Thursday, July 24, 2014

Europe is Moving Westwards

The European Union has released a new open data portal to provide information on EU funding and the socio-economic situation in each European Union country. The data can be downloaded in a number of common formats (including CSV, JSON and XML) and can be used free of charge.

The Cohesion Policy Data also provides visualizations of the data in a number of formats, including using Mapbox powered maps. The maps allow you to visualize a number of the socio-economic data-sets on a map of Europe, including data on GDP, unemployment rates and population.

The net migration data is particularly interesting. Immigration is currently proving to be a hot political topic in many European countries so I'm sure this data will prove to be popular with developers and news outlets. The map (screenshot above) clearly shows that most of the EU countries from the former Eastern Bloc (including East Germany) are experiencing high levels of emigration.

The map also shows that the many of the most popular destinations in Europe are around the Mediterranean coast, with north-western Italy, southern France and eastern Spain proving particularly popular as migrant destinations.

Mapping the Crisis in Ukraine

Liveuamap is a Google Map reporting incidents from the crisis in Ukraine. The map is a nonprofit, volunteer run project with a mission to inform the world about the on-going conflict in Ukraine.

The latest events in the country are plotted on the map using categorized map markers and are also listed in a map side-panel. The blue map markers relate to Ukrainian government actions and the red markers show the actions of the pro-Russian rebels.

The map includes a date picker so that you can select to view reported incidents from any date during the conflict. It also includes dynamic URL's so that you directly link to any incident reported on the map.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tracking Flight 17

I've seen a number of impressive images maps showing the location where Malaysia Airlines flight M17 was shot down over Ukraine. Now the Wall Street Journal has released the first decent interactive map that I've seen.

Tracking Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shows the flight path of flight 17 on July 17th, the date of the crash. The map also allows you to view flight paths of flight 17 in the months preceding the crash and the paths taken since the plane was fatally shot down.

The map shows that Flight M17 was flying within the usual flight path. You can also see how Flight 17 since the crash is making a wide berth of Ukrainian air space.

The WWI Mapped Interactive

The Guardian has released a very impressive mapped interactive about the history of World War I. A Global Guide to the First World War uses maps, audio, historical film and archive newspaper reports to examine the causes, struggles and effects of the first truly world-wide armed conflict.

The introductory map is particularly stunning with a number of small videos playing within the country outlines of a global map.

The first chapter of the interactive is a tour of the world highlighting when individual countries entered the First World War. Let's hear it for plucky Andorra, who, with an army of just 10 soldiers, declared war on Germany in 1914.

The other chapters in the narrative use audio narratives, archive film footage and excerpts from The Guardian's own newspaper reports during the war. These chapters deal with life in the trenches, the experiences of soldiers around the world and the aftermath of the war.

Introducing Wikia Maps

There's a new interactive mapping platform in town! Wikia Maps is a new easy to use map creation tool from Wikia, the free web wiki creation and hosting website.

The first thing to note is that Wikia Maps is not a fully fledged online mapping platform. It has similar functionality to Google Maps Engine Lite, in that it allows you to quickly add a few pins to a map and then grab the embed code to add a map to your webpage. However Wikia Maps does have an option to quickly create a map from any image. This option could make Wikia Maps a very popular amateur mapping tool indeed.

At the moment Wikia Maps provides two main user options. The first option, 'real map', allows you to add map pins to a Mapquest base map layer. You can create categories for your added map markers and you can also use your own images for the map pins. This easily allows you to add groups of markers and to select a different map pin marker for each of your categories.

The second option is where Wikia Maps excels. Using Wikia Maps you can easily create maps from your own images. So if you want to create a map of Westeros all you need to do is upload a Westoros image map and start adding pins to the map of your fantasy world.

This option should prove very popular. It allows computer game players to quickly create maps of game worlds. It allows fantasy fiction fans to quickly create maps of fictional worlds. It allows photographers to upload photos and add map pins to highlight people and other features in a picture. I can truly see this option being used by lots of people in lots of exciting ways.

