Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The United States of Americano

Thinknum has mapped out six of America's largest coffee chains. 22,842 Coffee Shops of America is an interactive map which shows the location of coffee shops belonging to Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Caribou Coffee, Tully's, Peet's, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Baskin-Robbins. Some of these chains are national while some are much more regionally based.

the distribution of Dunkin Donuts

Exploring the distribution of individual coffee shop chains can be quite interesting. For example, Dunkin Donuts really hates the northwest, Caribou Coffee really loves Minnesota and nowhere is safe from the ubiquitous reach of Starbucks.

Starbucks (13,000 restaurants) and Dunkin Donuts (8,500 restaurants) are America's largest coffee shop chains. Starbucks started on the West Coast and Dunkin Donuts originated in the northeast. Even though both chains have expanded across the globe it is interesting to note that you can still see the geographical influence of their founding locations on the spatial distribution of their restaurants across America. This trend was even more noticeable six years ago when created a number of heat maps showing the distribution of Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts across the USA. That 2013 article explores how both companies expanded across the U.S. from opposite sides of the country.

Cool Walks in Barcelona

I have only ever visited Barcelona in the extreme heat of summer. Walking around the city has therefore always been combined with a constant search for shade and an attempt to avoid direct sunlight by walking as much as possible in the shadows of buildings. Unfortunately when I visited Barcelona the Cool Walks interactive map didn't exist.

Cool Walks is a new route-planning tool which can help you find walking routes across Barcelona which prioritize shady sidewalks and the locations of drinking fountains. Enter your starting point and destination into Cool Routes and it will show you a route which avoids direct sunlight as much as possible.

Cool Routes has a number of options for those who wish to avoid the sun while navigating Barcelona. For example you can enter the time of day that you will be walking so that the direction of building shadows will be taken into account when optimizing your cool route. You can then choose to find the 'shortest path' (Cool Routes won't look for shade and will just give you the quickest route), the 'shady path' (a route which tries to avoid the sun) or 'Vampire mode' (which will avoid sunlight at all costs). Cool Walks also knows the location of the city's drinking fountains. If you select the 'drinking fountain' option Cool Routes will attempt to show you a route which passes a fountain.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Digital Reconstruction of Shuri Castle

At the end of October one of the most iconic buildings in Okinawa, Japan was destroyed by fire. The Shuri Castle was originally built around 500 years ago, although the original building was destroyed by fire in World War II. The reconstructed castle has now met a similar fate. The Okinawa local government has already started talking about a new reconstruction project and there is also a popular crowdsourced fundraising campaign in Japan to raise funds for a reconstruction of the castle.

Digital Reconstruction from Crowdsourced Photogrammetry is an interactive story map which allows you to explore a 3D model of the pre-fire Shuri Castle. The 3D model was created by volunteers using photos and videos of the castle. More photos and videos of the castle are still being sought in order to improve the quality of the 3D model.

The map itself uses the new Mapbox Scrollytelling Template to create a guided tour of the castle. The Scrollytelling Template can be used to create 'scrollytelling' map stories. It is used on this map to zoom-in and explore some of the features of Shuri Castle and the extent of the destruction caused by the 31st October fire. The map also relies on Uber's library in presenting the 3D model of the castle.

If you want to make your own Mapbox map featuring a 3D model then you can also use three.js, as in this Mapbox demo maps example, Add a 3D Model.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Greece's Refugees

In the last few months the number of refugees arriving in Greece has surged. Greek refugee camps are now filled beyond capacity. For example there are currently around 16,924 immigrants on Lesbos. The island is equipped to host around 3,000 refugees at most.

The UN Refugee Agency's Operational Portal has an interactive map visualizing the number of refugees arriving on each of Greece's islands. The map is accompanied by a series of graphs showing the total number of arrivals in Greece in 2019 by land and by sea. So far this year there have been a total of 59,448 refugee arrivals. 16,861 of those were from Afghanistan and 12,452 originally came from Syria.

You can read more about the conditions in Greece's overcrowded migrant camps on the UN Refugee Agency's article Lone Children Face Insecurity on Greek Island.

The UNHCR data on refugee movements is available under a Creative Commons license and has been used in many interactive maps. You can view a number of these mapped visualizations of refugee movements in The Movement of Refugees Around the World.

The Hong Kong Tear Gas Heat Map

Currently the map is showing a lot of activity around the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where police have trapped hundreds of activists. The police have today been firing tear gas canisters at demonstrators who have gathered to protest at the police siege of the campus. Just yesterday the creators of the crowdsourced Hong Kong police tracking map, released a heat-map visualizing the locations where tear gas has been deployed in Hong Kong from August 5th to November 15th. is a crowdsourced map which reports the live position of the police in Hong Kong. On the map different emojis are used to show the location of the police across the city. Registered users can use the Telegram messaging application to report locations where the police are currently using violence against protesters. The application is widely used by Hong Kong residents who wish to avoid the violent clashes between the police and protesters in the city.

