Friday, July 10, 2020

How Well Do You Know the World?



Guess Where! is a fun interactive geography guessing game which requires you to name capital cities around the world from an unlabeled map.

In the game Guess Where! you are shown a series of capital cities on a Google Map. All you have to do is choose the name of the city from a choice of four. To make your task a little harder all the place-name labels on the map have been turned off.

You score points in the game for every capital city which you guess correctly. If you are struggling with naming the correct cities then Guess Where! includes an option to only show capital cities from your chosen continent.



GeoScents is a multiplayer geographical guessing game based on the popular, but now defunct, GeoSense game. The object of the game is very simple. You are given a named location and you just have to point to that location on the map.

You earn points in GeoScents based on how near you click to the correct location. Where GeoScents wins out compared to the many other similar geography guessing games is in that you can play against other players (if there are any online) and you can compare your score against the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly records. Score high enough and you can even add your name to the records scoreboard!



Geography Trivia is a version of the popular hangman game in which you have to answer trivia questions about countries around the world. In the game you are asked a series of questions and you have to type in the correct country. If you enter a correct letter it will be added to your answer and shown in green. Type in an incorrect letter and it will be shown in red.

As you progress through the game the scoreboard tells you how many questions you have answered in total and how many of those questions you answered correctly.


The fun doesn't need to stop there. If you want more map based geography games then check out the Maps Mania games tag.

The Costs of Plastic Pollution



The Price Tag of Plastic Pollution is an interactive map which shows the economic costs of all the plastic pollution which we are currently spilling into the world's oceans. There are many interactive maps which visualize the extent of plastic pollution in the world's oceans and where that pollution comes from. This map however is attempting to persuade governments and individuals around the world by highlighting the economic costs of that pollution on industries such as fishing and tourism.

The Ocean Cleanup worked with the auditing company Deloitte to assess the costs of plastic pollution to countries around the world. According to this study the total global yearly economic costs from marine plastic are between $6-19bn. These costs accrue from the impact of pollution on tourism & on the fishing industry and from efforts to clean and clear plastic pollution. If you click on a country on the Plastic Pollution world map you can view the costs to the government and to the fishing and tourism industries in your selected country.

The main purpose of the Price Tag of Plastic Pollution map is to demonstrate that it is far cheaper not to pollute our oceans with plastic in the first place than it is to clean them after they have been polluted. This is undoubtedly true but I do doubt whether many governments would be persuaded by this argument.

I assume the map is showing what the study predicts that countries and industries would need to pay to clean-up plastic pollution and not what they are already paying. I also assume that many governments would just ignore these clean-up costs. According to the map the United States has a cost of $76 million from plastic pollution. Unfortunately I suspect that the current U.S. administration would just argue that the government won't pay those costs - so they therefore aren't a real cost to the USA.

The costs to the fishing and tourism industries however could be a powerful lobbying argument if those industries had a real determination to try to make governments act to stop plastic pollution.



Litterbase is one organization attempting to collate the results of scientific studies researching the levels of plastic pollution found in the world's oceans. Currently Litterbase provides a summarized overview of the results from over 1,900 studies into the amount and composition of litter and its effect on marine environments. An example of one of these summaries is Distribution of Litter Types in Different Realms, which is an interactive map created from the results of 916 scientific publications on the amount, distribution and composition of litter in the world's oceans.

The map shows the results of hundreds of scientific studies carried out in specific locations around the world. It is not a heatmap of marine pollution around the world. It only shows the levels of pollution in the areas where studies have been carried out. However there are gaps in seas and oceans where little scientific research has taken place, for example around Africa and the Polar regions.

One way that we can fill in these gaps in our knowledge is by modeling the density of pollution in the oceans based on the results of scientific studies. Sailing Seas of Plastic is a dot density map which shows the estimated concentration of floating plastic in the oceans based on the results of 24 survey expeditions (2007-2013) and on wind and ocean drift models.

Each dot on the Sailing Seas of Plastic map represents 20 kg of floating plastic. According to the map there are 5,250 billion pieces of plastic adrift on the seas of the world.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Build Your Own 3D Terrain Models



three-geo is a neat JavaScript library which can be used to build small 3D terrain models. The library uses three.js and Mapbox's RGB-encoded Digital Elevation Model to create interactive 3D models of any location on Earth.

The demonstration geo-viewer application provides a great example of what can be achieved with three-geo and allows you to explore some of the capabilities of the library. Using this little demo viewer you can see three-geo in action and create your own 3D terrain models for any location around the globe. A drop-down menu provides quick links to a number of locations, such as Table Mountain and Mount Fuji. However you can use the provided map to view anywhere in the world in 3D.

To use the three-geo library in your own applications you will obviously need a Mapbox account to access the RGB-encoded DEM. The three-geo library requires you to enter a Mapbox account token in order to create the terrain model (and presumably to create a terrain model which includes satellite imagery).


Vladimir Agafonkin, the creator of the Leaflet mapping platform, has also created a JavaScript library for creating 3D terrain models from elevation data. MARTINI allows you to create a 3D terrain model of any location.

MARTINI builds a 3D terrain model 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 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.


The DEM Net Elevation API can also help you create your very own 3D terrain models for any location on Earth. Dem Net has a fantastic tool which allows you to create your own 3D models simply by selecting an area on a map. It really is that easy.

To create a 3D model all you have to do is draw a square on an interactive map around the area that you wish to model. Within seconds DEM Net will create a 3D model of the area that you selected. You can then rotate and zoom in & out on your model directly in the browser. You can also download the model in two different formats.

DEM Net includes a number of options. These include a choice of different satellite imagery sources or map tile sources for your model. You can also adjust the height or your model - to exaggerate the elevation level - and you can also choose to generate a terrain model from a range of different elevation models.

Global Comparisons of Covid-19



Australia's Healthmap visualizes local health and demographic data in Australia. During the current pandemic Healthmap has also been mapping Covid-19 data. Importantly for international users the map includes global data on the rates of Covid-19. This global map includes data from the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) and Johns Hopkins University.

Using Healthmap you can therefore compare both the number of cases of Covid-19 in countries around the world and their relative death rates. Per population statistics for both the number of cases and the numbers of deaths are provided on the map to support easy comparison between regions. For example you can use the map to visualize the cumulative numbers of deaths from Covid-19 per population.

Interestingly this reveals that Sweden (53.24 reported deaths per 100,000) has a significantly higher number of deaths than the U.S. (39.96 reported deaths per 100,000). In fact currently the U.S. has a cumulative death rate lower than most European countries. Although the contrasting trends in the numbers of cases in the U.S. and Europe means that this may soon change.

Healthmap has also released separate maps of the ECDC data and the Johns Hopkins data. The ECDC map visualizes global rates of Covid-19 and the Johns Hopkins US map visualizes U.S. rates of Covid-19 at the state and at the county level.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Mapping Paycheck Protection Payments



In response to the devastating effect of Covid-19 on the economy the US government has initiated the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). PPP is a business loan program which provides low-interest loans to companies to help with payroll and other costs.

On Monday the Small Business Administration released the data on the companies who have received loans under the PPP program. Open The Books  has now mapped that data to show the location of all the companies which have received loans in excess of $1 million.

The Open The Books map is very good for finding companies which have received PPP loans by location. If you enter a zip-code into the map you can view a list (beneath the map) of all the local companies which have received loans over $1 million within that neighborhood. However the map is not searchable by company name. This means it is a hard to discover whether individual companies have received a PPP loan, unless you know where the company headquarters are physically located.

PPP loans do not have to be repaid if a company retains all of its employees and the company doesn't reduce employee wages.

Virtual Tours of the World's Museums

In my continuing quest to virtually visit every museum in the world during lock-down I am today touring the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Colonial Williamsburg living-history museum in Virginia.



Florence's Uffizi Gallery dates back to the 16th Century and has one of the greatest collections of Italian Renaissance art in the world. In 2019 the Uffizi reopened ten restored galleries housing its collection of Venetian paintings of the 1500's. You can explore these galleries yourself online on the Uffizi Galleries Virtual Tour.

On this virtual tour you can explore 360° degree panoramic imagery of the Uffizi's Hall of the Dynasties and the Galleries of Sixteenth-Century Venetian Painting. Using the interactive white circles you can move around just as you would using the arrows in Google Maps Street View. As you virtually explore the galleries you can discover more about each of the paintings by clicking on the small green circles to read the painting's wall notes.



The Colonial Williamsburg museum in Virginia includes several hundred restored or re-created buildings from the 18th Century. The museum provides a unique glimpse into life in 18th Century America.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has created three virtual 360° degree panoramic tours. These tours allow you to explore the Governor's Palace, the Capitol Building, and the Art Museums. Each of the panoramic tours starts with an introductory video. The Governor's Palace video in particular is very impressive as it takes you into the palace while accompanied by a number of actors in 18th Century dress.

Each of the three virtual tours allow you to explore using a number of connected 360° degree images. These images include interactive hot-spots which allow you to learn more about the individual rooms and the artifacts found within them.


If you want to explore more of the world's best museums and galleries during lock-down then here are a few more virtual tours that you might enjoy:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art - includes a number of virtual exhibitions
The National Gallery - London's National Gallery has a number of virtual tours
The Rijksmuseum Masterpieces Up Close - a virtual tour of the museum's Gallery of Honour
The Sistine Chapel Virtual Tour - explore the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo's astonishing ceiling
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural Museum - has created a number of virtual tours
The Stonehenge Virtual Tour - places you in the center of this mysterious pre-historic monument
Beijing Palace Museum - the Palace Museum has created a number of virtual tours which allow you to explore some of the museum's galleries and also some of the amazing buildings of the Forbidden City
Buckingham Palace - take a virtual tour around the Queen's favorite pad

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Which Voters Believe in Climate Change?

Yale University has mapped out the results of a detailed survey into the views of Democratic and Republican voters about climate change. Democratic and Republican Views of Climate Change includes a number of maps which show the views of Democratic and Republican voters across the United States when they were asked about their beliefs, attitudes and policy preferences around global warming.


Do you think global warming is happening? - Democrats left map, Republicans right map

I suspect the results of Yale's survey into climate change won't be too surprising to most people. For example the maps above show the response of Democrats (left map) and Republicans (right map) to the question 'Do you believe global warming in happening?'. The results show that across the whole of the United States a majority of Democrat voters believe that global warming is a scientific fact. However in many parts of the USA a majority of Republicans don't think that global warming is actually happening.

What is particular useful is that you can view the results at congressional district level. Across the whole of the United States a small majority of Republican voters (52%) actually do believe that global warming is happening. However the map allows you to see in which states and congressional districts the majority of Republicans are in a state of denial.


Should citizens should do more to address global warming? - Democrats left map, Republicans right map

Many of the responses to the attitudes of voters towards global warming are very enlightening. For example the two maps above show the responses of Democrat and Republican voters to the question 'Should citizens do more to address global warming?' In most areas of the U.S. Republican voters (those who vote for the party of small government and personal individual responsibility) don't believe that they should do anything themselves to address global warming. Although to be fair to Republican voters, although a majority of them think that global warming is happening, most of them also don't think that the government should do anything to stop it.

Mapping the Distribution of Place-Names



Bynavn is an interactive which shows the distribution of Danish towns with similar place-name endings. For example the map can show you the location of all Danish towns which end with '-havn'.

The Bynavn map includes a menu which allows you to quickly view the distribution of towns with a number of common place-name endings (e.g. -havn, -borg, -home etc). The map also includes a search box which allows you to type in any letters to view all the towns in Denmark which include those letters.

There are clear geographical patterns in the distribution of some of the place-name endings found in Denmark. For example the ending 'havn' (harbor) is found exclusively in coastal towns. While towns ending in 'løse' and 'rød' seem to be found only in eastern parts of the country. If you want to know the meaning of some of these place-names then you can refer to the University of Copenhagen's Common Place Name Types.



Bynavn seems to have been inspired by a similar interactive map which shows the distribution of different types of place-name in Germany. The End is Near allows you to search and visualize German towns by common place-name endings.

The letters at the end of German place-names can tell you a lot about local history, culture and geography. For example there are many German place-names which are derived from foreign languages. A search for Slavic suffixes, such as -ow or -itz, will reveal a strong distribution of these place-name endings in eastern Germany. These names date back to when Slavic languages were spoken in the eastern parts of the Holy Roman Empire.

Other place-name endings probably derive from local geographical features. These geographical based suffixes include -berg (mountain), -furt (ford), -brück (bridge) or -feld (field).


You can explore the distribution of US place-names on Place Names in the United States. This interactive map visualizes the spatial distribution of town & city place names in America.

For example you can view the distribution of place-names starting with the Spanish articles (El-, Los- & Las-) (mainly found in the Southwest). Alternatively you can search using suffixes. For example the distribution of towns with common British town endings, such as -chester, -wick, -wich, -pool, -ham, -ness, -port & -worth (mainly in the Northeast).

Place Names in the United States has a database of around thirty thousand towns and cities in the United States. The place-name data used is from opengeocode.org.

Monday, July 06, 2020

America's Failed Response to Covid-19



The New Statesman has published a series of interactive maps which dramatically visualizes just how bad the United States has been in responding to Covid-19. The maps show areas in the United States and in European countries where there are 50 cases or more of Covid-19 in a week per 100,000 residents.

The German government has set a threshold of 50 cases per 100,000 residents in a week as the trigger for when regions must enter lockdown. If the same rules were applied to the USA then half of Americans would currently be in lockdown (and America might begin to get a handle on this pandemic). In Italy and France there are currently no regions with more than 50 cases per 100,000 residents. In Germany only the region around Gütersloh has been put in lockdown (after an outbreak at a meat-packing plant). In the UK there are a few regions where there are more the 50 cases per 100,000 residents (these seem to be often related to outbreaks in meat-packing plants or textile sweat-shops).

In the US there are 1,094 regions with more than 50 cases per 100,000 residents. The New Statesman concludes that with the growing number of infections in the U.S. the number of regions are 'about to be a lot more'.

If you want to check the current levels of Covid-19 in your county then you can refer to Harvard's Covid-19 map. The Harvard Global Health Institute's COVID Risk Level map shows the severity of the Covid-19 outbreak at county level across the United States. The map reveals which counties have a green, yellow, orange or red risk level, based on the number of new daily cases. The map also includes guidance as to how county authorities should respond to each of these risk levels.

How Clean is My River?



Because of the lockdown swimming pools across the UK are all closed. Which means that this summer the only place to cool-down with a refreshing dip is in a river or the sea. Unfortunately many, many rivers in the UK really aren't clean enough to swim in safely.

Last week The Guardian revealed how water companies routinely discharge untreated sewage into UK rivers. Water companies are allowed to discharge untreated human waste only in 'exceptional' circumstances - for example during extreme rainfall. However The Guardian has revealed that last year UK water companies discharged raw sewage into rivers for more than 1.5m hours.

There is no public monitoring of the health of rivers in the UK, so it is therefore difficult to know which rivers are safe to swim in. Therefore the Rivers Trust has created an interactive map, Is My River Fit To Play In, which shows where water companies are discharging sewage into rivers. The map shows all the locations on rivers where water companies (and other entities) are discharging untreated sewage. The Rivers Trust advises that you should not swim downstream from any of these locations, especially after it has been raining.

The Rivers Trust map only shows where sewage is known to enter rivers. The map does not show where agricultural pollutants enter rivers or where discharges from household appliances or hidden septic tanks enter rivers.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

The US Flood Risk Map



The nonprofit organization First Street Foundation has released a new online tool that can tell you the current flood risk for your home and how that risk may increase due to environmental and climate change.

If you enter your address or zip-code into Flood Factor you can view a detailed report into whether your area has flooded in the past, the current local flooding conditions and the future risk of flooding. Interactive maps are used by Flood Factor to show the local areas most at risk of flooding and the severity of that risk.

The flood risk report for your area informs you of such things as the proportion of local properties at risk from flooding and the number of properties at risk due to climate change. The report also provides information of local action which communities can undertake to limit flood damage and lower flood insurance costs.

The flood model used by Flood Factor is based on models of flood risk from rainfall, overflowing rivers high tides, and coastal storm surge. It takes into account such as factors as flooding history, elevation and proximity to water. To predict future risk of flooding other factors are also taken into account, such as different climate models and predicted sea level rise and predicted future precipitation patterns in the local area.

