Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A Random Window onto the World

My new favorite past-time is staring through people's windows around the world. No, I am not a pervert. My voyeurism actually involves using WindowSwap to peer from the inside of people's homes out onto the world - observing the views that people see around the globe when they look out from their windows.

WindowSwap is a very simple website which allows you to view short video clips submitted by people from across the world which show the view from a window in their home. That may not sound very exciting but for the virtual flâneur it provides an extraordinary glimpse into the world as seen from other people's homes.

Take a tour with WindowSwap and you are transported from a view of Alpine mountains from a chalet in a Swiss valley, to a bird's eye view of Singapore glimpsed from a high-rise window, to a noisy and rainy view of New York from a Manhattan loft. Or not. The views that you will see are completely random and could come from any location in the world.

If you enjoy this kind of geographical slideshow providing random glimpses of the world then you might also like MapCrunch. Press 'Go' on Map Crunch and you can view a completely randomized Street View image from Google's huge Street View coverage from around the globe.

The Street View which you are shown could be from anywhere in the world. Map Crunch also allows you to select to view only random Street View images from your choice of continent or country. If the random element of Map Crunch doesn't appeal then you might prefer the Map Crunch Gallery, which shows the best views from MapCrunch's own selected View of the Day.

Visualizing Flooding in America

This animated map powerfully visualizes how flood risk will increase during the next 30 years in the Howard and Hamilton Beach neighborhoods in Brooklyn, New York. The animated map uses data from a new flood risk study and was created using The Pudding's new Flooding in America site for visualizing flood risk in the USA.

Using The Pudding's Flooding in America site you can create embeddable maps and charts which show the flood risk over the next 30 years for any location in the US. Flooding in America includes a series of maps and charts which reveal the increased risks of flooding across America due to future climate change. Each of these charts and graphs can be embedded in your own websites & blogs or shared on social media to help visualize the risks of flooding in your own local communities.

The maps and charts reveal how many local properties will be at risk from flooding due to climate change and where these properties are located. The data can also be used to compare and contrast the risks of flooding in your neighborhood with other local communities.

The Pudding's maps and charts use data from a new First Street Foundation study into flooding risk in the United States. The nonprofit organization First Street Foundation has also released its own online tool that can tell you the current flood risk for your home and how that risk may increase due to environmental and climate change.

If you enter your address or zip-code into Flood Factor you can view a detailed report into whether your area has flooded in the past, the current local flooding conditions and the future risk of flooding. Interactive maps are used by Flood Factor to show the local areas most at risk of flooding and the severity of that risk.

The flood risk report for your area informs you of such things as the proportion of local properties at risk from flooding and the number of properties at risk due to climate change. The report also provides information of local action which communities can undertake to limit flood damage and lower flood insurance costs.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Mapping a Car Free City

There are map visualizations and then there are NYT map visualizations. In I've Seen a Future Without Cars, and it's Amazing the New York Times has created an impressive scrollytelling story map which almost perfectly visualizes the writer's vision of a New York with far fewer cars and far fewer roads.

The article begins with a mapped visualization showing how Manhattan's roads currently occupy an area four times the size of Central Park. As you progress through the article the story map continues to show how roads in the city could be narrowed and sidewalks broadened to create a more people friendly city. It also visualizes how bike lanes could be created to make cycling easier & safer and how bus lanes could help reduce the necessity for cars.

The most impressive part of the NYT visualization is a number of panning scenes which cut from a 3D map of a location to a photograph of the same location (as it is looks now) and then cutting to an artist's impression of how that location could be improved without roads and cars. One map panning scene in particular is absolutely stunning. In this scene the 3D map pans down from an oblique overhead view to a street level view of a busy junction between two uptown avenues. The map view then seamlessly cuts to a photograph showing the junction as it is now - completely dominated by roads and cars. This photograph in turn transitions into an artist's view of how the junction could be transformed by narrowing the width of the roads and widening the sidewalks, creating space for curbside vendors and the space for people to gather and meet.

The proposition that New York should change from being a car friendly city to a city with far fewer roads is one which will meet with a lot of opposition. I love how the scrollytelling story maps in this article beautifully visualize the vision of a car free New York and help to make an interesting argument much, much more persuasive.

The Panopticon State of America

The Atlas of Surveillance is an interactive map showing where law enforcement agencies are using surveillance technologies to spy on American citizens. The map allows anyone to see where their local police forces have been spending tax-payers' money on surveillance technologies and how the various types of surveillance technology are spreading across the country.

