Friday, December 06, 2019

Working Only for the Rent

The island of Sylt in the north of Germany is the most unaffordable place to rent a property in the whole of the country. If you are a low-incomer earner in Sylt then, on average, you will have to pay over half of your salary on rent. The most affordable municipality in Germany is Borgentreich, in the Höxter district of North Rhine-Westphalia. Low-income earners in Borgentreich on average only have to pay 18% of their salary on rent.

Two weeks ago Zeit released an interactive map of rental costs in Germany. Zeit's interactive map How Expensive is Living in Germany? visualized the average rent charged in towns across the whole country. On the map individual German municipalities were colored to show the average rental cost of properties by square meter. As part of its continuing examination of the rental market Zeit has now released a new interactive map which visualizes German rents as a percentage of the average income of a low-income earner.

Zeit's Rental Costs: Working Only for the Rent includes an interactive map which shows the cost of renting in 4,000 municipalities, based on the average rent as a percentage of the average low-income salary in the municipality. For the sake of the map low-income earners are defined as the 20 percent of the local population with the lowest salary. If you hover over an area on the map you can view the local average rent, the average local low-income salary and the percentage of this wage which would have to be paid for the average rent.

Zeit's article also includes three maps which show how much of their salaries low-income earners would have to pay for different priced rental properties. These three maps show the percentage of a low-income salary which would need to be spent on a low-cost rental property, an averagely priced rental, and an expensive rental. Obviously the burden increases with the cost of a property. In many cases a low-income worker would have to pay over 100% of their salary to be able to afford an average priced expensive rental property.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Who is at Risk from Wildfire?

The risk of wildfires in California is increasing with global heating. Most experts now say that wildfire season in the state lasts all year long. Which means that it is more important than ever before to be able to identify where people's lives are most at risk from wildfire.

Last year the LA Times used the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's high-risk fire zones to map where homes are most at risk from wildfire. In A million California buildings face wildfire risk the LA Times created a series of hexagon density maps showing the concentration of buildings in severe fire hazard zones. The LA Times map shows the areas in California with the largest concentrations of endangered homes.

However a map of buildings at risk is not necessarily a perfect guide to where most people are at risk from wildfires. According to Direct Relief the majority of people killed by the Camp Fire in Paradise last November were the elderly, disabled and poor. According to FEMA people over 65 years of age are 2.5 times more likely to die in a fire than younger people. People with disabilities also have a relatively higher risk than the able bodied. There is also evidence to suggest that those living in poverty have a harder time evacuating fire risk zones than the rest of the population.

Because social vulnerability plays such a large role in determining a person's risk from wildfire Direct Relief has created a new interactive map which identifies the Californian communities which are most vulnerable to wildfires. The Californian Wildfires: Social Vulnerability Risk map uses the CDC's Social Vulnerability index to identify where there are significant numbers of the elderly, disabled and poor living in Very High Fire Severity Zones. On the map communities with over 1,000 people in Very High Fire Severity Zones are colored to show the numbers living in the community who are deemed socially vulnerable. 

The Direct Relief map also includes a layer which shows the wildfire hazard potential across the whole state of California.

Yandex Maps has Crowdsourced Street View

In Russia nearly all cars seem to be equipped with a dash cam. This proliferation of dash cams has come about because of the widespread lack of car insurance, a corrupt police force and a legal system which generally requires car owners to have concrete evidence when involved in an accident. Russian web mapping provider Yandex has turned this love of dash cams to its advantage.

Russian car drivers who own a smartphone can contribute to Yandex's crowdsourced 'Street View' service. If you fix a smartphone to your car windshield and use Yandex's People Card application your phone will take a photograph every two seconds while you drive and send all the pictures collected to Yandex maps. These photos may then be used in Yandex maps crowdsourced 'Street View' type feature.

The images submitted by car drivers are also used by Yandex to improve its maps. Data which can be automatically detected in the images, such as traffic signs, markings, parking lots and house numbers are all extracted from the photographs and fed back into Yandex maps. Helping to improve the map for other users.

