Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Future Climate of America

The extreme wildfires currently blazing in much of the Western United States could be the new normal. At least according to a new map from the New York Times. And it isn't just the Wesstern United States which can look forward to a future of extreme climatic events. Every single county in the USA faces some sort of emerging climate threat.

Earlier this week ProPublica mapped out data from the Rhodium Group to show how climate change will drive agriculture and the habitable zone northward in the United States. In New Climate Maps Show a Transformed United States ProPublica show how different parts of the U.S. are likely to be affected by global heating. Their map shows where extreme heat will become commonplace, where growing food will become very difficult and where dangerous 'wet bulb' conditions will become the norm.

The New York Times has now also released an interactive map which attempts to explain how global heating will effect the climate where you live. If you enter your county into Every Place Has Its Own Climate Risk. What Is It Where You Live? you can find out which climate risks will become most extreme in your area.

The NYT's interactive map colors areas of the United States to show the climate risks which will be most extreme in different part of the USA. For example most of the East Coast will face increased risks from severe hurricanes, much of the Midwest will experience extreme heat, the Western states will face extreme droughts and the most Western states will see higher risk from wildfire. If you hover over your county on the map you can see the risks that your county will face in six different categories; hurricane risk, extreme rainfall risk, water stress risk, sea level rise risk, heat stress risk and wildfire risk.

Of course as a result of global heating most counties will experience higher average temperatures. Earlier this year the National Geographic released a new interactive feature which shows you how hot your area will become by comparing it to a city which currently experiences average temperatures that your home town can expect in the year 2070.

If carbon emissions continue to rise at the current rate then by 2070 the world will experience devastating climate change. For example Boston, Massachusetts will experiences temperatures 5 degrees centigrade hotter than today and 49 mm more rain will fall. This is similar to the climate that Bardwell, Kentucky has today.

In Your Climate, Changed the National Geographic uses an interactive map to show the future climate analogs of 2,500 cities around the world. These analogs are based on worst-case climate change scenario assumptions. The map automatically detects your location to show you your nearest future global heating twin. The map also explains what kind of climate zone your city currently experiences and compares that to the likely climate it will have in 2070.

Friday, September 18, 2020

14 Billion Miles from Earth

Yesterday Voyager 1 passed a distance of 14 billion miles from Earth.

Voyager 1 was launched into space on September 5, 1977. Its mission is to study the outer Solar System. It has taken Voyager 1 forty years to travel 14 billion miles. 14 billion miles is the furthest distance that any man made object has traveled from Earth. However in over 40 years Voyager 1 has yet to travel one lightday from Earth.

In 2012 Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause and entered interstellar space. Voyager 1 is still transmitting data to Earth. Hopefully it will continue to do so at least until 2025 when its radioisotope thermoelectric generators will probably no longer supply enough electric power to operate its scientific instruments

NASA's Voyager Mission Status website provides real-time information about the status of both Voyager spacecraft. On this page you can view how many miles each Voyager has traveled and the operating status of the scientific equipment of each craft.

The Voyager Missions Status page also includes an interactive map which shows the position of Voyager 1 & 2 in relation to the Sun and the planets. This 3D space map allows you to get some sense of the huge distances traveled by the Voyager spacecraft. However despite the huge distance already traveled Voyager 1 will take another 300 years to reach the Oort Cloud. The outer limit of the Oort cloud defines the cosmographic boundary of our Solar System.

The Moscow Building Age Map

How Old is This House is an interactive map which shows the age of all Moscow's buildings. The map uses a sequential color scheme - ranging from red for the oldest buildings to blue for the most recent. This is very effective in providing an historical overview of the age of Moscow's buildings

One feature that I like building age maps to include is an interactive map legend or a date control. An interactive legend or date control allows users to filter the buildings shown on the map by age. So, for example, you should be able to view on the map only the buildings built before 1900. Unfortunately How Old is This House doesn't have an interactive map legend so it is impossible to filter the buildings shown on the map by the age of their construction.

However How Old is This House does include extensive information about many of Moscow's buildings. If you click on an individual building footprint on the map you can view its year of construction and, where available, pictures of the building & links to its Wikipedia page.

The Moscow building age map is the second city covered by How Old is This House. How Old is this House - St Petersburg is a similar interactive map which colors every building in St Petersburg by its age of construction. St Petersburg has a long and colorful history. The city was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703. For much of its history it was the capital of the imperial Russian Empire (after the Russian Revolution Lenin moved the capital to Moscow).

Unlike the Moscow map the St Petersburg building age map does includes a filter control which allows you to select a range of dates. Using this filter you can select to view only the city's oldest buildings. These include the Peter and Paul Fortress (the original citadel of St. Petersburg, which was founded by Peter the Great in 1703) and the Menshikov Palace (St Petersburg's first stone building, which was founded in 1710).

You can explore the age of Moscow's buildings on The History of Moscow Housing interactive map. The History of Moscow Housing is an exploration of how housing has developed in the Russian capital over the last few centuries. On this map individual buildings are colored to show their year of construction.

The History of Moscow Housing does include a date control at the bottom of the map which allows you to view houses built during different time periods. It is also possible to select individual buildings on the map to view the year that they were built.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

This is the Earth Now

Now is a very worrying time to be looking down on the Earth from above. In the Western United States huge clouds of smoke can be seen billowing across Oregon, Idaho and California While in the Gulf of Mexico a huge hurricane can be observed approaching Georgia and South Carolina.

Thanks to NASA you don't actually need to be aboard the International Space Station to view the Earth from space. Instead you can use Earth Now to view recent climate data on top of of an interactive 3D map of the Earth. This 3D globe includes the latest satellite imagery of significant climate events happening right now. So (at the time of writing) Earth Now includes imagery of wildfires in the western United States and Hurricane Paulette and Hurricane Sally.

