Thursday, June 21, 2018

Refugee Journeys


It is almost impossible to imagine the desperate situations which people must find themselves in to begin the perilous and life-threatening journeys that are the lot of most of the world's refugees. Some politicians like Donald Trump and Italy's Matteo Salvini seem completely incapable of empathy and presumably cannot imagine how desperate the life of a refugee can be. Perhaps they should be forced to read these accounts of refugee journeys.

Spanish photojournalist Javier Bauluz walked with refugees from Greece to Germany in order to document the journey taken by thousands of refugees as they try to make it to the safety of Europe. You can read about this journey on Seeking Refuge for My Children, a photo report about the long and dangerous trek from Greece, through Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria and Germany.

Javier's report is broken up into six chapters, each focused on one stage of the journey from Greece to Germany. The route of the journey is displayed on an accompanying interactive map. This map can be used to navigate to any of the six chapters in Seeking Refuge for My Children. Javier's first hand account of the refugees' journeys combined with his powerful photographs of desperate people in a desperate situation combine to provide an evocative and moving insight into the appalling journeys of the refugees seeking entry to Europe.


More than 5,000 refugees died in 2016 trying to get to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea. Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boat - Mapping and Documenting Migratory Journeys and Experiences is an international research project, led by the University of Warwick, which carried out 257 in-depth qualitative interviews with people who have made this journey.

The project has released an interactive story map which allows you to view some of these migratory journeys on a map, while also learning about the individual experiences of the people forced to make these treacherous journeys.

Each of these individual journeys are mapped to show each stage of the person's migration from Africa to Europe. 'Back' and 'Next' buttons allow the user to follow each stage of the journey made by the interviewed refugees. As the map updates the side-panel also updates to provide information about the journey. This information includes the first-hand experiences of the individual refugee and more general information about the conditions that refugees experience at each of the mapped locations.


In 2014 the Global Mail created a superb mapped interactive report on one migrant's personal journey. Filmmaker Matt Abbott gave Muhammad Hussain, a Hazara Pakistani about to set out on a journey to seek asylum in Australia, a video camera and asked him to film his experiences. The result is Hussain's Journey.

The Global Mail's mapped report starts off with Matt Abbot's own recordings of Muhammad Hussain's family and life in Karachi. When Muhammad set off on his dangerous journey to Australia he took over the filming himself. The mapped report of this journey allows you to view his experiences in safe houses, in smugglers’ homes and, in the final stretch of his journey, across the ocean in a boat that is barely seaworthy.

The Flow of Human Trafficking


Europe & Human Trafficking visualizes the illegal movement of the victims of modern slavery around Europe. There are over 2 million people in Europe living in modern slavery due to human trafficking.

The map uses flow lines to show the movement of modern slaves around Europe. The map also uses scaled red and blue circles to show the number of modern slaves in each country and the size of each country's GDP. If you click on these red and blue markers the flow lines on the map change to show the countries where the selected country's modern slaves originate.

Europe & Human Trafficking uses the Leaflet.Canvas-Flowmap-Layer plug-in for LeafletJS. The plug-in uses Bezier curves to visualize the movement of objects from one location to another (obviously in this case the thing being moved is people). One purpose of using Bezier curves is that you can show the direction of flow by using either a convex or concave curve on your flow line. The direction of flow is also visualized by the library using animated dots which travel along the flow map lines in the direction of flow.

The Leaflet.Canvas-Flowmap-Layer was inspired by Sarah Bellum's ArcGIS Canvas Flowmap Layer, a popular plug-in for ArcGIS.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Discovering Imaginary Islands


Back in 2012 scientists from the University of Sydney sailed to Sandy Island, an island which Google Maps clearly showed in the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately when they arrived at the location indicated by Google Maps all they found was a lot more empty sea. Sandy Island didn't exist. In fact it was a phantom island.

Phantom islands are fake islands that have appeared on maps for a period of time, only to be later removed when it is proved that they don't actually exist. Most of the islands come from the reports of sailors exploring previously unknown areas. Presumably they were a mixture of mythical tales and geographical error in positioning real islands on new maps

Phantom Islands – A Sonic Atlas is an impressive interactive map which takes you on a tour of some of the world's imagined islands. Each of the islands has its own phantom marker on the map. Click on a phantom island and you can learn how the island came to be invented. You can also discover when the island first appeared on an atlas and when it last appeared on any map. Press on the 'Cruise' button and you will be taken on an audio tour of all the Phantom Islands.