If you look at the Featured Maps you can see the fun users are already having with this option to create maps with your own images. There is already a map of the Millennium Falcon, Westeros and a photo map from the Oscars.

If you want to start creating your own Wikia Map then you might find the Wikia Maps How-to Guide a useful place to begin.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Incredible Cat Stalking Map

One of the earliest popular uses of the Google Maps API was Gawker Stalker. The now defunct Gawker Stalker allowed you to track the movements of your favorite celebrities thanks to the detailed stalking carried out by Gawker and their readers.

If there is one thing more popular than celebrities on the internet then that is pictures of cats. It is therefore surprising that we have had to wait seven years for someone to finally get around to releasing I Know Where Your Cat Lives.

I Know Where Your Cat Lives displays pictures of cats on a Google Map. The pictures of the cats come from popular photo sharing websites and the locations are based on the data hidden in cat photo metadata.  I'm guessing that the map is partly intended as a warning about sharing your personal information online (or maybe its just a warning about sharing your cat's personal data online).

Weather on the Route

If you are planning a leisurely hike or a nice road-trip then you probably want to know what the weather will be like. WeatherTrip is a very easy to use map which can show you what weather conditions to expect along your planned route.

Just enter your starting point and destination into the application and a route will instantly be shown on a Google Map with a number of weather symbols showing you the current weather conditions along your planned walk or drive.

If you aren't setting off right now then you can use a date picker to select the date of your planned trip. Pick a new date and the weather symbols automatically update to display the weather on your planned trip date.

The Dark Sky: Weather Along a Traffic Route is another map which can show you the weather along your planned route. The app lets users request directions and then displays the route on a Google Map.

The first 60-minutes of your requested route will include a rain forecast from Dark Sky, showing where (and how hard) you’ll get rained on if you left right now. One feature that is missing is the ability to check the weather for a specific time. However the map could still be useful if you are heading out for a walk and you want to know if it is going to rain any time soon along your planned route.

The Endonym Map

The Endonym Map is a neat little Leaflet powered map which labels the countries of the world in their official or national languages.

The map includes four informative map insets in each corner of the map. These inset maps highlight the countries of the world grouped by the four most common languages, English, French, Arabic and Spanish.

The map itself was obviously designed as a static map and you can purchase a poster of the printed map. The interactive version of the map uses the Leaflet.Zoomify JavaScript library, which can create base map tiles for the Leaflet mapping platform from Zoomify images.

Test Your Local Knowledge

In recent years the UK's Office for National Statistics has been very creative in its use of interactive maps to help visualize census and other government data. Their new online map game is proving to be the most popular yet.

How Well Do You Now Your Area? is an online quiz which tests your knowledge of your local area, using data from the 2011 UK census. Enter a postcode into the quiz and a Google Map will highlight your local electoral ward area. You are then asked seven questions about the area and its population to test your local knowledge.

The questions concern information from the UK census, such as the median age of the local population and the percentage of Christians. The quiz is a great way to learn about the the demographics of your local area. For example, I learned that an astonishing 56% of households in my neighbourhood don't own a car.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tour de France Winners

Tour de France: Where Have the Winners Come From? is an interactive map showing the home countries of all the winners of the Tour de France. Using the map you can view the geographical spread of all the Tour winners since 1903.

I found the results a little surprising. Having grown-up during the period when Lance Armstong seemed to dominate the race almost every year (his wins are obviously now expunged from the records) I was expecting the race winners to be a bit more global. However apart from the American Greg LeMond (winner 1986) all the winners of the race have been born in Europe.

France dominates the map, although Belgium seems to produce a disproportionate number of great cyclists. Another surprise to me was that the great cycling friendly country of the Netherlands has only produced two winners of the Tour de France.

The map itself was created with the underused jVectorMap library.

Isochrone API's

Route360 has released an API to provide developer access to their isochrone library. The API has been designed to provide simple access to the Route360 isochrone travel time library from the Leaflet.js mapping platform.

Using the Route360 JavaScript API you can add a travel time isochrone layer to a Leaflet map. The API allows for users to view bike, car or walking travel-time isochrone layers on a Leaflet map. The API includes options to add a time control, so that the transit isochrone travel times will adjust to a transit network's schedule of operations.

