Monday, November 23, 2020

Explore the World in 3D

Procedural GL JS is a JavaScript library for creating 3D WebGL maps. Using the library it is easy to make 3D maps for the web, which load very quickly and which are optimized for mobile devices.

If you want to explore the capabilities of Procedural GL JS then you should have a look at the demo map. The demo map is a fun way to explore the world in 3D and explore how different locations look when mapped in Procedural GL JS.

Procedural GL JS can be used with raster map tiles from any source. The 3D mapping library also supports map overlays, which means it easy to add markers, lines or polygon shapes (specified in GeoJSON) to your maps. You can get a good idea of the types of features supported by the overlay function using the Overlay Editor.

To learn more about the options available in Procedural GL JS you can also refer to the library's documentation.  

Procedural GL JS is built upon three.js. It is one of a number of WebGL mapping libraries built upon three.js. These libraries include:

  • - HERE's open source 3D web mapping library
  • three-geo - a JavaScript library to create small 3D terrain models
  • Gio.js - a JavaScript library for building 3D globes

The Turkey Who Voted for Thanksgiving

Donald Trump might not have won the election but he has turned the country red. If you look at just about any map of Covid-19 in the United States you will see it covered in red, showing a country being over-run by a deadly virus. That is some legacy for the outgoing president.

For example the Covid Exit Strategy is an interactive map which visualizes how well each state is doing in reducing the number of Coronavirus symptoms and cases. As you can see from the map above only the state of Hawaii is not currently witnessing the 'uncontrolled spread' of Covid-19. 

The map uses a simple color scale to show how each state is currently progressing towards reducing the spread of  the virus. The Covid Exit Strategy website also shows how each state is doing in terms of a number of key measures. These include the rates of testing & tracing, the 14 day trend in the number of positive cases and the occupation rate of ICU beds in each state.

Another way that you can assess thel risk from Covid-19 is to consult the Harvard Global Health Institute's 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 local 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 only five states are currently below the red level.

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.

If you are planning on attending or organizing an event in the USA then you might want to refer to the COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool. This interactive mapping tool can tell you the risk that someone with Covid-19 will be at an event, given the event's size and location.

Obviously the more people who attend an event then the larger the odds that there will be someone who has Covid-19. The Covid-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool allows you to select the number of people expected to attend an event (from 10 to 5,000). Once you select the estimated number of people attending the event counties on the map will be colored to show the risk level across the whole of the United States.

The Covid-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool doesn't only work for U.S. counties. You can also use the tool to discover the risk levels of someone attending an event being positive of Covid-19 in a number of different European countries.

In the UK we often use the simile "like a turkey voting for Christmas" to refer to someone who seems intent on contributing to their own downfall. The closest American translation for this idiom would probably be 'like a turkey voting for Thanksgiving". 

This week don't be the Turkey who voted for Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Meaning of City Names

Town Names is a new interactive map which explains the meaning of city and town names in the USA.

If you mouse-over a town or city name on the Town Names map you can learn how the town originally got its name.The 225 most populated towns and cities in the United States are shown on the map. The map also reveals the year when each of the cities was founded. You can use the year buttons (running down the left-hand side of the map) to filter the towns and cities shown on the map by year of foundation.

During my research for this map I learned that there are far fewer towns in the United States named for European towns and cities than I had previously thought. Many American towns and cities appear to be named for nearby or local natural features or for an individual (often someone important in early U.S. history). 

Lots of U.S.cities have changed names since their foundation. One very common reason for a name change appears to have been because of the U.S. Post Office. It appears when towns wanted to open a Post Office they were often told the post-office couldn't be named after the town - because a post-office with that name already existed. Many towns therefore changed their name to something more original so that the post-office could have the town name.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Mapping the Graveyard of the Atlantic

In May 1718 the pirate Blackbeard ran aground at Topsail Inlet (now known as Beaufort Inlet) on the coast of North Carolina. For nearly 300 years the ship, the Queen Anne'e Revenge, remained undisturbed on the sea bed, until its remains were discovered in 1996.

The location of Blackbeard's ship is just one of many shipwrecks which can be found on the Outer Banks Shipwrecks interactive map. Over 3,000 ships have been estimated to have been wrecked off the coast of the Outer Banks, a 120 mile long collection of barrier islands and spits, situated off the coast of North Carolina and southeastern Virginia.On the interactive map wrecks of identified ships are shown using the ship's name and the year when it was wrecked. Unidentified wrecks are shown on the map with a small blue dot.

Another well known ship shown on the map is the British tanker 'Mirlo'. On August 16 1918, during World War I, the Mirlo was hit by a German torpedo about 5 miles offshore of Rodanthe, North Carolina. Thanks to the heroic efforts of the crew of the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station forty-two people were saved from the burning tanker. 


