Tuesday, September 21, 2021

America's Falling Prison Population

The Marshall Project has used 2020 census data to compare the incarceration rates of different U.S. counties and to visualize the trend in incarceration rates since the 2010 census. The headline story in the Marshall Project's analysis of the data is that There Are Fewer People Behind Bars Now Than 10 Years Ago.

The Marshall Project's analysis includes two maps. One (pictured above) uses proportional circles to show the number of incarcerated people in each county. Another cartogram map shows the change in the incarceration rate in every state, from the 2010 to 2020 censuses.Only four states - West Virginia, Alaska, Nebraska and Arkansas - had a higher incarceration rate in 2020. In every other state the incarceration rate was lower in 2020 than it was in 2010. 

The Marshall Project warns that the effect of the Covid pandemic on the court system and on prison and jail populations means that it may be "impossible to draw any long-term conclusions from the apparent drop seen in Census data." 

Last month CNN used the newly released 2020 census data to create a racial dot map of America. The interactive map in Race and ethnicity across the nation uses colored dots to visualize the population density and racial mix of every neighborhood in the country. Ben Schmidt's All of US is another interactive dot map which allows you to compare population data from the 2020 and 2010 US censuses.Ben's 'dot' map actually uses Wee People rather than dots to represent the U.S. population.

Canadian Election Maps


Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party has won a third term as a result of Monday's election in Canada. The Liberals will probably win 156 seats overall, which is one less than in the 2019 election and some way short of the 170 seats needed to form a majority government. For the second election in a row it looks like the Conservative Party has won the popular vote but won fewer electoral districts than its main rival.

The Globe and Mail's Live Updates page includes an interactive map which colors electoral districts based on the party currently winning in the count. If you click on a riding on the map then you can view the total number of votes cast for each candidate and their percentage of the overall vote.

The Globe and Mail's map is a pretty good example of how a geographical map of Canadian election results can be very visually misleading. On this map large rural electoral districts distort the overall picture. For example despite having won only 25 seats the NDP seem to be the largest party in Canada (because they are the most popular party in many of the largest rural electoral ridings). Conversely the Liberal Party (who have won the most seats but predominantly in the geographically smaller urban electoral districts) on this map appear to have done very poorly. 

This visual distortion of the results is also apparent on the Toronto Star's Live Results interactive map. Like the Globe and Mail map the Star's map is great if you want to check the results in an individual electoral district but isn't so great at representing the overall picture of the 2021 Canadian election. This is also true of the election results map on CBC's Federal Election Results page.

The Electoral Cartogram of Canada provides a fantastic overall view of which parties have won the most seats and where.This map represents each electoral district as an equal sized hexagon. The advantage of using a cartogram is that this map doesn't visually exaggerate the results of large rural electoral electoral areas with low population densities over smaller urban ridings with much higher population densities.

This cartogram view much more clearly shows the overall picture. For example the size of the Liberal Party's narrow win is far more legible on this map than on the Globe and Mail's electoral map.  This cartogram view also shows that once again the Conservative Party looks to have made a near clean sweep of all electoral seats in both Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Monday, September 20, 2021

The Russian Election Map

Russia has just held a parliamentary election. However, when the main opposition leader has been thrown in prison and most opposition candidates have been banned from standing, there really isn't much point in creating an election map of the Russian election results. What is far more interesting is Karta Narusheniy (Violation Map), an interactive map of voting irregularities reported in the 2021 Russian parliamentary election.

The Russian election is so rigged that I haven't even bothered to check the results this morning to see how large Putin's election victory is. I suspect Putin's United Russia party will be decided to have won over 100% of the vote in most areas of the country. 

Election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) didn't even bother to oversee this year's election in Russia because of the proposed limitations that the Russian government had tried to impose on them.Russia's Violation Map is currently reporting nearly 5,000 reported voting irregularities across the whole of Russia and even reports violations in overseas voting booths in Russian embassies around the world. These irregularities include reports of ballot stuffing and of forced voting.

The Violation Map was created by Golos, an independent vote monitoring group. The violations shown on the map are crowdsourced by voters across Russia. Voters can report violations that they have witnessed either by completing a form on the Violation Map website or by calling a phone hotline. Reports of voting violations sent to Golos are also passed on to election commissions and, where necessary, to law enforcement agencies and the media.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Traffic Simulation Game

A/B Street is a fun traffic simulation game which lets you explore how changes to your streets could effect the traffic in your neighborhood. The game allows you to experiment with adding or removing bus lanes, traffic signals, street parking, bike lanes, sidewalks and other road infrastructure and then simulate how these changes might effect your local traffic.