You can see the Route360 isochrone library in action on SONA's map of apartments to rent in Berlin by travel time.

This apartment search map allows you to search for available apartments within a defined travel time of your workplace or other location. All the areas you can travel to on public transit in your commute time are shown on the map with an isochrone layer.

The isochrone layer is colored in ten minute segments, so you can easily tell at a glance how long it would take to travel to each of the displayed properties. If you select an apartment's marker on the map you can view all the details about the apartment. A transit route is also automatically displayed on the map showing your route from work to the apartment and how long the journey would take.

The Nokia Here Map API also includes a calculate isoline option. Nokia provide a neat demo map which uses the resulting isochrone polygon from a calculate isoline travel time search as the bounding box for a places search. The Isoline Bounding Box Search map is a nice demonstration of how you could use Nokia's isoline calculator to refine searches on a map, for example you could create a map that allowed users to search for cafes within a ten minute walk of their current location.

You can see the Nokia calculate isoline function in use at Isoscope. Isocope provides a beautiful mapped visualization of how far you can travel by car in a chosen time from any location in the world. You can even select the day and time to view an isochrone view of your time restricted travel extent.

If you prefer to use the Google Maps API then you can use the Mapnificent API to add isochrone layers to you maps. The API only works where Mapnificent has transit time coverage but this includes major cities in the US and other world-wide cities (you can check out the current coverage of the API on the Mapnificent coverage map).

Mapping Financial Distress

UK consumer rights magazine Which? has released a Google Map to show where UK citizens are suffering financial hardship.

The United Kingdom Financial Distress Map uses the results of a Which? survey into people's financial experiences. The map visualizes the results of the survey at three different zoom levels, by region, parliamentary constituency and by neighbourhood. If you click on the map you can view the Which? 'squeezability' score for the selected area.

The map also allows you to visualize UK unemployment rates and the Index of Multiple Deprivation.

Bike Video Routes in Berlin

Grab your virtual bike helmet and take a ride through the Tiergarten and the Brandenburg Gate and along the Unter den Linden with Cyclodeo's new bike video coverage in Berlin. Cyclodeo's mission to video all the world's bike paths has taken another step forward with the release of video mapped bike routes for Berlin.

Cyclodeo is a really useful application that enables cyclists to find cycling routes on a Google Map and preview the route by watching a video of it being ridden. With this new release Cyclodeo has added 86 bike rides in Berlin covering more than 200 km. Even if you aren't a Berlin cyclist you can use these new video routes to take a virtual tour of Berlin.

Once you've taken in Berlin on Cyclodeo you can move on to view bike video routes in San Francisco, New York, London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Eindhoven.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Digital Maps of the Week

NYC Taxis: A Day in the Life is a MapBox visualization of the journey of one New York taxi over the course of 24 hours.

The map animates the taxi's route over the course of one day. As the animation plays the taxi's position is shown by a yellow circle map marker. All the passenger journeys are added to the map with a blue polyline. While the animation plays the map also keeps a running total of the cab's total number of passengers, fares and tips received.

Once you have viewed a day in the life of this New York taxi you can choose from another one of thirty cab journeys mapped over 24 hours.

Messages in the Deep is a fascinating Google Map which allows you to explore the history of the growth of the undersea fibre optic network around the world since 1989.

The map allows you to view the undersea cable network for any year, or you can animate the map to view how this global network has grown since 1989. The map also allows you to refine the cables shown by cable owner.

You can click on any of the cables displayed on the map to view it's length, it's first year of operation and the cable's owners.

The Sydney Morning Herald has created an interesting mapped analysis of the languages spoken in the city. The map shows the top non-English languages spoken in each of the city's suburbs, the density of English as a first language and the linguistic diversity in each neighbourhood.

Sydney's Melting Pot of Language reveals that east Asians predominantly live in the north shore, while Arabic speakers dominate the western suburbs. Over 250 different languages are spoken in the city and nearly 40 percent speak a non-English language as their first tongue.

