Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Dot Map of American Education

Educational Attainment in America is a dot map which visualizes the level of education achieved by the American population across the whole United States. Using the map you can zoom in on any town or city and see the local distribution of educational attainment.

The map shows five levels of educational attainment ranging from those who didn't finish high school to those with graduate degrees. As you can see in the screenshot above the map reveals the often quite stark differences in educational achievement which can exist in different neighborhoods, even in the same cities and towns. You can examine the distribution of any of the levels of educational attainment by selecting any combination of the five levels of achievement (click on the levels in the map legend to add or remove them from the map).

The map also includes an option to view a chart of the percentages who have achieved different levels of achievement in the current map view. This is very useful for comparing the different levels of achievement in different neighborhoods or cities. For example if you zoom-in on Manhattan you can see a very high percentage of the local population holds some kind of college degree. Conversely zoom-in on the Bronx and you find that the largest percentages of educational achievement are high school & less than high school and a far smaller percent of the population has achieved a degree level of education.

Burning the Amazonian Rainforest

Fires in the Amazon have grown by an horrendous amount this year. Satellite imagery from NASA show a 65% increase in fires in Brazil since the beginning of 2019, when compared to the same period in 2018. There is a direct link between the fires and deforestation in the Amazon. Of the 10 areas that have recorded the largest fires in 2019, seven are areas with the highest number of deforestation warnings.

Infoamazonia's Fire map is a visualization of historical forest fires in the whole of Latin America. The map clearly shows that the most intense and frequent fires have been in the Amazon rainforest. Recently the regions of Acre and Amazonas have both declared a state of emergency because of the levels of smoke from wildfires. August and September are historically the worst months for wildfires in the Amazon so the situation is expected to become worse in the coming months.

In the last few years Brazil had actually experienced a fall in wildfires. However last year Brazil elected Jair Bolsonaro. Since Jair Bolsonaro became president the rate of deforestation in the Amazon has grown. This year the rate of wildfires has also grown.

If you are struggling to understand the rate and the scale of deforestation in the Amazon then you can use the Real-Time Amazon Deforestation interactive map. This map allows you to compare the size and rate of deforestation in the Amazon with your own neighborhood and city. When you share your location with the map a circle begins to expand on the map showing how much of the Amazon is lost in 1 minute, 1 hour, 1 day, 1 month etc.

Greta Thunberg's Real-Time Map

Greta Thunberg is just about half-way through her two-week journey to the United States. The young climate activist is crossing the Atlantic by solar-powered yacht in order to attend the Climate Action Summit in New York on 21-23 September.

You can follow Greta's journey on a real-time interactive map. Team Malizia shows the real-time position of the yacht Malizia II as it crosses the Atlantic. The map includes the track of the yacht's journey so far from Plymouth in the UK and Greta's Tweets and photos taken during the crossing. Thanks to an animated wind layer you can also view the wind directions and speeds in the Atlantic in real-time.

The journey from the UK to New York is over 3000 nautical miles and the journey will take around two weeks. The Malizia II does have an emergency combustion engine in compliance with IMOCA rules but the engine will not be used during the journey. Electricity on the yacht is generated by solar and hydro power. These two energy sources are capable of providing more electricity than the yacht actually needs. Therefore the journey will be fully emission free.

The Malizia II is a racing yacht and is therefore kept as light as possible. This means the yacht has no toilet, shower, cooking facilities or proper beds. The two week journey to the USA won't exactly be a comfortable experience for Greta or the crew.

Monday, August 19, 2019

1% of the World Lives Here

If you've ever visited Map Porn on Reddit you will do doubt have seen the endless maps which highlight the most densely populated areas of a country and which have a title along the lines of '...% of this country lives here'. These maps can be quite interesting but on the whole their ubiquity is a little tedious.

Having said that I do really like this World Population 3D globe. Spin this globe around and the red dot will shrink or grow to show you where 1% of the world's population lives in the current map view. Move the globe over Siberia and the red circle grows to cover half of Russia. Center the globe over India and the red dot shrinks to just a small speck on the map.

You can adjust the percentage of the population shown within the red circle simply by using the slider control bar provided. One thing the map misses is an underlying layer showing population density. However if you switch to the night view you can see a night light layer, which does provide a very rough idea of population density across the globe.

Last year The Pudding created an impressive interactive map which visualized the world's population in 3D. The Pudding's Human Terrain interactive map shows population density across the globe using 3D population pyramids. The taller a pyramid block on The Pudding map then the more people live there.

The Pudding used its own map to explore in more detail the pattern of population density around the world. In Population Mountains The Pudding examines how unevenly the world is populated and how population density can take different forms in different parts of the world.

For example The Pudding compares the pyramid population maps of some European cities to Kinshasa, DRC. In Kinshasa poor transportation infrastructure has led to a densely populated city center, whereas European cities tend to have less densely populated centers and more densely populated suburbs. Because of poor transportation in Kinshasa the population pyramids in the city center fall sharply away, while in European cities there tends to be a more gradual slope from the center out into the suburbs.

The Proper Pronunciation of Placenames

Have you ever experienced the embarrassment of mispronouncing the name of a town or city while traveling abroad? Well you now no longer have to worry about how a difficult place-name should be pronounced. Using the Spoken Word interactive map you can now just simply click on a location to listen to the place-name being spoken by a native speaker.