If you open Yandex Maps the roads where 'Street View' imagery is available are shown in blue (Yandex call its crowdsourced Street View imagery 'Mirrors'). The best way to view Mirrors is by using Yandex directions. You can request driving directions by right-clicking on the map to set a departure point and destination. Once a route is shown on the map you can view an animation of all the 'Mirror' imagery available. This provides an animated preview of your entire route using crowdsourced dash cam imagery.

Mirrors is separate from Yandex's own panoramic 'Street View' imagery. This panoramic imagery is still available in Yandex Maps. To view this panoramic imagery you just need to select the person icon in the map menu and then click on the map.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

What are Your Chances of a White Christmas?

If you are dreaming of a white Christmas this year then you might like to check out this interactive map from NOAA. NOAA's White Christmas map uses historical weather data to provide a prediction of the chance of experiencing at least 1 inch of snow at your location on Christmas Day. The whiter the map at your location then the more chance there is of having a white Christmas.

NOAA's odds of a white Christmas are based on the last three decades of snow records. If you want to know your chances of snow on Christmas Day based on the current forecast then you can refer to Accuweather's long range weather forecast. What are your chances of experiencing a white Christmas this year? predicts the odds of a white Christmas for all regions of the United States based on the latest forecast. According to Accuweather the best chances of a white Christmas this year are "in the West and at higher elevations".

If you want to know when the first snow of the year is most likely to fall then you can refer to NOAA's handy interactive First Snow Map, which provides a nationwide guide to when you can expect to get the first snow of the winter. The map shows the date at your location when the chance of snow is at least 50%, based on historical weather records.

World Climate Stripes

The European Commission's ERA5 Explorer allows you to view historical climate data for cities around the world. Click on the map and you can explore a range of climate statistics showing how the climate has changed at the selected location over the last forty years. The map even generates climate stripes for your selected location.

The Era5 Explorer interactive map itself can show the average yearly precipitation, wind speed or temperature across the whole world. Click on the map and you can then see detailed information on the typical monthly climate at that location, including the typical monthly average, maximum and minimum temperatures from 1981-2010. You can also view data on the average monthly rainfall, the typical percentage of frost days, summer days and tropical nights for each calendar month and data on the average wind speed and wind direction.

The application also generates what it calls 'warming stripes' (or what most people call 'climate stripes') for your chosen location. These stripes are each colored to show how much each year was warmer or colder, when compared to the reference period 1981-2010. The often repeated pattern of blue shades to red shades in these climate stripes are a powerful indicator of global heating.

You can also generate climate stripes for individual countries around the world (and for individual U.S. states) using #ShowYourStripes. Select a region and then a country from the drop-down menu on #ShowYourStripes and you can view and download an image showing how temperatures have risen over the last 100+ years at your selected location.

Global warming stripes are a very powerful way to visualize a complex issue with one simple and easy to understand image. The temperature data used for creating the stripes on #ShowYourStripes comes from the Berkeley Earth temperature dataset and from a number of national meteorological agencies.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

The New York Subway Map

The New York Times' New York Subway Map Like You've Never Seen it Before takes a close look at the MTA's New York subway map. It explores some of the reasons why the current map design was introduced in 1979 and some of the problems created by this redesign of the city's subway map.

The primary designer responsible for the 1979 redesign of the New York subway map was Nobuyuki Siraisi. As you progress through the New York Times' story map the newspaper takes a closer look at some of the design decisions taken by Siraisi in his redesign of the city's transit map and attempts to explain some of the reasons behind those changes. The map also examines some of the additions that have been made over the years to Siraisi's original 1979 design.

The NYT's story map is very impressive in form (if perhaps a little light on critical content). The way the map follows the subway lines as the NYT moves from feature to feature is very impressive. However while the Times does point out some of the glaring failings of the current MTA map in my eyes it lets the map off way too lightly.