The Future of Work in Europe



The McKinsey Global Institute has published new research into employment trends in Europe and how these trends might play out in the next ten years.

The Future of Work interactive map examines and classifies 1,095 local labor markets across Europe. On this map regions of Europe are colored to show what type of employment cluster most effect employment trends in the area. You can also click on each of these regions to learn more about how the job market might grow or fall over the next decade and which sectors of the job market in the area are predicted to shrink and grow.

The McKinsey report explores how geographical and economic factors may effect the economic trends in each of Europe's regions. Economic factors, such as increasing automation and changing occupational trends, and geographical factors, such as the increasing geographical concentration of employment will effect employment trends differently in each of the mapped regions. If you select an individual region on the map you can view the McKinsey reports prediction for job growth in the area (2018-2013). You can also read an overview of the types of jobs which are predicted to see employment growth in the region and the types of jobs which are likely to decline.

Regions on the map which belong to the same type of employment clusters may have widely different predictions in the growth or fall of the labor market. This could be because of local differences in innovation opportunities and available workforce skills. You can learn more about how changes in employment trends will effect the job market in the different regions of Europe in the full McKinsey report The Future of Work in Europe.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Your Birthday Sun Chart



Earlier this week NASA released an incredible timelapse video of sun activity over the last ten years.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has been observing the Sun from Earth orbit for the last ten years. During this time it has gathered over 425 million high-resolution images of the Sun. This week NASA compiled these images into a timelapse video which condenses a decade of sun activity into just one hour (the video shows one sun image for every hour).



Mat Miller has now used NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory to create a fun interactive tool which can show you the sun on your birthday for every year from 2011 and 2019. Of course it doesn't have to be your birthday. Using the tool you can pick any day of the year to view nine separate animated images showing sun activity for every year (2011-2019) on your selected date.

Annotating Medieval Maps



Matthew Paris' Map of Britain is one of the first ever geographical maps of the British Isles. It was made by a 13th Century monk called (you guessed it) Matthew Paris. Paris' map was one of the first medieval maps to move away from a schematic plan (e.g. a strip map or route map) to instead attempt an accurate geographical representation (compare the Map of Britain with Mathew Paris' own route itinerary maps outlining the journey from London to Palestine).

Two years ago I created an interactive annotated version of one of the four Matthew Paris' Maps of Britain. It isn't readily apparent but if you click on some of the medieval place-names on this interactive map you can view the modern names of these British towns and cities.

There are a couple of big problems with my annotated map. My map uses Corpus Christi College's manuscript of Matthew Paris' map, which unfortunately is missing the bottom half of the map (southern England is therefore missing). The other problem is that I wasn't entirely successful in translating all the place-names on Paris' map.

Luckily Historia Cartarum has now created a more complete Annotated Claudius Map. Wisely Historia Cartarum's annotated map uses the British Library's complete copy of one of the four maps Paris made of Britain. Therefore on this version you can actually see Paris' strange depiction of southern England (in which the Thames appears to flow into the English Channel).

The Annotated Claudius Map is also more complete when it comes to the actual annotations. Where I struggled to find the modern translations for all the map's medieval place-names Historia Cartarum has been much more successful. Every single place-name and transcription on the Annotated Claudius Map is interactive. The result is a fantastic tool for studying one of the earliest geographical representations of Britain.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

County Covid Risk Levels



The Harvard Global Health Institute has released a new COVID Risk Level map which shows the severity of the Covid-19 outbreak at county level across the United States. The map reveals which counties have a green, yellow, orange or red risk level, based on the number of new daily cases.

On the map counties that have fewer than one daily new case of Covid-19 per 100,000 people are colored green. Counties with one to nine daily new cases are colored yellow. Counties with between 10 and 24 new cases are colored orange and counties with 25 new cases per day are shown in red. The map also allows you to view the Covid-19 risk levels at state level. This view shows that both Florida and Arizona are currently at a red risk level, both states having more than 30 new daily cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people.

Alongside the map the Harvard Global Health Institute has released recommendations and guidance about how counties should respond to the Covid-19 outbreak risk levels. If a county is shown as red on the map then stay-at-home orders are absolutely necessary. Counties shown as orange are advised to have stay-at-home orders and test and trace programs. If a county currently has a yellow risk level then a rigorous test and trace program is advised. Counties which are shown as green should continue to monitor with testing and contact tracing.



The John Hopkins' Covid-19 Dashboard provides a global overview of the number of reported cases of Covid-19. The map reveals that there is still no sign of a flattening of the curve in the number of confirmed cases around the world.

When I first linked to this map on 23 January 2020, the map was reporting 555 total known cases and 17 deaths from Covid-19. A mere half a year later and the map reports over 10.5 million cases of Covid-19 and over half a million deaths.

Submarine Streetview



During lock-down I've been regularly linking to virtual tours created by museums and art galleries around the world. This week, however, I've decided to take a little break from culture and to spend a little time with nature instead.

For example, this morning I took a little virtual tour of the National Aquarium in Baltimore. The National Aquarium reopened yesterday so you can visit the aquarium for real if you are in the area. However, if you can't get to Baltimore, you can still visit the aquarium virtually on its fantastic customized 'Street View' tour.

Using the National Aquarium virtual tour you can view 360 degree panoramic images of the aquarium and virtually visit the Atlantic Coral Reef, Shark Alley the Amazon River and view all kinds of marine life, including the aquarium's amazing dolphins and sharks.

If you want live views of marine life then you might enjoy the webcams of the Georgia Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The webcams in these two aquariums give you a live view of lots of different marine species, including (but not limited to) beluga whales, sharks, sea lions and turtles.