The Spoken Word was created by Michael McNeil for his masters degree at the University of Kentucky. The map uses recordings from Forvo to provide clips of native speakers pronouncing place-names around the world. Forvo is an online pronunciation reference website. The site compiles recordings of pronunciations for words in different languages. These recordings include the pronunciations of place-names around the world.

The Spoken Word is a great idea for an interactive map. However I think the map could be improved by simply replacing the markers on the map with the actual place-name labels for each location. This would be an easy enough task in Mapbox. You could even use a different color for these labels so that these locations couldn't be confused with the underlying place-name labels on the map.

A Game of Hungarian Thrones

Tomorrow Hungary will celebrate St. Stephen's Day. The day commemorates the foundation of the Hungarian state. On this day Hungarians remember Stephen I, the first king of Hungary and founder of the Kingdom of Hungary. St Stephen became king of Hungary in 1001. For the following 917 years Hungary was ruled by a succession of monarchs, until Charles IV renounced participation in state affairs in 1918.

You can explore the history of Hungary's royal kings and queens on Atlo's Battle of Thrones. This detailed history of the Hungarian royal families includes a number of data visualizations including family trees and an interactive map. The map shows the places where each of Hungary's royal rulers was born and died. It reveals that the Hungarian royal family have originated from all across Europe. In fact even the second king of Hungary, Stephen I's successor, Peter of Venice, was born in the Republic of Venice (he wasn't the only Hungarian king born in Venice - Andrew III was also a native of the republic).

Other Hungarian kings have been born in what is now Spain, Romania, Italy, Germany, Poland and  elsewhere across the continent. On the map the red circles show where a monarch was born and the blue circles indicate the monarch's place of death.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The 3D Building Age Map

Bert Spaan's Netherland's Building Age Map, created for the Waag website, is one of my favorite interactive maps of all time. This map visualizes the age of a staggering 9,866,539 buildings in the Netherlands. This is very impressive in itself but its use of distinct colors for buildings of different construction ages means that the map also has a striking visual impact.

Inspired by Spaan's map Parallel has created a Netherlands Building Ages interactive map which shows not only the age of 10 million buildings in the Netherlands but the height of those buildings as well. This map makes use of Mapbox's GL extrude property to visualize the height of all the buildings in 3D. The colors of the buildings indicate their age. You can also hover individual buildings to learn a building's exact year of construction.

The map team at the City of Amsterdam used the same Construction and Address Database (BAG) used in the above two maps to create an animated map of the construction of Amsterdam over time.

Amsterdam Growing Over Time is an incredible animated map which shows how the city of Amsterdam has developed and grown from a few houses in the 17th century into the dynamic city it is today. Click on the play button and you can watch as the city's building footprints are added chronologically to the map based on each building's age.

Some of the buildings in the BAG database are obviously newer buildings which have been built in the same location and which replaced older buildings. The map therefore doesn't provide an exact picture of how the city developed. However Amsterdam has enough historical buildings still standing for the animated map to provide a reasonable overview of how Amsterdam has grown over the centuries.

Using Mapbox's extrude property it would be possible to create an animated map of Amsterdam which showed the buildings of the city growing out of the map over time. This sort of historical animated map might be even more impressive in somewhere like New York, a city where there are much taller buildings. Imagine an animated map of New York during the 20th Century showing the city's skyscrapers emerging from the map and growing ever taller over time.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Coral Bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef

Since 1981 the Great Barrier Reef has suffered from four major mass bleaching events. Bleaching happen when very high sea temperatures cause the coral to release the colorful algae that lives inside its tissue. The algae is extremely important for the health of the coral. Without the algae the coral starves. In 2016 93% of the Great Barrier was effected by coral bleaching.

Carbon Brief's Can the Great Barrier Reef survive climate change? includes an interactive story map which looks at the Great Barrier Reef's four bleaching events since 1981. As you scroll through Carbon Brief's story the map updates to show the extent of the barrier reef effected by each of these four bleaching events.

Coral bleaching happens when sea temperatures rise. A rise in temperature of 1 degree Celsius above average can cause bleaching. Because of global heating severe coral bleaching is five times more frequent now than it was 40 years ago. Carbon Brief's report explores how coral bleaching has a knock on effect on many other species which rely on the coral reef to survive. It also explores how warmer sea temperatures effect the coral's ability to reproduce.

3D Terrain Mapping

Vladimir Agafonkin, the creator of the Leaflet mapping platform, has released a JavaScript library for real-time terrain mesh generation from height data. MARTINI allows you to render terrain in 3D.

MARTINI builds a 3D terrain using Right-Triangulated Irregular Networks (RTIN). Check out this MARTINI: Real-Time RTIN Terrain Mesh Observable notebook which both explains what this means and includes a demo map which shows you perfectly how RTIN works. You can zoom in an out and rotate the demo map. You can also adjust the level of precision using the slide control.

The 2D map below the 3D scene also updates in real-time when you adjust the precision of the map. This provides a great visualization of how Martini works as it shows the number of triangles being used at different levels of precision.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Mapping Earthquake Scenarios

The LA Times has released an interactive map which allows you to visualize a number of different earthquake scenarios on top of any California location. To create the map the newspaper worked with the U.S. Geological Survey to identify 14 different significant earthquake scenarios which could strike along California's fault lines.