One of the major reasons behind the switch from Massimo Vignelli's 1972 New York subway map in 1979 was to create a more geographically accurate map. Vignelli's map (like most transit maps) omitted geographical details for the sake of simplicity. The 1979 redesign was intended to reintegrate geographical elements to the map. So, for example, the Siraisi design includes labels for street names and (as the NYT points out) the shape of Central Park's ponds are drawn accurately on the map. However all this geographical detail comes at the cost of simplicity and the New York subway map is consequently very busy and a little hard to read.

Since 1979 many people have attempted to create a better subway map for New York. In 2000 Massimo Vignelli himself created a more simplified subway map for New York. Earlier this year Transit Maps created a New York Subway Map in the Style of the London Underground Map. It is interesting to note that both of these experimental New York subway maps are much more simplified than the MTA's current map and remove many of the geographical elements which were deemed to be of high importance for the 1979 redesign. I think both of them would be an improvement on the official current MTA map.

The Geography of Typography

Amsterdam Typography is a fascinating interactive map documenting examples of typography which can be found on the streets of Amsterdam. The map displays photographs of interesting examples of typography found in shop signs, advertising posters and even in graffiti throughout the city.

One of the many things which I enjoy while traveling around the world is exploring the often subtle differences in street furniture, typography and other public examples of design which can exist in different countries and even in different cities. This public design and typography contributes so much to the ortgeist, ambiance and character of a city.

Serious students of the geography of typography might like to compare Amsterdam Typography to Berlin Typography. Berlin Typography is a Twitter account and blog exploring and documenting examples of typography found on the streets of the German capital. The blog consists of a number of thematic posts examining the different trends found in the fonts and styles of Berlin's street and shop signs.

The idea of mapping typography found in public isn't entirely new. Back in 2013 an interactive map called London Typographica mapped photographs of publicly available lettering and type found throughout London. A London Typographica iPhone app allowed users to take pictures of interesting typography found on the streets of London and post them to a Google Map. In 2013 a smartphone app called Fontly was also released which was used to map examples of vintage typography, as seen on street signs, advertisements and in stores. Unfortunately both Fontly and London Typographica no longer exist.

Monday, December 02, 2019

The Amazon Injuries Map

Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to work in one of Amazon's 'Fulfilment' centers. But don't worry even if you haven't managed to become a minimum wage Amzonian you can still visit one of Amazon's injury strewn warehouses.

Amazon fulfilment (sic) tours are available around the world. Book a tour today and see for yourself how Amazon achieves one of the highest injury rates in any industry. Thanks to Amazon's use of invasive technology, unrelenting surveillance and constant employee harassment the company is able to push its workers beyond the limits of safe working practices. In fact Amazon has now achieved a rate of serious injury in its fulfilment centers which is more than double the national average for the warehouse industry.

If you haven't got the time for a personal 'fulfilment tour' then you can observe Amazon's injury records on Reveal's Amazon Injury Map. Type in a zip-code or city into the map and you can view a detailed injury record of your nearest Amazon fulfilment center. You can also use the map to check out the injury record of the warehouse which managed any of your Amazon packages by entering the warehouse code on the bottom-left corner of the package's shipping label.

Select an Amazon warehouse on the map and you can view the number of injuries reported there, its serious injury rate and how that rate compares to the national warehouse industry average.

The Fall of City-Hof

The Fall of City-Hof is a 3D scrollytelling map which explores the history of Hamburg's controversial City-Hof high-rise complex. The City-Hof was one of the first tower blocks built in the German city of Hamburg, after World War II and this scrollytelling story map recounts the history of the building from its initial construction right up until its final destruction.

Th City-Hof complex of high rise buildings was designed by the architect Rudolf Klophaus. The complex included four thirteen-storey towers separated by a joint one to two-storey base. The building has always had its critics but became a listed building in 2013. Despite this listed building status demolition of City-Hof stared in April of this year. In its place a new development of new apartments, a hotel and cafes & shops will be built.

The Fall of City-Hof uses a 3D map to show the modern post-war architecture of the City-Hof in context with the surrounding city. As you scroll through the story the 3D model of the building rotates so that you view and appreciate the now demolished historical building from all angles. The 3D map was created by master students studying in the Design, Media and Information faculty at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences.