Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Interactive Map of Unobtrusive Design


Ongesigneerd (translation: 'Unsigned') is a podcast about unobtrusive design by Dutch broadcasters VPRO. To accompany the new season of the podcast VPRO has released the Ongesigneerd Interactive Map.

In the podcast series broadcasters Tjitske Mussche and Laura Stek discuss the design of everyday objects that we find in the world around us. The interactive map presents a hand-drawn city scene, which has been made interactive using the Leaflet.js mapping platform.

You can use the map to navigate to and listen to different episodes of the new season of the Ongesigneerd podcast. The links to the podcast episodes can be found by hovering over the colored parts of the city scene. The colored-in objects are related to the subject of each podcast. For example, if you hover over the zoo on the map you get a link to episode 12 of the series which discusses how the design of animal enclosures must meet the needs of both the animals and the zoo's visitors.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tsunami Travel Times


A tsunami that started off the coast of Japan would take about ten hours to cross the Pacific Ocean before it hit the coast of Los Angeles.

You can find out out the estimated travel times of tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean using NOAA's Estimated Tsunami Travel Times map. The map displays pre-computed tsunami travel times. NOAA haven't provided a lot of information about how the travel times were estimated, except to say that the model uses Huygen's principle and bathymetry data.


The Tsunami Mapper makes use of the Google Maps elevation service and a flood fill algorithm to display the likely effects of a tsunami hitting the shore anywhere in the world.

The map allows you to enter a location and then set the parameters of a possible tsunami. These include the wave height, the direction of the wave and the tsunami starting point. The map will then display the areas that are likely to be effected by water damage if such a tsunami hit your location.

Predicting the travel times, height and effect of tsunamis is an inexact science and there are of course lots of complex variables at play that can't be predicted. Therefore both these maps are intended only as a general guide. Go to NOAA's Tsunami Warning System for real-time tsunami information.

The Geography of Hip-Hop


The Geography of Hip-Hop is an interactive map documenting the history and geography of hip-hop. The map (and accompanying essay) explore how hip-hop has spread around the world and how different cites have developed their own distinct sounds and styles of hip-hop.

The interactive hip-hop map allows you to browse and listen to hip-hop music by location. The map features 955 songs, most of which you can listen to directly from the map. The size of the markers on the map reflects the number of artists featured from that location. In this way you can get a rough idea about the size of the hip-hop communities in these different urban locations.

By listening to the songs listed in one city you may begin to get a feel for the sound and style of hip-hop from that location. You can learn more about the development of hip-hop in the accompanying essay, The Syncopated Geography of Hip-Hop. The essay explores the influence of geography on the communities & local styles and how hip-hop music reflects the influence of the different urban locales where it is made.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

This Town was Named for You


Many places around the world have decided to celebrate your life by naming roads, neighborhoods and towns in your honor. You can discover all the wonderful locations which now bear your name using the Where the Streets Have Your Name map.

Where the Streets Have Your Name is a great application that you can use to create a Google Map showing all the places around the world that have your name. Just enter a name into the search box, press 'Map it!' and a map will display towns, parks, rivers and other locations which share your name.

You can also use How Many Places Are Named ... to view an interactive map showing all the places named after you. You can use the map to search your own name but you can also use it to search for locations around the world sharing any other name or word. For example you could try using swear words to find rude place-names around the world (here's a map of everywhere called 'Fart').

Who Owns England?


There has been a lot of speculation recently about who owns England? Land ownership in England is a closely guarded secret. The reason why the ownership of English land is kept such a closely guarded secret is because the answer is - the French.

England is owned by the French. Or, more accurately, the Normans.

In 1066 William the Conqueror and an army of northern Frenchmen successfully invaded England. Following his success William proceeded to divide England up among his supporters. And there you have it. Because of the almost complete lack of social mobility in England the families mentioned as owning land in the Domesday Book are probably the same families who own the land today.

At least that is my theory. I might be wrong - but then there is no way of checking. You could have a look at the new Who Owns England interactive map. Unfortunately because the Normans want to keep land ownership a secret the Who Owns England map only really shows land which is owned by the government, government bodies or charities.

If you want to know who owns a piece of land which is blank on the map (most of the country) then you might as well look up the place-name in the Domesday Book. That is probably the closest you will get to discovering the real owner of the land. Alternatively you could check this Farm Payments for Environmental Stewardship map. This map shows where landowners are claiming Environmental Stewardship grants. If you click on a highlighted area on the map you can see who is the recipient of the grant. The recipient might just be the owner of the land (although for tax avoidance reasons the person named may also not be the owner of the land).

BTW - if you don't believe me when I say that the Normans still own and rule England then explain to me how 950 years after the Norman conquest students with Norman surnames are still over-represented at the countries elite universities.1

Monday, May 22, 2017

Climbing the Himalayas


The Discovery Channel's Mount Everest in 3D is probably the closest that you will ever get to climbing Mount Everest.

In effect the climb is just a video of (what I assume is) a 3D map of Everest. However the video is linked to an elevation scale and as the video plays you can keep track of the rising elevation. On your ascent of the mountain you can also stop off at the Khumbu Icefall.