As well as showing recent satellite imagery of climatic events Earth Now also allows you to view global climate data which has been gathered by NASA satellites. This data includes the latest surface air temperatures, carbon dioxide levels and carbon monoxide levels. The Earth Now globe also includes the real-time position of the satellites which have been used to gather all this climate data.

This is the West End

Earlier this week I asked readers of Maps Mania to draw the outline of London's West End on a map. The West End of London is one of those interesting geographical areas which has no universally accepted boundaries. According to Wikipedia the term 'West End' "is used colloquially by Londoners and is not an official geographical or municipal definition (and) its exact constituent parts are up for debate."

Because the West End has no agreed borders or boundaries I thought it would be interesting to see where people thought the West End was and to see which areas were generally accepted as being in the West End by the majority of people.

Here's the West End is an interactive map on which you can view all the shapes people drew in response to the question 'where is London's West End'. If you ask Google 'Where is the West End in London' it shows you a map of what Google thinks is the West End. As a point of reference I have included Google's defined West End area on my map. You can turn off Google's area on the map by pressing the 'Google's West End Border' button.

One very noticeable result of this survey is that most people define the West End as an area much larger than Google's definition of the West End. Most people seem to agree that the West End is north of the River Thames and most people seem to have used at least part of the river as the southern boundary of their West End. The eastern border of the West End is not so universally accepted. In my mind the West End stops at the border with the City of London. I think that most people seem to have a similar concept of where the eastern border of the West End is situated - although at least one person has a concept of the West End which stretches as far east as Bethnal Green and Hackney.

While the southern and eastern borders of the West End appear to be very close in a lot of people's minds there appears to be less agreement on the West End's northern and western boundaries. At least one person thinks that the West End stretches as far west as Heathrow. For some the West End includes Shepherd's Bush. However for many people the West End seems to end at Hyde Park (or at the end of Oxford Street).

Google's definition of the West End also has Oxford Street as its northern boundary. From the responses to my survey many people think that the West End stretches further north and the Marylebone Road seems to be a more popular boundary for the northern edge of the West End.

Here is my completely unscientific crowd-sourced definition of the West End - based purely on my own interpretation of the map survey results. This new crowd-sourced definition of the West End borders the City of London at its eastern extent, has a southern border along the Thames, has Marylebone Road as its northern border and stops at Hyde Park in the west.

This West End encompasses a far larger area than Google's West End. I am prepared to accept the southern, eastern and western borders of this definition of the West End. I am less happy with the northern border. I think I would agree with Google on this - and I would be far happier to use Oxford Street (rather than Marylebone Road) as the northern border.

Because there is no definite answer I am of course free to continue to think of the northern border of the West End as Oxford Street. And you are of course free to think of the West End in any way that you want. Perhaps we can all at least agree with Wikipedia that the West End is "the main commercial and entertainment centre of the city".

You can reuse my Where is the West End map survey if you wish.  If you want to create your own map survey tool just click on the fish icon on my Where is the West End map and select the 'Remix on Glitch' option. You can then clone my map and easily change it to survey any geographical area of your own choice.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The United States of Climate Change

One effect of climate change will be that the habitable zone, the areas where humans can comfortably live, will also change. In the United States the habitable zone, the region where temperature and precipitation is most favorable for human life, will shift significantly northwards.

ProPublica has mapped out new data from the Rhodium Group to show how climate change will drive agriculture and the habitable zone northward in the United States. In New Climate Maps Show a Transformed United States a scrollytelling story map is used to visualize how global warming will dramatically alter the way that people live in the US.

In the South and Southwest extreme heat will become commonplace. Growing food will also become very difficult in many parts of the country. The ProPublica article includes a number of maps which show the areas of the US which will have 'wet bulb' conditions (where extreme heat and excessive humidity combine to create lethal weather conditions), where extreme wildfires will become more common, where sea level rise will flood coastal areas and where agriculture will become near impossible.

Using maps to show how climate change will impact our lives can be very revealing. Earlier this year the National Geographic released a new interactive feature which also explains what you can expect from global heating. It does this by showing you a city which currently experiences average temperatures that your home town can expect to see in the year 2070.

If carbon emissions continue to rise at the current rate then by 2070 the world will experience devastating climate change. For example Boston, Massachusetts will experiences temperatures 5 degrees centigrade hotter than today and 49 mm more rain will fall. This is similar to the climate that Bardwell, Kentucky has today.

In Your Climate, Changed the National Geographic uses an interactive map to show the future climate analogs of 2,500 cities around the world. These analogs are based on worst-case climate change scenario assumptions. The map automatically detects your location to show you your nearest future global heating twin. The map also explains what kind of climate zone your city currently experiences and compares that to the likely climate it will have in 2070.

The World's Shifting Borders

The History of International Borders is a fascinating map showing how country borders around the world have changed since the end of the Second World War. The map allows you to select dates between 1946 and 2016 to view the international borders during that time. Change the date and the map will automatically update to show the country borders as they existed during that period of time.

If you select the 'Show lifetime of polygons' option this will highlight those countries on the map whose borders have changed since World War II. The countries shown in green had stable borders during that period, while the countries colored pink have borders which have changed.

If you are interested in geo-politics then you might want to pay attention to the borders in Eastern Europe after 1990 - during and after the final years of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. You might also be interested in the many changing borders in Africa post-1960, as many African countries began to achieve independence from European colonial powers.