Accompanying the mapped visualization is a bar graph showing the numbers of speakers of each of the non-English languages spoken in the city. The graph groups the languages into global regions but you can select any of the region bars to view a percentage breakdown of the individual languages.  

Street View Sniffing

Google has faced no end of legal problems as a result of using its Street View cars to sniff out unsecured wi-fi data around the world. I suspect they won't face any legal challenges to their latest Street View sniffing experiment.

Google has teamed up with the Environmental Defense Fund to equip Street View cars with air-quality sensors to detect natural gas leaks from utility pipes under city streets. Using the data collected by the Street View cars Google and EDF can then create detailed maps showing where gas leaks are occurring and where gas pipes need to be fixed or replaced.

EDF has released maps from the experiment in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. The maps reveal that Boston and New York's ageing utility pipes result in a large number of leaks, while Philadelphia's newer gas pipe network is responsible for far fewer leaks.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

All Aboard the Mapillary Train

Mapillary, the crowd-sourced alternative to Street View, is going off-road. Anyone can contribute to the Mapillary mission by uploading photos using the Mapillary smartphone apps. This has resulted in people adding sequences of photos to Mapillary mainly along roads but also along footpaths, ski slopes, from boats and from trains.

Yesterday I noticed that someone had added a great sequence of photos taken from the front of a train in Sweden. This means that you can now ride the Ystad to Malmo train on Mapillary. Here's a little user tip - click and drag up & down on the photos to quickly move forwards or back through the sequence of images. This helps to create an animated journey effect as you quickly move through the uploaded photos.

Check out the Mapillary homepage for the latest picture uploads and to view a map of the current coverage around the world.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The First Man on Mars

There have been a number of Google Maps over the years which plot the locations mentioned in works of fiction. Andy Weir's The Martian Map is the first Google Map to plot a novel set on Mars.

In Andy Weir's 'The Martian' NASA astronaut Mark Watney is abandoned on Mars after the rest of his crew are forced to leave him behind. Watney is then forced to drive a Mars rover 2,000 miles across the planet to Schiaparelli Crater in order to be picked up by another NASA mission.

The Martian Map plots the course of Watney's journey to Schiaparelli Crater and some of the incidents he encounters along the way. The map uses the Google Mars base map layers. These layers are not directly accessible in v3 of the Google Maps API, however you can use them by using this Planetary Map Types example.

Watch that Map

Over the last few years a lot of car manufacturers have made great use of Google Maps and Street View to help market their cars. Swiss watch manufacturer Tissot has now caught the map marketing bug.

Tissot are using the Google Maps API to showcase some of the features on their range of watches. For example, you can experiment with the Tissot watch compass by rotating Street View imagery of the Grand Canyon, or you can play with the stop-watch feature by racing cars around the streets of New York. You can even explore the height of the Grand Canyon on Google Maps by using the Tissot altimeter.

If you want to see more examples of how maps have been used in marketing check out the Top Five Street View Car Ads.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Brief History of the Slippy Wind Map

Since its release two years ago's beautiful Wind Map has proved a source of inspiration to a number of map developers. This real-time animated map of wind speed and direction really is a gorgeous realization of live meteorological data. It is no surprise then that it has proved a source of inspiration for other cartographers.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association were so impressed by the Wind Map that they decided to create their own real-time weather map of the Great Lakes. Being the Great Lakes however the NOAA decided to map live lake currents instead of wind.

The resulting Great Lakes Surface Currents Map is an animated map simulating current flow patterns in the Great Lakes.

Over in Japan some map developers were so inspired by's Wind Map that they decided to create their own map. The Tokyo Wind Map is an animated map of real-time wind speeds and direction. The map also includes controls to view previous hours' wind data on the map.

The developers behind the Tokyo Wind Map then went on to create an even more impressive visualization of near real-time global weather conditions. Like and the Tokyo Wind Map, Earth uses D3.js to create an interactive map that displays wind speeds in near real-time, only this time the map is a gorgeous 3d globe.

Esri were in turn so inspired by the Earth 3d globe that they then went on to develop Windy-JS.