If you enter a California address into the What would a powerful earthquake feel like where you live? interactive map you can view the likely effect of an earthquake at your address. The map is colored to show the extent of shaking that could be felt around the epicenter of a quake. The map also provides an assessment of the cost of the possible damage, the number of lives which could be lost and the number of non-fatal injuries.

The map shows the worst of the 14 scenarios for your address. This isn't necessarily the worst earthquake which could happen. The USGS has actually modeled 300 scenarios for the California area. For reasons of speed the LA Times map only uses 14 of these scenarios.

The OpenQuake Map Viewer provides free and open-source visualizations of global earthquake hazards. Each of the Map Viewer visualizations uses the OpenQuake engine, a seismic hazard and risk calculation software, to show seismic risks & hazards and seismic exposure around the world,

Currently the OpenQuake Map Viewer provides three separate interactive Leaflet powered maps: the Global Seismic Hazard Map, the Seismic Risk Map and the Global Exposure Map. The Global Seismic Hazard Map shows the potential for seismic activity based on hazard and risk calculation models. The Seismic Risk Map visualizes the average annual cost of seismic activity around the world. The Global Exposure Map is a visualization of the built areas of the world.

The Global Seismic Risk Map can provide individual country seismic risk assessments. Click on a country on the Risk Map and you can view details on the annual cost of seismic activity for residential buildings, commercial buildings and  industrial buildings. You can also download the full OpenQuake profile for any country.

Berlin: The Divided City

They may have torn down the wall but Berlin remains a city painfully divided - by football. In the eastern red half of the city live the faithful supporters of FC Union Berlin. In the opposite, western blue half of the city reside the fans of Hertha BSC.

Last season FC Union Berlin secured their first ever promotion into the Bundesliga. The result is that this season Berlin will have two football teams playing in the Bundesliga and support for the two teams is split fairly evenly across the city. You can see how support for the two Berlin Bundesliga teams divides the city on a new interactive map.

The Berliner Morgenpost's Fußballkarte map shows which of the two Berlin football clubs have the most members in each postcode area. If you mouse-over a postcode area on the map you can view the actual number of members in the area for both teams. In truth, as the more established Bundesliga club, Hertha BSC (36,930) has more paid-up members than FC Union Berlin (29,043).

If you live in Hamburg then you have no need to feel left out. Hamburger Fußballkarte is an interactive map that visualizes where HSV and St. Pauli have the most fans in the city of Hamburg. German football fans might also like the Berliner Morgenpost's Fußballkarte (Beta) map. This map shows the geographical support for most of Germany's top football teams across the whole country. The map was created back in 2014 so the data might be a little out of date.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Right Whale Spotting

The NOAA Right Whale Sighting Advisory System is an interactive map of right whale sightings in the North Atlantic. The system has been designed to help reduce collisions between ships and the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.

Using the map mariners can see where right whales have most recently been sighted off the east coast. The map includes a tool which allows you to see all the right whale sightings made in the last two weeks. Alternatively you can select to view whale sightings for any selected date range.

If you want to view the location of right whales spotted in the last two weeks in Canadian waters you can visit the WhaleMap. The WhaleMap shows both confirmed sightings of right whales and whales which have been detected acoustically. On the map the black markers show sightings of whales, while the red markers show right whales which have been acoustically detected. If you click on these markers you can find out how many whales were spotted at that location and the date of the sighting.

John Snow's Cholera Map in 3D

John Snow's map of cholera victims during the 1854 cholera outbreak in London is one of the most famous examples of effective data visualization. By plotting the homes of cholera victims on a map Snow was able to identify a water pump in Broad Street as the cause of all the local cases of cholera. Snow's map essentially proved that cholera was spread by contaminated water and disproved the prevailing miasma theory, which believed that diseases like cholera were transmitted by bad air.

Creating an interactive version of John Snow's original map has become something of a rite of passage in the field of cartography. However it is rare for any of these attempts to bring anything essentially new to John Snow's visualization. John Snow Cholera Map 2D-3D does offer something different. This map allows you to switch between a digitized version of John Snow's original map and a 3D version of the map. On this 3D view Snow's black dots (indicating where people have died from cholera) become vertical stacks. These vertical stacks provide a clearer picture of the exact location of the households that experienced multiple deaths.

Cholera & Elevation

In developing his theory that cholera was transmitted by water rather than air Snow was able to use the detailed statistics of William Farr. In 1838 Farr, a qualified doctor, was appointed to the General Register Office. This was the government department responsible for recording births, deaths and marriages. In his role at the General Register Office Farr was able to introduce a system which recorded causes of death. This data could then be used to look for geographical, environmental and occupational patterns in death rates and different diseases.

It was partly Snow's use of these death rate statistics which led him to believe that cholera was caused by germs which were transmitted by water. William Farr was impressed with Snow's germ theory of cholera being transmitted by water. However Farr himself believed that cholera was more commonly transmitted by air (the miasma theory). He even developed his own theory based on the idea that deadly miasmata are greater at lower than higher elevations. In his 'Report on the mortality of cholera in England 1848-49' Farr's detailed analysis of the distribution of cholera deaths in London actually established an apparent link between the rate of cholera deaths and elevation.

