition has released a great story map which illustrates this movement from coal powered electricity to other forms of energy.

Electricity Transition uses a series of animated heat-maps to show the rise of solar and wind energy over recent years. These animated heat-maps are very effective in showing the increasing use of solar and wind energy and also the areas where both methods of electricity generation are being most used.

After viewing the animated tours of electricity generation you can explore the map and data for yourself. A drop-down menu allows you to select to view different sources of energy, including coal, gas, solar, wind, nuclear and hydro. Once you select an energy source you can use the map timeline to view the levels of electricity production from that source over time. If you zoom in on the map you can view the locations of individual power plants. The dot markers that appear when you zoom in are scaled to show the levels of electricity generated. The size of these markers will change as you change the year to reflect the different levels of power generation at plants over the passage of time.

You can also explore America's power supply on the U.S. Power Plants map. U.S. Power Plants is an interactive map showing the locations, size and type of America's electric power plants. The map is a great way to see where different types of power plant are located, how much each type of energy source contributes to the country's power supply and how much each source contributes to America's CO2 emissions.

Mapping the Midwest Floods


The American Midwest is currently suffering from record levels of flooding. Heavy rains and snow melt following last week's bomb cyclone has led to unprecedented flooding in areas of Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota.

The New York Times has used river gauge data from the United States Geological Survey to visualize river heights along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers over the last six days. The map animates through Wednesday 13th through to Monday 18th showing the record river height levels over these six days. The NYT's Rising Waters map is an effective visualization of how quickly the height of rivers in the Midwest rose over the last week. However it doesn't actually reveal the extent of flooding in the area.


Vox has used satellite imagery to illustrate the scale of the flooding in the Midwest. In What the historic Midwest floods look like from space Vox compares two satellite images of Nebraska side-by-side. One of the images was taken in March 2018. The other was captured on March 16th this year. This side-by-side comparison clearly shows the extent of flooding along the Missouri, Platte and Elkhorn rivers around the city of Omaha.


The Washington Post has released both a map of stream gauges and before & after satellite images to illustrate the effect of the cyclone bomb on the Midwest. The Post's Satellite Images Show the Devastating Floods in the Midwest uses a static map to show all the stream gauges with levels above flood stage on March 19th. The Post has also published an animated GIF which compares two satellite images of the Missouri River. The images are from May of last year and from March 15th this year. Comparing the two images in this way reveals the extent of the swollen tributaries of the Mississippi River. The Post's article is illustrated with a number of other before and after satellite images of flooded locations in the Midwest.

USA Today has also published a series of satellite images revealing the extent of flooding in the Midwest.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Mapping the Ganges & Its Pollution


Reuters reports that the Indian government has pledged to spend nearly $3 billion on cleaning up the Ganges. The Ganges is of huge religious and cultural importance to millions of Indians. Millions of Indians also depend on the river everyday to supply their water needs. Unfortunately the river is also hugely polluted by industrial waste and plastics (some of this comes from religious offerings wrapped in non-biodegradable plastic).

In The Race to Save the River Ganges Reuters claims that the Indian government has not spent most of the money that it has promised to cleaning the Ganges. In fact untreated sewage is still being dumped in the river in huge quantities. The Reuters report includes an animated map which traces the course of the river Ganges from the pristine waters at its source in the foothills of the Himalayas to its entry into Bangladesh. This map also shows the extent of the Ganges' tributaries across Tibet, Nepal and Bangladesh. A population density overlay on the map shows how the river basin is a vital source of water for over 400 million people. A polluted Ganges is a very big problem to millions of people.

Under the story map in the Reuter's report is a fabulous flow map of the river Ganges. As you scroll through this flow map of the river you can see where sewage-drains, factories and other rivers pour pollution into the river as it moves downstream. There is an element of Minard's famous visualization of Napoleon's March on Moscow to this flow map. As you move down river on the strip map the size of the river grows to show the accumulated levels of wastewater discharged into the Ganges as the river flows across India. The daily amount of wastewater entering the river every day is 6.07 billion litres.

Who Will Win the Global City Race?


Animated bar chart races have suddenly become a very popular method for visualizing data over time. Their recent popularity owes much to John Murdoch's 18 Years of Interbrand’s Top Global Brands.

