Saturday, January 22, 2022

The Global Rewilding Map

Last year the Haas Business School, with the help of 100k Trees 4 Humanity, planted 150 mature redwood trees on its Materials Recovery Facility in Richmond. The trees were planted in order to offset the 400 million pages of paper the school prints each year. The Haas Business School has decided to work on both reducing its overall printing total and to plant redwood trees in order to help sequester carbon and encourage biodiversity.

The Haas Redwood Tree Planting Project is just one of over 70,000 restoration projects featured on the Restor interactive map. Restor is an interactive map which tracks and maps projects around the world where communities are attempting to restore or conserve natural ecosystems. Conserving and restoring ecosystems is a crucial part of protecting and preserving biodiversity and can help in preventing further climate change. 

Using the interactive map you can discover what restoration projects are happening both near you and elsewhere around the world. As you explore on the interactive map the map sidebar automatically updates to show restoration projects taking place in the current map view. You can then click on these individual projects to learn more about the nature restoration being undertaken and to click through to visit the project's website (where available). 

The Restor interactive map also includes a 'global predictions' tool. If you use the 'draw an area' tool you can select an area of interest on the map. After drawing a polygon on the map and pressing the 'analyze area' button you can view an estimate of the amount of organic carbon which currently exists in the soil in this area and an estimate of how much could exist if the land is restored. You can also view breakdowns of the area's current biodiversity, types of environment and types of biodiversity.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Mapping the World's Infrastructure

The Open Infrastructure Map is an interactive map of the world's power, telecoms, gas, and oil infrastructure. The map uses data from OpenStreetMap to plot electricity power plants & power lines, oil, gas & petroleum pipelines, water pipelines, and telecom cables.

The Open Infrastructure Map includes five different layers. These layers allow you to turn on or off map data relating to 'Power', 'Solar Generation', 'Telecoms', 'Oil & Gas' and 'Water'. The electricity power lines shown are also color coded to show their levels of voltage. 

As you zoom in on the Open Infrastructure Map more detail is added to the map to show the locations of individual power stations. Different map symbols are used to indicate the different types of power plant (nuclear, oil, coal, gas, wind, solar etc). 

The Open Infrastructure Map also includes an interesting statistics facility. This allows you to view the amount of infrastructure mapped in different countries. For example Open Infrastructure Map has mapped 6,230 different power plants in the United States. Of these 763 are gas powered, 247 are coal powered and there are 62 nuclear power plants. The statistics given reflect only the infrastructure which has been mapped on OpenStreetMap. This data may be incomplete and the accuracy is only as good as the mapped data.



Gridfinder is an interactive map which visualizes the global electricity grid network based on night-light satellite imagery. The map predicts the existence of electricity network lines using evidence from night-time views of the Earth from space.

10% of the world's population does not have access to a reliable electricity supply. It is hoped that Gridfinder can be used to identify populations with poor access to electricity networks in order to help improve essential infrastructure and provide affordable and reliable energy.

The Gridfinder map shows the locations of known electricity lines using data from OpenStreetMap. The map also shows predicted electricity supply lines based on where lights can be seen at night from orbiting satellites. To predict the existence of these previously unmapped electricity supply lines the level of night-time light in satellite imagery is used to see where locations are most likely to be producing light from electricity. Where there is enough light to have been produced by an electricity network the map connects this to known electricity networks using an algorithm which follows roads and already known distribution lines.

You can read more about how night-time satellite imagery has been used to predict the world's electricity network on the research paper Predictive mapping of the global power system using open data.  

Every year Telegeography releases a map of the huge global network of undersea telecommunication cables which carry all our data around the world. Subsea cables carry telecommunication signals under the oceans, communicating information between different countries and regions of the world. In the 19th Century the first submarine cables were laid to carry telegraphy traffic. In the 21st Century submarine cables carry digital data, which includes telephone and Internet data.

The 2021 Submarine Cable Map from Telegeography shows 464 cables and 1,245 landing stations. The map also features lots of textual information, featuring both cable trivia and answers to FAQ's about cable suppliers, content providers, fiber etc. For example - did you know that there are now over 1.3 kilometers of underwater cables around the world (if they were laid end-to-end they could wrap around the world 30 times).

Thursday, January 20, 2022

The Cycling Stress Map

Earlier this month I reviewed the City of Boston's Bicycle Level of Traffic Stress interactive map. A map which rates every road in the American city based on the stress caused to cyclists from road traffic, the lack of bike lanes and other conflict factors. The Bici Stressat ed al Traffico interactive map is a little more ambitious, in that it has mapped the cycling stress levels on every single road in Italy.