One major problem with the map is that the country labels don't change with the changing borders. So for example what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo should be labelled Zaire on the map between 1971 & 1997, and Czechia and Slovakia should more accurately have the one label, Czechoslovakia, before 1993.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The Building Height Histogram Map

I've seen lots of interactive maps which visualize building height data by color. These interactive maps color individual building footprints to represent the height of every displayed building. The result is usually a very colorful map which helps to show where the tallest (or shortest) buildings are concentrated within a city.

What these maps don't do is provide you with any data on the number of buildings of different heights within an area. Which is where the Rendering OSM Objects in Mapbox GL interactive map comes in. This map includes a dynamic histogram which tells you how many buildings of each height there are within the current map view.

Drag the map around and the histogram will automatically update to show you the number of buildings of different heights in the map view. A small inset map also provides a 3D view of all the buildings which provides a neat overview of where the buildings of different heights are actually situated.

There are many reasons why you might want to show the number of buildings by height in a defined area. For example, many residents in my neighborhood are currently fighting a planning application for the development of a tall block of apartments. This map could be used to show the current number of local buildings of different building heights. It could help to highlight how a taller building would look very out of place in this neighborhood. 

How Big Are the U.S. Wildfires?

This year the wildfires burning across the western United States have consumed more than 7,000 square miles. This is an area equivalent to the size of New Jersey. In order to help people understand the huge scale of some of the current active wildfires burning in California and Oregon NBC news has created an interactive map comparison tool.

See how the wildfires across the Western U.S. compare to where you live allows you to overlay the perimeters of a number of active wildfires on your own town or city. The map therefore allows you to compare the size of the selected fire with a geographical area that you are more familiar with. Not only does the map show the perimeter of the selected fire on top of your selected town it also informs you how many times bigger the fire is than the size of your town.

As a European a tweet by Blaine Cook helped provide me with some context for the huge size of the near surface smoke caused by these wildfires. Blaine has used the outlines of a number of European countries to roughly show the area of the wildfire smoke covering the western United States yesterday.

I'm not certain which map comparison tool Blaine used to create his image. It looks to me like it might be The True Size Of ... - which allows you to drag polygon shapes of different countries and overlay them on top of a map to make direct comparisons of size between different countries.

Where is the West End?

Most Londoners have a very clear concept of where North and South London are. The River Thames neatly divides the city in two and most people seem to accept that everything north of the river is North London and everywhere south of the river is South London.

However I don't believe that Londoners have such a clear understanding of where the West End and the East End begin & end. I want to find out which areas of London are most commonly thought of as the West End. I have therefore created an interactive map, called Where is the West End, in order to record people's ideas of the West End.

Please use Where is the West End to draw the area that you think of as London's West End on the map of London. Your area will then be saved to a database. Later this week I will create another map which will visualize all the different West End areas submitted to the map. The result will hopefully provide us with some understanding of which areas of London are most commonly considered the West End.

My map survey tool can be used to query people's concepts of any geographical area. If you want to create your own map survey tool just click on the fish icon on my map and select the 'Remix on Glitch' option. You can then clone my map and change it to survey any geographical area of your choice.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Paris in the Nineteenth Century

Vergue is a fantastic interactive map which features hundreds of amazing early vintage photographs taken around Paris. The map showcases in particular the work of the famous Nineteenth Century photographers Charles Marville and Gustave Le Gray.

You can explore the vintage photography of Nineteenth Century Paris on top of the 1840 Plan de Paris vintage map. On this map the location of all the historic photographs in the Vergue collection are shown as red map markers. Click on these map markers and you can view the selected vintage photograph in the map sidebar.

Each photograph on the map comes with detailed information, which includes the date of the photograph and the name of the photographer. Each photo is also accompanied by a detailed account (in French) of the location depicted in the selected picture. This means that the Vergue map not only allows you a glimpse into the Paris of the Nineteenth Century it also provides you with a neat history of how locations around the city have changed in the last 150 odd years.

If you are a fan of vintage photographs and the unrivaled view that they provide of our cities' histories then you might also like Picturing the Past - a round-up of 18 other vintage photo maps.

The Interactive Whodunnit Map

Crime City is a fun board game which is played on a hand-drawn city map. The demo of the game can also be played online as an interactive map.

At the heart of Crime City is a large hand-drawn city map. This map contains a number of crimes and the clues that you need to solve them. The online demo of the board game uses the Leaflet.js interactive mapping library to allow you to play the game on your computer, tablet or phone.

Your first task in Crime City is to find the crime scene (pictured above). Clicking on the crime scene reveals a clue. You then need to solve that clue by searching for another secret location on the city map. Solving that clue with the help of the map will reveal the next clue - and so on - until you hopefully eventually solve the crime.

Turning large images into map tiles so that the image can be viewed using an interactive mapping library isn't new. If you are interested in creating your own interactive image map, like the one in Crime City, then you need to create map tiles from your image. Probably the easiest way to do this is by using Zoomify.

Bjørn Sandvik has written a neat Leaflet plugin (code available on GitHub) which can help you create a Leaflet map from a photo using Zoomify. Showing Zoomify Images with Leaflet is a blog post that explains how to use the plug-in to create your Leaflet.js interactive map from a Zoomified image.

Using Bjørn's Leaflet plugin all you need to do to create an interactive image map is Zoomify your photograph and provide the url to the Zoomify image folder. The result is a Leaflet map of your photograph which you can pan and zoom like any other map. Of course once you have created your image map you can then add other interactivity as well. For example you can add map markers or bounding boxes to the mapped image.

You can view a number of other examples of Leaflet maps made from large static images on the Maps Mania post Microscopic Mapping.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Ranking the Countries of the World

The average American has a life expectancy roughly equivalent to someone living in Albania. This is surprising because the GDP per capita in the USA is $54,541 compared to a per capita GDP of $5,075 in Albania. The average American is clearly a lot richer than the average Albanian but all this wealth doesn't buy a longer life. The conclusion must be that there is something very wrong with the American health system.

