Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The 200 Best Maps of 2013


For centuries New Year's Eve has been known as a time of quite reflection. A time when people around the world spend a quiet abstemious night in perusing over old maps.

This year, for your night of quiet study, you are spoilt for choice, as 2013 proved to be an epic year in the world of interactive mapping. Not only did we see some epic maps this year, we also saw the world of neo-geography move firmly onto the center stage of the online zeitgeist. Which means that this year you have a great choice of 'Maps of the Year' posts from across the internet.

Here are just a few of my favorite lists of Maps of the Year that I have come across in the last couple of weeks:
If that wasn't enough to whet your mapping appetite you should also check out Google Maps Mania's bumper edition of the 200 Best Maps of 2013.

If you are planning on breaking with tradition, and are about to head out for an evening on the tiles, may I suggest that you bookmark this post and come back tomorrow.

Mapping the Odyssey


Over the centuries there have been numerous attempts to map the fictional locations in Homer's Odyssey to real-world locations. It is no surprise then that some modern readers have decided to use the tools of modern interactive internet maps to attempt to map Odysseus' journey in Homer's epic tale.

While the locations used in such map depictions are purely a matter of conjecture the maps themselves are interesting attempts to use modern technologies to present this epic story in a new way.


Odysseus' Journey is an ESRI map of Homer's Odyssey. The map locates Odysseus' journey in locations on the Adriatic and Mediterranean seas. On the otherhand this MapTales map of The Odyssey places the locations around the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic Seas.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Map Your State Senator


The Senate Address Geo-coding Engine (SAGE) is a Google Maps based application and API that is designed to provide voters with easy access to information about New York State districts and representatives.

Enter an address into the District Lookup and you can view the state district that the address falls within and discover the State Senator for the district. The senator who represents the district is displayed in the map sidebar. Beneath the listed senator you can view the state senators for the surrounding districts.


Map Your Representatives is a handy application that helps you find out who your political representatives are, from local councilor up to the President himself, simply by clicking on a Google Map.

Enter your zip-code or address into the search bar and a pin will be dropped on your location. The page will then automatically scroll down to reveal all your local political representatives.

The map itself includes an attractive mask that creates a circular map. If you pan the map around the map marker remains in the center of the map and not on your searched for location. Simply click on the 'Update Location' button and the political representatives for the new location will be displayed on the map.

The Happy New Year Twitter Map


This New Year's Eve you can watch the world celebrate for 24 hours, from Australia to Hawaii, on the #happynewyear tweetmap.

The #happynewyear tweetmap is a Google Map displaying Twitter messages around the world containing the hashtag 'happynewyear'. You don't even have to wait until New Year's Eve to visit the map as people around the world are already wishing each other a happy new year.

The map uses a neat marker clustering solution that shows the number of Twitter messages at different locations. You can zoom in on the map to view the individual markers. You can also view all the posted Tweets as a heat map to see where in the world Twitter users are posting the most 'happy new year' messages.

The site also includes a number of continually updating statistics on the number of #happynewyear Tweets sent around the world and the number of those Tweets that are geo-tagged.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Bike Routes of San Francisco


Cyclodeo has arrived in San Francisco. Cyclodeo is a really useful application that enables cyclists to preview a route on a Google Map and on video before undertaking the journey by bike.

This means Cyclodeo's mapped videos of cycle routes are now available in New York, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Eindhoven and San Francisco. The new San Francisco coverage includes 92 routes representing close to 150 km of the city's roads.

Here are some direct links to a few of the best new videos of San Francisco cycle routes:

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Where's this Street View from?


GeoGuessr has to be one of the most popular and shared Google Maps based applications of 2013. Map Tag is a new Street View game that pretty much follows the same format.

In the game you are shown a Street View image of a random location around the world and you have to guess the correct location by clicking on a Google Map. You are then awarded points based on how near you were to the actual location.