The Bici Stressat ed al Traffico is an interactive map which rates and colors every Italian road based on the stress caused to cyclists from other road traffic and from the availability of cycling infrastructure. Every road on the map is given one of four ratings: 'Safe for Children', 'Low Stress', 'Moderate Stress' or 'High Stress'. Cyclists can use the interactive map legend to turn on or off the roads of different stress levels. So, for example, if you wanted to plan a pleasant bike ride you could just select to view all the roads rated Safe for Children or Low Stress.

The four different cycling stress ratings given to individual roads are based on both the levels of road traffic and the presence / absence of separated bike lanes. You can learn more about how each of the four ratings are defined on the BikeItaly GitHub page (in Italian). These ratings are apparently based on ratings defined by Bike Ottawa.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

A Brief Atlas of Time

Nations and country borders are just as much historical entities as they are geographical. They exist in both time and space and can therefore be defined by both by their geography and by their chronology. In a couple of recent posts1 on Maps Mania I've reviewed a number of interactive maps which show how geography changes through history by plotting historical borders and movements by date. These interactive historical maps visualize how countries and borders change over time.

Open History Map is another example of an impressive interactive mapping platform which visualizes global spatial historical (and archaeological) data. The goal of Open History Map is to create an open interactive map of the past. One of the main differences between Open History Map and some of the other historical mapping platforms I've reviewed recently is that Open History Map isn't built so much on crowdsourced data, as on academic data and information.

The screenshot at the top of this post shows the Open History Map map view of Europe in the year 1001 CE. This map view includes an interactive timeline control which allows you to view the map for other dates in world history. The small black dots on the map represent historical place-names, which appear as you zoom in on the map. 

Because Open History Map relies on academic data it relies on lots of different historical datasets. You can view and access all these datasets on the Open History Map Data Index. This allows you to view an index of the datasets used in Open History Map, a list of the sources for these datasets and the individual datasets (with links to the original sources).

If you like the Open History Map then you might also enjoy:

1 A Map of the World Through Time and Mapping History

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A 3D Tour of Clarion Alley

The Clarion Alley Mural Project is an artists' collective which was created to transform Clarion Alley in the Mission District into a graffiti and mural canvas. You can observe the success of the project on the Clarion Alley 3D Tour.

The Clarion Alley Tour is an experimental 3D tour of the street murals in Clarion Alley in San Francisco made by Kieran Farr of the 3DStreet team.As you scroll through the Clarion Alley Tour you are taken on an impressive 3D journey along Clarion Alley. While you progress through the tour you can view the actual street murals in context, almost as if you were in the Alley yourself. 

I've been writing a lot recently about the growing trend of interactive 3D models in data journalism. These 3D immersive tours usually require a small team of programmers and a lot of work hours. The 3DStreet team's Clarion Alley Tour is a demo tour which shows how an immersive tour can be created using a number of existing JavaScript libraries. The tour was created using the Polycam LiDAR 3D scanner (for capturing the imagery), A-frame, the New York Times R&D's 3D tiles component, and the Cesium mapping platform. 

At the moment the Clarion Alley Tour is desktop only and won't work on mobile devices. You can clone the project and take a closer look at the code behind the Clarion Alley Tour on its Glitch site. 

Here are links to some other great examples of immersive 3D tours:

Monday, January 17, 2022

500 Years in Rio

The city of Rio de Janeriro is fast approaching 500 years of history. The city itself wasn't founded until 1565 but the site of the city was first reached by Portuguese explorers in January 1502 (hence the name Rio de Janeiro - 'January River'). 

You can explore the evolution of Rio over the last half a millennium on the new digital atlas imagineRio. At the heart of this new digital atlas, developed at Rice University, is an interactive map which visualizes the changes in Rio's landscape and topography over time. Using the map's timeline control you can view a map of the city during any point in the last five centuries. As you move the timeline the interactive map automatically updates to display a map of the city as it looked at that point in its history.

imagineRio also allows you to search and view thousands of historical photos, architectural plans, vintage maps, and drawings & paintings of the city. These vintage maps, photos and paintings of Rio de Janerio are displayed in the map sidebar and can be filtered using the map's timeline control. You can also filter the images by location by clicking on the 'search as map moves' option. 

imagineRio is just one of the recipients of a Getty Foundation's Digital Art History grant. Other digital mapping projects which have received grants and which are currently in development include a GIS web application exploring the archaeological excavations at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey, a 3D map of Florence through time, and the Pompeii Artistic Landscape Project.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Taking a Sunday Street View Drive

This morning I have been taking a virtual stroll along New Orlean's famous Bourbon Street. In fact using Map Channels' Street View Driver application I've been taking a virtual drive around a number of different global cities.