Also See

Sandy Island - the man responsible for Google's non-island

Refugee Routes to Italy


The Stories Behind a Line is a visual presentation of six different refugees' journeys to Italy. This visualization uses simple lines to represent the nightmare journeys undertaken by six asylum seekers from their homes to Europe. These simple lines are used to show the geographical routes and the distances traveled by each refugee. Each journey line also serves as a visual metaphor through which each individual story can be told.

Each of the asylum seeker's journeys in The Stories Behind a Line is represented by its own individual journey line. These lines show the distance traveled, the number of days spent traveling and the methods of transportation of each refugee from their hometown to Italy. Each of the journeys is shown as a simple black line on a white background (although you can reveal the map behind each journey if you want). Red markers are placed along the lines which can be clicked to reveal the personal narrative behind each journey.

It is possible to switch between the geographically shaped lines to straight lines, with a more analytical view of the distances traveled. In this view the lines are converted to a straight strip map segment. These strip map segments break down the important stages in each refugee's journey and the distances between these stages.

You can learn more about how and why this visual representation of six refugee journeys was created in a Driven Journalism post by the visualization's authors. The Stories Behind a Line: A Visual Narrative of Six Asylum Seekers' Routes to Italy also explores some of the design and coding choices made in creating the visualization.

The Geography of the World Cup


The most expensive football team at this World Cup is France. The combined transfer market value of all the players in the French team is £972.45 million. Spain, who are many people's favorite to win the World Cup, have the second most expensive team, with a combined transfer market value of £930.60 million. Brasil have the third most expensive team.

You can discover the combined transfer market of every country's team on the FIFA 2018 National Squads interactive map. Teams in the 2018 World Cup are represented by red markers on the map. The country's with blue markers did not qualify for the 2018 Cup. Of these teams Italy stands out. The Italian team has a total transfer market value £598 million, making it the 8th most expensive team in the world. However all those expensive players were unable to help Italy qualify for this year's competition.

Where all those expensive players play their football is another matter. The English Premier League has the most players playing in the 2018 World Cup. 123 players in this World Cup play in the EPL. 81 players in the World Cup play in Spain. 67 play in Germany and 58 play in Italy.

You can find out more about where this year's World Cup players ply their trade on WC Rosters, a tableau visualization of where World Cup players play their club football. Only the England football team in this year's World Cup have all their players playing in their domestic league. Russia comes second in this regard with 21 of the 23 Russian squad playing in the Russian league (Russian league teams must play five Russians, this means Russian players demand high wages in the Russian league and have little financial incentive for playing abroad).

Manchester City in the English Premier League are the club with the most players in the 2018 World Cup. 16 players in this year's competition are owned by Manchester City. Real Madrid have 15 players and Barcelona have 14 players in the World Cup.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The American Income Gap


The Income Extremes for Wealth Divide interactive map shows the richest and poorest households in each census tract area in the United States. The map visualizes two dot map layers showing the number of households earning over $200,000 and the number of households earning under $25,000. The result is a map which clearly shows the income divide in American towns and cities.

If you select a census tract on the map an information window opens displaying the tract's population and number of households. It also informs you about the number of households in the census tract which have an income greater than $200,000 and the number of households which have an income less than $25,000. The yellow and blue dots don't show the exact addresses of households but are randomized within each census tract area.

Esri's Predominant Income Range by Households is a similar map, however this map shows the most dominant income range in each census tract in the United States. The map uses income data from the 5-year American Community Survey in 2016 to show the income range of the most people in each tract. Using the map you can explore the reality of income inequality in every local neighborhood.

While exploring the map you might spot patterns which recur in states, cities and communities across the country. For example you should be able to spot the income divide between many metro and rural areas. In college towns you might see low income student-dominated neighborhoods surrounded by wealthier neighborhoods.

The map reveals that a number of cities, such as Philadelphia, Seattle and Houston have a thriving downtown core. While cities such as Detroit and Cleveland have urban centers which are struggling economically.