The interactive Atlas of Surveillance shows where police departments have purchased and are using surveillance technology such as drones, face recognition, automated license plate readers and predictive policing. The map is a joint project between the Electronic Frontier Foundation & the University of Nevada and the data for the map comes from a combination of crowdsourcing and data journalism.

You can use the interactive map legend to filter the types of surveillance technology which are displayed on the map. The map currently visualizes 5,300 different surveillance technologies which have been deployed across the whole country. If you select a marker on the map you can read more about the chosen police department and the types of surveillance technology which it owns. If a police department is not shown on the map it most likely means that it hasn't been researched yet - and not that it doesn't own any surveillance technology.

Monday, July 13, 2020

The History of Public Transit

Citylines (not to be confused with county lines) is a collaborative platform which is busy mapping the public transit systems of the world. Using Citylines you can explore interactive maps visualizing the local transit systems of hundreds of cities around the globe. You can also use Citylines to explore how each city's public transport network has grown over time.

My favorite feature of Citylines is the ability to view a city's transit network developing over the years. Each city's transit system map includes a date control, which allows you to view the extent of the local transit network for any year in history. Press the play button on the map and you can view an animated map showing how the city's transit system has developed through history.

Another interesting feature of Citylines is the compare tool. This enables you to view the transit maps for any two global cities side-by-side. These comparison maps also include a timeline, so it is possible to compare the transit maps for your chosen cities for any year in history and compare how the transit systems in both cities have grown over time.

All the data used on Citylines is open sourced under the Open Database License (ODbL). This means that if you want to create your own city public transit map then you can download the data for your map from Citylines (in json or CSV formats).

I wish I had known about the Citylines map data when I created my animated map of the first 40 years of the London Underground. It would have saved me a lot of work.

My animated map shows the development of the network from 1863-1900. The London Underground began when the Metropolitan Line opened in 1863. This original line had seven stations and stretched between Paddington and Farringdon. By 1990 the network had grown to include a District Line and the beginnings of the Northern Line.

You can see how the London Underground grew during its first 40 years on my History of the London Underground. If you press the 'Start' button on the map the London Underground lines will start to appear on the map in the order in which they were constructed. The animated tube lines were created using the Leaflet.Polyline.SnakeAnim plugin for Leaflet.js. If I ever have a spare month I might get around to adding the next 119 years of construction to the map. It should be a lot easier now I know the data is available from Citylines.

If you want to complete the London Underground history map yourself or reuse the code then you are welcome to do so. You can clone my project on Glitch.

The Slow Recovery of the NYC Subway

Half-way through March of this year traffic on the New York subway system began to fall dramatically. By the end of March traffic across the network was running at less than 10% of the normal traffic on the system.

The cause for this dramatic fall in passengers was of cause the coronavirus outbreak. It has been well documented that New York City has been one of the worst epicenters for Covid-19. It is therefore unsurprising that people have been mostly avoiding, where possible, the confined spaces of the subway system. As New York has made significant strides in reducing the numbers of new Covid-19 cases the number of passengers on the subway has been beginning to slowly increase, but numbers are still way down on normal levels of traffic.

You can explore NYC subway ridership data over time for every subway station on the NYC Subway Ridership map. Select an individual station on the interactive map and you can view a graph showing the total number of passenger entries and exits from that station over time. Click on any station and you will see a sudden drop in numbers in mid-March and a very slow increase in passengers ever since.

At the beginning of May the Gothamist used the same subway turnstile data to explore which subway stations in New York were experiencing the smallest and largest drop in passenger numbers.

The interactive map in Which Parts Of NYC Are Relying On The Subway Most During Coronavirus uses scaled markers to show the total number of turnstile entries at each New York subway station. The color of the markers on the map visualize the number of turnstile entries as a percentage of the historical average. In other words the bluest stations have seen the smallest drop in traffic.

The map also allows you to view choropleth maps showing the levels of poverty and the numbers of residents working in healthcare in each New York borough. If you turn on the poverty rate layer you can see that there seems to be a correlation between the stations with the least reductions in traffic and the local poverty rate. The map also seems to show that the areas with the most healthcare workers are also the areas where subway use remains relatively high.

The 2020 Polish Presidential Election

Poland's conservative and openly homophobic president, Andrzej Duda, has narrowly won another term. The final official results have yet to be announced but Andrzej Duda has what looks like an unassailable lead in the 2020 Polish Presidential Election. Duda supports the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), which means that the government will almost certainly continuee along its authoritarian path while eroding judicial independence.