You can also take a virtual dive beneath the world's oceans on Google Street View. Over the years Google has captured a number of under water Street View images in many different locations around the world. You can explore Google's under water Street View imagery on Google Earth's The World's Ocean collection.

This collection includes Street View imagery from the Great Coral Reef, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Mediterranean and from many other marine locations around the globe. While exploring these 360 degree panoramic images shot beneath the waves you can virtually swim with all manner of exotic and colorful marine life.


Art Galleries and Museums

If you want some culture with your nature then you can explore many of the world's best museums and galleries during lock-down using their virtual tours. Here are a few more that you might enjoy:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art - includes a number of virtual exhibitions
The National Gallery - London's National Gallery has a number of virtual tours
The Rijksmuseum Masterpieces Up Close - a virtual tour of the museum's Gallery of Honour
The Sistine Chapel Virtual Tour - explore the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo's astonishing ceiling
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural Museum - has created a number of virtual tours
The Stonehenge Virtual Tour - places you in the center of this mysterious pre-historic monument
Beijing Palace Museum - the Palace Museum has created a number of virtual tours which allow you to explore some of the museum's galleries and also some of the amazing buildings of the Forbidden City
Buckingham Palace - take a virtual tour around the Queen's favorite pad

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Map of Mathematicians



My nearest mathematician is Edmond Halley, for whom Halley's comet is named. According to the Mathematicians Birthplace Map Halley was born in Shoreditch, London - just one mile from where I now live.

You can discover which famous mathematicians were born near you on the University of St Andrews School of Mathematics and Statistics interactive map. This map shows the birthplaces of nearly 3,000 mathematicians from all around the world. The mathematicians shown on the map are those listed in the university's MacTutor database, which includes biographies of famous mathematicians.

If you select a marker on the Mathematicians Birthplace Map you can click through to read their full biography on MacTutor. Beneath the map is a link to view all mathematicians by country. This link allows you to select an individual country to view all the MacTutor listed mathematicians who were born in that country.

The Mathematicians Birthplace Map is just a simple map showing where famous mathematicians were born around the world. I don't think that there is much that could be done to improve this map. Although I do think that a timeline control would be interesting as it would allow you to sort the mathematicians both geographically and historically. You could then use the map to see which mathematicians were alive during different historical periods and where they were living (born) around the world.

The Sea Stories of Barra



Sgeulachdan na Mara / Sea Stories - an online cultural map of the sea is a wonderful interactive map featuring local stories found around the island of Barra, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

To create the map the island's school pupils interviewed local Barra fishermen and older members of the local community. The result is a unique map featuring local legends and oral history as told by the islanders themselves. You can watch and listen to the videos and audio recordings resulting from the interviews directly from the Sea Stories map.

The map legend allows you to highlight on the map where audio, video, photographs or text are available to be viewed. These media are shown on the map using a number of different types of marker, indicating stories about wrecks, fishing, coastal features etc.

There is a lot to love about this map, not least the wonderful cartography of the vintage style map of Barra. The real stars of this map, however, must be the islanders of Barra. There are at least two Gaelic folk song recordings on this map which are worth the price of admission (there is none) on there own.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Create an Earth Club Sandwich



In 2006 Ze Frank challenged the viewers of his video show to create an Earth Sandwich. He wanted two people on opposite sides of the Earth to create a sandwich - using two pieces of bread with the whole of planet Earth in between.

To help people create this Earth Sandwich Ze Frank created an interactive map which could find the antipode for any location on Earth. Ze Frank's map no longer works but there are many other maps which can help you find what is on the exact opposite side of Earth from your location. For example, if you enter your location into the Antipodes Map you can discover its antipode. Then (if you can find a willing volunteer on the other side of the Earth) you can make your own Earth Sandwich.



If you want a more upmarket snack (an Earth Club Sandwich if you will) then you can use Around the World instead. This clever interactive tool can find your antipode and also provide you with a little more information about that whole world which lies between you and your antipode.

Enter a location into Around the World and you are shown a globe with your location and its antipode highlighted. On the surface of this globe you can see what you would encounter if you walked from your location via the North or South Pole to your antipode.

Water bodies are shown on the surface of your globe in blue and land is shown in green. Elevation and depth are shown by the height and depth of the green and blue lines. In the center of the globe you can view a few more interesting facts about the journey from your location to its antipode. For example you can see how many countries lie in between your two antipodes and also how many miles of land and sea you would have to cross if you wanted to travel between the two.

The Virtual Hajj



This year, because of the coronavirus outbreak, the Hajj pilgrimage has been limited to only one thousand pilgrims. For Muslims the sacred Hajj pilgrimage is an essential life journey, a trip which they must make (if they are capable) at least once in their lifetime.

The Kontinentalist has created an interactive story map, Inside the Sacred Hajj Pilgrimage, which explains how people undertook the Hajj in the age before air travel. Before the age of flight pilgrims would often travel by kapal haji (ships). For many Muslims traveling from Southeast Asia Singapore was an essential hub for the journey to Mecca. Pilgrim brokers, boarding houses, and stores in Singapore all catered to the needs of the many pilgrims taking the Hajj.

The Kontinentalist article also maps out a step-by-step guide to the Hajj. Using another story map the article explains some of the rituals, journeys and prayers that pilgrims must make over the many days of the Hajj.

Nowadays of course many pilgrims undertake the journey to Saudi Arabia by plane. The Kontinenalist explains how the numbers taking the Hajj has surged since of the advent of air travel. In fact since 1988 Saudi Arabia has introduced a quota system to manage numbers, issuing one pilgrimage visa for every 1,000 Muslims in each country.