Apple Maps in LeafletJS


Apple launched its desktop mapping API, Mapkit.js, two weeks ago. You can view documentation, demo maps and sample code of Mapkit on Apple's developer page. What Mapkit's developer page doesn't tell you is how to add third party map layers to a Mapkit powered map. It also doesn't tell you how you can use Mapkit's own basemap layers with other popular mapping libraries.

Mapkit's developer page is a little basic at the moment. I've found geo.ebp.ch useful when trying to build a map with Mapkit. Their blog post A New Map in Town includes a demo map using Mapkit's driving directions service. This demo map also shows you how to add another map tile layer to a Mapkit powered map. The map loads a WMTS layer from ArcGIS Online. The demo map uses Codepen so it is easy to see how you can use the example to load any other WMTS layer into a Mapkit powered map.

You can of course also use Mapkit's basemaps in other mapping libraries. For example you could use Apple's map layers in a Leaflet powered map. You can use map tiles from Apple Maps in LeafletJS by using the MapkitMutant plugin for LeafletJS. MapkitMutant is a LeafletJS plugin which allows you to use Apple Map's basemaps. Mapkit's basemaps are a road-map, a satellite (aerial) map and satellite with labels.

Although LeafletJS is an open-source JavaScript library which is free to use Apple's Mapkit is neither of these things. This means that if you want to use Mapkit's basemaps within a Leaflet powered map you will still need an Apple authorization token and will still need to be aware of Apple's charges. A note at the very bottom of the Mapkit developer page says that "MapKit JS beta provides a free daily limit of 250,000 map initializations and 25,000 service calls."

Monday, June 18, 2018

Death from Alcoholism


Mike Bostock has written up a great introduction into the different methods that you can use to compare the difference between two different values in a mapped data visualization. To illustrate the methods of comparison he has used Deaths from Alcohol Use Disorders in 1980 and 2014. To illustrate the difference in the number of deaths from alcohol between these two dates he has created a series of interactive maps, each of which uses a different method to visualize the same data.

Methods of Comparison, Compared is published on Observable, Mike's platform for exploratory data analysis. Observable is not only a platform for data analysis, visualization, and exploration. It is also a platform for teaching and sharing techniques in coding and creating better data visualization. 'Methods of Comparison, Compared' is a great example of this, as it not only includes a number of interactive choropleth maps but also explores and explains the methodology used in their creation.

In comparing the change in the number alcohol related deaths in each U.S. county between 1980 and 2014 it is possible to use a number of different methods. 'Methods of Comparison, Compared' shows three different choropleth maps, each of which uses a different method. These are a map showing the simple difference in the number of deaths between the two dates, a second map which shows the relative change and a third map which shows the ratio.

Each method results in a different mapped visualization of the same data. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Antipodean Weather


Around 70% of the Earth's surface is covered by water. This means that there aren't that many populated locations in the world that have populated antipodes. Christchurch in New Zealand is one. If you tunneled straight through the Earth from Christchurch you would eventually emerge in A Coruña, Spain. If you started in Hong Kong you could conceivably burrow your way to La Quiaca in Argentina.

Wikipedia has a useful list of cities with exact (or almost exact) antipodes. It also lists cities which are within 100 km of having another city as an antipodes. If you want to know where you would end up if you tunneled through the Earth from your location then you could use the Antipodes Map. The Antipodes Map shows you where you would end up if you tunneled straight through the Earth.

However no one wants to tunnel through the Earth without knowing what the weather is like at your antipodes. Imagine how stupid you would feel if you spent all day tunneling through the Earth only to find out it is raining at your antipodes when you arrive. That is why you need Antiweather.

Enter your location into Antiweather and not only can you find out what the weather is like where you live but also how the weather is right now on the exact other side of the Earth.

4,000 Irish Shipwrecks


The Wreck Viewer is a new interactive map which shows the locations of 4,000 shipwrecks around the shores of Ireland, dating back as far as the 16th century. The map was created by Ireland's National Monuments Service (NMS) to help provide access to and visualize the NMS’s Wreck Inventory.

Each red dot on the map represents a wreck for which there is a known location. 78% of the wrecks in the Wreck Inventory have no known precise location. If you select a wreck on the map you can read the wreck description. This includes details on the ship name, type of vessel and the date the vessel sank. The details also contain (where available) the wreck summary description which provides details on the vessel's history, voyage, cargo, passengers and the story of its loss. At present only 20% of ships in the database have a summary description.