I first wrote about Street View Driver back in 2012. I'm pleased to say that nine years later the application is still going strong. To take your own animated Street View drive just select a city from the application's drop-down menu. You can then drag and drop the yellow Pegman figure on the Google Map to select the starting point of your virtual drive.

Street View Driver includes four controls. Press the 'Accel' button and your drive will begin. Pegman will start walking down the street in the direction that he is looking and the Street View window will start animating through the Google Maps Street View imagery of your virtual drive. Press the 'left' and 'right' buttons and you can look around during your virtual drive. You can also use the 'left' and 'right' buttons to change direction. For example, if you look 90 degrees to the right not only will you see the view to your right you will also turn right at the next street intersection. 

The Street Drive drop-down menu only includes American cities, however you can use the application anywhere in the word that has Street View imagery on Google Maps. To move to another country just zoom-out on the map and drag and drop the yellow Pegman icon to the location which you wish to explore.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Looking for Life on Europa

In 2024 NASA plans to launch the Europa Clipper mission in order to help determine if Europa harbors conditions which are suitable for life. Jupiter's moon Europa has a water-ice crust and the chemistry and energy which are essential for life to exist. The Europa Clipper, while orbiting around Jupiter, will investigate Europa, searching for habitability and also looking for possible landing sites for a future Europa Lander mission.

You can explore Europa for yourself on NASA's Europa in Depth website. Here you will find a 3D map of the moon. This interactive map features a number of place-name labels which you can select to learn more about a number of locations on this fascinating ocean world.

If you click on the 'Interior' button on the map you can view a segmented view of Europa. This segmented view shows the moon's icy crust, the water ocean which lies beneath, and the moon's iron metallic core. You can even select any of the moon's segmented layers to learn more about their geology. For example, if you click on the ocean layer you can discover that scientists believe that Europa's ocean is up to 100 miles deep. 

Friday, January 14, 2022

Wordle - Placenames Edition

Worle is a very difficult Wordle clone, in which you have to guess the name of a UK town in 6 goes or less.

Wordle (for those of you living under a rock) is a viral word game. Your goal is to guess the hidden word in six attempts. When you enter a five letter word any letters in the correct space are shown in green. Letters that are in the word but in the wrong spot are shown in yellow. Letters shown in grey aren't anywhere in the answer.

My Worle version of the game uses UK town names instead of words from the dictionary. This makes the game very difficult to play - because there are lots of weird UK place-names that you have probably never heard of. 

When testing the game I found it very useful to refer to the list of five letter UK place-names that the game uses. You might think this is cheating and want to play the game without referring to the list, however I have found the game almost impossible to play myself without using the list at least once in each game.

My version of Wordle is a clone of Worble, made by Potch, which s/he made with Glitch.If you want to adapt Worle you can clone the game on Glitch. To adapt the game you only really need to change the list of words in the dictionary.txt file. For example you could change the list of place-names to U.S. town names instead of UK towns.

The Witcher Interactive Maps

If you have been watching series 2 of the Witcher on Netflix then you might be interested in browsing these Witcher interactive maps. The Witcher novels and television series take place on the fictional land of Continent, mostly in the Northern Kingdoms region. 

Netflix's The Witcher: Welcome to the Continent is probably the most atmospheric interactive map that I have seen of the Continent. It is covered in an animated fog and other special effects. The map also includes a timeline which means that this map allows you to explore the Witcher world both by location and by chronology. 

Using the interactive map you can select individual locations in the Continent to learn more about the role that they play in the Witcher story. The timeline at the bottom of the map can be used to learn more about important events in the unfolding story of the Continent, beginning with the Conjunction of the Spheres, the mysterious event that led to the arrival of humans and monsters on the Continent.


The Witcher website also features a lovingly crafted interactive map of the medieval fantasy world created by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. 

Zoom-in on Novigrad on this map and you can actually watch the smoke rising from rooftop chimneys. Zoom-in on Kaer Morhen and you can see the waves rippling on the lake. Elsewhere on the map you can find birds flapping their wings, moving windmills and even animated sea monsters.