You can view the locations of shipwrecks on the other side of the Atlantic on the Wreck Viewer interactive map.The Wreck Viewer shows the locations of 4,000 shipwrecks around the shores of Ireland, dating back as far as the 16th century. The map was created by Ireland's National Monuments Service (NMS) to help provide access to and visualize the NMS’s Wreck Inventory.

Each red dot on this map represents a wreck for which there is a known location. 78% of the wrecks in the Wreck Inventory have no known precise location. If you select a wreck on the map you can read the wreck description. This includes details on the ship name, type of vessel and the date the vessel sank. The details also contain (where available) the wreck summary description which provides details on the vessel's history, voyage, cargo, passengers and the story of its loss. At present only 20% of ships in the database have a summary description.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Growing on Urban Heat Islands

Urban heat islands are areas of towns and cities which can become unbearably hot, especially on days with extreme heat. These areas can often become 10-20 degrees warmer than other areas in the very same city. These urban heat islands tend to occur in areas with the densest built environments and with the most roads. 

Urban heat islands are largely a result of un-shaded roads and buildings absorbing heat and then radiating it out to their surroundings. The dark surfaces of roads and built materials, such as bricks and concrete, absorb more heat than grass and vegetation. The coolest places are usually is parks and on streets with lots of tree cover. Which is why the densest built areas tend to be significantly warmer than areas which have lots of tree cover or parks.

One of the best ways to prevent urban heat islands is to provide more tree canopy cover - to create natural shade. Planting more trees in urban environments not only helps to reduce street-level temperatures, they can contribute to a better quality of life and can make neighborhoods more attractive places to live.

Google's new Tree Canopy Lab is an interactive map which visualizes tree canopy cover in the city of Los Angeles. The map is designed to show the current tree canopy coverage in the city and to help identify where new tree planting efforts are most needed. The map allows you to see the level of tree canopy coverage in different neighborhoods in the city alongside demographic data, such as population density. Using the map it is therefore possible to quickly identify where the most people are likely to be living in urban heat islands and where new tree canopy cover is most needed. 

The New York Times has mapped out how racist housing segregation in the United States, dating back to the Home Owners' Loan Corporation's Redlining maps, is a major contributory factor to the location of urban heat islands in towns and cities across the country. 

In How Decades of Racist Housing Policy Left Neighborhoods Sweltering the New York Times has created a story map which shows how across the United States neighborhoods which were redlined are usually the hottest parts of towns. Conversely neighborhoods which weren't redlined tend to be the coolest areas. The reason for this is that redlined neighborhoods have largely remained areas of deprivation and tend to have fewer trees and a  more densely built urban environment. Non-redlined neighborhoods have remained mostly more affluent and are therefore more likely to have lots of parks and lots of tree cover.

In August 2018 NOAA ran a citizen science project in Washington D.C. and in Baltimore to discover which part of those cities were effected by urban heat islands. You can see the results of this study on NOAA's Detailed maps of urban heat island effects in Washington, DC, and Baltimore.

The detailed maps produced by NOAA show that the hottest areas in both cities are the areas with the densest built environment and the most roads. The coolest places in both cities are in parks or in other areas with lots of tree cover. 

Guess who lives in areas with parks and trees and guess who lives in densely built areas with lots of bricks and concrete. That's right the hottest areas in cities tend to be the areas where the poorest residents live, while the richest residents can afford to live in the coolest areas with lots of parks and trees. You can observe this pattern in cities across the USA using NPR's interactive heat island maps.

In As Rising Heat Bakes U.S. Cities, The Poor Often Feel It Most NPR has published an interactive tool which allows you to view heat island maps of US cities side-by-side with a map of income levels. Using this comparative tool you can directly see if there is any correlation between high surface temperatures in a city and the level of income. When you select a city the tool even tells you directly if there is a strong, moderate or weak link between surface temperatures in the city and where different income groups live.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Map Your Geotagged Photos

Mapipedia is a new interactive map which can help you map and share your geotagged photos. The platform allows you to upload a series of photos, show the location of each image on a map and show when each photo was taken. The application then creates a slideshow of your photographs, showing you when and where each picture was taken.

You can see Mapipedia in action on this demo map. On this demo map you can see how you the slideshow works and how you can navigate through the displayed photographs by date, location or by photo thumbnail. The demo map also includes links to other photo slideshows mapped using Mapipedia.

If you want to create your own mapped photo slideshow with Mapipedia then you might want to refer to the documentation. The documentation explains how to upload your photos from your computer or import photos from Apple iCloud, Google Photos, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox and Flickr.

Mapipedia includes a number of different pricing packages. The free option allows you to upload 100 photos. With the free option your created map will only exist for 30 days. If you subscribe to one of the paid options then you can upload more photographs and your created maps won't be deleted after 30 days.

Creating a 3D Point Cloud of the World

Pixel8 is using crowd-sourced photography to create a 3D map of the world. Using 3D point cloud data captured from mobile phones, combined with imagery from satellites, planes and drones Pixel 8 is able to quickly map any geographical area.