Windy-JS re-purposes the same weather data used in the Earth map so that it can be overlaid in a canvas element on top of a variety of mapping APIs. Esri has created a demo map with Windy-JS, Wind Animation, which allows you to view global wind conditions animated on a slippy map.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Humanitarian Drone Mapping

It's hard to get away from drone mapping at the moment. Last week on Google Maps Mania we featured four different drone related mapping projects:

Drone Adventures - a non-profit organization designed to promote the potential of drones in conservation and humanitarian work
MapKnitter - a free and open source tool for aligning and creating maps from drone and other overhead captured images
Dronestagram - an Instagram type website for sharing aerial photos captured by drones
TravelByDrone - a map of video footage taken by drones around the world

The Humanitarian UAV Network is another map collecting drone shot video footage from around the world. The aim of the Humanitarian UAV Network is to provide a platform for the sharing and collaboration of humanitarian uses of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles).

Part of this platform is a global map of UAV captured video, taken at disaster sites around the world. The map includes aerial shot videos taken at the sites of landslides, floods, building collapses, typhoons and other natural and man made disasters.

The New York Once a Week Parking Map

I learnt something new today. In New York a lot the streets have once a week parking restrictions. Apparently this has something to do with access for street cleaning vehicles.

These parking restrictions can cause a problem for motorists in terms of long-term parking. Matt Petric has become so frustrated with the problem of having to move his friends' cars multiple times per week while they are out of town that he has created a map to help find which roads he can park on and on what days.

Using Street Parker you can select individual days of the week to discover which streets you can not park on. Select a day and all the roads with parking restrictions for that day are highlighted on the map.

Street Parker was made with the help of Derek Eder's popular Searchable Map Template for Fusion Tables. The tool-tips were created with the help of Nianwei Liu's Fusion Tips for displaying map mouse-over effects with Fusion Tables maps.

Dr Who Takes Over Google Maps

Update: The Cyberman and Tardis have now been removed from Google Maps. Boo!

Earlier today I posted about this picture of a Cyberman that has suddenly appeared on Google Maps in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. I assumed that this was the result of someone playing around with Google Maps Maker to change Google Maps.

However I have now found the TARDIS on Google Maps at a location nearby to the Cyberman .

I think Dr Who is actually produced by BBC Wales. I'm therefore beginning to wonder if this might actually be part of some marketing campaign by the BBC and Google to promote the next season of Dr Who. Please let us know in the comments if you find any more Dr Who related surprises on Google Maps.

The Swiss Cantons of Football

By now I assume that you have seen the New York Times' maps of the Basketball Nation and the Baseball Nation. These maps show the support of US baseball and basketball teams based on the locations of their Facebook fans.

Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger has created a similar mapped visualization showing the geography of football support in the country. Die Hochburgen der Schweizer Fussballfans colors the map based on the home addresses of season ticket holders of Swiss football teams. The color indicates the dominant club in each neighborhood. The intensity of the color indicates the number of fans buying season tickets in the area.

It is also possible to select individual teams from a drop-down menu to view the level of their support throughout the country.

When Cyberman Attacks Google Maps

Update: The Cyberman has now been removed from Google Maps. Boo!

The trouble with crowd-sourced maps is that sometimes you can't trust the crowd. Google has occasionally had trouble with people using Google Map Maker to make less than accurate changes to Google Maps.

Google Map Maker edits have to be approved by moderators and this usually works in stopping the most obvious attempts to vandalize Google Maps. However the occasional prank edit does sneak past the moderators and make it on to Google Maps for real.

When the Google Street View caught something strange going on in a back street of Manchester, someone decided it would be a good idea to rename Temperance Street in Manchester. Google fairly quickly changed the name back to Temperance Street but I suspect that the name 'Hand Job Alley' just might have caught on locally.

The latest prank edit to appear on Google Maps is this picture of a Cyberman, which has appeared near a lake in Merthyr Tydfil.

I'm assuming of course that this is a joke edit made to Google Maps. I guess that there is a chance that the sudden appearance of picture of a Cyberman in Wales might have something to do with the secretive Torchwood Institute in nearby Cardiff.

