Thursday, May 23, 2019

How Your Neighbors Voted

Jackson, Mississippi is the most politically segregated city in America. In Jackson Democrats and Republicans tend to live in very different areas of the city and there are very few neighborhoods where both Republicans and Democrats live side-by-side.

FiveThirtyEight has released a new tool which allows you to see Where Democrats and Republicans Live in Your City. If you enter an address into the tool you can view an interactive map colored to reveal where your city voted Democrat and Republican. On the interactive map each precinct is colored to show the margin of support for the most popular party based on the 2016 Presidential election.

After viewing the map of your city you can scroll down the page to see how segregated your city is based on FiveThirtyEight's partisan dissimilarity index. This ranks your city based on how politically divided it is. Having looked at the results across the USA FiveThirtyEight claim that Republican enclaves in cities tend to be in low-density, less centralized neighborhoods. The cities with the highest political segregation tend to be cities with a high proportion of black residents. Looking at FiveThirtyEight's list of the cities with the highest partisan dissimilarity index score it appears that the most segregated cities are in the Deep South. As FiveThirtyEight points out the "persistence of racial segregation in American cities continues to define those cities’ politics".

What Happened to the Romanovs?

The Russian Imperial Romanov family ruled over Russia for over 300 years. That rule came to an end with the Russian Revolution. In 1917, during the revolution, seventeen members of the imperial family lost their lives. 45 other members of the extended Romanov family managed to escape Russia and fled to other parts of the world.

The Russian news agency Tass has created a data visualization project which traces the history of every single member of the Romanov family from 1847 to 2007. The project consists of a family tree, an interactive map and a timeline. The interactive map in The Romanov's Twilight shows where individual members of the Romanov family ended up after the revolution. 13 of the family, including Emperor Nicholas II and his immediate family, were killed in the city of Yekaterinburg. Some members of the Romanov family managed to escape the revolution and ended up living in countries around the world, including the USA, the UK, Argentina and Egypt.

If you click on an individual Romanov in the extended family tree you can view a brief biography of the chosen individual. This biography also includes an interactive map. This small map shows the individual life journey of the selected Romanov. The map shows their place of birth, where they died and other places where they may have lived in between.

If you are interested in Russian history then you might also like Borders of Russia 1462-2018, which is an interactive map visualizing the ever changing political boundaries of Russia since the 15th Century. You may also be interested in Histography's interactive map of Russian History. This map explores Russia's history from the year 862 right up until the present day.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Where the Richest Australians Live

Australia's richest people seem to live in New South Wales and Western Australia. All 10 of the top neighborhoods for income earners can be found in these two states. Ashburton in WA has the highest proportion of residents who are in the top income bracket in the whole of Australia. According to ABC this is due to the 'prevalence of the mining industry in the area'.

ABC has mapped out the average annual income in each local government area (LGA) in the country. ABC's How does your income compare to everyone else’s? includes a story map which takes you on a tour of a choropleth visualization of the average income in each LGA. This story map highlights the areas of Australia with the highest and lowest average incomes. The areas with the lowest average incomes can often be found in regions with a higher than average Indigenous population. These areas also tend to be very remote.

As well as this interactive map the ABC article includes a tool which can tell you where you sit on the scale of the lowest to highest-earning Australians, based on your income. Enter your weekly income into this tool and you can find out the percentage of the country who earn more than you and the percentage who earn less. The article also includes information on which professions make up the largest proportion of those in the top income bracket.

The Global Internet Map

This blog post was written on my laptop in London. From there it was sent digitally along fiber optic cables from my home to my Internet Service Provider's port servers. From there the post traveled to Google's servers and from there it travels via the global internet network to computers around the world. To reach your computer or phone this blog post has traveled along thousands of miles of terrestrial and submarine cables.

The Infrapedia - Global Internet Network, Datacenter and Infrastructure Atlas is an interactive map of the data centers, undersea cables, premium vendors, IXPs and networks which make up the global internet. The map is fully interactive, which means you can select individual cables and data centers on the map to discover information about who they are owned by and when they were built.Where available this information also includes a link to the service's Wikipedia page.

If you select the 'Future Only' option you can view cables which are currently under construction or which are in the planning stages. Selecting these cables on the map allows you to learn which year they will become active.

Every year Telegeography releases a new updated version of its interactive map of the global network of undersea telecommunication cables. The 2019 Telegeography Submarine Cable Map highlights the huge recent building boom in submarine cables. In the next few years around 107 new submarine cables will be laid around the world, adding over 400,000 kilometers of new telecommunication cable to the global network.