A/B Street can be played in your browser or downloaded to your computer. If you download the game you can play A/B Street in any location in the world using data from OpenStreetMap. This allows you to explore how small decisions to your streets could effect the traffic in your neighborhood.A/B Street actually includes a lot of different options which you can change to improve or worsen your local traffic. Luckily the game comes with a tutorial and also gradually introduces many of the game's features while you actually play the game.

While the A/B Street simulation runs you can observe the traffic in real-time on the game's interactive map. On this map you can follow individual vehicles to see how changes to the map effect a vehicle's behavior and journey times. Alternatively you can zoom-out and watch the traffic flow across the whole town or neighborhood. 


If being the traffic controller of a whole city seem over-complicated then you might enjoy 15 Minute Santa instead, a game from the same developers as A/B Street.15 Minute Santa is a fun game which requires you to deliver Christmas presents to the children of Seattle by guiding Santa around the city on an interactive map.

The object of 15 Minute Santa is to drive Santa around Seattle. As you navigate around the map of the city you earn points based on the density of the housing that you pass (the higher the density of people then the more presents you are delivering). Santa's sleigh only has so much fuel so you also need to occasionally refuel. You can do this by simply driving past a store on the map.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Brussels' Grand Canal Plan

The Brussels–Charleroi Canal runs through the city of Brussels for about 14km.This canal was once an essential part of the city's industrial infrastructure and was home to thousands of warehouses, factories and other businesses. However following the arrival of the automobile and the de-industrialization of the city in the second-half of the 20th Century the canal fell into disuse. Consequently many of the industrial businesses along the canal moved elsewhere or simply went out of business. 

Following de-industrialization the canal sides in Brussels became dominated by abandoned industrial buildings and brown-field sites. This fall in local employment in turn led to a deterioration in the local housing stock. So eventually the Brussels canal became synonymous not with industrial prosperity but with poor housing and low-income groups. 

Brussels however has a plan to revitalize and improve the neighborhoods on the Brussels-Charleroi Canal. The 'Canal Plan' includes a set of objectives to create new housing, attractive public spaces, and more economic activity on both sides of the canal. You can learn more about the specific development proposals in the Canal Plan in L'Echo's wonderful overview of the plan.

In Can the Canal Plan Relaunch Brussels? L'Echo uses maps, photos, drone imagery and 360 degree panoramic presentations to showcase some of the Canal Plan's visions for revitalizing Brussels. The newspaper's presentation includes an impressive satellite view fly-over of the canal. As you scroll through L'Echo's article a 3D satellite map of the city pans along the the canal, illustrating the prominent position that the canal occupies in Brussels. As the map pans around the city the accompanying scrolling text explains the Canal Plan's development proposals for each part of the city. 

L'Echo's article also includes a number of panoramic aerial views of the canal. These 360 degree drone images use map markers to provide a more detailed account of some of the Canal Plan's specific development ideas. Select one of these map markers and an information window will open with more information about how the area will develop and an artist's impression of the finished development.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Norwegian Election Maps


The Labor Party was the biggest winner in Monday's general election in Norway, bringing to an end the center-right government, led by Erna Solberg’s Conservative Party. Jonas Gahr Støre of the Labor Party will become Norway's next Prime Minister, if he can successfully negotiate a coalition of left-wing parties.

Aftenposten's 2021 Norway Election Map allows you to view the party which won the most votes in each electoral district. This map view colors each district to show the political party which won the most votes.Another map layer visualizes the degree to which each district voted for the left or the right. Under this view each district is colored to show the extent that they voted for left wing or right wing parties. Both of these map layers reveal that the south-western tip of the country is a stronghold of the right, while the rest of the country is very much behind the left-wing parties.

The Aftenposten election map also allows you to view a choropleth layer for each political party. Select a party from the drop-down menu and you can see the degree of support that party achieved in each electoral district. For example, if you select the Labor Party you can see that it performed less well in the south-west than it did in the rest of Norway. 

One of the biggest issues in this year's election was climate change and the future of Norway's oil industry. The oil industry makes up around 14% of Norway's GDP and is a major employer. However the election results suggest that there is an appetite to start moving away from oil. One factor that may hinder environmental progress is the fact that the Green Party failed to achieve 4% of the national vote. Parties that fail to get 4% do not qualify for equalization mandates. This means that the Green Party will have less seats in parliament and have less influence over the government.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Two Months of the Dixie Fire

The Dixie Fire has been raging for over two months and is now the second largest wildfire in California's history. Since the beginning of July the fire has destroyed more than a thousand homes and over $540 million has been spent on fighting the blaze.

To help readers visualize the sheer scale of the Dixie fire the Washington Post has created an animated map which shows the spread and reach of the fire over the course of the last two last months. The fire originally began on July 13 on Dixie Road in the Feather River Canyon near Cresta Dam. It has now burned through nearly 1 million acres of California. 

The Post's Anatomy of a Wildfire provides an impressive mapped chronology of the fire, showing both how the fire has spread over the last two months and an overview of the vast area affected by the fire.If you want to keep up-to-date with the current location of the Dixie Fire (or of any other wildfires currently burning in California) then you can also refer to the LA Times' California Wildfires Map. The LA Times map uses data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites and from Calfire to show the locations of all the current wildfires active in the state.

Denver's KKK Members

This is a map of Ku Klux Klan members living in Denver in the 1920s. The home addresses of these racists comes from two Ku Klux Klan membership books owned by History Colorado.

Around one third of white U.S. born men in Denver were members of the KKK During the 1920s. During that decade the party successfully infiltrated and took over Denver's power structures. In fact the Colorado governor, the mayor of Denver, the police chief, many judges and many state senators were all KKK members in the 1920s.

You can view the complete map of the addresses of Denver's KKK members on History Colorado's Ku Klux Klan Ledgers. The ledgers and the map of the members' home addresses reveal how much of Denver's white population was seduced by the racism of the KKK. The map makes clear that it wasn't just the city's power structures that were taken over by the KKK. The people that the KKK targeted and intimidated would encounter KKK members in just about every street, store, bank and local business.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Global Heating Predictions

Bread for the World has released an interactive map which visualizes estimated temperatures around the world by the end of this century. The map is based on climate change models developed by NASA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The August 28, 2100 interactive map shows the predicted maximum temperatures around the world in the year 2100. If you hover over the map you can also view a graph showing the global warming rise at that location over the course of 150 years from 1950 to 2100. The text above the graph announces the number of degrees that the temperature is estimated to rise at the selected location over that very short period of time. 

Another powerful method of visualizing global warming is through the use of warming stripes. You can get warming stripes for different regions and countries around the world (and for individual U.S. states) on ShowYourStripes. Select a region and then a country from the drop-down menu on ShowYourStripes and you can view and download an image showing how the temperatures have risen over the last 100+ years at your selected location.

Global warming stripes are able to visualize a complex issue with one simple and easy to understand image. The general progression from blue to redder stripes is both visually striking and very hard to dispute. The temperature data used for creating the stripes come from the Berkeley Earth temperature dataset and from a number of national meteorological agencies.

The Anti-Democracy Party

Urged on by Neo-Nazi Steve Bannon far-right extremists have begun a fifth column campaign to infiltrate the Republican Party and ultimately overturn American democracy. Since President Biden's election ProPublica has been tracking the rising number of far-right extremists enlisting as precinct officers. They are then signing-up as Republican nominees to be poll workers, with the ultimate aim of disrupting the democratic process and stopping fair elections in the United States.

In Election Deniers Organize to Seize Control of the GOP ProPublica has mapped out where there has been a sudden increase in low-level Republican Party officers across the country. Forty-one out of the 65 key counties that ProPublica surveyed have had an unusual increase in precinct officers. The interactive map in the article only shows the results of the counties surveyed. The 65 counties surveyed were identified by ProPublica as politically competitive and discussed as targets on Neo-Nazi websites and discussion boards. ProPublica didn't have the resources to survey all 3,000 counties. 

The influx of new far-right extremists into low-level roles in the Republican Party is just part of a wider concerted campaign to overturn democracy in the United States.ProPublica's article also reports on the surge in volunteers to become election judges, election inspectors and nominees to election boards. It is abundantly clear that the Republican Party is being infiltrated by far-right extremists and is becoming increasingly anti-Democratic. For example only yesterday Larry Elder refused to acknowledge that he would accept the result of the California recall election. This infiltration of the Republican Party by Neo-Nazis is obviously extremely worrying for the future of Democracy in the United States.