The Khumbu Icefall is where sixteen Nepalese guides died in an avalanche in 2014. The avalanche occurred near Everest Base Camp on the southern side of Mount Everest and resulted in the deaths of the sixteen guides and serious injuries to nine other guides.


An Eye at the Summit is a planned expedition to climb the Baruntse mountain in the Khumbu region of eastern Nepal. In October of this year a team of French mountain climbers will begin a 35 day expedition to ascend the Méra Peak (6,476 m), reach the summit of Baruntse (7,129 m) and finally climb Lobuche Est (6,120 m). The Baruntse climb has been organized in order to raise funds for the visually impaired.

You can follow the planned route of the 35 day expedition on the Carte du Parcours. The map not only shows the expedition's route it also includes some stunning panoramic imagery of Baruntse. If you click on the black circular markers on the map you can explore these custom Street Views which allow you to actually observe for yourself some of the spectacular views of the Himalayas from the Baruntse mountain.


It is also possible to view panoramic imagery from the Everest region of the Himalayas with Google Maps Street View. To capture these stunning panoramas Google teamed up with Apa Sherpa (a Sherpa mountaineer who holds the world record for reaching the summit of Mount Everest 21 times) and the Nepalese nonprofit organization Story Cycle.

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


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

Interactive Geological Maps


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

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


Digital geological maps can add a level of interactivity to the visualized geological strata. In other words they can allow you to click on the different colors to learn more about the visualized geological features. A good example of this is the Geological Map of the Grand Canyon and Vicinity.

The Geologic Map of the Grand Canyon and Vicinity is a beautiful Leaflet.js based interactive map of the Grand Canyon. The map is based on data gathered by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The map uses different colors to show the different rock units and geologic strata in the Grand Canyon and surrounding area. The map also includes contour lines. If you hover over the map the geologic strata at that location is revealed in the small information window. If you click on the map you can learn more about that geologic strata in the information dynamically loaded below the map.


Another good example of an interactive geological map is the Geologic Map of Arizona. The Geologic Map of Arizona also includes interactive colored geological features. If you mouse over a feature on the map the geological information is shown on top of the map.

The Geologic Map of Arizona also visualizes different types of geological faults in Arizona. There is also a map legend which can be accessed by the 'View the legend' button. This legend isn't interactive but it would be possible to turn this legend into a menu which could be used to turn on and off the different geological strata (the different colors) on the map. This could be useful if you wanted to view all the locations with a specific type of geological feature while hiding all the other strata.

Beer Travel Time


The most important criteria to use when choosing a new house is the length of time it takes to get home from the best pubs. That's why Lauri Vanhala has worked out the time it takes to get to every address in Helsinki from the city's top 20 pubs.

In order to find the best places to buy property in Helsinki Lauri worked out the travel time on public transport from every address in Helsinki to every other address in the city during the morning rush-hour (7:30-8:00 am). This allowed him to see which areas were the best for commuting to work in the morning. He then worked out the travel time to every address in the city from the top 20 bars in the city after closing time (1:30 am).

You can view the results of Lauri's research on his Helsinkiläisen Parhaat Asuinpaikat map. Building footprints on the map are colored by their commuting times to work. You can view how long it takes to get to each building from the city's best pubs by clicking on the 'IPA' button. You can switch back to the work commute times by clicking on 'Duuni'.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Scotland's Clan Battlefield Map


Following the success of their Clan Map of Scotland tartan makers Lochcarron of Scotland have released a new interactive map documenting all the major battles that took place between the Scottish clans throughout history.

The Clan Map of Scotland divides Scotland into geographical areas associated with the historical kinship groups of the country. If you select a clan region on the map you can learn more about the individual clan, including the origin of the clan and its historical ties to the area associated with it. You can also discover who the current clan chief is and view its heraldic badge, motto and its distinct tartan.

The new Clan Battlefield Map provides historical information about historical battles between Scotland's clans and shows you where those battles took place. You can use the interactive timeline to explore the battles by date. Alternatively you can use the drop-down menu to filter the battles displayed by individual clan. If you select a marker on the map you can read a detailed account of the chosen battle.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Ice Flow in Antarctica


Like nearly everything else glacial land ice obeys the law of gravity. Therefore ice sheets flow downhill. They normally do this very slowly. Unfortunately we don't live in normal times.

Global warming has caused the the oceans to also get warmer. The warmer ocean waters undercut Antarctica's glaciers, causing them to flow quicker and quicker. Over 60% of the world's freshwater is locked in Antarctica's ice. If it melts we will see a global rise in sea level and coastal cities around the world will find themselves underwater.

The New York Times has created a series of maps to help explain how global warming could lead to the melting of Antarctica's ice sheets and cause rising sea levels around the world. In Antarctic Dispatches glacier ice flow is beautifully illustrated in a series of animated maps. The danger of global rising seas is explained in maps showing areas of Antarctica that have lost ten feet or more of ice since 2010.

Part 3 of Antarctic Dispatches uses a scrolling map to help illustrate the amount of water locked up in Antarctica's ice sheets. The scale of the Ross Ice Shelf is illustrated by overlaying the route of the New York marathon on top of satellite imagery of the ice shelf. The Ross Ice Shelf is huge!