A number of information insets along the bottom of Telegeography's 2019 internet map help explain this new building boom. These include insets showing new countries which will soon be connected for the first time and the amount of new cables being laid in the different global regions. Content providers, such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft, are investing and driving much of this new building boom in submarine cables. An inset for each of these companies shows where each company is driving the construction in new submarine cable infrastructure.

Rivers Should Flow Free

The number of free-flowing rivers around the world is falling drastically. Of the world's longest rivers (over 1,000 kilometres in length) only a third remain free-flowing. These remaining free-flowing rivers can only be found in areas which are relatively underpopulated by humans, for example in the Arctic and the Amazon and Congo basins.

The result of restricting the free-flow of rivers is extensive damage to the environment, river biodiversity and floodplain agriculture. The free-flow of rivers can be disrupted in many ways, including dams & reservoirs, the construction of buildings & bridges, agriculture and disruption to natural aquifers and floodplains. Free-flowing rivers contribute to biodiversity, they help to maintain natural floodplains, they help to maintain fish stocks and contribute enormously to the recreation and tourism industries. Where possible rivers should be allowed to flow free.

The World Wildlife Fund is creating a global database to map the world's remaining free-flowing rivers. They have also released the Free Flowing Rivers interactive map to visualize the worlds remaining free-flowing rivers and to allow you to explore in what way the free-flow of rivers is being disrupted. The 'Story Mode' section of the map takes a closer look at the drastic impact of human construction on natural river environments around the globe. It also explores how removing outdated human infrastructure can help to restore the natural flow of rivers.

What's Next For Google Maps?

If you've been wondering where the Google Maps API is heading then you might have already watched the live streams from the Google I/O conference last week. Traditionally the Google Maps team have used I/O to announce any big changes or developments to its interactive mapping platforms.

If you didn't view the live streams then you can catch up on the latest developments on the Google Maps blog post What’s next for Google Maps Platform. From an outsider's perspective the two main announcements made at I/O this year (as far as maps are concerned) are Deck.GL's support for Google Maps and the beta release of the new Maps SDK for Android.


Google Maps has partnered with Deck.GL so that Deck.GL can now be used with the Google Maps API. Deck.GL is an opensource data visualization library which uses WebGL technology to enable the visualization of very large datasets on interactive maps. For example this Paris Trees map, created with Google Maps and Deck.GL shows the location and genus of 203K trees in the French capital.

To get started using Deck.GL with Google Maps you should check-out the Deck.GL / Google Maps documentation.

Maps SDK for Android

Google also announced the beta release of the next version of the Maps SDK for Android. The big change in the new Maps SDK for Android is that it is built on entirely the same infrastructure as the Google Maps mobile app. This should lead to improvements in performance and lead to a large decrease in data consumption.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Storm Chasers Live

Live Storm Chasing is an interactive map which allows you to follow a number of storm chasers as they track storms across the USA. The map also provides information about the latest weather warnings and storm reports from across the country. Most importantly you can watch the live broadcasts of storm chasers directly from the Live Storm Chasing map.

The current positions of the storm chasers are shown on the map using colored dots. The storm chaser locations are updated every minute on the map. You can see which storm chasers are currently broadcasting in the map sidebar, where active broadcasters are indicated with a red 'live' indicator. You can watch any of these live broadcasts by clicking the eye icon in the map sidebar or by selecting a storm chaser on the map.

The map sidebar also allows you to filter the weather information shown on the map. These weather layers include a number of different options for viewing the current weather conditions across the United States. A radar layer provides up-to-date precipitation information. Local storm reports provide updates on local storms around the country. You can also view the latest hail, snow, flooding and tornado reports.

Mapping Europe's Wolf Populations

The wolf population in Switzerland is growing. In 2010 there were only five wolves in the whole of Switzerland. Last year a total of 47 individual wolves were counted. Switzerland's wolf population is also moving more widely throughout the country. At the beginning of this decade the wolves, which entered Switzerland from Germany, were found only in the west of the country. They are now more evenly distributed across the whole country.

Swiss newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung has been mapping out the spread of wolves in Switzerland. In Wolf in Switzerland the newspaper has published an interactive map which shows where wolves have been spotted during the last year. The newspaper has also created a map which shows the movement of one of the wolves over the course of just two months. In January and February the wolf M75 walked across the whole width of Switzerland from south to north.

Switzerland's wolves entered the country from Germany. The wolves in Germany in turn originally came from Poland. Back in the year 2000 the first wolf in modern times arrived in Germany, crossing from Poland into the eastern state of Saxony. There are now reported to be over 1000 wolves in Germany. The Berliner Morgenpost has created an interactive map which animates how these wolves have repopulated the country.