You can view life expectancy and average per capita GDP around the globe on Rank Country, a new interactive map which allows you to compare countries across the world based on a huge range of different demographic, economic, health and social metrics. Rank Country provides country rankings for thousands of different data indicators. Using Rank Country you can compare countries around the world based on lots of different factors.

The thousands of different metrics that you can explore with Rank Country are organized into different categories. You can also use the search facility to find areas of interest. For example if you are interested in gender differences you could enter 'female' to explore all the economic, social and political metrics related to women and girls.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

The Black Lives Matter Map

The killing of George Floyd by the police in Minneapolis on May 25th sent in motion a huge protest movement which has spread across the United States and to other countries around the world. The Black Lives Matter movement has led to people taking to the streets in huge numbers to protest against police brutality and racially motivated violence against black people.

Mapping The Black Lives Matter Movement is attempting to map and document the thousands of daily protests and demonstrations which have taken place around the world in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The map shows the location of protests, contested statues and Black Lives Matter artworks. If you click on a marker on the map you can click through to read a report on the demonstration from a trusted news source.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has mapped over 1,500 public symbols of the Confederacy across the United States. These public symbols include not just statues and other memorials but schools, parks and roads which have been named for Confederate leaders or battles.

In Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy the SPLC has created an interactive map showing the location of Confederate symbols and memorials. The map uses color coded markers to show which are monuments, which are schools and which are roads. If you select a marker on the map you can also see the year that this selected memorial to the Confederacy was dedicated.

One of the arguments against removing these public memorials to the Confederacy is that they are historical monuments. However the vast majority of these memorials aren't even 100 years old. The SPLC has compiled a timeline of when these memorials to the Confederacy were dedicated. This timeline shows that there have been two main periods which have seen spikes in the number of Confederacy memorials being dedicated. The first was in the first two decades of the Twentieth Century. The second was in the 1950's and 1960's.

Friday, September 11, 2020

The World Social Progress Rankings

Since 2011 the Social Progress Index has been assessing the quality of life experienced by people in countries around the world. Of the 163 countries which are ranked each year only in the United States, Brazil and Hungary are people now worse off than they were in 2011.

The Social Progress Index uses a number of different economic and social indicators to rank the quality of life in different countries around the world. Each country is scored and ranked for how well it meets the basic human needs of its citizens, ensures their well-being and provides social and economic opportunities.

The 2020 Social Progress Index has now been released. The new rankings for each country can be explored on the Index's interactive map. Click on a country on this map and you can view its overall Index ranking and the country's individual rankings in each of 12 individual metrics.

The United States performs particularly poorly in the area of Health & Wellness (which is probably not a surprise to anyone who has been watching the news over the last few months).Within the four areas which make up this metric the USA is ranked 97th of the 163 countries for 'Access to quality healthcare'. In other words people in the United States have access to roughly the same quality of healthcare as people living in Afghanistan.

The Virtual 3D Architecture Gallery

Over the summer I have spent a lot of time exploring virtual exhibitions created by art galleries and museums around the world. Many of these virtual exhibitions have been developed by museums during lock-down to provide the public some access to otherwise locked away collections.

Of course museums and art galleries have not been the only victims of the lock-down. Students studying for degrees in the arts often finish their studies with a final show, exhibition or performance. This year most of those final shows have had to be cancelled.

For example every year the students studying at the Bartlett School of Architecture hold one of the largest student architecture shows in the world. The show showcases the work of more than 700 students and is usually attended by more than 12,000 visitors. This year the physical exhibition had to be cancelled. However all is not lost as the show can still be viewed - virtually & completely online.

The Bartlett Summer Show 2020 is an amazing virtual exhibition of work created by Bartlett architecture students. It can be viewed online until October 2nd. The exhibition is a joy to navigate. It uses the metaphor of a real physical gallery exhibition, which allows you to navigate each students' work in a 3D environment. If you click on an individual work in this galley environment you can read more about the selected work and the theory behind it.

The Bartlett Summer Show 2020 is a fantastically put together virtual exhibition. The amazing work created by the Bartlett School of Architecture students is equally amazing. If you have a little time to spare then this is one virtual exhibition you should definitely attend.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Picturing the Past

The past is another country. You need a different kind of map to navigate there. A map like Cronobook.

Cronobook is an interactive map which can give you a little glimpse into how the world used to be. It allows you to explore vintage photographs of locations around the world. You can explore these photographs by location on the map and also by date using the Cronobook timeline. To search the map by date just click on the clock icon in the top right-hand corner of the map and select the period you wish to explore.

You can also search Cronobook's collection of vintage photographs by subject matter. If you select the album icon above the map you can search the photographs by key words. When you click on an individual photograph on the map you can view the date it was taken and a description provided by the user who uploaded it. You can also comment on individual photographs on Cronobook and join in any discussions about the selected picture or of the historical scene depicted.

Cronobook reminds me a little of the much loved Historypin interactive map. Historypin is another map which showcases vintage and historical photographs of locations around the world taken during different periods of modern history. Historypin has the added advantage of allowing you to view these vintage photographs superimposed on top of the modern Google Map's Street Views of the same scene.

Historypin has a huge collection of photographs that have been uploaded to the site, This allows you to explore the history of locations right around the world. As well as this huge collection of still photography Historypin has a slightly smaller number of vintage film clips that keen users have also uploaded to the site.

If you live in New York then you can also explore vintage photographs of your city on the excellent 1940's NYC and 80s.NYC. In the 1940's, and again in the 1950's, the New York Works Progress Administration took photographs of every building in the city, in order to help estimate property values and property taxes. These two interactive maps allow you to browse these huge collections of New York street scenes by location.