Despite the quota system millions of people still make the annual pilgrimage to Mecca by plane. In Flying to Hajj Al Jazeera visualizes and explores the 16,888 flights made to Mecca during last year's annual pilgrimage. The map shows the thousands of flights from all around the world which converge on Mecca during the  Hajj.

To reach Mecca many pilgrims fly to Jeddah,  the nearest airport, which is 80 km from Mecca. Alternatively pilgrims fly to Medina to visit the Prophet's mosque at al-Masjid an-Nabawi, before then completing the 450 km trip south to Mecca. Al Jazeera's Flying to Hajj map visualizes over 10 million individual GPS co-ordinates from all inbound flights to Jeddah and Medina over the Hajj period. On the map you can view the tracks of individual planes arriving from all around the world as they approach and land at Jeddah and Medina.

The country with the most flights to Jeddah and Medina last year during the Hajj was Egypt, with 1,618 flights. The UAE, Pakistan, Turkey and India, in that order, sent the next most flights to Mecca. The top three airlines (by number of flights) were Saudia, Turkish Airlines and EgyptAir.

Monday, June 29, 2020

The US High Poverty Map



During the current economic downturn neighborhoods which are already economically vulnerable will most likely be hit the hardest. The Economic Innovation Group's High Poverty Map is an interactive map which visualizes the metro neighborhoods in the United States which had high levels of poverty in 2018 and those which were in high poverty in 1980 but have since successfully turned around.

On the interactive map high-poverty census tracts are colored to show if they are newly poor, persistently poor, deepening poverty or turned around. If you select one of these colored neighborhoods you can view the poverty rate in that census tract for the years 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010 & 2018.

Alongside the interactive map the Economic Innovation Group has published a number of city profiles. These profiles provide a detailed analysis of poverty levels in some of America's largest cities. For example the city profile for New York notes that although the city still has a high number of neighborhoods in poverty the number of high-poverty neighborhoods has dropped sharply since 1980. In Los Angeles the number of high-poverty neighborhoods has increased a lot since 1980. Unlike New York it has seen very few neighborhoods transition from high-poverty to low-poverty.

Placename Pronunciation Maps



Traveling in Wales can be difficult for non-Welsh speakers. For example how exactly do you ask for directions to Llanfairpwll-gwyngyllgogerychwyrndrob-wllllantysiliogogogoch. If you also have problems pronouncing Welsh placenames then you might appreciate Map Llais.

Map Llais is an interactive map which provides audio recordings which allow you to hear how you should pronounce the names of towns and villages in north-west Wales. If you click on any of the map markers you can listen to how the name of the selected town or village should be pronounced.

Map Llais uses sound recordings uploaded to Wikimedia. The map doesn't entirely answer my question about the pronunciation of Wales' longest placename. The map uses the shortened version of the town's name, Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, and therefore only provides the sound recording of this shortened form.


There have been many interactive maps created over the years which have been designed to help you pronounce placenames. In the past I've linked to maps with sound recordings of Māori placenames, Canadian placenames and even a global map of placenames using sound recordings from Forvo, the online pronunciation dictionary. Unfortunately none of those maps are still active.

The only other map I know of which helps you learn how to pronounce placenames correctly is the Squamish Atlas. The Squamish Atlas is an interactive map in the Squamish language. On the map all the map labels are written in Squamish. The mountains and waterways are in Squamish, the islands and villages are all in Squamish and the landmarks are in Squamish.

If your Squamish is a little rusty then you can click on the placename labels and the map markers to find out how to pronounce the name and to learn what it means in English. Many of the Squamish names and markers on the map have audio files attached which allow you to hear how the word should be pronounced correctly.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Earth Impacts of Covid-19

We all know the devastating impact that Covid-19 has been having on people's lives around the world. We are also profoundly aware of the economic impact that Covid-19 lock-downs are having on the global economy. Perhaps less understood is the impact that these lock-downs and this reduced economic activity is having on the Earth's environment.

Early on in the Covid-19 outbreak NASA revealed how air pollution in China and northern Italy had improved, most probably as a consequence of the shut-down of industry and the huge reduction in road traffic. Now NASA has teamed up with the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to document and visualize the other environmental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on planet Earth.


Water quality in the Venice Lagoon has improved during the Covid-19 outbreak

The Covid-19 Earth Observing Dashboard uses remote sensing data from ESA, JAXA and NASA to investigate and show how Covid-19 lock-downs have affected Earth’s air, land, and water. For example all three space agencies monitor water quality by measuring Chlorophyll-a (Chl) concentrations using satellite optical sensors. These sensors show that in many locations around the world water quality has improved during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Venice Lagoon in the North Adriatic is usually subject to heavy cruise ship activity. The water quality in the lagoon is also heavily effected by run-off from the Po River, which runs through many different industrialized areas. The decrease in maritime tourism in the lagoon and industrial activity along the Po River during the outbreak has seen unusually low levels of Chl concentration in the Venice Lagoon.


Air quality has improved in many areas of the United States

Air Quality has also improved in many locations around the world. The Covid-19 Earth Observing Dashboard shows that the Northeast United States has seen a 30% drop in NO2 levels compared to the average levels in the previous 5 years. Similar reductions have been seen in Europe, China and India during Covid-19 lock-downs.

You can use the Covid-19 Earth Observing Dashboard to explore the environmental impacts of Covid-19 lock-downs for yourself. The map allows you to search for examples geographically. You can also use the 'indicators' menu to search for examples by environmental, agricultural and economic impacts.