Live Tracking the Tour de France in 3d

Applied Works has used WebGL to create 3d maps of the climbing stages in the Tour de France. Tour de France - Mapping the Climbs currently has two maps which you can view. One is a demo map of stage 7 of the 2012 Tour de France. The other one is a map of stage 10 in this year's race.

Both maps include an elevation chart beneath the map, You can mouse-over the elevation chart to see the location of key events during the stage on the map. The maps themselves include contour lines and zoom controls. Panning the map takes a little getting used to as it differs from the normal panning navigation of interactive maps.

If you click and drag the map, rather than panning, the map rotates around the marked location. This allows you to explore the 3d features of the map. If you wish to move to a new location then you have to mouse-over the elevation chart beneath the map. This centralizes the map on a new location and the new location then becomes the central point which you can rotate the map view around.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Stalking the Super Rich

MansionMap is a great map to help you stalk the super rich. Using the map you can zoom into your nearest rich neighborhood and find out who owns all the most expensive houses.

However most times that you go a stalking you have a particular individual fixed in your mind. If that's the case don't worry because MansionMap allows you to search for people's homes by name.

Want to stalk Hugh Heffner? MansionMap has got you sorted.

Just enter his name into the search box and you can find out the exact address of the Playboy Mansion. You can then peer into the grounds to your heart's content using Google Maps satellite view.

And there's more. Using MansionMap you can click on the Playboy Mansion to get details about the property and an estimate of its cost. You can even click on all the neighboring houses, just to make sure that there isn't someone better to stalk near-by.

A Day in the Life of a New York Cab

NYC Taxis: A Day in the Life is a MapBox visualization of the journey of one New York taxi over the course of 24 hours.

The map animates one New York taxi's route over the course of one day. As the animation plays the taxi's position is shown by a yellow circle map marker. All the passenger journeys are added to the map with a blue polyline. While the animation plays the map also keeps a running total of the cab's total number of passengers, fares and tips received.

Once you have viewed a day in the life of this New York taxi you can choose from another one of thirty cab journeys mapped over 24 hours.

Hubcab is a mapped visualization of 170 million taxi trips over one year in New York City. Using the map it is possible to view all pickup and drop-off points in the city and to view the number of trips taken between two separate locations.

Locations that were used as taxi pickup points in the city are shown as yellow dots on the map and drop-off points are shown as blue dots. It is also possible to refine the results displayed on the map by time of day.

You can view the number of taxi journeys between two different locations  by dropping two markers on the map. After you place the markers on the map you can see the number of taxi journeys taken in one year in both directions between the two locations. You can even refine the results by time of day to explore when the most journeys between the two points are made during the day.

Hannibal's Invasion of Rome

Over the weekend I posted about a little JourneyMap library I had written for the Leaflet mapping platform using Waypoints.js.

I decided it might be useful to provide another demonstration map, this time mapping a real journey. Hannibal's Journey uses the JourneyMap library to narrate through the history of Hannibal's defeat of the Romans. To progress through the map simply scroll down the page. The map will automatically update to show the locations mentioned in the the history.

If you want to create your own JourneyMap with the Leaflet mapping platform feel free to reuse the source code of Hannibal's Journey in any way that you want.

Exploring Roman and Islamic Córdoba

The city of Córdoba in Spain has quite a history. During the Roman Republic Córdoba was the capital of Hispania Ulterior and was then the capital of Hispania Baetica during the Roman Empire. It later became the capital of the Islamic Caliphate of Córdoba.

All this Roman and Islamic history has left its mark on the city. Visit Córdoba today and you can still see the evidence of Roman and Islamic rule in the city's historic architecture. In fact Córdoba is the largest urban area in the world declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Visor de Rutas Arqueologicas is a Leaflet map, created in CartoDB, which can help guide you around the historic buildings of Córdoba. The map includes a number of guided walks around the historic Roman and Islamic landmarks in the city.