You can explore even more vintage photography on these interactive maps:

The Collections of the Albert Khan Museum - photos captured by Albert Khan's team of photographers at the beginning of the 20th century
OldSF - vintage photos of San Francisco (has Google Maps licencing issues but photos still work)
OldNYC - old photographs of New York
Old Toronto - historic photos of Toronto from the City of Toronto Archives
Wymer's DC - view images of D.C. from the John P. Wymer Photograph Collection
The Yangon Time Machine - a map of vintage photographs of Yangon, Myanmar
Smapshot - historical images of Switzerland
OldAms - thousands of vintage photographs of Amsterdam
Tids Maskinen - explore photos of Norway by location & date
Helsinki Ennen - historical maps and photographs of the Finnish capital
Our Town Stories - Edinburgh - vintage photos & maps of the Scottish capital
Vintage Greece - geo-located vintage photographs and historical maps of Greece
Ajapaik - explore vintage photos of Estonia
The Hungaricana a map of thousands of vintage photographs from the Hungarian Parliament Library

The World Hunger Map

The United Nation's World Food Programme (WFP) was established to fight hunger and promote food security around the world. Every year it provides food assistance to around 91 million people in 83 different countries.

Around 1 billion people around the world will still be going hungry today.

The WFP's interactive HungerMap tracks and predicts where people are going hungry around the world right now. It does this by showing where people currently have insufficient food to meet their daily requirements. The map also highlights countries around the world where there has been a marked deterioration in food consumption over the last month.

If you click on a country on the interactive map you can view detailed analysis of food security in the country and the number of people currently with insufficient food. This country view also provides information on the country's current economic situation, including trends in the balance of trade and food inflation.

The HungerMap is designed to provide a near real-time estimate of where people are going hungry right now. In order to do this it uses a number of different metrics on the latest conflict zones, climate trends, populations and extreme weather events. The map serves as an important indicator of where people right now are living without enough food.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Mapbox With Mapillary Images

Mapillary is an interactive map of crowdsourced geotagged photos. For map developers it is a fantastic resource of street level imagery around the world. In this post I want to show you how you can use the Mapillary API to display street level imagery on a Mapbox GL interactive map.

Before we get started let's have a look at the finished map that we are going to create:

A Mapbox Map with Mapillary Images

This little interactive map allows you to explore photographs uploaded to Mapillary around the White House in Washington D.C.. Click on any of the map markers on this map and you can view the selected image directly on the interactive map.

Now let's get building ...

1. Sign Up for a Mapillary API Key

Before you can start using Mapillary photographs on your interactive map you will need a Mapillary API client ID. The Mapillary Blog has a great introduction into how you can register for your free Mapillary API account. Before starting to create your own map you should read Global access to map data with the Mapillary API and follow the provided instructions for opening a Mapillary account and getting your very own client ID.

2. Make a Mapillary API Call

Once you have a client ID you can start using the Mapillary API to make an API call. For our map we want to get photographs which have been uploaded to Mapillary near to the White House. Here is our API call:<YOUR_CLIENT_ID>&closeto=-77.03655123710632,38.8976629708&radius=250

This call will return a GeoJSON doc with Mapillary images within a search radius of 250 metres from the White House (Longitude: -77.03655123710632, Latitude:38.8976629708).

- Remember to insert your own client ID into the above URL.

3. Save the GeoJSON and Upload it to Mapbox Studio

Once you have made your Mapillary API call the GeoJSON will be displayed in your internet browser. Save this as a GeoJSON file. Once you have saved the GeoJSON document you can display it using any interactive map library. For my map I uploaded the saved GeoJSON as a tileset in Mapbox Studio.

Saving the GeoJSON as a Mapbox Studio tileset allows us to add the Mapillary images as a layer in Mapbox GL.
map.on('load', function() {
     id: 'san',
     type: 'circle',
     source: {
       type: 'vector',
       url: 'mapbox://gmapsmania.carbekh7'
     'source-layer': 'centralpark-a2pen7',
         paint: {
     'circle-opacity': 0.8,
     'circle-color': 'blue'
The code above displays the GeoJSON data on a Mapbox map as small blue circles.

4. Turning Data into Photos

The GeoJSON data we downloaded from Mapillary doesn't actually include the URLs for the Mapillary images. However it does include the key used in the URL for each image. Mapillary image URLs take the form of:<KEY>thumb-1024.jpg

In order to display the correct Mapillary photograph when a user clicks on one of the blue circle markers we need to use a Mapbox data expression to grab the key for the photograph from the GeoJSON and then use that key to call the correct Mapillary image URL:
map.on('click', function (e) {
       var text = map.queryRenderedFeatures(e.point,   { layers: ['san'] });
       var title = text[0].properties.key;
       document.getElementById('plate').innerHTML = '<img   src="' + title + '/thumb-1024.jpg" height="337">';
This function simply queries the GeoJSON for the correct key and then displays an image from Mapillary using that key.

You can see the finished map in action at A Mapbox Map with Mapillary Images. If you are still confused can explore the whole code for the finished map displayed directly beneath the map.

Mapping the Fall Colors

I've caught my first sighting of the Smoky Mountain Fall Foliage Map, the traditional sign that summer is finally slipping into autumn. Every year Smoky Mountain releases their interactive Fall Foliage Map, which plots the annual progress of when and where leaves change their colors across the United States.

The 2020 Fall Foliage Map has now arrived. According to the map some northern states will be seeing a change in leaf color in the next two weeks. The Fall Foliage Map uses historical weather records from all 48 continental states to predict the arrival of fall at the county level across the contiguous United States. The map includes a date control which allows you to view the leaf color you can expect for any date from the beginning of September through to the end of November.