Pixel8 has released a demo 3D map of Boulder which shows what is possible with its mapping approach. To create the map a small group of volunteers used a custom mobile app to capture photography of downtown Boulder. The demo map was created from photographs taken during just one afternoon. The 3D models, which were created from mobile phone captured photos, are then combined with other imagery captured by satellites, planes and drones, to create a detailed map. The Boulder map also uses locally sourced LIDAR data.

By combining crowd-sourced and volunteer photography with existing imagery from other sources Pixel8 is developing a mapping platform that can quickly build 3D models and maps to scale. The Pixel8 explore page includes a number of other mapping projects which you can explore, including point cloud models created in Austin, Texas and Washington D.C..

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Coronavirus - Spinning Out of Control

It isn't often that you get to see a new method of visualizing data. Which is probably why I like Benjamin Schmidt's Spinning Out of Control so much. 

Benjamin's new interactive map uses data from the New York Times to show the rate of Coronavirus in U.S. counties over time. The map is not by any stretch of the imagination the first map to show the growth of Coronavirus in the United States during the course of this year. However it is the first map I have seen which rotates geographical areas to visualize rates of infection over time. 

Individual counties on the Spinnig Out of Control interactive map are rotated over time to show the rate of change in the number of Coronavirus cases over the previous two weeks. The size of the counties shows whether the number of cases has increased or decreased. The effect of this rotation helps to identify areas in the country where there has been a sudden change in the rate of infection. The size of the counties identifies whether these changes have been increases or decreases in the number of cases.

Rotating the counties and adjusting their size is an interesting way to visualize the rate of Coronavirus infections over time. The animated effect also helps to emphasize the fact that the virus is a living entity which is spreading across the country. The movement on the map really creates an organic effect. Hopefully it will encourage more people to practice social distancing and to wear masks.

Nightlights & Access to Electricity

The World Bank has released the Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2020. The atlas includes a plethora of data visualizations exploring and explaining the global status of 17 different SDG's, including levels of global poverty, educational levels, gender equality and access to clean water. 

As part of the Affordable and Clean Energy sustainable development goal the World Bank is using nightlight satellite imagery to visualize access to electricity. Using an interactive globe you can choose two locations around the world to view a direct comparison of the level of nightlight activity at both locations. 

For example the screenshot above shows (on the left) nightlights in a 150 km radius around Washington, D.C. and (on the right) nightlight activity in a a 150 km radius around Katakwi, Uganda.Both locations have roughly the same population but, as you can see, there is far less access to electricity in Katakwi than in Washington D.C.. 

The use of nightlight imagery is a neat way to visualize access to electricity in different locations across the world. However this is just one of many data visualizations in the Atlas. There are many other data visualizations in every one of the 17 sustainable development goals in the World Bank's Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2020.

Monday, November 16, 2020

The Karl the Fog Tracker

San Francisco is well known for its frequent fog. In fact San Franciscans are so familiar with this weather phenomenon that they are on first name terms with their local atmospheric weather anomaly.

The reason that San Francisco sees so much fog, especially in the summer, is that big expanse of water called the Pacific. The cold ocean waters of the Pacific cools the warm air above. When this warm air cools the moisture condenses - creating fog. In the mornings the sun begins to heat the land. This hot air rises and the cooled foggy air over the Pacific is sucked inland. As the day progresses the sun heats the air and San Francisco's fog is (usually) burned off during the course of the morning and afternoon.

You can view the latest fog conditions using the Bay Area Fog Tracker. The San Francisco Chronicle's Bay Area Fog Tracker is an interactive map which visualizes the current fog and cloud conditions in San Francisco. The interactive map allows you to view a 12 hour loop of cloud and fog conditions in the Bay Area. It also includes details on the current amount of cloud cover, the height of the cloud ceiling and the current visibility (in miles).

You can see the daily pattern of San Francisco's fog very clearly on Fogust, an interactive map visualizing San Francisco's fog by time of day (and by month). The map uses historical data from NOAA's GOES-15 to provide a visual guide to the historical levels of fog experienced during different months and over the course of a typical day.

The map has three buttons for each month of the year. According to the map July and August are the foggiest months. If you switch between the 10 am, 12 pm and 4 pm buttons in July then you can observe the process described above, as the the fog forms over the Pacific, rolls inland and then gets burned off in the afternoon.

The Island of Fiction

The Island of Fiction is an interactive map of a fictional island. On this Island of Fiction there are five states, 'Crime', 'Horror', 'Science-Fiction', 'Romance' and 'Fantasy'. In each of these five states are a number of cities, each of which is named for a best-selling author, who has written within that genre.

The idea for the Island of Fiction came from an Alan Levine article on using fantasy maps, generated by Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator, as the base map layer in a Leaflet.js interactive map. Essentially Alan's article explains how you can use the Fantasy Map Generator to create a fictional blank map which you can then use as the basis of an interactive concept map.