The Tear Gas Deployed in Hong Kong static map is a crowdsourced map showing where the Hong Kong police have fired tear gas. It is important to note that the heat-map doesn't show the actual number of tear gas canisters fired by the police. The heat-map intensity is instead based on the numbers of users who have reported a tear gas canister fired at a location. It is still useful therefore in helping to identify the locations in Hong Kong which have witnessed the most violent clashes between the police and pro-democracy protesters.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Biggest Plastic Polluting Brands

In September volunteers around the world took part in an audit of plastic litter. Nearly half a million pieces of plastic waste were collected in 51 different countries. 43% of those individual pieces of plastic were clearly marked with a consumer brand. The top global plastic polluter around the world, according to the audit, was Coca Cola. This is the second year in a row that Coca Cola was the largest plastic polluter, based on the results of the World Clean Up Day audit. 11,732 pieces of Coca Cola branded plastics were found in total. This is more than the next three top brands combined.

The Biggest Plastic Polluters interactive map allows you to view the levels of plastic found in countries around the world. The map uses colored scaled markers to show the amount of plastic picked up in all 51 countries who took part in the audit. You can view the 'Grand Total' of all plastic found in each county or view maps of the 'Coca Cola', 'Nestle', or 'Pepsi' branded plastics found in each country.

The map itself you can take with a pinch of salt. Obviously the totals found in each country are somewhat dependent on the number of volunteers who took part in the audit in each country. The largest markers therefore don't necessarily show the countries producing the largest amount of plastic waste. However it is interesting to see how much the different branded plastics make up of the total number of plastics found in each country.

The Ocean Cleanup probably provides a more scientific assessment of plastic pollution levels around the world. The Ocean Cleanup claims that "80% of river plastic pollution entering the world's oceans stem from 1000 rivers". In Plastic Sources the organization has mapped out what they say are the world's 1,000 most polluting rivers and the 30,000 rivers responsible for the other 20% of the plastic entering our oceans.

Currently the map includes very little information on how the organization calculates the amount of plastic waste distributed by each river or how they determine which are the most polluted rivers. The organization says that their model is based on data on 'plastic waste, land-use, wind, precipitation and rivers' but not where that data comes from. It does say that "Detailed information on our modeling approach and data will follow in our scientific update."

Litterbase is another organization which is attempting to determine the source of the plastic pollution found in the world's oceans. Currently Litterbase provides a summarized overview of the results from over 1,900 studies into the amount and composition of litter and its effect on marine environments. An example of one of these summaries is Distribution of Litter Types in Different Realms, which is an interactive map created from the results of 916 scientific publications on the amount, distribution and composition of litter in the world's oceans.

There are gaps in our knowledge where little scientific research has taken place, for example around Africa and the Polar regions. One way that we can fill in these gaps in our knowledge is by modeling the density of pollution in the oceans based on the results of scientific studies. Sailing Seas of Plastic is a dot density map which shows the estimated concentration of floating plastic in the oceans based on the results of 24 survey expeditions (2007-2013) and on wind and ocean drift models.

Each dot on the Sailing Seas of Plastic map represents 20 kg of floating plastic. According to the map there are 5,250 billion pieces of plastic adrift on the seas of the world. If you want you can also overlay the sailing tracks of the 24 survey expeditions on top of the dot map.

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Moscow Building Age Map

While there have been lots and lots of interactive building age maps released over the last few years very few of these maps have been used to explain the history of construction within individual cities. This is a real shame because these maps obviously have important stories to tell about how towns and cities have developed over time.

That is why I really like the History of Moscow Housing on an Interactive Map. The History of Moscow Housing on an Interactive Map is an exploration of how housing has developed in the Russian capital over the last few centuries. On the map individual buildings are colored to show their year of construction. It is also possible to select individual buildings on the map to view the year that they were built. The time slider at the bottom of the map allows you to view houses built during different time periods.

As well as the interactive map the article includes a graph showing the number of residential houses built in Moscow by year of construction. This graph reveals that the post-war years of 1950-1980 were the most active years for residential development in the capital. Under Khrushchev there was a big drive to construct new homes in Moscow. Under Brezhnev, the pace of construction declined and continued to decrease until the mid-1990s.

The History of Moscow Housing on an Interactive Map was built with the help of Yandex Real Estate. The real estate company says that the age of a home has a big influence on a property's popularity with buyers and/or tenants.