This animated bar chart race shows the brand value of the top global brands from the years 2000-2018. As the animation plays out each brand's bar on the chart grows or shrinks to reflect the brand's value. The bars also re-sort themselves automatically to show the most valuable brand at the top and the least valuable brand at the bottom. If a brand falls out of the top twelve most valuable brands then it falls off the bar graph. This method of visualization is very effective in showing the sudden rise or sudden fall in the value of a brand in comparison to the world's other large brands and the performance of these brands over time.

John Murdoch has now released another impressive animated bar race. This one shows The Most Populous Cities in the World from 1500 to 2018. This bar chart race is an incredibly interesting visualization of the world's most populated cities. There is something hypnotically fascinating watching different cities move up and down the chart over time as their populations rise and fall in comparison to other cities around the world. The bar chart is accompanied by a map which shows the location of the currently displayed most populated cities. Each city's bar on the chart is also colored by global region. The colors on the chart and the map help to reveal any regional patterns in the relative rise and fall of city populations.

As fantastic as John's visualization is I hope that there is more to come. I'd love a date control so that I could manually navigate to view the most populated cities in specific years. I'd also love some historical commentary with the visualization to provide some context or explanation as to why different cities rise or fall in the visualization. For example, when the visualization starts in 1500 Vijayanagar is the second most populous city in the world. It then suddenly drops off the chart in 1565. According to Wikipedia "In 1565 ... the city fell to a coalition of Muslim Sultanates. The conquered capital city of Vijayanagara was looted and destroyed, after which it remained in ruins.". An annotated version of The Most Populous Cities in the World would keep me happy for days.

As it is The Most Populous Cities in the World is totally awesome. What is even better is that it has been built and released as an Observable Notebook. That means anyone can fork, use and adapt the code. If you click on the 'dataset' line in the code you can see how the data for the visualization is formatted and click through to view the csv file where the data is held. This means that it would be a relatively trivial matter to adapt the visualization to work with your own data. Therefore you could create your own bar chart race, for example to show the most populated countries in the world over time or to show the most populated cities in your country over time. You could use economic data to show the GDP per capita of cities or countries over time. You could show the average life of death in cities or countries over time. In fact the bar chart race method is a great way to visualize lots of different types of data that has a time element.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Deathscapes of China


The huge level of development in twenty-first century China has been bad news for the dead. The high premium on land in the country has resulted in a kind of graveyard gentrification, where those who had thought they had reached their final resting place have had their graves forcibly relocated to other locations. In fact around ten million graves have been exhumed and moved in just the last ten years.

Chinese Deathscape: Grave Reform in Modern China by Thomas S. Mullaney, Professor of Chinese History at Stanford University, explores the reasons behind this modern policy of grave relocation and burial reform in China. The essay examines the incentives and punishments imposed by the central government to encourage regions to meet their grave relocation quotas. It also looks at how these grave relocations have been reported by the media and have been perceived by the Chinese people.

Accompanying the essay is an interactive map of the locations around China where graves have been exhumed. The size of the markers on the map reflects the number of graves relocated at each location. The annotated locations in the text are particularly impressive. If you click on an underlined passage in the essay then the map will center on the mentioned location. In addition a line is drawn from the text to its actual location on the interactive map. If you select locations on the map you can view details on the date of the relocation and the numbers of graves exhumed.

Who Owns NYC?


Lots of buildings in New York City are owned by shell companies, which are used by landlords to maintain anonymity in order to hide themselves from tenants and avoid repercussions. That is why JustFix.nyc has launched Who Owns What in NYC?, a service which reveals the buildings owned by individual landlords and by management companies.

If you enter a New York address into Who Own What in NYC? you can view an interactive map which shows all the other buildings in the city which your landlord might own. Select any of the highlighted buildings on the map and you can view the name of the registered owner and their business address. You can also view details about the building, including the name of the site manager, the year the building was constructed and the number of violations and evictions associated with the building.

The map also includes a button to connect with JustFix.nyc if you are having issues with an individual building. Pressing this button will allow JustFix.nyc to send a certified letter of complaint to the landlord about your issues with the property.


If you are having problems with a New York landlord you might also be interested in some of the data visualizations released by the Acting Public Advocate of the New York City Council concerning New York's residential evictions. One of these, Evictions: NYC residents are affected by evictions every day, allows you to explore New York's eviction rates by year, zip code, or district.