Friday, June 26, 2020

How America Was Lost to Covid-19



The New York Times has published a damning story map which visualizes America's failure to stop the spread of Covid-19. In How the Virus Won the NYT shows how a few thousand cases of Covid-19 in February was over the next few months able to spread almost unchecked across the United States. Using animated flow maps the newspaper effectively shows how a lack of leadership and a failure to act quickly enough allowed Covid-19 to spread to all parts of the USA.

As you progress through the NYT's story map you can see the number of Covid-19 cases spreading across the country, while the NYT explains why the virus has not been contained. One of the major reasons why the USA has failed to 'flatten the curve' is that public officials have always been a few steps behind the outbreak. Mainly because they have been led by a President who has been determined to ignore the threat of the virus to people's lives.

Early on Donald Trump decided that he didn't want to disrupt the economy. For example in February the U.S. government told their citizens to continue traveling domestically and to continue with their normal lives. In How the Virus Won the NYT shows how the public did exactly that. Using mobile phone data the newspaper visualizes how millions of Americans moved around the country in the first two weeks of March. Many of them undoubtedly spreading coronavirus around the United States.

For example the NYT has used genetic samples to show how the virus spread from Seattle and New York to infect people across the United States. The NYT's conclusion is clear. If the United States had introduced lock-down and social distancing earlier '36,000 deaths nationwide could have been avoided'.

Mapping International Migration Flow



International Migrant Stock in 2019 is an interactive flow map showing the number of immigrants and emigrants moving into and out of countries around the world. The map also shows the countries where all those migrants moved to and from. The map uses data from the United Nations to show which countries immigrants in each country came from and where emigrants from each country moved to.

If you select a country from the drop-down menu you can view a flow map of migration into the country and a flow map showing where emigrants from the country moved to. For example if you choose the United States you can view scaled flow lines showing the countries where U.S. immigrants have come from. The biggest flow line is for Mexico. If you click on the flow line emanating from Mexico it is revealed that around 11.5 million Mexican immigrants live in the United States.

If you switch the map to show which countries people from America are moving to you find that again the thickest flow line is between the USA and Mexico. Around 632,000 people have moved from the United States to Mexico. At the bottom of both the immigration flow and emigration flow maps for each country you can view data on the total number of immigrants and emigrants. According to the map in 2019 2.91 million people from America were living abroad and the United States had 48 million people who had migrated there from other countries.

If you want to see the immigrant and emigrant flows for other countries just select a country name from the drop-down menu in the map sidebar.

The International Migrant Stock 2019 flow map was created with R and D3.js. You can learn a little more about how the globe was created on this Flow Globe blog post.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Exploring the Deepest Point on Earth



Challenger Deep is deep. Very Deep. Located in the Mariana Trench, Challenger Deep is the deepest known point in the Earth's seabed. But just How Deep is Challenger Deep?

John Nelson has the answer in this beautiful Esri story map which helps to explain the staggering depths of Challenger Deep. As you progress through this story map you will learn about the natural forces which created this huge depression deep beneath the Pacific Ocean. You will also learn about the kind of dark inhospitable conditions which exist at so many fathoms beneath the sea.

As is customary John Nelson's story map contains some beautiful cartography, liberally sprinkled with Nelson's own patented Firefly mapping technique and some interesting comparative illustrations.



To help convey the staggering depth of Challenger Deep Nelson uses a number of non-standardized units of measurement. This involves showing how many Everests, Manhattans or Grand Canyons deep the depression falls beneath the surface of the sea. To help illustrate these non-standardized units of measurement Nelson has stacked a number of Mount Everests one on top of the other and relocated the Burj Khalifa to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. All for a sense of scale - of course.

How Happy is the World?



People in the United States are sad. Of course emotions do vary depending on where you live in the United States. In Montana people are very sad, whereas in the neighboring states of Idaho people appear to be happy. At least that is according to the How is the World? interactive map.

How is the World is an interesting map which can tell you how people are feeling around the world. On this map countries are colored to show how the people in that country are feeling. Currently nearly 28% of the world are feeling sad and 20% are feeling happy.

Except of course they are not.

Like most of these sentiment analysis maps How is the World is complete nonsense. At the time of writing the global map is based on responses from 2,994 people. I'm no expert on sampling techniques but I suspect a 3,000 person response will not provide an accurate sample of a global population of around 7,713,468,000.

Now I am sad.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Amnesty's Video Map of Police Violence



Amnesty International says that there were at least 125 separate incidents of police violence against protesters between 26 May and 5 June. In response to what Amnesty reports as 'largely peaceful' Black Lives Matter protests the police have often used what appears to be disproportionate and indiscriminate force.

Amnesty report that the use of violence by the U.S. police has not only been severe but has also been widespread across the country. There have been violent attacks on protesters in at least 40 states. You can see where Amnesty International has reported incidents of police violence on their Incidents of Police Violence interactive map.

To compile this interactive map Amnesty International collected nearly 500 videos of the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States. These videos were then analysed by "investigators with expertise in weapons, police tactics, and international and US law governing the use of force". Where possible incidents of violence detected in the videos were confirmed through interviews with the victims and /or through police department statements.

You don't need to agree with Amnesty International's judgement on each video. The Amnesty International Police Violence map allows you to view the analyzed videos of police violence for yourself. You can therefore decide for yourself if the police violence in each incident was justified force or not.

YouTube Near You



YouTube GeoFind allows you to search YouTube videos by location. Using the GeoFind interactive map you can search for videos by location and see where each of the returned videos was shot on the very same map.

