Monday, June 25, 2018

Free, Open-Source 3D Maps


OpenGlobus is a javascript library for creating interactive 3d globes. The library uses WebGL and is completely open-source and free to use.

OpenGlobus supports GeoJSON, map tile layers, image and video overlays and vector layers for displaying polylines and polygons. The API for OpenGlobus is well documented, however as yet there aren't any written tutorials for getting started with the library. If you want to make an OpenGlobus map then you are probably best starting with one of the many demo maps. You can get a good idea of the range of features that OpenGlobus supports on the Examples page, which includes a number of demo 3d globes created with OpenGlobus.

You might also like CesiumJS, which is another an open-source JavaScript library for creating interactive 3d globes and maps.

Make the World Smaller & Venice Bigger


I've added the Fra Mauro map of the world to my collection of Historical World Maps. To load the Fra Mauro map you need to click on the 1450 button. You can then zoom and pan the map to explore it in detail.

Fra Mauro's world map was created around 1450 by the Italian cartographer Fra Mauro. His map is a circular planisphere with south orientated to the top of the map. Fra Mauro's map is one of the first European world maps to break from the tradition of Bible based cartography. In other words Fra Mauro's map favors geographical accuracy rather than religious beliefs and mythological stories.

Fra Mauro lived in the Republic of Venice. Venice had for centuries been an important center of trade between Europe and the Middle East and Africa. Before becoming a monk Fra Mauro had himself traveled as a merchant and a soldier. As a cartographer he was therefore able to draw from his own experience and from the many Arab traders and world travelers passing through Venice. Instead of relying on traditional religious maps Fra Mauro could actually get first hand accounts from sailors, merchants and other travelers.

One area where Fra Mauro's break from the religious tradition of map making is apparent is in having south at the top. Placing south at the top was common in Arab maps of the time. In contrast, most European world maps had east at the top, because east was the direction of the biblical Garden of Eden. Many European maps of the time also placed Jerusalem in the exact center of the map (and world). Fra Mauro's map also breaks with this tradition.

One result of Fra Mauro's more scientific approach to map making is that his map is the first European map to show Japan as an island and to show that it was possible to sail all the way around Africa.

You can learn a little more about the Fra Mauro map on the short video on the British Library's Magnificent Map website.

The Fra Mauro map shown in my Historical World Maps comes from the David Rumsey Map Collection. It is an 1854 copy of the original.

Turkey Election Maps


Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is set to remain Turkey's president after winning yesterday's presidential election. A close referendum last year (which many think was fraudulent) gives the president extraordinary new powers. These include the power to appoint senior judges and to issue decrees with the force of law.

The Daily Sabah's Election Results page has an interactive map which shows the Presidential and Deputy President election results in each electoral region. Regions where Erdoğan got the most votes are shown in red on the Daily Sabah's map. You can hover over the individual regions on the map to view the percentage of votes cast for each candidate.


The Star also has an interactive map of the 2018 Turkish Election results. Their Election Results page includes a map which allows you to drill down to show the results in individual electoral wards. For example you can view a map of Istanbul which shows the results in each electoral district in the capital.

Both the Daily Sabah and The Star have close ties to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Rorschach Map Tests


Take a look at the following map and tell me what you see. If you see a bat or a butterfly then we may need to discuss your relationship with your father in a little more detail.

Rorschach Satellite is a fun little map which is designed to create a kaleidoscope effect using Mapbox aerial views. The map was created by Mapbox's Damon Burgett. Essentially Rorschach Satellite places two maps side-by-side. On one map the satellite image is flipped so that it shows the mirror image of the other map. The result is that Rorschach Satellite creates patterns very similar to the ink blot patterns used by psychologists in Rorschach tests.

If you like a pattern created with Rorschach Satellite you can copy and past the map URL to share a link to your view on Rorschach Satellite.


#rorschmap uses the Google Maps API to create a very similar effect. #rorschmap can create a kaleidoscope view for any location on the Earth. Essentially the application displays the Google Maps satellite view of a location and, using the same principle of multiple reflection that you find in kaleidoscopes, creates an animated Rorschach test effect.