Map Tag has a very neat and simple function to create your own Map Tag game using your own favorite Street View images. To create a quick game you just need to click on the location, drop pegman onto the map and find your Street View. You are then given a link to your game that you can share with family and friends.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Historical Maps in the Digital Age

Charles O. Paullin and John K. Wright's Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States was first published in 1932. The Atlas contained nearly 700 maps covering a vast range of social, economic and political aspects of life in the Untied States.


Most map fans will probably be familiar with at least some of the maps featured in this comprehensive Atlas of life in America. For example Paullin and Wright's maps of rates of travel, which show how long it took to travel from New York to other locations throughout America at various points in its history, are reproduced to this day.

The University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab has now released an awesome online interactive showcase of the nearly 700 maps in the Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States. All of the maps have been made interactive and overlaid on the modern map of the United States (using Leaflet). Not only can you view all the maps using the zooming and panning tolls familiar to online map platforms but the University of Richmond has added a number of interactive features that update these historical maps for the digital age.

So, for example, the rates of travel maps can be queried by location. Mouse-over any of the rates of travel maps and you can view the distance from New York at that location and the estimated historical travel time. Or check out the historical maps of election results. Not only can you view each of the maps overlaid on the Leaflet interface but you can animate through the whole series of election results maps from 1789 to 1927.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mapping the Internet of Things


Thingful is a rare example of an interactive map made from Nokia map tiles. The map itself shows the location of thousands of internet connected devices around the world, including energy monitors, weather stations, pollution sensors, geiger counters and shipping containers.

You can search the map for connected devices by location and filter the results shown on the map by category. If you select a marker on the map you can click through to read more about the selected device and to view the device's live feed.

A Google Map of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts


The Digitized Medieval Manuscripts Map is a Google Map showing the location of libraries around the world in possession of digitized medieval manuscripts.

Every marker on the map represents a library. Clicking on the marker opens an information window with the institution's name and a link to the digitized manuscripts available. If you select the 'about' link above the map you can also view a heat map of the libraries and the original data.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Where America's Uninsured Live


The New York Times has released a Google Maps based visualization of the insured and uninsured in America. The Mapping Uninsured Americans uses census data released on December 17th to show where the uninsured live.

Users can mouse-over any county on the map to view the percentage of the population without insurance and the percentages with public and private insurance. If you zoom in on the map you can view the data for each census tract.

A number of quick links beneath the map provide the user with the option to instantly zoom to a number of major US cities.

The Prettiest Map of the Year


Mapping the Sea is a gorgeous interactive map of the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides.

The map was created by artist Stephen Hurrel and social ecologist Ruth Brennan. For the map local school pupils interviewed local fishermen and older inhabitants of the island. The map explores the rich cultural knowledge of the islanders, particularly in relation to the seas around the island.

The map features a number of interactive markers that allow you to explore photos of Barra and audio-clips that allow you to listen to the tales of the islanders directly from the map.

Liberté, Fraternité & Non Égalité


This French Revenue map shows the geographical distribution of high and low earners in France based on the country's tax returns.

The map appears to show a concentration of higher earners in the north-east, whilst lower earners seem more concentrated in the south-west. Zooming in on Paris the map also effectively visualizes the concentration of low earners in the Saint-Denis northern suburb.

The data for the map comes from 2010 tax returns.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Maps of the Week


We've featured a lot of Carto DB Torque powered maps in the last month. This animated map of the geography of 400,000 hours of TV news is among the most interesting.

The Internet Archive geo-coded 400,000 hours of U.S. television news and mapped the locations mentioned in each report. The Animated Geography of TV News map animates through the locations mentioned in the news providing a great visualization of the countries and areas that receive the most attention and the areas which are neglected by American news (sorry Africa).


I love the slide control in the maps featured in this Urban Institute interactive. Washington DC - Our Changing City is a report on the population changes happening in Washington DC.

The interactive report includes a series of maps comparing population and demographic changes in the American capital between 2000 and 2010. Each map includes a slide control that allows the user to swipe across the map to compare the differences in dot maps from the year 2000 and 2010.

I've seen this type of slide control used before to compare before and after photographs. For example, I used a similar control to compare aerial imagery from before and after the 2011 tornado in Tuscaloosa. However this is the first time I've seen a slide control used to compare two different map layers.