This isn't the first time that Moscow's building ages has been mapped. Mercator's Houses of Moscow also maps the ages of all of Moscow's buildings.

There Are No Streets in Crawley

Since September I've been trying to prove a theory that there are very few new streets in Britain. My theory is that very few roads built after 1800 are called "... Street". Britain has lots of post-1800 roads, avenues, closes, courts and lanes. I believe it has very few new streets. For some reason since 1800 town planners in Britain have taken a strong dislike to calling roads '... Street'.

Today's #30DayMapChallenge is to create a map related to names. I've taken this as an opportunity to put my street theory to the test by exploring the number of 'Streets' and 'Roads' in a UK town largely built after 1800. The new town of Crawley in West Sussex was developed after the Second World War. If my theory is true it should therefore have very few roads names 'Street'.

There Are No Streets in Crawley is an interactive map which colors all roads in Crawley yellow and all streets red. Of the hundreds of roads in Crawley only five of them are named as streets: 'High Street', 'Church Street', 'West Street', 'New Street' and 'Ifield Street'. I don't know old these streets are  but I think all five of them existed before the new town of Crawley was built. I believe all five streets in Crawley can be found on this 1896 Ordnance Survey Map. It is therefore very likely that all five of them pre-date 1800. On the other hand, while there only five roads named 'Street' in Crawley, there are lots of streets named 'Road'. It does appear that the Crawley town planners had a real dislike for 'Street'.

If you want more proof of my theory that we don't call roads 'Street' any more then you can explore the distribution of streets and roads in some of the UK's medieval cities in Medieval Streets and Modern Roads. In this post I looked at how roads named 'Street' tend to be found in the old city centers. These centers also contain very few roads. However city suburbs, mostly built after 1800, have lots of streets named 'Road' and very few named 'Street'.

Obviously the name of my interactive map is a misnomer and it should be called 'There Are Five Streets in Crawley'. However it is true that There Are No Roads in London.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Cattle & Deforestation in the Amazon

The large number of fires in the Amazon this summer were closely linked to an increase in deforestation. Most of the areas which have recorded the largest number of fires in 2019 have also had the largest number of deforestation warnings. One of the most common causes of deforestation in the Amazon is the increase in cattle farming.

InfoAmazonia and China Dialogue have created an interactive map to visualize the expansion of cattle in the Amazon biome. The interactive map in Rising Beef Demand Linked to Amazon Deforestation colors municipalities by the number of cattle. If you hover over a municipality on the map you can view a graph showing the rise or fall of cattle farming in the region over time. The map also shows the locations of slaughterhouses in the biome.

The China Dialogue article accompanying the map explores the growing consumption of beef in China. This growing demand for beef in China is responsible for much of the expansion in cattle farming in the Amazon region. Exports of beef to China account for 38.2% of Brazilian sales of packed meat. In comparison the USA accounts for 2.7% of Brazilian exports of packed meat

UK Rain, River Levels and Snow

This week a number of locations in the UK have experienced severe flooding. The UK Environment Agency has warned that with heavy rain forecast in some areas over the next four days that further flooding is expected, particularly in South Yorkshire. People in Lincolnshire and the Midlands should also remain aware that flooding may be a risk over the next few days.

The UK government's Flood Warnings for England map shows the locations in England where flood warnings are currently in operation. If you click through on a flood warning's marker on the map you can read more on local river levels and high tides. You can also read about the forecast flood risk and the latest advice to people living in the effected area. If you zoom in on the Flood Warnings for England map you can also view colored polygons showing the areas where flood warnings and flood alerts currently apply.

If you live near a river then as well as referring to the government's Flood Warnings map you might also want to check out this interactive map of river level monitoring stations. River Levels UK maps river gauges using colored arrows. The direction of the arrows show whether the river levels are currently rising or falling. The red arrows indicate that the current level is higher than normal for that location, while green arrows indicate river levels lower than normal. If you click through on a gauge's link you can view more details, such as the time of the latest river level reading.

The government's own River and Sea Levels map also shows the latest measurements from river level monitoring stations. On this map the monitoring stations are colored to show gauges where flooding is possible and where flooding isn't currently a concern. If you click through on a gauge's link on the map you can view a chart of the gauge's measurements over the last five days. This chart includes a line which shows the levels at which flooding becomes possible at that location.

While many areas of the UK experienced heavy rain overnight, some areas have also seen their first snow of the winter. The #uksnow Map uses crowdsourced Tweets to map the location and levels of snow. According the the #uksnow Map snow has fallen in a narrow band from Oxford to Bristol.