Being able to search for videos by location seems to be a great idea and on the face of it should provide really interesting results. However searching YouTube videos geographically often seems to provide disappointing results.

Over the years there have been a number of maps which allow you to search YouTube by location. None of these maps have ever seemed to have gained much traction or lasted very long. I think the main reason for this is that searching YouTube by location returns many videos which have no particular or local geographical interest.

For example I used GeoFind to search videos posted to YouTube in Manhattan. In the first ten results were videos on cooking spare ribs, make-up tutorials and how to make money on Facebook. These videos don't appear to have any real local interest and might as well have been shot anywhere in the world. In the first ten results only one video (about an NYC Justice Bike Ride) had what I would define as local interest. I think searching YouTube videos by their get-tags often provides really disappointing results. This is probably why no YouTube map has ever become a really successful app. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Is Your Country Democratic?



Every year Dalia Research surveys people around the world to compare people's attitudes towards democracy. The 2020 Democracy Perception Index is now out and provides some interesting insights into how people around the world perceive their own governments and the importance of democracy.

43% of people around the world say that their own government only serves a small group of people. On the map above countries are colored red to show where more than 50% of citizens think the government only serves a small minority. The countries colored green have more than 50% who disagree that their government only serves a small minority.

In the United States 52% of people think the government only serves a small group of people. The Vietnamese seem to have the most favorable view of their own government. In Vietnam only 12% think that their government only serves a small group of people.


Does the USA have a positive or negative influence on democracy?

The Democracy Perception Index also asked people around the world if the United States has a positive or negative influence on democracy around the world. Overall 44% say it has a positive influence and 38% say it has a negative influence. However what is striking is that most Western European countries and Canada & Australia all think that the USA has a negative influence of democracy.

What is also striking is that all the countries surveyed around the world think that it is likely a foreign power will influence the results of their next election. For example 55% of Americans think that the 2020 election will be influenced by a foreign power.

The Multilingual Map of the World



Country Names in Any Language is an interactive map which allows you to view an atlas of the world on which the country labels are written in the language of your choice.

Using the drop-down menu you can select from any language in the world to view a map on which the country name labels are displayed in the selected label. The country names for each language are fetched live from Wikidata and plotted on a Mapbox GL map.

Mabox GL has an option which allows map developers to present map labels in different labels (you can see it in action here). There is also the mapbox-gl-language plug-in which localizes the language of map labels to match the default language configured in the user's browser.

Country Names in Any Language only translates country names and doesn't translate other map labels (for example town and city names). If you use the mapbox-gl-language plug-in you can translate all the map labels to the language of your choice. However using the plug-in you are limited to only the language being used by the user's browser (and a limited number of Mapbox GL supported languages). Country Names in Any Language obviously has the advantage of allowing users to switch between different country names and to see how country names are written in any language of their choice.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Where Americans are Moving



Esri has used the latest American Community Survey to visualize where people are moving to and from in the United States. The Where are people moving? story map explores patterns of internal migration within the USA and shows you where in the country people moving into your neighborhood in the last year came from.

The visualizations include maps showing where most people moved from in each state and county. On these predominance maps parts of the United States are colored to show where new residents moved from in the past year. As you progress through the storymap patterns in the internal migration of Americans are highlighted on the map. For example many counties in Florida are colored grey showing that the majority of people moving in are Northeastern snowbirds and retirees moving to the warmth of the south.

Other patterns which are revealed by the maps are that 38% of new arrivals in California came from abroad and that Texas experienced inward migration from all areas of the United States and from abroad. As you can see in the screenshot above most inward migration actually consists of people moving within the same region of the USA.

At the end of the Where are people moving? story map is an interactive map which colors each census tract in the country to show where the most people moving into the tract in the last year moved from. This allows you to see where the majority of new residents in your neighborhood moved from.

Maps with Zealandia



The vast majority of the continent of Zealandia sank beneath the oceans around 23 million years ago. Originally Zealandia was part of the supercontinent Gondwana (along with South America, Antarctica, India, Australia, Arabia and Africa). Zealandia broke away from Gondwana between 83–79 million years ago. The vast majority of it now sits beneath the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea. Only the islands of New Zealand and New Caledonia remain above sea level.

It is only in the past decade that Zealandia has begun to be classified as a continent in its own right. You can now explore a number of interactive maps of Zealandia thanks to GNS Science’s Te Riu-a-Māui / Zealandia research programme (TRAMZ). Their new E Tūhura - Explore Zealandia mapping portal allows you view the whole of Zealandia - even the 94% of it which now lies at the bottom of the sea.

The interactive maps featured in E Tūhura, include a tectonic map (showing the plate and microplate boundaries of Zealandia), a bathymetry map (showing the shape of both solid land and the seabed) and a geoscience data map (featuring a number of different GIS map layers).



During the Early Permian period, Gondwana collided and joined with Euramerica (a paleocontinent made up of south Europe and North America) to create the super-continent Pangea. Pangea existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras, before it began to break apart about 175 million years ago. Of course there weren't any country borders on Pangea. However the land mass that was Zealandia would probably have been attached to what we now know as Australia

Pangaea Politica by Massimo Pietrobon is an interesting (if fanciful) map which overlays modern country borders on a map of Pangea. The map is at best a guesstimate of where modern countries might have been on Pangea. There are some obvious errors, for example the map includes the country of Iceland, a volcanic island which didn't exist when Pangea was around. However it is still good fun to imagine which modern countries might share borders today if Pangea had never broken apart.