Using the Leaflet mapping library you can add markers and place-name labels to your fantasy map to create a map of any concept that you desire. Using the options in the Fantasy Map Generator I created a map with five states. In Leaflet I used the tool-tip tool to add place-name labels to these five states, naming each one for a fictional genre. I then used smaller place-name labels to name cities within each of these states, for famous authors who have published works of fiction within each genre.

My Island of Fiction was created in a couple of hours for the #30DayMapChallenge. With a little more work I think this could be a very interesting map. For example, I could add more authors to the map - so that as you zoom-in on a genre the names of more writers appear on the map. I could also make each author's name interactive - so that if you clicked on an author's name you could view a photo, biography and a list of their major works.

This concept can of course be used in many different contexts. I am sure there are thousands of different concept maps which could be created using Azgaar's Fantasy Map Generator in conjunction with an interactive mapping library.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Viewing Paintings as Interactive Maps

Over the last few months Jason Farago of the New York Times has released a number of detailed critiques of individual works of art. These detailed examinations have displayed a number of works of art using the techniques originally developed for displaying interactive online maps. 

Interactive raster maps, such as the early Google Maps, use large images which are cut up into much smaller individual map tiles. When you zoom in on one or more of these map tiles a more detailed map image is loaded, which is in turn divided into many smaller individual map tiles. When you pan left or right, the appropriate map tiles (based on the location you are viewing) are loaded into your map view.

This is the same process which is now being used by the NYT to create interactive paintings. These paintings are being divided into image tiles which can be loaded into view as you pan left and right around the painting. And, as you zoom in on a detail of the painting, higher resolution tiles of the painting can also be loaded into view.

You can see how this works in the NYT's A Picture of Change for a World in Constant Motion. In this exploration of Katsushika Hokusai's "Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji" Jason Farago uses the navigation techniques developed for interactive map to create interactive paintings which you can pan around and zoom-in on to view images in more detail. 

Farago's critique of Hokusai's famous woodblock prints also uses the techniques of the story map - to create a guided tour of the individual images in Hokusai's collection of views. As you scroll through Farago's critique the interactive paintings automatically pan and zoom to show the details which Farago wants to draw your attention to.

A Picture of Change for a World in Constant Motion is just one of a series of these interactive art critiques which the New York Times has released this year. You might also like Seeing Our Own Reflection in the Birth of the Self-Portrait, a detailed examination of an Albrecht Dürer self portrait, painted in 1500 and Taking Lessons From a Bloody Masterpiece, a great scrollytelling crtique of Thomas Eakins' painting 'The Gross Clinic'.

If you are familiar with the Leaflet.js mapping library then you can also create your own interactive painting critiques - using image tiles from paintings instead of the usual map tiles. Museums and art galleries around the world use the iiif format to present artworks as zoomable images. This means that for many works of art, if they have a iiif manifest, you don't even have to create the image map tiles for yourself.

The fantastic leaflet-iiif plugin allows you to seamlessly use iiif manifests with the Leaflet mapping platform.This means that you can quickly turn any painting with a iiif manifest into an interactive Leaflet map. You can view a demo of this in action on my own The Drawing Lesson critique. In this scrollytelling examination of Jan Steen's painting (depicting an artist teaching two young pupils how to draw) I have used the Leaflet mapping library to take a close detailed look at Steen's 17th century Dutch masterpiece.

If, like me, you find it easiest working from other people's code then you can clone my The Drawing Lesson interactive on its Glitch page. To start hacking my interactive painting look for the iiif manifest URL in the JavaScript code and try replacing it with the manifest for another painting or image.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

How Many Countries Do You Know?

Map Quiz is a map based quiz which requires you to name as many countries as you can when they are shown to you on an interactive map.

In this map based game you need to name the correct country displayed from a multiple-choice list of four countries. The game is made a little more difficult than it first appears by using Mapbox's bearing option to rotate the map. This means that each country is shown without north being at the top. Most of us are used to seeing countries mapped with north at the top of the map - so rotating a country's orientation on the map can make it a little harder to recognize and identify the country. 

After you have submitted your answer to a question the correct name of the country is revealed. You are also shown information on the country's official language(s), its coat of arms & its flag, and can even listen to a recording of its national anthem.

Map Quiz is another fun map quiz which was created using the popular planemad-mapquiz template developed for the Mapbox platform. This template was also used for the similar Can You Guess the Country map quiz game.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Covid Event Risk Map

If you are planning on attending or organizing an event in the USA then you might want to refer to the COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool. This interactive mapping tool can tell you the risk that someone with Covid-19 will be at an event, given the event's size and location.

Let's say for the sake of argument that you've been invited to a large family dinner on the 26th November in Norton County, Kansas. If there are ten family members at that dinner then there is a 94% chance that at least one person at the dinner will be Covid-19 positive. 

