Tuesday, April 07, 2020

The Robben Island Virtual Tour

South Africa's Robben Island is home to the infamous prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years behind bars. The prison also housed over 3,000 other political prisoners during the Apartheid years.

The Robben Island Virtual Island Tour allows you to explore the island's historical sites using a satellite map and a number of 360 degree panoramic images. You can visit each of the landmarks using the categorized markers on the satellite map of the island. Select a colored marker and you can view a 360 degree panoramic image of the chosen site. These images are each accompanied by information about the selected location.

As well as providing a virtual tour of Robben Island the Robben Island Museum has video interviews with a number of political prisoners who were imprisoned on Robben Island between 1977 and 1991.

Google Culture's Robben Island Street View Tour also allows you to explore the Robben Island prison using Google Street View. On this guided tour former political prisoner Vusumsi Mcongo leads you through some of the Island's landmarks including a view from inside a guard tower, the hospital ward, the exercise yard and Nelson Mandela's own 2m x 2m cell. Most of these Street View scenes are accompanied by videos in which Vusumsi Mcongo explains what life was like for a prisoner locked up on Robben Island. Vusumsi Mcongo was a Freedom Fighter in the anti-Apartheid movement and was imprisoned on Robben Island from 1978-1990.

The Night Watch of the Rijksmuseum

Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum has a collection of over 1 million paintings and other objects. Unfortunately, like most other major museums around the world, it is currently closed to the public. However that doesn't mean that you can't still visit the museum virtually from your own home.

Rijksmuseum Masterpieces Up Close allows you to take a virtual walk around the Gallery of Honour. The Gallery of Honour is a long gallery which is headed at one end by Rembrandt's The Night Watch. The side alcoves, running down both sides of the gallery, feature a number of other Dutch masterpieces by the great artists of the seventeenth century.

The Rijksmuseum's virtual tour of the gallery is made up of a number of connected 360 degree panoramic images. Arrows within these images allow you to walk around the gallery and zoom in on individual paintings. A number of these paintings feature audio guides and textual information.

One of the masterpieces that you can examine up close is Rembrandt's The Night Watch (1642). The audio and textual guides for The Night Watch provide a detailed introduction to the painting’s history and composition. The Night Watch, depicts the Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq. There are 17 members of the guard (and the captain) shown in the painting, each of whom paid Rembrandt 100 guilders to be included in the picture. The painting is particularly noteworthy because of its dramatic use of light and shadow and the perception of motion captured within the scene.

While touring the Gallery of Honour you can also admire the architecture of the Rijsmuseum. The alcoves running down the sides of the gallery are each framed with cast iron beams. On these beams are inscribed the names of the famous Dutch painters of the golden age of Dutch art. Above these iron beams are semi-circular wall sections which display the coats of arms of the eleven provinces of the Netherlands and their capital cities.

The Sistine Chapel Virtual Tour

Saint Peter’s Square and the Sistine Chapel may now be closed. However the Vatican Museum's website is still open and so is its Sistine Chapel Virtual Tour.

The Sistine Chapel Virtual Tour allows you to take a virtual stroll around the chapel and examine Michelangelo's extraordinary painted ceiling. The Sistine Chapel is where the papal conclave meets to elect a new pope. The interior of the chapel is covered in colorful frescos, most famously the chapel's ceiling features nine scenes from the Book of Genesis, painted by Michelangelo.

The Sistine Chapel Virtual Tour consists of a series of connected 360 degree panoramic images. Arrows in the images allow you to stroll around the chapel. Like Google Maps Street View images you can rotate around within each image and zoom into details on the chapel's glorious frescos. For example, you can zoom in on Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam (pictured above), in which the hands of God and Adam nearly touch.

The central section of the ceiling contains nine scenes painted by Michelangelo in the early 16th Century. These nine scenes from the Book of Genesis depict God creating the Heavens and Earth, God creating the first man & Woman, Adam and Eve, and the story of the flood and Noah.

Monday, April 06, 2020

The Spherical Earth Society

Currently the British Library is busy digitizing its collection of around 150 globes and making them available as 3D interactive visualizations. Not wanting to be outdone the National Maritime Museum has also released a virtual 3D visualization of one of its historical globes.

The Mercator Terrestrial Globe was made by Gerard Mercator in 1541. Ten years later, in 1551, he made a companion celestial globe. You can also view 3d versions of Mercator's Earth Globe and Mercator's Celestial Globe on the University of Lausanne's website.

If you are interested in viewing more historical vintage globes then you should pay a visit to the Virtual Globes Museum. This site includes 3d versions of the 1507 Waldseemüller globe, a number of terrestial and celestial globes by the Dutch cartographer Willem Blaeu and globes by the Venetian Vincenzo Coronelli. Miranda's World Map (1706) and Coronelli's Terrestial Globe can be explored in 3D using the State Library of New South Wales's Meridian application.

Is It Still Open?

In the UK only certain stores are currently allowed to remain open. These includes groceries, pharmacies, banks, bike shops and post offices. Most other types of retail outlet must remain closed. However even some stores which are still allowed to operate have taken the decision to close. Which can male it difficult for customers who really don't want to spend time outside searching for an open store.

Ça reste ouvert is a crowdsourced interactive map which provides information on which stores are staying open and which have closed in France. The map allows you to share your knowledge about which stores are still open in your neighborhood. It also allows you to search for stores open near you under a number of different categories (pharmacy, food, bank, post office etc).

On the map the stores marked green are open and the red stores are closed. The operating status of the grey stores are unknown. If you have information about a grey colored store you can add details about its opening hours using a simple form.