In this map from the report the red numbers 'denote the elevation in feet above the Trinity Highwater Mark' (image from the Wellcome Collection). Farr believed that the link between elevation and cholera was further evidence for the miasma theory. In 1854 Farr was a member of the Scientific Committee for Scientific Enquiries in Relation to the Cholera Epidemic of 1854. A committee which rejected John Snow's Broad Street pump analysis. The report concluded that "on the whole of evidence, it seems impossible to doubt that the influences, which determine in mass the geographical distribution of cholera in London, belong less to the water than to the air."

William Farr however was finally persuaded of Snow's germ theory of cholera and its waterborne transmission. In 1866 Farr himself wrote a report, which included detailed analysis of death statistics, to show that water and not air transmission was the most important cause of cholera.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Two Degrees Warmer

In 2015 countries from around the world signed the Paris Agreement, an agreement to try to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100. In 2019 many locations across the United States have already surpassed 2 degrees of warming. Two years ago President Trump announced that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

The Washington Post has today released a detailed examination of where climate change is having the most visible effects in the United States. In 2°C: Beyond the Limit - Extreme climate change has arrived in America the Post uses historical temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature to map where temperatures in the U.S. have already exceeded two degrees Centigrade.

According to the Post's analysis seventy-one counties have already experienced global heating of 2-degree Celsius. The Post's story includes a more detailed look at some of the regions of America which are experiencing extreme global warming and the effect that this warming is having on local environments. In particular the Post's story concentrates on the North East, where extreme warming has led to rising seas, loss of land, warmer winters and many other environmental problems.

Animated Wind Maps

Animated wind maps have become very popular over the last few years. Earth: and Windy are just two examples of interactive maps which use weather data from the Global Forecast System to create real-time animated maps of global wind conditions.

US Wind Patterns is another interesting example of an animated wind map. However US Wind Patterns uses historical weather data to visualize the last 72 hours of wind activity in the United States. The map shows the wind direction, speed and temperature measurements from 1200 weather stations on top of an interactive map. Press play and you can watch the changing strength and direction of the wind over the last three days as the map animates through the wind data hour by hour.

US Wind Patterns was made with PhiloGL, a WebGL library for creating data visualizations. The library's demo page includes a number of other map visualizations, including this interesting 3D globe of World Temperature Changes 1880-2011.

Where's the Sun?

Under the Sun is an animated map which shows the daily journey of the Sun as the Earth rotates around its own axis. The map shows the exact point on Earth right now where the sun is at its Zenith. The map updates in real-time. So as you watch the map the sun slowly travels westwards across the land or sea.

Under the Sun also includes information on the current time and the latitude and longitude of the current map view. That's it. Under the Sun is a very simple map but it can show some beautiful aerial views of the Earth and watching the slowly shifting landscape under the sun can be very calming.

You can see where on Earth it is currently daytime and where it is nighttime on the Night and Day on Earth interactive map. This map uses a simple map overlay to show where there is currently daylight around the globe and where the world is in darkness.

Night and Day on Earth uses the Leaflet.Terminator plug-in for Leaflet.js. If you need to show where it is currently night and day around the world then you can use the plug-in to add a night and day layer to your own Leaflet maps.

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Impossible Burger Real-Time Map

Imitation meat by Impossible Food is inexplicably very popular. As a vegetarian of 40 years I struggle to see the attraction of processed food which has been designed to taste like meat. However there are obviously many people who do want to eat fake meat. In fact so many people want Impossible Burgers that it has become nearly impossible to find an Impossible Burger.

Which is why Bloomberg has created the Impossible Burger Real-Time Map. Enter your location into Bloomberg's map and you can instantly find all the nearby fast food restaurants which currently have stocks of the Impossible Burger. Restaurants where Impossible Burgers are available are marked in green and restaurants where they are unavailable are colored red.

Users of the map can update the information shown on the map. If you are viewing the map on a phone then you can share your location with the map and report the availability of Impossible Burgers (or their unavailability). The Bloomberg report accompanying the map also includes information on all the latest restaurants and fast food chains which are selling the Impossible Burger.

How Drug Crime Went Rural

The BBC has published an interactive map which they say visualizes how drug crime is moving from the inner-cities to smaller commuter towns in England & Wales. The map is largely being used to illustrate an interesting theory which is being called 'County Lines'. County Lines is what the police are calling a trend by drug gangs to expand from cities into nearby small towns, using teenagers as drug mules.

The interactive map in Drug Crime Mapped uses different colors to show where drug crime has increased or decreased in England & Wales. The BBC believe that the map shows that drug crime has fallen significantly in city centres, while at the same time it has risen sharply in many smaller towns and villages.

I don't usually post maps about crime to Maps Mania. This is largely due to the huge qualitative problems with crime data. Increases and decreases in crime figures can be hugely affected by how that data is reported and collected. Crime statistics can also be affected by sudden changes in police and government policies towards different areas of crime.

Because of the UK's government's austerity programme the police in England have suffered budget cuts for the last 8 years. This means that the UK police have had to carefully target their resources. Personally I would be very wary of the claim that drug crime has fallen 'significantly' in city centres. The definition of drug crime in the BBC report appears to be "offences involving either the possession or supply of illegal drugs". The fall in drug crimes in major cities could feasibly be due, at least partly, to the fact that the police have less officers on the streets, or because inner-city police forces have been targeting scarce resources on other areas of crime. Conversely the increases in drug-crime in smaller towns could be due to the police in those areas identifying drug-crime as an area in which to concentrate local resources.