Obviously the more people who attend an event then the larger the odds that there will be someone who has Covid-19. The Covid-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool allows you to select the number of people expected to attend an event (from 10 to 5,000). Once you select the estimated number of people attending the event counties on the map will be colored to show the risk level in each county.

The Covid-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool doesn't only work for U.S. counties. You can also use the tool to discover the risk levels of someone attending an event being positive of Covid-19 in a number of different European countries. 

The only way to guarantee a 0% percent chance of catching Covid-19 is by not attending any events.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020


Terradactile is an interactive map which can be used for generating and downloading hillshade and Digital Elevation Model data for any area of the Earth.

To visualize and/or download the hillshade or DEM for an area simply draw a bounding box around it on the Terradactile interactive map. Terradactile will then show you either the DEM or hillshade data for the selected area. Either of which you can then download.

The hillshade and DEM data comes from Mapzen's AWS Terrain Tiles. The AWS Terrain Tiles consist of thousands of digital elevation model data sources from around the globe. When you have visualized the hillshade or DEM data you can download and save your hillshade or DEM as a Cloud Optimized Geotiff (COG).

This is Home

A map of the United States is a map of 124 million homes. Each one of those homes has countless stories to be told. Maps of Home is just one of those stories - brilliantly told and illustrated by Dylan Moriarty. 

As you scroll through Maps of Home an interactive map zooms in on Janesville, Wisconsin. As you zoom in on the town you enter into a wonderful illustration. A drawing which recounts scenes from Dylan's childhood. This is not just an ordinary map of Janesville but a map colored by the childhood memories of someone for whom it was home.As you continue scrolling the map pans around this illustration of Dylan's childhood, recounting significant episodes in his early life in Janesville. 

At the end of this personal journey the map zooms back out to encompass the whole world. Emphasizing the 7.7 billion homes around the world. Each with their very own personal stories.

Maps of Home was made with the help of Mapbox GL. If you want to create your own scrollytelling story with Mapbox then you should have a look at the interactive Mapbox Scrollytelling Template.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

American Time Travel

In 1890 if you wanted to travel from New York City to Ferry County in Washington the journey would take you over three weeks by train. I discovered this little piece of information using Michael Weaver's wonderful Travel Time Between Counties:1880 and 1900 interactive map.

If you click on the Travel Time Between Counties map then you can view an isochrone map showing how long it would take to travel from that location to every over location in the United States by rail in 1890 or 1900. The colors on this isochrone layer show how many days it would take to travel county to county within the country by train. The map includes the option to change the travel times shown between either 1890 or 1900. 

In 1900 the travel time between New York and Ferry County had been reduced by over two weeks, to just 5.3 days. 

The data for the Travel Time Between Counties map comes from Fernando Pérez-Cervantes's analysis of travel times between every pair of U.S. counties for every year between 1840 and 1900. This analysis is based on the available railroad lines in 1890 and 1900 and uses an algorithm to find the optimal travel times between any two counties.

Before & After the Berlin Wall

31 years ago, on November 9th 1989, the Berlin Wall was finally pulled down, bringing to an end the division between East and West Germany. The wall has now almost completely disappeared from Berlin's cityscape. The Berliner Morgenpost has therefore decided to create a little reminder of the Berlin Wall with an interactive map featuring a number of before and after photographs.

Berlin With & Without the Wall is an interactive map which combines two different aerial image maps of Berlin. One of these maps is made from aerial imagery from 1989 and the other map uses aerial imagery from 2019. The course of the wall is highlighted in blue on top of this aerial imagery. If you zoom in on a section of the wall you can swipe between the two maps to view Berlin with and without the wall. 

A number of numbered map markers are dotted around the circumference of the wall. These markers indicate the locations of the Berliner Morgenpost's before and after photographs of the Berlin Wall. These comparisons use vintage photographs of the Berlin with contemporary photographs of the same scene today. Using the swipe control you can switch between the before and after views.

30 years ago, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, East and West Germany was reunified and became one country again. Back in 1991 there were large differences in the average incomes and life expectancy of people living in the former East and West Germany. After 30 years of reunification many of these economic and demographic differences have disappeared. However some of the inequalities between the two areas have proved more persistent.

The national German Mapping Agency and the Institute for Population Research has released 30 Years of German Unity & Diversity, which maps the demographic and economic developments in Germany since reunification. Using a series of interactive maps 30 Years of German Unity and Diversity visualizes a number of different demographic and economic metrics. 

These maps reveal that the differences in life expectancy between East and West 30 years ago have now largely disappeared. Immediately after reunification there was a relatively large flow of young Germans moving from East to West Germany. 30 years later the movements of young people between West and East has also more or less equalized.

Monday, November 09, 2020

Mapping Aboriginal Languages

The 50 Words Project is a new interactive online map which allows you to listen to and learn words in more than 60 Australian Aboriginal languages. The map, created by the University of Melbourne's Research Unit for Indigenous Language, includes sound recordings of First Nations languages from across the Australian continent.