The map works in a similar way to Rorschach Satellite but actually has four different map views rather than two.


If that doesn't impress you then why not try #rorschmap Street View Edition. Just enter your address into the app and you can drop-down the rabbit-hole and create a kaleidoscope from the Google Maps Street View of your own home!


We haven't finished yet! You also need to check out #rorschcam, which applies the same kaleidoscope effect to New York webcams from the New York City Department of Transportation.

We might not have a map with this application but the webcam images are live so now we have a moving real-time kaleidoscope views of New York's streets. Who would have thought that New York's streets could have got any weirder?

Friday, June 22, 2018

Is Your Country Ready for an Epidemic?


According to Prevent Epidemics more than half the countries in the world are not prepared for the next big epidemic. Many of the most unprepared country are in Africa. Australia and South Korea are the two countries that are best prepared to cope with an epidemic. The United States is also well prepared to cope with a potential health epidemic.

Prevent Epidemics has mapped countries around the world based on how well they are prepared to cope with a major health epidemic. Each country has been ranked based on its ability to find, stop and prevent health threats. You can learn more about how prepared each country is on the Prevent Epidemics interactive map. Countries on the map are colored based on their 'Ready Score'. If you click on a country on the map you can view how the country ranks for the different criteria that make up its complete score. These includes individual scores for how prepared a country is for verifying an epidemic outbreak, preventing an epidemic and dealing with an epidemic.

The Prevent Epidemics ReadyScore is based on data from the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) developed by the World Health Organization. The JEE evaluates a country’s ability to find, stop and prevent disease threats. Every country page on Prevent Epidemics has a 'Take Action' button which provides information about the country's score and suggests simple actions users can take to help their country better prepare for future epidemics.

The Slang Map of America


You might want to pre-funk before checking out this shucky darn map of United States slang words. The Slang Map of the USA lists the most common slang words in every U.S. state and also includes a little quiz to test your knowledge of America's favorite colloquial phrases.

PlayNJ carried out a survey to find out the most common slang words in each state. They then compiled the results and released this fun little map. If you select a state on the map you can reveal the two most common slang words in that state. You can also click on the common slang words listed beside the map to view the three states where a slang word is most spoken.

If you click on the question mark button you can test your knowledge of American slang words by taking the Slang Map of America quiz.


In the evening, when most of the USA is sitting down for dinner, people in the Midwest have their supper instead. This is just one of the many variations in the use and choice of language which is determined by where you live in America.

Linguists at Aston University and the University of Manchester have analysed the top 1,000 words used in Twitter messages. They then used users' location data to see how often these words are used in each county in the continental United States. The results of this analysis provide an interesting insight into the regional variations in language use across the United States.

Quartz has used this analysis to create an interesting mapped visualization of the use of these top 1,000 words throughout the United States. Type a word into the Quartz Great American Word Mapper and you can view a heat-map of its use on Twitter in each county of the USA.


The most popular interactive webpage on the New York Times website in 2013 was How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk. This interactive feature asks a series of questions about your pronunciation and use of certain words.

From the answers you give to the questions the NYT creates your personal dialect map. This heat-map shows you which areas of the USA have a dialect similar to your own. You can also view a heat-map for each of the individual questions.

The NYT interactive also asks you whether you call your evening meal 'dinner' or 'supper'. The NYT map shows very similar results to the Quartz map for where these words are most used in the USA.

Trump's Migrant Camps for Children


In Where are the migrant child facilities? Scattered across America The Washington Post is attempting to map where migrant children are being held in the United States. The paper has mapped out the locations of facilities where it is known migrant children are being held and intends to update the map as more information comes to light.

At the moment the map is just a simple interactive graphic with markers showing the locations of the known facilities. The result is that the map doesn't work well for states like Texas who have a large number of facilities where children are being held. If you hover over the map markers you can view the name of a facility. Unfortunately the markers in Texas and in some other states are so numerous that it isn't possible to view the name of every facility on the map.

The Washington Post's map already needs zoom controls so that readers can drill down to all the individual facilities. If the Post does intend to update this map as the story develops a better interactive map will be needed.

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