As with nearly all Polish elections the results in this presidential election are largely split geographically. A map of the results created by newspaper Wyborcza (above) reveals that the Liberal challenger, Rafał Trzaskowski, the mayor of Warsaw, was more popular in the west of Poland, while Duda was more popular in the south-east of the country.

This geographical split in politics is seen in nearly every Polish election and appears to date back to the partition of Poland in the early 18th Century.

The Partitions of Poland 1815–1918 (from Lessons from the Partitions of Poland)

The current geographical split in Polish politics mirrors very closely how the country was divided in the 18th century. In August, 1772, Russia, Prussia, and Austria signed a treaty that partitioned Poland. Poland only regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic in 1918 after World War I. The borders that divided Poland during the 18th and 19th Centuries disappeared over 100 years ago. However they regularly seem to re-emerge on the country's election maps.

This split in voting patterns along the lines of the old Imperial borders has been seen many times. Back in 2013 Irena Grosfeld and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya wrote about how the spatial pattern in the 2007 election in Poland was "determined, to a large extent, by the Partitions of Poland (1772-1918)". In The Past in the Polish Present the two professors argue that the very different economic and social policies which were followed by Russia, Prussia, and Austria in Poland for over a century have had a persistent legacy in Poland. This legacy appears to have emerged once again in this week's Polish presidential election.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Fall & Rise of American Employment

Sites USA has created an interactive map which visualizes the astonishing fall & rise in the unemployment figures over the course of this year. The Unemployment Map shows the AGS labor force estimates at county level across the whole of the United States.

The map includes a date option which allows you to view the weekly unemployment numbers since the beginning of March. As you can see in the animated GIF above there was an incredible rise in the unemployment figures during lock-down across the whole country. In the last month however, as the lock-downs ease, there has been a large reduction in unemployment numbers - also across the whole country.

A similar pattern has been seen in many countries around the world. The problem for the USA is that the numbers of Covid-19 cases are continuing to rise. If states are forced to reimpose lock-down measures those unemployment numbers will inevitably once again begin to rise.

If you want to know how your local job market has performed since March then click on your county on the map. You can then view a graph showing the unemployment figures from the 7th March to the end of June in the selected county.

The Forests of Europe

EU Forest is an impressive interactive Google Map showing the location of over half a million trees in Europe. The map plots the EU-Forest dataset, compiled by Achille Mauri, Giovanni Strona & Jesús San-Miguel-Ayanz.

Forests cover around 33% of land in Europe and this interactive map provides a fantastic visualization of which countries have dense forest cover and which countries have very few trees. The map includes a number of quick links which allow you to view the forest cover in individual European countries.

When comparing individual countries on this map you should consider that the data may not be complete. For example on the map Belgium appears to have very little forest cover. Belgium is a very densely populated country and indexmundi reports that the amount of land covered by forests in 2016 was 22.58%. That is a long way below the European average but not enough for the country to look so comparatively sparse on this map. For example according to indexmundi the UK only has 13.07% forest land cover. On this map, however, it appears to have much more forest cover than Belgium.

Putting these problems with the data aside this map is an impressive technical visualization of a very large dataset. Plotting half a million points on an interactive map doesn't come without its technical challenges. In this case the challenge was met by using the Google Maps API and You can read more about how this was achieved on Visualizing More than 500,000 Trees using Google Maps and

Friday, July 10, 2020

How Well Do You Know the World?

Guess Where! is a fun interactive geography guessing game which requires you to name capital cities around the world from an unlabeled map.

In the game Guess Where! you are shown a series of capital cities on a Google Map. All you have to do is choose the name of the city from a choice of four. To make your task a little harder all the place-name labels on the map have been turned off.

You score points in the game for every capital city which you guess correctly. If you are struggling with naming the correct cities then Guess Where! includes an option to only show capital cities from your chosen continent.

GeoScents is a multiplayer geographical guessing game based on the popular, but now defunct, GeoSense game. The object of the game is very simple. You are given a named location and you just have to point to that location on the map.

You earn points in GeoScents based on how near you click to the correct location. Where GeoScents wins out compared to the many other similar geography guessing games is in that you can play against other players (if there are any online) and you can compare your score against the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly records. Score high enough and you can even add your name to the records scoreboard!

Geography Trivia is a version of the popular hangman game in which you have to answer trivia questions about countries around the world. In the game you are asked a series of questions and you have to type in the correct country. If you enter a correct letter it will be added to your answer and shown in green. Type in an incorrect letter and it will be shown in red.

As you progress through the game the scoreboard tells you how many questions you have answered in total and how many of those questions you answered correctly.

The fun doesn't need to stop there. If you want more map based geography games then check out the Maps Mania games tag.