Currently Ça reste ouvert is only working for shops in France. However the code for the site is freely available on GiHub so hopefully crowdsourced maps of open stores will soon appear in other countries.

Via: weeklyOSM

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Who is Not Staying at Home?

There has been a lot of discussion on social media about the New York Time's mobility maps of the USA. In Where America Didn't Stay Home Everyday the NYT has used cellphone location data to map the decrease in travel outside the home across the United States.

I really don't know enough about the social and economic make-up of US states and regions to enter into the debate raging over these maps. However I've seen enough maps of US data to recognize the similarity between the map showing 'When average distance traveled first fell below 2 miles' (shown above) and a map of America's Black Belt. The area shown in red (where people were still travelling at a later date than the rest of the US) is marked by higher poverty rates, lower median incomes and lower unemployment rates. There could be a number of reasons why poorer people in these regions have needed to still leave home. For example not being employed in professions where it is easy to work from home.

The Times article also includes the map above showing where people were still traveling last week. On social media I've seen a number of people arguing that this partially resembles a 2016 USDA map of food deserts in the USA. The food deserts map shows the percentage of Americans with no car and no supermarket within one mile. Those living in food deserts obviously have to travel further from their homes in order to visit food stores. It is possible that the above map is showing a combination of those living in food deserts and rural populations (where people may also may live some distance from the nearest store).

Friday, April 03, 2020

Google Community Mobility Reports

There has been a 47% decrease in visits to recreational venues in the United States. In the last week the number of people visiting public space such as restaurants, cafes, shopping centers, libraries and movie theaters has fallen drastically according to Google's COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports. While this fall in visits represents a huge drop it is only half the drop which has been seen in Italy, where recreational venues have seen a 94% fall in the number of visits.

Google's new mobility reports provide insights into people's movements in countries around the world. The reports use aggregated, anonymized data gleaned from your mobile phones to chart movement trends over time. They show how visits to different categories of venues (retail & recreation, groceries & pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential) have been effected by the spread of Covid-19 and government lock-downs. In each of the categories of venue Google shows the percentage point increase or decrease in the number of visits. There percentage point changes are calculated in comparison to the median average on the corresponding day of the week, during Jan 3–Feb 6, 2020.

In terms of gauging where the U.S. is in terms of its stay-at-home efforts it is interesting to compare the mobility report of the USA with that of Italy's. The USA has seen a 12% increase in 'mobility trends for places of residence'. In Italy there has been a 24% increase in people being tracked as being at home. Italy has seen a 63% decrease in visits to workplaces while the USA has seen a 38% drop. Italy has seen a 90% drop in visits to parks while the USA has seen a 19% drop.

There are currently individual reports available for 131 countries around the world. In Google's continuing mission to make the world's data as inaccessible as possible the data can only be downloaded in PDF form. However in the UK the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has started to extract the data and make it available as a spreadsheet on GitHub.

The ONS spreadsheet of Google's data concentrates on the mobility reports for UK areas. However it also includes data at the country level for 24 major countries.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Corona Cruises

Holland America's MS Zaandam is currently approaching Florida where it is now being allowed to dock. The ship has had four deaths on board and 200 passengers and crew are reported to have flu-like symptoms. A number of other cruise ships across the globe still remain at sea. The Covid-19 Cruise Tracker is tracking in real-time all the cruise liners currently stranded outside ports around the world.

The interactive Cruise Tracker map shows the location of all known cruise liners using AIS tracking data. If you deselect the 'show disembarked' button then the map will only show those cruises currently with passengers. The numbers next to the ships on the map show the number of Covid-19 cases on board. If you click on a ship's marker on the map you can view information on the ship's capacity and whether there has been any deaths on board.

The data for the passenger numbers and Covid-19 cases comes from a number of different sources including news articles and government sources. The sources for the information are linked to in each ship's information window.

The Divided & United Nations

Joseph Ricafort has used a clustering algorithm to sort the countries of the world into groups based on their joint membership of international organizations. His Circle of Nations groupings maps the countries of the world based not on their geographical proximity but on their shared membership of over 200 international groups and organizations. Using his Circles of Nations visualization you can switch between a geographic map of the world's countries and a map based on international ties.

The data used for the visualization is based on country membership of groups listed in the CIA World Factbook international organizations list. A T-SNE algorithm was then used to cluster countries together based on their shared membership of these international organizations. In some of these new clusters or groupings regional and geographical factors are still in play. For example Latin American countries share membership of many of the same international organizations, such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Central American Common Marker (CACM). There is also a strong grouping among Arab states, with many Arab countries belonging to the same (mainly economic) international organizations, such as OAPEC.

However there are groupings which are far less geographical in their nature. For example there is a grouping of large economies. This consists of many European countries, but also the USA, China, India, Australia and New Zealand. These countries share membership of international organisations such as NATO and the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).

French Migration Winds

French Winds is an interactive map of internal migration in France. The map shows the internal flow of people moving home within France in 2016. The map includes animated migration flows for a number of different sectors of the French population including, professionals, retirees and farmers.

The use of animated flow lines on the map is very effective in visualizing the underlying patterns in the internal migrations of different sectors of the French population. For example if you select the 'Managers and Higher Intellectual Professions' sector you can see how Paris sucks in executives from all over the country. If you select the Retired sector you can see how retirees in France like to move to to coast. What is surprising to me is that retirees seem to prefer the Atlantic coast to that of the Mediterranean.

French Winds is based on a model of geographical movement developed by the geographer Waldo Rudolph Tobler. The model helps calculate the net flow of people between different locations.