When you first load the map all the historic locations in the city are displayed on the map. You can click on the individual markers to learn more about the city's Roman and Islamic buildings. Alternatively you can select from the Roman and Islamic walks listed in the map sidebar to browse a number of walking routes taking in the important sites of Córdoba's historic past.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mapping Disastrous Australia

If you live on the eastern seaboard of Australia my advice is to immediately pack your bags and move to Geraldton on the west coast. Project Doom is a map of natural, man made and transport disasters which have occurred in Australia. If the map reveals only one thing it is that the east coast of Australia suffers more than its fair share of disasters.

The map shows the location of disasters in the country since 1967. You can refine the type of disasters from the menu on the left of the map. If you select a marker on the map you can read details of the mapped disaster, including the number of resulting deaths.

Once you have settled in Geraldton you can view the Project Doom source code, which is available on GitHub.

The Traveling Salesman Problem with Traffic

Over the years on Google Maps Mania we have posted a number of maps that help to solve the perennial Traveler Salesman Problem (TSP). The TSP is the challenge of finding the shortest route which takes in a number of waypoints.

The developers at Forio decided that the TSP was not challenging enough and so set themselves the additional challenge of finding the quickest route taking into account real-time traffic conditions. The resulting Forio Route Optimizer finds the quickest route, taking in a number of stops and factoring in the actual traffic on the roads.

The Route Optimizer comes with a number of example routes in San Francisco, including a book crawl and a sightseeing tour of the city.

Forio has written-up an interesting blog post on how the Route Optimizer was created, including a link to the source code of the Optimizer on GitHub.

Historical Photos of Rural America

Dewey, Montana

Yale Photogrammr is a map of 90,000 historical US farm and agriculture photographs taken between 1935 and 1945.

The photos are mapped to county level. If you select a county on the map you can view all the photographs in the collection from the chosen county. You can also search the photos by photographer and date.

Wisdom, Montana

It is a bit of a shame that the photos aren't located more accurately than county level. This means it is a little difficult to hunt the same views down on Google Maps Street View (as I've done in the screenshots above). However this is a fascinating collection of photos of mid-20th Century rural America and I at least have had a little fun today wandering around Street View exploring some of the locations in the photos.

Mapping the History of Undersea Cables

Messages in the Deep is a fascinating Google Map which allows you to explore the history of the growth of the undersea fibre optic network around the world since 1989.

The map allows you to view the undersea cable network for any year, or you can animate the map to view how this global network has grown since 1989. The map also allows you to refine the cables shown by cable owner.

You can click on any of the cables displayed on the map to view it's length, it's first year of operation and the cable's owners.

TeleGeography's Google Maps API version of the Submarine Cable Map, looks at the physical connections that make it possible for the internet's data to travel around the world. This map is an interactive version of TeleGeography's annual Submarine Cable wall map, which you can purchase directly from the website.

The Google Map version allows users to click on the landing point hubs to reveal a list of all submarine cables landing at a station. The Google Map makes great use of Google Map styles and custom info windows to create a map that is both functional and great to look at.

Greg's Cable Map is another Google Map of the world's undersea communications infrastructure. The map displays the major cables that allow internet and other data to travel from the other side of the world, across the oceans and into your home.

It is possible to click on any of the displayed cables (or select it from the side menu) and view details about the cable's schematic accuracy and the locations that it connects.

Citizen Scientist to the Rescue

Night Cities ISS is a citizen science project by the Universidad Coplutense de Madrid, which is using the power of the crowd to help identify locations in satellite images taken from the International Space Station.

The project's aim is to identify light sources in night time views of the Earth. Night Cities ISS presents you with an image taken from the International Space Station alongside a Google Map of the same location. Your job is to identify locations in the satellite image by clicking on the location in the image and on the map.

To align the image with the map view you can pan and zoom both the image and the map. You can also rotate the satellite image by pressing shift and left-clicking on the image.

The Catalina Sky Survey is scanning the solar system for asteroids. Asteroid Hunt is a citizen science project that is trying to identify the locations of asteroids by using images taken by the survey.

Asteroid Hunt presents you with four animated telescope views of a section of the night sky. Your job is to identify the location of moving asteroids in the four still images. To identify an asteroid you simply need to click on the location of the asteroid in each of the sequence of images.