Johannes Gutenberg's invention of mechanical movable type printing in the 15th century was probably the most important discovery in the modern age. Gutenberg's invention arguably kick-started the Renaissance and undoubtedly led to the spread of learning among the general population in Europe.

The Atlas of Early Printing is a Google Map charting the spread of printing, from Gutenberg's first movable type printer in 1452 in Mainz to the rest of Europe by the end of the 15th century. The map includes a timeline that allows you to visualize the rise of printing presses throughout Europe over the course of the 15th century.


If you are bored at school don't just sit there mindlessly staring into space, get your phone out and share your boredom with the rest of the world.

The Real Time #Bored in School Map is a real-time map showing Tweets by schoolkids who are bored in class. Since the map went live on the 16th December there has been over 43,000 bored Tweets. That is a lot of bored students.

As well as the map of live Tweets the app keeps a running total of the number of 'bored' messages and a live line chart of the number of Tweets made over the last hour.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

How the World Celebrates Christmas


Google's countdown to their live Santa Tracker today features a neat map that provides information on Christmas traditions around the world.

Click on one of the marked countries on the map and you can learn all about how the people celebrate Christmas. For example, have you heard of the Christmas Cat in Iceland who eats you if you are not equipped for the cold Christmas weather.


Reddit user rappzula has also created a couple of Christmas themed maps. Who Brings Gift to Europe? shows you the name of Santa Claus (or equivalent) in each European country. Did you know that children in Finland get their presents from the Yule Goat?

Where Does Christmas Come From? is a map of translations and the etymology of the word 'Christmas' in different European countries. For example 'Christmas, or Christ's Mass, comes from the Dutch 'Kersmisse'.

Mapping Global Urbanization


One of the biggest social changes around the world in the last two hundred years has been the continued shift in populations from rural areas to towns and cities. The global rise in urbanization is an ongoing process and is predicted to continue in the 21st Century.

The UNICEF Urban Population Map is a fascinating visualization of the rise of urbanization around the world since 1950. It also visualizes the continued predicted rise until 2050. Countries are represented on the graphic by circles, which are scaled in proportion to the size of the urban population. The color of the circles reflect the percentage of the population living in urban areas.

As you play the animation the circles grow and change in color as urban populations increase around the world over time and the color of the circles change as the percentages of countries' populations living in towns and cities grow.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Public Rest Rooms on your Route


The Australian Government's Department of Social Services as part of the National Continence Program has released the National Public Toilet Map. The map provides information on over 16,000 public toilets with information about accessibility, opening hours and facilities, such as showers & baby change.

The National Toilet Map uses the Google Maps API to allow Australians to search for nearby public toilets by location and by the facilities offered. The National Public Toilet Map also allows users to plan a driving trip with available public toilets displayed along the route.

Explore the Golden Gate National Park


The Golden Gate National Park Conservancy website has relaunched with some great looking new Google Maps of the park and the park's trails.

The 'Big Map' includes data from a number of sources, including the Parks Conservancy, the Presidio Trust, San Francisco State University and the California Protected Areas Database. The map shows points on interest throughout the park, such as restrooms, cafes, overlook viewpoints and visitor centers. The icons for the overlooks even point in the direction of the view available.

As well as the 'Big Map' the Golden Gates National Park Conservancy website features smaller maps throughout and a new Trails page. The trails page allows hikers to search for trails by level of difficulty and view detailed maps of the trails, which include synchronized elevation charts.

The Top Five History Maps of 2013


Tacky's Rebellion, was an uprising of black African slaves that occurred in Jamaica in May, June and July 1760. The Jamaican Slave Revolt Map tells the story of the revolt, and its brutal suppression by the British Army.

Using contemporary accounts the map animates through the important events and locations in the rebellion and subsequent suppression. A number of eighteenth-century maps were used to create the terrain map and the places map, which form the base maps for the narration.