On the 50 Words Project interactive map the 60 First Nations languages for which the project has sound recordings are labelled in brown. Click on a brown labelled language and you can listen to actual sound recordings of 50 different words spoken in the selected language.

As you can see from the many uncolored labels on the map there are still numerous First Nations languages which the project does not have recordings for. The map includes contact details to get in touch with the project if you can speak any of the currently unrecorded languages.

If you are interested in Aboriginal languages then you might also like the Weemala map. This interactive map uses data from historical surveys undertaken by the Royal Anthropological Society of Australasia to map First Nations place-names. This 100 year-old survey data includes information on Aboriginal place-names their locations and their meaning.

The Weemala map allows you to browse the surveys and letters of the Anthropological Society of Australasia Survey. Each time you open a survey page or letter in Weemala any indigenous place-names in the text are also geo-located on a Leaflet map. If you click on any of the locations marked on the map you can find out the aboriginal place-name's meaning in English.

The Purple States of America

The creators of the Purple States of America interactive map believe that traditional election maps paint a distorted picture of a polarized America. These traditional maps show the country divided into red and blue states. However there are no states in the USA where everybody votes Democrat or Republican. All states have both Democratic and Republican voters.

The Purple States of America map is an attempt to create a less polarized map of the USA. It uses proportional shades of purple to show that the United States is less polarized than the perception given by more traditional election maps. On this map states with more Democratic voters have bluer shades of purple, and states where more people voted Republican have redder shades of purple.

In its very limited purpose of showing a less polarized country then the Purple States of America map is very successful. Unfortunately however the main purpose of elections maps (in a winner takes all electoral system) is to show the winners in each electoral area.If you really want to fix the perception of polarization in the United States you don't need purple maps - you need Proportional Representation

The real problem with many U.S. election maps has been that traditionally they tend to overstate the popularity of the party which wins the huge rural counties with low population densities (Republican), and under-represent the popularity of the party which wins the smaller urban areas with bigger populations (Democrats). However this problem has been addressed during this election through the widespread use of cartograms and proportional symbols. Some examples of these different types of election maps can be seen in The New York Times's Presidential Election Results 2020, the Washington Post's Election 2020 Live Results and in Bloomberg's 2020 Presidential Election Results.

The Atlas of the Underworld

The Atlas of the Underworld is an interactive map with a difference. While most maps are designed to help you navigate above ground the Atlas of the Underworld enables you to discover what lies beneath your feet, in the Earth's mantle. 

The mantle makes up about 67% of our planet's mass. The Atlas of the Underworld maps the Earth’s upper and lower mantle, showing the location of all subducted slabs, organized by age, depth, and name.

The interactive Atlas of the Underworld includes a slide control which allows you to set the depth of the tomography slice of the mantle shown.The markers on the map show the location of the all slabs shown in the current map view. If you click on these markers you can view more information on the selected anomaly, view vertical and horizontal cross sections of the anomaly and view more information about the slab's location and depth. 

If you are interested in learning more about the world beneath your feet then you might also enjoy these Interactive Geological Maps.

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Mapping the Democrat Swing

Before the U.S. Presidential election most pollsters were predicting a sizeable swing towards the Democrats. Although Biden looks to have won the Presidency it is clear that there was no huge blue wave in this election.

The Washington Post has released a really interesting animated map which visualizes where in the country the vote swung to the left and where it swung to the right. The Post's The Political Winds in the U.S. are Swirling uses animated flow lines to show the swing in the votes in this election.  Using animated flow lines (as made popular by animated wind maps such as earth::) the Post visualizes the change in the vote margin across the United States.

The areas which saw the biggest blue swings are found in medium sized cities and suburbs. The biggest red swings are in the southern most points of the country, in the southern tip of Texas and southern Florida.

You can also see this big swing towards Trump in southern Texas and Florida on the New York Time's 'Shift from 2016' map. The New York Times's Presidential Election Results 2020 includes a swing map which shows where votes have swung left and right since the 2016 election. 

The Times map also shows a huge swing to the Republican candidate in Utah, which doesn't seem to appear on the Post's map. The swings towards Trump in these areas are much bigger than the swings towards Biden in other areas of the country. However Biden has managed to pick up enough smaller swings across the whole country (particularly in suburbs and cities) to apparently win the Presidency.

Friday, November 06, 2020

The National Flooding Dashboard

The USGS has released a new interactive map which provides real-time information about water levels, weather and flood forecasts. The new National Water Dashboard can provide critical real-time information to the public during flood events. 

The new USGS map is designed to be a one-stop resource for accessing all USGS water data. The map includes data from 13,000 monitoring stations across the United States measuring stream, lake, reservoir and groundwater conditions. It also provides real-time information on rainfall levels and tidal conditions. If you turn on the map's Weather Conditions layer you can view data on recent rainfall, rainfall forecasts, snow depths and drought conditions. Select the Watches section in the Weather Conditions layer and you can view all the areas in the USA which currently have a Flood Advisory warning.