The map is accompanied by a chart which shows the average US temperature since 1990. It is also accompanied by an explanation of why leaves change color in the Fall and why leaves fall from their trees during Autumn.

Oregon Wildfires Map

The Oregonian has created a live Real-time Wildfires Map, which uses data from federal websites to show the rough locations of the current wildfires in the United States.

The size of a fire marker on this map indicates the estimated size of a fire. The color of the marker estimates how much of the fire is contained, with the darker color markers showing the least contained fires and lighter color markers showing the most contained fires. If you click on a fire's marker on the map you can learn more about the scale and intensity of the fire and click-through to read more about the fire on InciWeb.

InciWeb is an all-risk incident web information management system provided by the United States Forest Service, which provides the latest information on wild-land fire emergencies. The Oregonian is also providing live updates on the wildfire emergency in the state.

The Oregon Wildfire and Smoke Map is another real-time interactive map showing the locations of wildfires across Oregon and the United States. This map not only includes information on the location of wildfires but attempts to map the latest smoke conditions as well.

Beneath the map you can view a list of all the active fires. This list includes information on the size of each fire, how much of the fire is contained and an indication of when this information was last updated.

The State's own interactive State of Oregon Fires and Hotspots Dashboard maps current active fires in Oregon and the current air quality in the state. The interactive wildfire map includes information on each fire in the state, including each fire' size, the percent contained and the number of homes and other buildings destroyed.

The ALERTWildfire system uses live cameras to detect, locate and confirm wildfires. The system can also be used to monitor fire behavior and help firefighters tackle fires on the ground. The ALERTWildfire system is being developed by a consortium of the University of Nevada, the University of California and the University of Oregon. The system is currently operational in a number of locations in California, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon.

If you select a region from the ALERTWildfire interactive map you can see the live views from every single fire camera in the area. A Leaflet.js map shows the location of all the live cameras in the system and the direction of each camera's point of view. If you select a camera on the map you can view its current live feed. All the other feeds from the other cameras in the area are shown beneath this interactive map.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

3D Printing the World

Slartibartfast created some of his favorite coastlines while working on the Norwegian fjords. In fact he won an award for his work on Norway. Now you can own a piece of Slartibartfast's best planetary designs - thanks to Terrafab.

Terrafab allows you to select any area of Norway, preview the area as a 3D terrain map and then print out your selected area as a 3D model.Whether you believe the fjords were created by Slartibartfast, your favorite God or by glacial retreat the Norwegian coast certainly has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Using Terrafab you can now create your own 3D model of a little piece of Norway.

Once you have used the interactive map to select your chosen area and previewed the area in 3D you can click through to actually order your model, which will be printed in full color sandstone. The cost of the model will depend on its size and complexity. Larger models can be very expensive but smaller models start from as little as $10.

Have you ever dreamed of owning your own 3D scale model of the Grand Canyon or the Matterhorn? Thanks to the Terrainator you now can. The Terrainator is a very similar to Terrafab. The main difference is that the Terrainator isn't limited to the terrain of Norway. In fact Terrainator even lets you print out 3D models of Lunar and Martian landscapes.

The Terrainator uses Google Maps to help you select your favorite area of terrain. It then creates an accurate scale model and uploads it to Shapeways, ready for 3D printing. The cost of the model depends on the volume of material required to make the model. Flatter models are therefore cheaper than mountainous areas, although they are much less fun. It is also possible to purchase the created STL files from Terrainator if you want to print out a terrain model for yourself. 

Ground Truth - Satellite Calibration Targets

At the end of the 1950's the CIA launched a series of strategic reconnaissance satellites in order to spy on the USSR. The satellites were used between 1959 and 1972 to carry out photographic surveillance of the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China and other areas of interest to the United States.

In order to calibrate the cameras on board the reconnaissance satellites a series of calibration targets were built in the desert around Casa Grande, Arizona. These targets were used to test the focus and resolution of the imagery captured by the spy satellites.The calibration targets in Arizona consisted of 272 concrete markers arranged in a 16 by 16 mile square grid. Many of these calibration targets still exist today.

You can explore the remaining calibration targets in Arizona on a new art project called Ground Truth. For the project artists Julie Anand and Damon Sauer took photographs of the remaining calibration targets. On top of these photographs they have mapped the locations of present day satellites to 'emphasize the ubiquity of this contemporary technology encircling the globe'.

Ground Truth includes an interactive map which shows the locations of all the original 272 markers. On this map the lighter markers indicate the remaining calibration targets which have been photographed (click on the marker to view the photo). If you click on the darker markers you can view satellite imagery of the area where the original calibration target was located.

Monday, September 07, 2020

The Hong Kong Protests on Street View

Recently Google updated the Street View imagery on Google Maps in Hong Kong with panoramas captured in October 2019. Some of this new imagery clearly shows the graffiti, political posters and other physical evidence of the protest movement in Hong Kong. The result means that if you now explore Hong Kong on Street View you can see lots of pro-Democracy graffiti adorning the walls and roads of the city.

In June of 2019 wide-spread anti-government protests began in Hong Kong in reaction to a proposed new law which would allow China to extradite people in Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland. The bill was eventually withdrawn but by then the Chinese government's violent reaction to the demonstrations had turned the protests into a full-scale pro-democracy movement. Evidence of that protest movement can now be clearly seen on Google Maps Street View.

The Stand News has collected a number of examples of the pro-Democracy protests which can now be found on Hong Kong's Street View. In The Footprints of the 2019 Struggle on Street View the Stand News has embedded a number of these Street Views.