The Jamaican Slave Revolt map was created by Vincent Brown, Professor of History and African and African-American Studies at Harvard University. Brown says that "the map suggests an argument about the strategies of the rebels and the tactics of counterinsurgency, about the importance of the landscape to the course of the uprising".


One of the best history maps I saw this year is this ESRI map displaying the Decisive Moments in the Battle of Gettysburg. The map shows troop movements and the development of the battle during July 1 – 3, 1863.

The map tiles are based on an 1874 map of the area and also present-day digital data. The troop positions are determined from historical maps. The map also includes an interactive time-line that allows the user to view the development of the battle over the whole three days.


This year saw the 70th anniversary of the World War II Dambuster raids. On 16–17 May 1943 an attack on German dams, carried out by Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron, subsequently known as the "Dambusters", used a specially developed "bouncing bomb" invented and developed by Barnes Wallis.

To commemorate the anniversary the BBC put together an interactive map that retraces the mission. The interactive uses a hand-drawn map from the official June 1943 British Air Ministry report on the Dambusters raid. The map shows the routes taken by the planes, the location of the planes that crashed and the location of the German dams.


The Vilnius Ghetto was a Jewish ghetto established and operated by Nazi Germany in the city of Vilnius, Lithuania. During the two years of its existence, starvation, disease, street executions, maltreatment and deportations to concentration camps and extermination camps reduced the population of the ghetto from an estimated 40,000 to zero.

Exploring the Vilnius Ghetto: A Digital Monument is a Leaflet powered map that shows over two hundred points of historical significance, pulled from memoirs, archives, original Ghetto documents and artifacts, and oral and historical accounts. Users can explore the map on their own, using filters to find places and events of interest; or they can follow built-in stories.


What did teenagers do before cell phones, video games and the internet? I know - they made maps.

At least that what Frances Alsop Henshaw was doing in the 1820's. Henshaw's 'Book of Penmanship Executed at the Middlebury Female Academy' contains a number of hand-drawn maps of nineteenth century America.

Neatline.org has used its map timeline tool to create an interactive presentation of Henshaw's beautiful hand-drawn maps. 'Inventing the Map': Frances Henshaw’s Book of Penmanship uses the Google Maps API to overlay Henshaw's nineteenth century maps on today's map of America.

The accompanying text for each map places Henshaw's map exercises into the context of her education and the particular influence of educational reformer Emma Willard.

Mapping Britain's Bad Drivers


The UK's Road Justice and Cyclists' Defence Fund have teamed up to provide a Google Map showing where the country's car drivers have the highest levels of driver penalty points. Where is Road Traffic Enforcement Working? shades postcode areas based on the percentage of drivers who have received penalty points on their licences in the area.

Glasgow, Motherwell, Kilmarnock and Liverpool are the areas where car drivers have accumulated the most points. Of course this doesn't necessarily mean that these areas have the worst drivers in the UK. The high percentage of drivers with penalty points in these postcodes could instead be the result of the local police enforcing road traffic laws more rigorously than elsewhere in the country.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

What Australians Think


During this year's Australian General Election the Australian Broadcasting Corporation launched the Vote Compass application to poll Australian voters on a number of questions about Australian life and the policies of the Australian political parties.

They received more than 1.4 million responses on a wide range of questions and have now released a Google Maps based visualization of Australians' answers on a wide range of socio-political questions. The ABC What Voters Think application uses Google Maps to present the results of the poll on a state-by-state basis.

The application allows users to select from the questions asked in the poll and to view a heat map of the answers given by states and mainland territory.

The Too Cool for School Map


If you are bored at school don't just sit there mindlessly staring into space, get your phone out and share your boredom with the rest of the world.

The Real Time #Bored in School Map is a real-time map showing Tweets by schoolkids who are bored in class. Since the map went live on the 16th December there has been over 43,000 bored Tweets. That is a lot of bored students.

As well as the map of live Tweets the app keeps a running total of the number of 'bored' messages and a live line chart of the number of Tweets made over the last hour.

The 10 Funniest Maps of the Year

Ah, December. The month of the year when every blog around the world begins publishing its annual reviews of the year in a desperate attempt to boost traffic. Google Maps Mania is of course no different and at this time of the year I normally list my favorite maps of the year.

This year I've decided to break down the maps into a number of categories, so my Christmas listicles this year will be the listicles that just keep giving. To start off here are the 10 Funniest Maps of the Year.

For this category I've selected the maps that have given me the most fun. If you disagree with my choice don't be afraid to use the comments to tell me where I've gone wrong.

1. The Vaguely Rude Map

From Fucking in Austria to the Bald Knob in Arkansas the world is full of some surprisingly rude place names. The Vaguely Rude Map is a faithful compendium and atlas of rude place names around the world.

2. The Autocomplete Map

The USA and Saudi Arabia are evil, the UK is finished and of course Greece is the word. If you want to know what the English speaking world thinks of your country just use Google or Yahoo and autocomplete will do its best to tell you. The Autocomplete Map is a Google Map of sometimes funny and sometimes insulting Google autocomplete suggestions for countries, states and cities around the world.

3. Yarr, Pirate Maps

Ahoy mateys, Yarr, Pirate Maps is one damned clever map. Yarr, Pirate Maps is a Google Map but it uses a few clever tricks to create a distinct pirate themed design, complete with animated waves, birds and pirate ships.

4. NukeMap3D

Alex Wellerstein's NukeMap has proved to be a very popular Google Maps mashup. The application allows users to view the likely effect of different sized nuclear explosions on any location in the world, using Google Maps.

Much of its popularity comes from the fun of blowing places up on a map. I mean what could be more fun than that? Blowing things up in 3d - that's what. Alex Wellerstein's new app, NukeMap3D lets you do just that.

5. Superfreedraw

Superfreedraw uses Leaflet to provide a blank map, on which anyone is free to draw a big penis or write 'Yo Momma'.

Some of the user contributions might not be very clever but this is a very clever use of Leaflet. I also like the fact that Superfreedraw publish the map tile data once a month. I'm not sure why anyone would want these user contributed drawings as a map tile set but it is a nice touch.

6. Graffit Map

Why draw on a map though when you can draw on Street View? Graffit Map is a fun Street View application that allows you to add graffiti to Google's panoramic imagery.

The app allows you to select any location where Street View is available and draw directly on top of the Street View image. Users can select the brush size and color of their spray can and then start adding their tags to the world.

7. Can You Spot the Northampton Clown?

This year UsvsTh3m created a number of fun Street View games. One game was designed to scare the living bejesus out of unfortunate Coulrophobia sufferers. Can You Spot the Northampton Clown? requires you to take to the streets of an English town on Google Maps Street View and track down a clown who is terrorizing the local inhabitants.

8. Map of the Dead

Just in case the zombie apocalypse starts tonight you might want to bookmark the Map of the Dead.

Just enter your address into Map the Dead and you are presented with a handy map displaying the zombie danger zones around your home. The map also displays nearby places that are likely to have resources to help you survive once the zombies begin to take control.

It is highly likely that the internet will not survive the rise of the dead so you are advised to print out your personalized Map of the Dead and store it in a secure location.

9. Weird British Road Names 
The Vaguely Rude Places map obviously titillated more than a few people around the world. However not everyone has such a puerile sense of humour. Therefore if you are irritated by 'Sandy Balls' you might prefer instead to visit the Weird British Road Names map.

Weird British Road Names is a collection of some of the strangest monikers to be given to UK streets and roads. Some of them are truly strange, some are rude, whilst others are simply wonderful. After all who wouldn't want to live in a road called the Land of Green Ginger.  

10. Metropho.rs
 
Metropho.rs is a map of the world where each country has been renamed based on metaphors used in Twitter - where one country has been described as being like another country or geographical location.

For example, according to Collin Jo, "Africa is the Cleveland, Ohio of the entire planet". Therefore on Metropho.rs Africa has been renamed Cleveland. You can click on the map labels to read the original Twitter country comparison.

Mapping European Data Privacy


After this year's revelations about the NSA's surveillance of European citizens' phone calls and e-mail and its bugging of European leaders, you would have thought that the Europeans would be pretty keen on firming up their data privacy laws. Well if you though that you would have been wrong.

According to LobbyPlag most European countries don't support new data privacy laws. The European Union is currently negotiating new data privacy laws which will replace all existing national laws on data privacy. LobbyPlag is mapping and tracking support and opposition to the new data privacy proposals across the EU.

The map shows in red those countries that are against more data privacy and in green those in favour. Users can click on each of the countries to discover which of their MEP's are most against more data privacy and which are most in favour.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The United States of Lego


Well, well, well, here's the second LEGO related post of the day. Anyone would think Christmas was on the way.

The United States of Lego is an ESRI map with, you guessed it, some awesome LEGO map tiles. And there's more. Not only is this map of the USA made entirely from LEGO's colored bricks each state on the map features its very own LEGO diorama.

If you like the dioramas you can even purchase a print from Jeff Fiesen's Brick Fantastic website.

The CERN Super Collider Scavenger Hunt


This year Google Maps released Street View imagery of the Hadron Collider at CERN. In anticipation of the arrival of Google Maps CERN hid LEGO® figurines around the centre.

You can now enter CERN's Scavenger Hunt. If you can find three of the figurines by searching around CERN on Street View you’ll be entered to win a gift of your choice from the CERN Gift Guide. Unfortunately a Super Collider isn't one of the prizes but there are a number of goodies on offer that you just might win.

Hat-tip: Google Street View World

The Geography of TV News


I have seen a lot of Carto DB Torque powered maps in the last month. This animated map of the geography of 400,000 hours of TV news is among the most interesting.

The Internet Archive geo-coded 400,000 hours of U.S. television news and mapped the locations mentioned in each report. The Animated Geography of TV News map animates through the locations mentioned in the news providing a great visualization of the countries and areas that receive the most attention and the areas which are neglected by American news (sorry Africa).

When Should We Meet?


Over the years we've seen a few Google Maps that help friends or business collegues find the best place to meet based on a number of different locations. Mezzoman is a good example of this kind of map. Give Mezzoman up to four different starting points and it will work out the midway point between the locations and a number of recommended venues for your meeting.

These days however meetings take place more and more often by teleconference. What these type of meetings need is help with planning the time of the meeting, especially if the participants are dispersed across different time-zones.

World Meeting Time is a handy Google Map that can help you work out what the time is around the world for each participant in a planned meeting. All you have to do is drop pins on the map to set the location of everyone in your planned meeting.

If you then set the first participant’s reference time the times for all the other participants are automatically displayed. Adjust the time of the meeting and all the times are automatically updated to show what the time will be for everyone in the planned meeting.

Have you sent your Street View Christmas cards yet?


Send a Christmas Street View Message is an oldie but a goodie. This very clever Google Maps application helps you create and send a personal holiday greeting from your own choice of Street View.

Once you select a Street View location and add your own personal message this app creates a stylized Street View scene, with animated snow and your greeting. The app pans and zooms around your chosen Street View accompanied by some nice soothing Christmas related music.

Once you are happy with your personal Christmas Street View scene you can send the URL link to your friends. This app uses WebGL, so you will need to use a compliant web browser.


This year the Snowman is also visiting your street on Street View. Chocolate company Thorntons, have created a magical online Christmas Card featuring Raymond Briggs' cute Snowman character (and Google Maps).


The Thorntons Facebook Christmas Message application allows you to send an animated Christmas message to a friend in which the Snowman flies over their house (using Google Maps satellite imagery) and even walks down their street (using Street View).

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Beyoncé - Beyond the Map


I most have been the only person on the planet to have missed the news that Beyoncé has released a new album. At least I appear to be by this animated map of all the people around the world busy Tweeting about the singer.

The Beyoncé Twitter map uses CartoDB's Torque library to animate through nearly a whole day's worth of Tweets. Time really liked the map but not everyone liked the map or Time's coverage of it. Here's one particularly thoughtful critique of the map.