The National Water Dashboard interactive can also be used by local emergency managers during critical flood conditions. It can help them to decide when and where to issue flood & evacuation warnings and help them to establish safe evacuation routes and emergency response efforts.Conversely during droughts the National Water Dashboard can be used to help monitor and manage scarce water supplies.

Red, Blue, Green & Yellow Towns

Today's #30DayMapChallenge is to use the color red in a map. Yesterday the challenge was to use the color blue. Tomorrow the challenge is to use green and the day after it is to use yellow. I've decided to cheat by creating just one map for all four days. My Red Towns interactive map shows all the towns and cities in the USA with the colors red, blue, green or yellow in their names.

My map isn't very interesting. However it is a neat example of the power of importing and styling your own data in Mapbox Studio. This ability to add and style your own place-name labels in Mapbox Studio was used very effectively last year in The Pudding's A People Map of the USA.

To get the data for my map I ran searches in Overpass Turbo for towns and cities including the letters 'red', 'blue', 'green' or 'yellow'. I then downloaded the results as a GeoJSON file and uploaded it to Mapbox Studio to create a new data tileset. I then added this tileset to a new Mapbox map style. In Mapbox Studio I turned off all the other place-name labels and styled my new tileset so that all my place-name labels are colored to reflect the color in the name of the town or city.

As you can see from the map Green is the most popular color used in U.S. place-names. Red is the next most popular color and then blue. My search for yellow towns and cities returned just one result, the town of West Yellowstone.

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Russia's Secret Invasion Maps

London's East End showing the strategically important docks

During the Cold War the Soviet Union carried out a huge secret project to create detailed military maps of the west.From the 1940's right up until the 1990's the Soviet military worked on mapping the whole world in very fine detail.

The most detailed 'city' maps include street names, the locations of factories, important public buildings and transport networks. Information that might prove very useful to Soviet Spies and any invading communist armies.

You can explore a huge number of these maps on this OpenTiles Soviet Military Maps interactive. On this interactive map you can zoom in and explore thousands of Soviet military maps of Europe, the Middle East and large parts of Asia. The Soviet military created their maps at many different scales. You can use the map layer control to switch between the maps produced at the various different scales. 

You can view some of the Soviet military maps created for U.S. cities (and the rest of the world) on GeaMap's Soviet Military Mapping of the World.This map can be a little confusing to navigate as map tiles disappear at some zoom levels. Red circles or squares show where there are Soviet military maps to view. You may have to zoom in very closely on a city before the Soviet Military map appears.

John Davies has written an interesting article on the Soviet military maps for the British Library. Soviet Military Mapping of the Cold War Era includes more information about the composition of the Soviet military maps, the cities mapped and some informed speculation on how these maps were made.

You might also be interested in exploring Germany's Secret Invasion Maps of Britain

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

World Bank Maps

The World Bank Maps interactive mapping portal is a way to explore World Bank projects across the world. The map also provides access to a huge range of infrastructure data for countries around the globe. This includes data on transport, energy and digital networks.

The World Bank's interactive map includes three main visualization sections which allow you to explore World Bank financed projects by region, country, and by area of interest. These three main sections are: Projects, Locations and Datasets. The Projects section allows you to explore World Bank projects in different countries around the world. The Locations section similarly allows you to see where the World Bank is currently working across the globe. The Datasets section includes over a 1000 different datasets relating to World Bank Projects.

Alongside this visualization of World Bank Projects the map allows you to explore infrastructure networks around the world related to internet traffic, transportation and energy. There are a number of different datasets to explore in this section. For example data on all the airports around the world, marine traffic and railway passenger volumes in countries across the world. In the 'energy' networks section you can view data on nuclear power stations, and coal, gas and oil powered plants.

2020 U.S. Election Maps

The New York Times's Presidential Election Results 2020 is using a cartogram map to show the number of electoral votes won by Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

On the NYT map each state is made up of a number of squares which equates to the state's number of electoral votes. The NYT has also included a proportional symbol map using circles colored to show the leading candidate in each county. These circles are sized to reflect the candidate's lead.A third map has an arrow shift view, which visualizes the shift in the numbers voting for the Republican or Democratic candidate since 2016.

The Bloomberg 2020 Presidential Election Results map also uses a cartogram view. On this cartogram map each state is represented by a number of squares. The number of squares equates to the number of electoral college votes each state has. For example Alabama is made up of nine squares on the map because it has nine electoral college votes.

The Bloomberg election results map includes a more traditional map view - where each state is colored to reflect the winning candidate. The Bloomberg 2020 Presidential Election Results also allows you to view the latest results for the senate, house and governors elections.

