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 (clicking this link will download the xls file).

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.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Meandering Rivers



The Guardian has assembled a collection of beautiful mapped visualizations which use elevation data to reveal some of the normally hidden details in river systems around the world. The maps show elevation values using color intensity to highlight rivers, their tributaries and to reveal their historical paths.

Each of the rivers in the collection includes a slide control which allows you to switch between a satellite view of the river and a view which uses elevation data to reveal features which are normally hidden by vegetation in the satellite view. The maps in Show with the flow: elevation maps reveal world rivers were created by Esri. In each of the maps the darker colors show the areas with the lowest elevations.


Esri's maps remind me of Harold Fisk's meander river maps. In 1944 Harold Fisk published a series of beautiful looking maps of the Mississippi River. In his 'Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River', commissioned by the Army Corp of Engineers, Fisk not only mapped the flow of the Mississippi but also tried to represent how the river's course has meandered and changed over time.

Fisk's maps use a number of different colors to show the different courses of the river over the centuries. You can view static images of all fifteen of Fisk's maps for the Army Corp of Engineers on this radicalcartography post.

Some of the Army Corp of Engineers' later meander maps of the Mississippi River can also be viewed on Meiotic's Meander Maps. Meiotic has geo-referenced a few of the Army Corp's maps and placed them on top of modern maps and aerial imagery of the river's course. These maps include a slider control which allow you to compare the Army Corp's original maps with a modern map of the river.

Somebits has also geo-referenced all 15 of Fisk's original maps. The 1944 Map Of Former Courses of the Mississippi stitches all 15 maps together. Unfortunately the modern aerial imagery seems to be broken on this interactive map. However you can still compare Fisk's map to a terrain map of the Mississippi and you can use the interactive map controls to zoom-in and study Fisk's beautiful maps in loving detail.

Mapping the Past



The Hungarian Parliament Library has digitized tens of thousands images from the archives and collections of Hungarian libraries and museums. Where the images in these collections depict a recognizable location they have been added to the Hungaricana interactive map.

The Hugaricana interactive map allows you to explore thousands of vintage photographs, paintings and drawings from all around the globe. Zoom in on a location on the map and the available images are displayed on the map using clustered markers. Click on a marker and you can explore the selected image within an interactive map interface. This allows you to pan around the chosen photo or picture and zoom-in and view it in close detail.

Beneath the map you can view details about the selected image, including its date, title and the museum whose collection it belongs to.

If you are interested in exploring more vintage photographs from across the world then you might also like these maps:

Historypin - a huge collection of mapped vintage photos from around the world
the Collections of the Albert Khan Museum - photos captured by Albert Khan's team of photographers at the beginning of the 20th century
OldSF - vintage photos of San Francisco (has Google Maps licencing issues but photos still work)
OldNYC - old photographs of New York
Old Toronto - historic photos of Toronto from the City of Toronto Archives
Wymer's DC - view images of D.C. from the John P. Wymer Photograph Collection
The Yangon Time Machine - a map of vintage photographs of Yangon, Myanmar
Smapshot - historical images of Switzerland
OldAms - thousands of vintage photographs of Amsterdam
Tids Maskinen - explore photos of Norway by location & date
Helsinki Ennen - historical maps and photographs of the Finnish capital
Our Town Stories - Edinburgh - vintage photos & maps of the Scottish capital
Vintage Greece - geo-located vintage photographs and historical maps of Greece
Ajapaik - vintage photos of Estonia

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Sounds of Life in the Bay



The San Francisco Bay Area Sound Map is an interactive map which allows you to listen to over 150 different sound recordings captured in locations all around the San Francisco Bay Area.

The original recordings on the map were captured by students from the Santa Clara University's Department of Music. In these days of lock-downs, empty streets and shuttered businesses the San Francisco Bay Area Sound Map provides an eerie reminder of life before coronavirus. Using the map you can listen to the sounds of the crowd watching a baseball match, the chatter of customers in a packed pizza restaurant and the street-life of a busy Half Moon Bay. These are all sounds which have now faded into silence.

Let's hope that it isn't too long before we can hear some unrecorded sounds of normal life again. Until then you might like to explore some other sound maps using the Maps Mania Sound Maps tag.

Geography Treasure Hunts



Esri's Geography Treasure Hunts is a collection of map based quizzes which require you to explore a map of the world in search of the answers to a number of geographical questions. The Treasure Hunts include games where you have to find the location of World Heritage Sites, Cities, Mountains,Places & Food etc.

In each Treasure Hunt you are asked to solve a series of questions. Each of the questions requires you to find a location somewhere in the world. To answer the question you just need to center the map on the correct location. Get the answer right and you can move on to the next question in your treasure hunt of the world.


If you enjoyed playing Esri's Treasure Hunt games then you might also want to test your geographical knowledge on Click that 'hood!

Click that 'hood! is a geography game which tests your knowledge of city neighborhoods. To play Click that 'hood! you first need to select a city or town from the long list of locations available. You are then shown an interactive map of your chosen city. Your task is to correctly identify the location of twenty neighborhoods as quickly as possible by pointing them out on the map.


City-Guesser is a fun map quiz which tests your knowledge of world cities. In City-Guesser you are shown the maps of major cities around the world. All you have to do is name which city is being shown in each map. To ensure that the game isn't ridiculously easy all the place-name labels have been removed from each city map.

If you guess correctly you proceed to the next round. Guess wrong and it is game over. You get points for each correct answer. The game keeps a record of the maximum level you reach (the number of correct answers in one game) and your highest score. Your aim therefore is to beat your own high score and your highest level reached. Or you can try and beat me. So far I've reached level 7

You might also like these other map based games:

Quizzity - point to the named locations on a map of the world.
Map Quiz - a compendium of a number of different map games in one package.

Mapping French Accents



The Sound Atlas of the Regional Languages ​​of France is an interactive map which allows you to listen to French accents and regional languages from the different areas of France and its dependent territories.

The map itself is colored to show where the different language groups spoken in France (mainly grouped here into Romance and Occitan). If you click on a region on the map you can listen to a native reading an Aesop fable. The links above the map also allow you to listen to people reading the sane Aesop fable in regions of Italy and Belgium.


LocalLingual is a global map which allows you to listen to how people speak around the world. Click on a country on the LocalLingual map and you can hear an audio recording of a local speaking the name of the country and the country's capital. You can even listen to a recording of the country's national anthem.

LocalLingual is a crowd-sourced map, Which means in many countries you can also listen to user contributions of recordings of other words and phrases spoken in the local language. In many countries on the map you can even drill down to listen to recordings in more localized languages, dialects and accents.