Mapping Hong Kong Police in Real-Time

Protesters in Hong Kong have widely been using mobile technology in order to try and stay one step ahead of the police. For example the Telegram messaging app has proved very popular with demonstrators in Hong Kong. This is largely due to its security, the ability of users to permanently delete messages and the ease with which group chats can be established and used by groups of protesters.

Another new application being used by protesters in Hong Kong is a live real-time map being used to report the presence of the police. HKmap.live is a crowdsourced map which appears to be designed to report and show the live position of the police in Hong Kong. On the map different emojis are being used to show the location of the police across the city.

Using the map you can report the presence of the police at a location simply by clicking on that location on the map. However reporting privileges are password protected. The instructions appear to suggest that you need Telegram authentication to add data to the map. The instructions also suggest that there is some informal fact-checking taking place on reports and that suspicious users of the map will be banned from reporting to the map.

During some of the biggest protests in Hong Kong Telegram has suffered from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Presumably the Chinese authorities have attempted to disrupt Telegram's service and take it offline in order to stop it being used by protesters. HKmap.live was released on August 4th and there were over 10,000 users on its first day. Perhaps its real measure of success will come when the Chinese authorities start trying to take it offline.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Route Planning in the Ancient World

Travelling from London to Rome in the 2nd Century would have taken around 64 days, according to Omnes Viae. Omnes Viae: Itinerarium Romanum is a route planner that lets you navigate the Roman Empire using the roads and shipping lanes available to the ancient Romans.

Omnes Viae is based on an ancient Roman map known as the 'Tabula Peutingeriana' and allows you to plan a route that contains all the main roads and cities of the Roman Empire. Unfortunately Omnes Viae appears to have incurred excessive Google Maps API charges. All the map tiles are now stamped with an ugly 'for development purposes only' message. However the route planner still works and you can still have a lot of fun playing Cesar and planning your Roman military campaigns.

If you want to navigate the early Islamic world then you can use the al-Ṯurayyā Project interactive map. The al-Ṯurayyā Project is a gazetteer and geospatial model of the early Islamic world. The gazetteer includes over 2,000 early Islamic place-names.

The project also includes a path-finding tool which allows you to find routes between any two locations. For example in the early days of Islam it would have taken you around 17 days to travel from Cairo (Fustat) to Damascus (Dimashq). A much longer journey would be from Morocco to India. According to the al-Ṯurayyā Project a journey from Morocco to India would have taken you around 260 days (or around 8 and half months).

Friday, August 09, 2019

LA Donations to the Democrats

Last week the New York Times published Detailed Maps of the Donors Powering the 2020 Democratic Campaigns. These maps reveal where in the country each of the Democratic hopefuls have raised the most money. The Los Angeles Times has now taken a more detailed look at where the $13 million donated to Democratic challengers in Los Angeles County has come from and where it is going.

Which Democrat is Your LA Bloc Backing includes an interactive map which colors individual blocs in Los Angeles County to show which Democratic challenger has received the most in donations in each bloc. If you hover over individual blocs on the map you can view how much money was donated to each of the candidates. Overall Kamala Harris has raised the most money in the county. She has raised more than twice the amount raised by Bernie Sanders. Joe Biden has received just over a third of the total received by Kamala Harris.

The LA Times has also created individual maps for each of the Democratic challengers showing how much money they received in each bloc in Los Angeles County. These individual maps show that Kamala Harris has received a lot of her donations from wealthy Westside areas. Bernie Sanders on the other hand is less reliant on wealthy backers and has received lots of smaller donations more evenly spread across the whole county.

Last week the LA Times also published a national interactive map showing Where the 2020 Democrats raised the most money. This map got a little ignored in the very popular response to the NYT's similar national map of donations to the Democratic challengers. These national maps reveal that Bernie Sanders has received the most in political donations across the whole of the country.

Climbing Mountains in Street View

The Zugspitze is Germany's highest mountain. The mountain was first climbed way back in 1820. Now you can climb the mountain yourself using Google Maps Street View.

Brothers David and Phil Schmidt spent two weeks hauling panoramic cameras, tripods and GPS devices up the 10,000 foot mountain in order to provide an incredible online Street View tour of the Zugspitze. You can explore the results of their amazing panoramic photography and virtually ascend the mountain yourself on Zugspitze 360°.

Thanks to all the hard work done by David and Phil climbing the Zugspitze virtually is very easy. You can navigate the thousands of Street View images captured of the Zugspitze in a number of different ways. If you are feeling intrepid then you can start at the beginning of the climb and use the forward and back arrows in the Street View images to methodically climb the mountain in sequence. As you progress through the stunning panoramic images of the Zugspitze you can also learn more about the mountain from a number of audio guides dotted along the route.

If you are feeling less intrepid and feel the need for a shortcut then you can always use the quick links which are provided to skip forward to different locations on the tour. If you are very impatient, you can just skip straight to the summit to experience the amazing view from the very top of Zugspitze.

You can also explore the Everest region using Google Maps Street View. A few years ago Google teamed up with Apa Sherpa (a Sherpa mountaineer who holds the world record for reaching the summit of Mount Everest 21 times) and the Nepalese nonprofit organization Story Cycle in order to provide panoramic images of the Himalayas.

During a 10-day trek through the Khumbu region with Apa Sherpa Google managed to capture Street Views of mountain trails and a number of Sherpa villages. The best way to explore this Street View imagery is to visit the Khumba map on Google Treks.

The Khumba site on Google Treks includes some lovely hand-drawn maps of the featured villages. Each of the maps include map markers which lead to Street Views captured on Google's 10-day trek. These include Street View imagery of monasteries, temples, trekker's lodges and of course some wonderful scenery of the Himalayas.

The 3,000 foot vertical face of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley is one of rock climbings biggest challenges. It is even more challenging when you are carrying large Street View cameras. But that didn't deter experienced climbers Lynn Hill, Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell.

These three climbers dragged Google's Street View cameras all the way to the top of El Capitan, capturing some extraordinary imagery on their journey. The best way to explore this rock-climbing Street View is on this Behind the Scenes special. El Capitan, Yosemite: Behind the Scenes is a great presentation of this extraordinary Street View imagery. As you scroll up the page you can view the locations of the Street View panoramas, superimposed upon the face of El Capitan.

Click on the 'explore' buttons that appear on your screen and you can dive into the interactive imagery captured from the climb. The Street Views themselves contain points of information about the climb and the mountain. They also include sound-clips and video which explain more about El Capitan and its history.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Fly to the Winter Sun

If you've ever got sick of the relentless cold and wished to find a little winter sun or dreamed of escaping the insistent heat of a long hot summer then you might like Routitude. Routitude is a flight search engine which can find you flights based on your weather preferences.

Enter your departing airport and your month of travel into Routitude and it will find you flight destinations based on your preferred range of temperature and precipitation. Using a slide control tool you can set the kind of temperatures that you want on your vacation and Routitude will show you all the flight destinations around the world which normally have those temperatures during your month of travel.

An interactive map will display all the locations around the world which fit your weather preferences. You can then simply click on any of these locations to check the available airlines and even click through to book a flight.

Another factor which you might want to consider when looking for a flight is the price. Luckily three researchers at MIT Senseable's Lab in Singapore have created an interactive map which shows the cheapest flight to every city in the world on any given date from your nearest airport. Using the Great Escape map you can search for any destination across the globe and find the cheapest flights for when you want to travel.

Enter a point of departure into the Great Escape and the interactive map will show you the live prices of the cheapest return flight to each and every city in the world from your nearest airport. To discover the cost of a return flight to any destination you just need to hover over its marker on the map. If you click on a city marker you can view the entire list of flights to that city. The map also includes options which allow you to filter the flights shown by weather, price, region, direct or indirect flights and whether you need a visa or not.

The flight price data shown on the map comes from the Skyscanner API and Kiwi API. If you want to try an alternative to Routitude and Great Escape you could try Google Flights, Kiwi.com or skiplagged.

The Canadian Mountain Killers

In Turkey, twenty miles southeast of the ruins of Troy, sits the once beautiful mountain of Ida. Turkish fir has grown on this mountain since the days of Helen of Troy and for centuries those forests have been populated by deer, wild boar and jackal.

That is they did until the Canadian company Alamos Gold decided to dig for gold. Local environmentalists claim that the company has cut down 195,000 trees in preparation to mine the mountain in order to extract gold. This is four times the number of trees the company claimed it would remove in its 'environmental' report. Thanks to Greenpeace we can actually see the destruction caused by Alamos Gold using before and after satellite imagery of the mountain.

Greenpeace's Kaz Dağları interactive map ('Kaz' is the locals name for Mount Ida) includes satellite imagery from February and August of this year. If you swipe between the two sets of imagery you can clearly see the destruction caused by the land clearance in preparation for the Alamos mine. You can also clearly see why the locals are very upset.

Earlier this week 5,000 protesters gathered near the site of the planned mine. Dogu Biga, a subsidiary of Alamos Gold, claims that only 13,400 trees have been cut down in preparation for the mine and that the company will replant trees after they have finished mining for gold. They also deny the protesters' claims that cyanide will be used in the mines.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Gorgeous 3D Edge Rendered Maps

Raluca Nicola argues that in many 3D maps it can be hard to detect buildings because they aren't contrasted enough from other background map features. That is why Raluca promotes the use of edge rendered maps.

Raluca Nicola works on the 3D side of the ArcGIS API for JavaScript, which helps explain her love for 3D maps. During her work for Esri Raluca realized that rendering the edges of buildings in 3D maps makes them much easier to see against the rest of the interactive map. For example, see how the Empire State Building pops out on the map screenshot above. This is entirely due to the neon blue edge rendering of the building and its contrast to the darker background.

You can view that Empire State Building map at Edge Rendered Maps. This demo of edge rendered 3D buildings includes four different styles of edge rendering in 3D maps. My favorite in the neon style above but I also really love the historic style used in the buildings of Lyon example.

If you want to create your own edge rendered 3D maps you can fork Racula's Edge Rendered Map demo on GitHub. You can also learn more about how to style building edges in the ArcGIS API for JavaScript in her blog post City visualizations on the edge.

Segregated America

The Anti-Discrimination Center has produced a series of maps to visualize the levels of residential segregation in the United States. The maps use 2010 Census data and 2016 5-year American Community Survey data to show the percentage of the white, black, Hispanic/Latino and Asian populations living in each state, county and census tract.

There are three different interactive maps in the Anti-Discrimination Center Segregated series. The first map (shown in the screenshot above) allows you to see the majority population in each state, county or census block area. On this map each location is colored to show the racial group which makes up the largest percentage of the population. The more intense the color of a racial group then the larger their percentage of the population.

It is when you zoom in on individual cities that you really notice how segregated America can be. For example in New York you can see how one block can be completely dominated by one racial group while an adjacent neighborhood can be dominated by a completely different racial group.

The Washington Post has used the same census and American Community Survey data to also map the level of segregation in American towns and cities. The Segregation Map is a huge dot map of the United States, visualizing the ethnic breakdown of the American population. The WaPo map also includes a choropleth view which colors each census block area by how diverse it is.

Mapping North Korea

OpenStreetMap volunteers around the world do an incredible job in building, maintaining and improving one of the most detailed and accurate maps of the world. North Korea is perhaps one of the most difficult areas of the world to map. Locals face extremely restricted internet access, severe restrictions on freedom of movement and suspicious state security officers. All of which make it extremely dangerous to gather data for OSM on the ground. The extreme secrecy of the North Korean state also means that it is difficult to map North Korea from elsewhere in the world using remote imagery.

Despite this North Korea is surprisingly well mapped on OpenStreetMap. Cartographers of North Korea is a story map which examines OSM coverage in North Korea. As you progress through the story the map zooms in on different street level details in North Korea which can be found on OpenStreetMap. Detail which often relies on local knowledge. On the map features are color-coded to show the date when they were added to OSM, so you can see how the map of North Korea has developed over time.

Cartographers of North Korea wrote to all the top contributors to North Korea data on OSM. The story map explores the responses they received from 211 of those mappers. They discovered that most of these mappers used satellite imagery to map North Korea. However many of the mappers also had local first hand knowledge or were able to combine sources from the internet to provide street level information. The 211 letters are color coded by theme (exploring how and why mappers contributed) and you can read the letters for yourself directly from the map.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

America's Hackable States

Paperless electronic voting machines are the weak leak in U.S. elections. They are easy to hack and, because they are paperless, they cannot be audited to see if hacking has taken place. 14 states currently use paperless electronic voting machines. Politico has been chasing up those 14 states to discover if and how they plan to replace them.

Election Security: The Scramble to Secure America's Voting Machines is a story map which shows which states in the U.S. have paperless voting machines and which states have paper-based machines. In the 2018 election 36 states used paper-based machines and 14 states used paperless voting machines. As you progress through the story map Politico highlights which of those 14 states  have since responded to the serious security issues of paperless machines by switching to paper-based machines. It also examines which states are ignoring this threat to democracy by refusing to replace their paperless machines.

Politico has identified five major steps that states must take to replace paperless based voting machines. Beneath its map it looks at the 14 states which used paperless machines in 2108 and explores how far along each state is along this five stage process. It also shows how many counties in each state have switched to paper-based machines and how many counties are still using paperless machines.


After a gunman killed 51 people in Christchurch earlier this year the New Zealand government banned most semiautomatic weapons. New Zealand also introduced a nationwide gun buyback scheme, which enables gun owners to safely hand in their guns to the authorities.

This year in the United States there have been 253 mass shootings. The U.S. government has done nothing. Actually that isn't strictly true. Earlier this year the government rejected a House-passed bill that would have ensured background checks for gun purchases.

You can learn more about the 250 mass shooting to happen in the USA this year on Vox's Mass Shooting Since Sandy Hook interactive map.

There have been 2,178 mass shootings since Sandy Hook. That's 2,178 times when the government thought that the best response to a mass shooting was to do nothing.

The Vox map uses data from the Gun Violence Archive, who collect data on gun-related violence in the US. The Gun Violence Archive reports that there has been 253 mass shootings in the USA this year. Here are some more statistics about gun violence in the USA:

8,837 people have been killed by guns this year
2,210 children have been killed by guns in 2019.

The Gun Violence Archive shows that the number of deaths from guns has gone up every year since 2014. It turns out that the result of doing nothing about gun violence is ever increasing number of people being killed by guns.

Weak Gun Laws Kill People

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) produces data on Firearm Mortality by State. This includes a map showing the rate of firearm mortality in every state. The ten states with the highest rate of firearm mortality (number of deaths per 100,000 people) are:
  1. Alaska - 24.5
  2. Alabama - 22.9
  3. Montana - 22.5
  4. Louisiana - 21.7
  5. Missouri - 21.5
  6. Mississippi - 21.5
  7. Arkansas - 20.3
  8. Wyoming - 18.8
  9. West Virginia - 18.6
  10. New Mexico - 18.5
The states with the lowest rate of firearm mortality are:
  1. Hawaii - 2.5
  2. Massachusetts - 3.7
  3. New York - 3.7
  4. Rhode Island - 3.9
  5. Connecticut - 5.1
  6. New Jersey - 5.3
  7. California - 7.9
  8. Minnesota - 8.2
  9. Nebraska - 8.3
  10. Iowa - 9
If you seriously wish to reduce the number of gun deaths in the United States you might want to ask why the top ten states have a significantly higher rate of firearm mortality than the states with the lowest rate of firearm mortality.

One clear reason is gun legislation.