One example can be seen in the screenshot above which shows the new Street View for an exit of the Prince Edward Station. On the 31st August 2019 the Hong Kong police indiscriminately attacked passengers at this MTR station after a pro-democracy demonstration had been held elsewhere in the city. After the event this exit of Prince Edward Station was used as an unofficial memorial wall where citizens left flowers and messages of support for the victims of the attack. In the new Street View of the station exit you can clearly sees these messages and white flowers.

Google, like many other multi-national companies, doesn't have the best of records in standing up to Chinese censorship. It will be interesting to see how quickly China demands that this imagery is removed and whether Google will allow these images to remain on Google Maps. Please leave a comment below if you notice these Street View images being changed or being blanked out on Google Maps.

The Sounds of the Forest

The Sounds of the Forest is an interactive map which allows you to listen to sound recordings made in forests around the world. The map includes many different sound recordings from around the globe, including the calls of lemurs in the forests of Madagascar, the song of a Nightjar in Australia and the cascade of a waterfall in Chile.

The sound recordings featured on the Sounds of the Forest map are being collected for the 2021 Timber Festival. Artists will be using and responding to the sounds collected to create music and artwork which will then be showcased at the festival.

You don't need to wait for the Timber Festival to listen to the sound recordings. You can just click on the markers on the map to listen to the sounds of the forest recorded at that location. You can also submit your own recordings of forest aural landscapes by clicking on the 'Contribute' link above the map.

Another fantastic resource for those who love the sounds of nature is the 50 Birds Species and the Songs they Make.

This interactive visualization consists of pictures of 50 common backyard birds. If you click on a bird on the visualization you can listen to a recording of the bird's song. Using the images and the songs is a great way to identify birds that frequent your backyard. Each bird image also includes a little map which shows you the species' normal habitat.

From the insect chorus of the Borneo rainforests to the crooning baritone song of an Atlantic humpback whale, the Nature Soundmap can also serenade you with the sounds of nature. Nature Soundmap is a map featuring the sounds of nature captured by professional nature sound recordists around the world.

Maps have always been a fascinating way to explore the globe. Add in the sounds of the monsoon in Borneo or the soundscape of the Brazilian rain-forest and you can almost imagine that you really have been transported to the other side of the world.

If you want to explore more interactive maps featuring sound recordings made in different urban and rural landscapes around the world then have a look at the Maps Mania Sound Maps label.

Your House's Solar Power Potential

The Mayor of London has released a new interactive map which shows the solar energy potential for every building in London. The map can be used to see how much energy your house could produce with solar panels.

The London Solar Opportunity Map provides an estimate of the potential for both photovoltaic solar panels and solar thermal installations on buildings and land in London. On the map buildings are colored by their solar energy potential (red buildings have the most potential and blue buildings the least). If you click on an individual building on the map you can view the estimated annual output of the building if solar panels were installed, the estimated installed potential and the average annual potential per square metre. You can also use the map side-panel to view the solar potential of a building when using different solar technologies.

The solar potential of individual buildings is based on a number of different factors, including the surface area, the direction of roofs and how much sunlight is blocked by surrounding buildings, trees etc.

In the United States you can use Google's Project Sunroof to view an estimate of how many hours of sunlight your roof receives per year, the square feet you have available for solar panels and the estimated net savings you could make by installing solar panels.

Homeowners and businesses in Switzerland can find out the solar power potential of their buildings using the Swiss Federal Office of Energy interactive map How much electricity or heat can my roof produce?.

In Australia you can use the SunSPoT Solar Potential Map map to work out how much energy a home might be able to generate by installing rooftop solar panels.

Saturday, September 05, 2020

Sports Super-Spreaders

As competitive sport emerges from lock-down the question of allowing fans into stadium now needs to be addressed. Many sports have begun playing games and matches behind closed doors and in Europe their have been a few experiments with allowing a limited number of fans to attend some games.

Obviously the big worry is that when packing lots of people together in a stadium it is very difficult to conform to social distancing. In February the Spanish soccer team Valencia traveled to Italy to play a Champions League match against Atalanta. 2,500 Valencia fans also traveled to Italy for the game. Some of those fans then brought coronavirus back to Spain. Several weeks after the game the match was determined to have been a 'super-spreading event'.

In order to highlight the risks of fans spreading Covid-19 ESPN has looked at anonymized cellphone tracking data from three American football games to visualize how far fans disperse after attending a game. In Mapping College Football and Covid Risk ESPN looked at the cell-phone records of fans attending college football games to see how and where they traveled after the games had finished. For each game the data used represents less than 12% of all those who attended. The mapped visualizations therefore show the geograhical extent of returning fans even if their numbers are strictly limited.

Six hours after the 2019 game between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Ohio State Buckeyes in Lincoln, Nebraska fans had dispersed to more than 30 counties. 18 hours after kickoff fans had traveled as far as Denver and Chicago. The ESPN investigation also visualizes the spread of football fans after the 2019 matches between Stanford & USC and Ole Miss & Alabama. These visualization really highlight how sports fans could easily become super-spreaders of a virus, carrying it far and wide. It goes a long way to show why sports bodies and sports teams must plan meticulously how they will ensure social distancing inside stadium before they once again allow fans to attend sporting events.

The ESPN mapped visualizations were created using Mapbox's Scrollytelling Template. This template is designed to help you create your own 'scrollytelling' map stories. This Mapbox scrollytelling demo map introduces the scrollytelling map format and shows you what you can achieve by using the Mapbox scrollytelling template.

Typhoon Haishen

Typhoon Haishen is currently approaching south-east Japan and is expected to make landfall on Sunday. At the time of writing the storm is a category four storm but there are signs that it may develop into a category 5 storm.