The Washington Post's Election 2020 Live Results site is using a traditional geographical map to show the latest votes in the election. The newspaper is using colored lines to show those states where the final result seems to be still in contention. If you hover over a state on the map you can view the number of electoral votes the state has and both the number of votes counted for each candidate and the percentage of the votes counted.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

These are the Battleground States

You can take your pick of maps which can show you which states you need to watch out for in the 2020 U.S. Presidential election. My pick is the Economist's Forecasting the US Elections map.

Forecasting the US Elections uses a range of polling, economic and demographic data to forecast who is likely to emerge victorious in today's US Election. The Economist's final prediction is that Biden has a 97% chance of winning the electoral college vote. That is a hugely favorable prediction for Biden.

Alongside this forecast of the result the Economist has created an interactive map which highlights which are the battleground states in this election. This map shows the win probability in each state, using colored circles to show which candidate is most likely to win. The size of the circles indicate how many electoral college votes the state has and the strength of the color shows the degree of probability that the state will be won by the predicted candidate.

According to The Economist map Ohio, Georgia and Iowa are the states which are too close to call going into election day. Elsewhere in the article The Economist identifies Pennsylvania and Florida as being two key states in this election. If Biden wins Florida then Trump is likely to be in big trouble. On the other hand if Trump retains Pennsylvania then it is Biden who will probably be most worried.

Rome Church Orientations

Today's #30DayMapChallenge is to create a map with polygons. My Church Orientations map displays Roman churches as extruded polygons. The compass rose on the map also visualizes the orientation of all the churches in the map view.

Since the 8th Century churches have tended to be built facing towards the east. The main focus of a church, the alter, is placed at the east end of the church, often in an apse. The major entrance to the church is often placed at the west end. In fact the word 'orientation' actually comes from the practice of constructing buildings to face the east. Building a church the other way around, with the entrance at the east and the apse at the western end, is called 'occidentation'.

When early Christians prayed they would face towards the east. Hence the tradition of building churches with the alter towards the east. One theory for why Christians pray towards the east is that the beginnings of the organized church was in Europe and worshipers were praying in the direction of Jerusalem. Another theory for why churches face east is because they have been aligned to where the sun rises on each church's saint day.

My Church Orientations map uses the building footprints (the lines which define the outline of the churches) for the compass rose. In other words the compass rose shows the orientation of all the church walls (in the current map view).

I obtained the building outlines for Rome's churches using this Overpass Turbo query. The compass rose code I stole from Vladimir Agafonkin's amazing Street Orientations map.

Monday, November 02, 2020

The Hashtag Election

I have a theory that Donald Trump doesn't really want to be President. What he really wants is more Twitter followers. If you have been following his campaign during this election then you can't have failed to notice that nothing he says is designed to win votes. In fact nearly everything he says is designed to generate angry responses on social media.

And it is working. Donald Trump is beating Joe Biden hands down in the hashtag election. Enter '#trump' and '#biden' into the #onemilliontweetmap and you can view an interactive map of everywhere around the world where people are tweeting about the President and his challenger. 

Notably Donald Trump is mentioned more on Twitter just about everywhere in the world. 

Of course you don't have to search for Trump on #onemilliontweetmap. You can in fact enter any hashtag into the map to see the geographical distribution of it being tweeted around the world. The map shows the last 24 hours worth of geo-tagged tweets for your search term. The map also shows you people tweeting your search term in real-time. 

The Omnisci Tweetmap also allows you to search for the geographical and temporal distribution of words used in Twitter messages around the world.

Using the map you can search for any term used on Twitter and view where the word has been tweeted across the planet. For example you can enter the word 'Trump' and view a dot map of all the locations where people have been tweeting the word Trump. You also have the option to switch from a dot map to a choropleth map view.

Running along the bottom of the map is a line graph which displays the volume of tweets for the searched word over time. This timeline is interactive and allows you to search within a specified set of dates. If you click on the individual dots on the map you can read the Twitter message which contains your searched word. You can also select 'Tweets' in the map sidebar to view a stream of tweets containing the word. Underneath the map is a breakdown of the number of tweets made in different languages for your entered search term.

Neon Lines

The 30 Day Map Challenge started yesterday. Lots of the maps I saw for yesterday's 'points' theme used John Nelson's firefly mapping style to create 'glowing' points.

Today's challenge is to create a map with lines. I decided that it might be an interesting idea to use the 'firefly' style to add some glowing animated lines on a map. Here is the result - Neon Snake. Press the button on this map and you should see a neon line snake its way across the map.

Neon Snake uses the Leaflet.Polyline.SnakeAnim plug-in for Leaflet maps. I actually don't much like the neon animated polyline effect that I've created here and I can't see myself using it in a proper map project. Which is of course no fault of Ivan Sanchez's brilliant animated polyline plug-in. 

I used Ivan's plug-in to better effect on my History of the London Underground animated map visualizing the first 40 years of the London Tube. Unfortunately I made this map last year so it would probably be cheating to use this as my entry into the #30DayMapChallenge.