Every year the Giffords Law Center ranks all the states based on the strength of their gun legislation. The Gun Law Scorecard gives a grade to each state based on factors such as background checks and permitless carry laws. Here are the Gun Law grades for the ten states with the highest firearm mortality rates.
  1. Alaska - F
  2. Alabama - F
  3. Montana - F
  4. Louisiana - F
  5. Missouri - F 
  6. Mississippi - F
  7. Arkansas - F
  8. Wyoming - F
  9. West Virginia - F
  10. New Mexico - F
So the ten states with the highest firearm mortality rates in the country all have the worst Gun Law grades. In other words the states with the worst firearm mortality rates are the states with the weakest gun legislation.

Here are the Gun Law grades for the ten states with the lowest rates of firearm mortality. 
  1. Hawaii - A-
  2. Massachusetts - A-
  3. New York - A-
  4. Rhode Island - B+
  5. Connecticut - A-
  6. New Jersey - A
  7. California - A
  8. Minnesota - C+
  9. Nebraska - C-
  10. Iowa - C
Six out of the 7 states with the lowest firearm mortality rating in the country have the highest Gun Law grades. In other words the states with the lowest firearm mortality rates in the United States clearly have some of the strongest gun legislation. 

It seems blindingly obvious to most people in the world that stronger gun legislation will lead to a lower number of deaths from guns. Or you could ban video games instead.

Monday, August 05, 2019

The GeoSeer API

GeoSeer is an incredibly useful spatial data search engine which allows you to discover free, open-source geographical datasets from around the world. Using GeoSeer you can search for spatial data by location and by subject. GeoSeer will then show you all the spatial datasets it finds, which are available as OGC web-services. Those are datasets which are available as:
  • WMS (Web Map Service) - basically, a map
  • WFS (Web Feature Service) - raw vector data
  • WCS (Web Coverage Service) - raw raster data
  • WMTS (Web Map Tile Service) - a pre-rendered basemap
A great way to search GeoSeer is to use the GeoSeer API Demo. This demo map, created to showcase the GeoSeer API, allows you to zoom in on any location in the world and search for the available spatial datasets for that location. 

What I particular like about the GeoSeer API Demo is that you can review all the returned search results by overlaying any of the datasets on top of the demo interactive map. For example the screenshot above shows two of the spatial datasets which can be found if you search in New York. The datasets shown are a geo-rectified vintage map of New York and Microsoft building footprints from 2018.

Using the data provided with the results it is easy to add a discovered dataset to your interactive mapping platform of choice. For example - this Leaflet.js map shows the Microsoft building footprint dataset above.

Global Heating & Colder Winters

Over recent winters many locations across North America have experienced record breaking cold weather. Some people believe that cold weather in the winter disproves global heating,
The fact is, however, that extreme winters are in fact just another consequence of a warming planet. One Reason for this is the polar vortex.

EarthTime's Polar Vortex interactive story helps to visualize how global warming can lead to more extreme winters. A polar vortex is the air and wind streaming around the Earth's poles. This air is colder than the warm air streaming around the mid-latitudes. However if the air in the polar vortex becomes warmer it can take wild swings bringing cold air south. The  'warmer' air of a polar vortex is obviously still colder that the air in mid-latitude regions and the result of a polar vortex moving south is colder temperatures in places such as North America.

The EarthTime Polar Vortex map visualizes some recent examples of when a polar vortex has caused a mass of cold air to move south from the North Pole into Canada and the United States, bringing Arctic temperatures with it. For example, in January 2014 a polar vortex caused a cold winter in much of North America, and record-low temperatures that extended well into March.

Geological Interactive Maps

The Lithological Map Viewer is a 3D globe showing the types of rock which are present at the surface of the Earth across the whole planet.

Lithology is the classification of rocks based on their visible physical characteristics at outcrop. These classifications are normally based on the color, texture, grain size, and composition of the rock. Because lithology classifies rocks at outcrop it can play a key role in understanding processes occurring on the surface of the Earth, for example processes concerning soils, ecosystems, rivers, and oceans. The three main types of rock are sedimentary, igneous, metamorphic. The Lithological Map Viewer shows sixteen different classes of rock.

William Smith was the first geologist to create a nationwide geological map of the UK. A geologic map reveals the distribution of geological features such as different types of rocks. Smith's beautiful 1815 map visualized Britain's geological types using different colors for different types of geological feature.

You can view interactive versions of William Smith's Maps online. These allow you to explore his geological maps of England, Scotland & Wales in close detail. The interactive map interface allows you to view geo-rectified overlays of a number of William Smith's maps including his original 1815 geological map and his 1828 New Geological Map of England and Wales.

Digital geological maps can add a level of interactivity to the visualized geological strata. In other words online interactive maps can be used to reveal more information about the geology being mapped. A good example of this is the Geological Map of the Grand Canyon and Vicinity.

The Geologic Map of the Grand Canyon and Vicinity is a beautiful Leaflet.js based interactive map of the Grand Canyon. The map is based on data gathered by the U.S. Geological Survey. The map uses different colors to show the different rock units and geologic strata in the Grand Canyon and surrounding area. The map also includes contour lines. If you hover over the map the geologic strata at that location is revealed in the small information window. If you click on the map you can learn more about that geologic strata in the information dynamically loaded below the map.

Another good example of an interactive geological map is the Geologic Map of Arizona. The Geologic Map of Arizona also includes interactive colored geological features. If you mouse over a feature on the map the geological information is revealed on top of the map. The Geologic Map of Arizona also visualizes the different types of geological faults which can be found in Arizona.