To put the above animation of the storm into some spatial context - the eye of the storm is around 36 miles wide. The satellite imagery used to create this short animation comes from the Himawari-8 satellite.The satellite imagery was downloaded from Himawari Real-Time. Himawari-8 is a satellite in geostationary orbit at 140.7 degrees East. It provides near real-time imagery of an area of Earth covering Australia, Japan and eastern China.

You can also create animated GIFs from Himawari-8 satellite imagery using the RAMMB/CIRA Slider. The RAMMB/CIRA Slider allows you to view (and create animations from) satellite imagery from a number of different satellites in geosationary orbit above different locations around the world. The RAMMB/CIRA Slider link above lets you view an animation of the growth of tropical storm Haishen from the 3rd to 4th Sep from Himawari-8 satellite imagery.

Friday, September 04, 2020

Views of the San Francisco Earthquake

The OpenSFHistory Map allows you to explore over 100,000 vintage photos of San Francisco. The historical photographs of the city feature on the map were donated to the Western Neighborhoods Project (WNP) by a private collector and provide a fascinating glimpse into San Francisco's past.

The Galleries section of OpenSFHistory includes an interactive map of photographs taken soon after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. The 1906 earthquake and resulting fire destroyed over 80% of the city. It also killed more than 3,000 people. The photographs on the 1906 Earthquake and Fire interactive map allow you to explore this destruction block-by-block.

The map uses the Google Maps API. Which means the user has access to Google's Street View imagery. This means you can drop pegman on a photo's location to compare the historical view with how it looks today. In fact it is a bit of a shame that the map doesn't automatically display the corresponding Street View next to each vintage photo.

If you like viewing vintage photographs of San Francisco then you might also enjoy OldSF. OldSF is an interactive map of historical photos of San Francisco from the San Francisco Public Library collection.  The map itself no longer works properly (presumably Google's exorbitant API fees became too expensive) but you can still use it to explore all the vintage photographs.

The OldSF map includes a slide control which enables you to filter the vintage photos shown on the map by the date that they were published.

Where Can I Travel?

United Airlines has released an interactive map which shows you the current travel restrictions for traveling internally within the United States. The Destination Travel Guide colors states to show if a state is closed to travelers, partially open or fully open for travel. The map can also tell you if any tests or self-quarantining is required for visiting the state.

If you click on a state on the Destination Travel Guide an information window opens telling you if entry is allowed without quarantine, if entry is allowed without a test result and if entry is allowed without mandatory application forms. The map also provides information on any current restrictions in place in the state regarding the opening of non-essential shops, bars, restaurants and museums & galleries. The map also tells you about the state's current face mask and social distancing regulations.

If you are planning to travel abroad then you might want to refer to the IATA Travel Regulations interactive map. On the IATA Travel Regulations map individual countries are colored to show how restrictive their travel regulations currently are. The darker blue the country then the more restrictive their current regulations are for international travelers. If you click on individual countries on the map you can view in detail their current international travel regulations (dated by date of publication). If you wish to travel to a country then you do need to click on the map as most countries apply different restrictions to people traveling from different countries.

Because most countries have imposed travel restrictions which are more restrictive for some nationalities than for others international travel permissions will differ depending on the country you are traveling from. CovidTravel acknowledges this by showing the international travel restrictions for individual countries. If you select your country from the drop-down menu CovidTravel colors all the countries of the world to indicate the current travel restrictions imposed on people traveling from the selected country of departure.

If you click on individual countries on the map you can also see links to that country's official travel guidance for international travelers.

The Ordnance Survey in 3D

3DGB allows you to view the Great Britain Ordnance Survey map in 3D. 3DGB map uses Ordnance Survey's Zoomstack map tiles with the Cesium mapping library. The result is a very detailed map of Great Britain which allows you to explore the country's terrain in glorious three dimensions.

OS Open Zoomstack provides vector map tiles of the whole of Great Britain, created from Ordnance Survey's own map data. CesiumJS is an open source 3D mapping library, which allows you to create 3D maps using map tiles from any source. Using the OS map tiles with CesiumJS allows the user to explore the contours of the OS map actually overlaid on top of a digital elevation model.

Great Britain has lots of wonderful terrain, which you can explore on 3DGB. The map features dynamic linking which means you can easily share links to any GB location on the map. For example Arthur's Seat is an extinct volcano which is situated just one mile from the city center of Edinburgh. You can also find in Scotland the UK's highest mountain, Ben Nevis.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

The Political Color of America

The New York Times has developed a fascinating new way to visualize the urban-rural divide in political persuasion. In the United States, like in many other countries around the world, voters in rural areas on the whole tend to vote for more right-wing candidates and urban voters tend to vote for more left-wing candidates. In the U.S. this means that rural areas are more likely to return Republican representatives and urban areas are more likely to vote for Democratic representatives. 

To visualize this urban-rural divide in political persuasion the New York Times has carried out a color analysis of every voting precinct in the United States. In The True Colors of America’s Political Spectrum Are Gray and Green the NYT has taken a satellite image of every electoral precinct and sorted every color in each image by color and brightness.

What the NYT analysis reveals is that generally the greener a precinct is then the more likely it is to have voted Republican in the last Presidential Election. The grayer a precinct is then the more likely it is to have voted Democratic in the 2016 election. Just looking at the screenshot above (even before the color sorting has taken place) you can see that Democratic voting precincts (on the left) are grayer and that the greener precincts tend to be Republican (on the right). In the article the NYT's color sorted visualization of 'the most frequently occurring 100,000 landscape colors' provides an even clearer picture of the urban-rural divide in the United States.

If you are interested in the urban-rural voting patterns in your state then check out the NYT's article, which includes a color sorted visualization of every state's voting precincts.