There were over 19,000 people evicted in New York City in 2018. If you select individual markers on the interactive eviction map you can view the eviction property's address and the date that the eviction notice was executed. The Bronx has the highest rate of evictions in New York City. Brooklyn has the second highest rate, closely followed by Queens in third place.

A second Building History interactive map allows you to explore 2018 evictions by building type, year of construction and by rent stabilized properties. The map menu on this interactive map also allows you to view the buildings with the most evictions in 2018. 16 Richman Plaza was the individual property with the most evictions last year. This property, owned by River Park Residences, had 60 evictions.

If you enter the address "16 Richman Plaza" into Who Owns What in NYC? you can view a map of all 84 buildings owned by this landlord in New York. Eugene Schneur appears to be the landlord associate with all 84 of these buildings. Interestingly Eugene Schneur isn't even in the top 100 worst landlords in New York, based on the 2018 NYC Landlord Watchlist from the Public Advocate for the City of New York.

The Rising Temperatures of Europe


Since 1960 every European city has become hotter. Lisa Charlotte Rost has used historical temperature data from Berkeley Earth to visualize how much the average temperature has risen or fallen in every European city since 1960. The interactive map in Which European cities have gotten warmer? (Spoiler: All of them) uses colored markers to show the average temperature difference in European cities. If you hover over a city's marker you can view the name of the city and the number of degrees centigrade that the average temperature has risen in the city since 1960.

There appears to be some geographical differences in the extent to which average temperatures have risen in Europe. North-eastern Europe has seen the highest rises in average temperatures. The three European cities which have seen the highest rises (Orsha, Minsk & Gomel) are all in Belarus. Chernihiv in neighboring Ukraine has witnessed the next highest rise in average temperatures. The lowest average temperature rises are all in south-east Europe. Six cities, all in Greece, have the lowest average rises on the map. Cities in neighboring countries such as Cyprus, Bulgaria and Macedonia also appear to have warmed by a smaller degree than Europe as a whole.

The average temperature rise in Patrai, Greece since 1960 is 1.59 degrees centigrade. This is the smallest rise recorded on the map. The highest average temperature rise was in Orsha, Belarus. The rise recorded there was 3.33 degree centigrade.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

John Ogilby's Cartography


Earlier this week Layers of London, a website dedicated to visualizing London's history, added a new vintage map layer to their interactive maps. The new layer allows you to explore Layers of London's historical events on top of John Ogilby and William Morgan's 1676 map of London.

Ogilby and Morgan's map was created after the Great Fire of London in 1666. The map was originally intended to assist in the planning out of land in the City after the fire. It is believed to be the first map to show every building in London in plan (rather than through an oblique bird's eye pictorial view).

The screenshot above shows the plan of the new St. Paul's Cathedral. The old cathedral had been destroyed in the Great Fire of London. Work on the new cathedral had begun in the 1670's (when this map was surveyed) but was not completed until 1711. Ogilby & Morgan's map therefore presumably uses Sir Christopher Wren's own plans to show where the completed cathedral would soon stand.

You can view another online interactive application of Ogilby and Morgan's map on the British History Online website.



Ogilby & Morgan's map of London was published one month after Ogilby's death in 1676. As a cartographer Ogilby is probably better known for his Britannia Atlas. This atlas of roads in England & Wales is presented in a series of scrolls. Each scroll includes just one journey, shown as a strip map, from one British town to another. The Britannia Atlas includes 85 routes and provides a guide to navigating over 7,500 miles of road. The Britannia was therefore Britain's first proper road atlas. In the 1670's the finished atlas cost £5 to buy, or the equivalent of around £700 in today's money.

Late in his life Ogilby was appointed 'Cosmographer and Geographic Printer' to Charles II. However cartography was only a small part of Ogilby's life. During his relatively long life he had also been a dance teacher, a tailor a translator of Virgil, a publisher, and the founder of the first theatre in Dublin. He made a lot of money from his translations of Virgil but, if John Dryden is to be believed, Ogilby was probably a better cartographer than he was a translator. Dryden claimed that Ogilby's work was only good enough to be used for toilet paper or wrapping pies ('martyrs of pies, and relics of the bum'). I assume Dryden was unimpressed with Ogilby's translations of Latin. I can't believe Dryden would wipe his arse with Ogilby and Morgan's superb map of London.