If you press 'play' on the interactive map in W├Âlfe in Deutschland you can watch how wolves have spread, mostly across the north of the country, since the turn of the century. The map includes colored markers to indicate single wolves, pairs of wolves and wolf packs. The map also includes a search function which allows you to view how close the nearest wolves have been spotted to your home.

The wolf is not only on the rise in Germany. All countries in mainland Europe now have wild wolf populations. The Guardian has published a static map showing the wolf populations in different European countries. The Selected European Wild Wolf Populations map shows that the southern countries of Spain, Italy and Romania currently have the largest wolf populations in Europe.

Hate Crimes in India

India’s National Crime Records Bureau does not record hate crimes separately from other crimes. It is therefore unable to document or spot the rise of religious based hate crimes in India. Which is why the Hate Crime Watch project was started in 2018. Hate Crime Watch is tracking crimes which have been committed against people or groups in India because of their caste, religion or ethnicity. Although the project was only launched in 2018 it includes data on religious motivated hate crimes carried out in India since 2009.

The Hate Crime Watch interactive map plots individual hate crimes to the location where they were carried out. The map includes a number of filter controls which allow you to filter the hate crimes shown on the map by year, type of assault and by individual state. If you select an individual dot on the map you can read details on the selected hate crime and view the source where Hate Crime Watch learned of the crime.

As has already been mentioned India’s National Crime Records Bureau does not record incidents of hate crime as actual hate crimes. Which is why Amnesty International has also released an interactive map that tracks incidents of hate crimes across the country. Halt the Hate maps crimes which have been committed against people or groups in India because of their caste, religion or ethnicity.

The Halt the Hate map is a very basic interactive map. You can't zoom in on the Amnesty International map and because the map has no place-labels it is very difficult to search this map by location. However the map does include a number of filter controls which allow you to explore the data by year, motive and individual states. Each hate crime incident shown on the map is based on media reports.

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Problem with Australia's Election Maps

The 2019 Australian Election has been a bit of a disappointment for those interested in election maps. Generally the maps visualizing this year's election have been unimaginative and on the whole deceptively misleading.

There is a glaring problem with mapping Australia's election results, which comes from the huge variations in size between different electoral divisions. For example, Durack, in the north-west of the country is 1,629,858 square kilometers in size and bigger than many countries in the world. While, at the other end of the scale, the electoral district of Grayndler is just 32 square kilometers in size.

Here lies the major problem. Both Durack and Grayndler have one member in the House of Representatives. Yet Durack appears nearly 51,000 times larger on the map than Grayndler. Durack was won by the Liberal Party in the 2019 election. Grayndler voted for the Labor Party. On all the election maps I've seen of the Australian election the blue colored Durack has a huge visual impact, while the red of Grayndler is almost impossible to see - despite both electoral divisions having the same number of members in the House of Representatives. This is a visualization nightmare.

I challenge you to find Grayndler on The Age's How America Voted interactive map (the same map also appears in the Sydney Morning Herald). Grayndler is so small that it is almost impossible to find on the map. One purpose of using a map to present election results is that people can quickly find different electoral divisions to view the local results. If you need to use the search facility to find Granyndler then I would argue that the map is lacking as a search tool and that the data would be better presented in a table or chart.

There might have been some purpose to The Age's election map if it provided some kind of visual guide to the results. However reading the map based purely on the proportion of the different colors suggests that the Liberal Party won around 75% of the votes and the Labor Party won around 20%. In fact the Labor Party (so far) has won 65 seats and the Liberal Party has won 42.

This problem of visualizing election votes is not unique to Australia. Many countries around the world, including the USA and the UK, have similar patterns of voting - where right-wing parties often win the large (in geographical size) seats while the left-wing parties win the smaller urban and suburban seats. The problem is just exasperated in Australia because of the really huge differences between the largest and smallest electoral divisions.

Any election map of Australia, which sticks to any kind of geographical accuracy, is going to visually under-represent the Labor vote while over-representing the Liberal vote. The Guardian's Australian Election 2019 interactive map manages to cope with this problem better than The Age's map. The Guardian's map still gives far too much visual weight to the Liberal Party but it has more clearly defined the boundaries of the electoral divisions. While the color blue still clearly dominates the map you can more clearly see on The Guardian map that the Labor party has won a lot of seats in urban areas.

Note: Despite being the largest individual political party in terms of the number of seats won the Labor Party have lost the election to the minority Coalition (consisting of the Liberal Party and the National Party of Australia) who between them will win enough seats to form a government.