Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Mapping a Landslide

In February more than 200 people were killed in the Himalayas when a landslide on India's second highest peak caused a flash flood which swept away villages and two hydro-electric projects. Such large landslides are rare at this time of year, leading climate scientists to warn of the potential for ever increasing numbers of deadly landslides in the Himalayas as the planet continues to warm.

Detailed satellite imagery can help scientists to more clearly understand the causes and consequences of large landslides. Reuters has used high resolution satellite imagery of Raunthi from before and after the landslide to map the extent of the destruction caused. In Disaster in the Himalayas Reuters has mapped Planet Labs satellite imagery on top of a Digital Elevation Model to map the steep face of Raunthi before and after the devastating landslide. 

In the article Reuters also uses photos and satellite & aerial imagery to document the landslide, the extent of the flash flooding and the damage caused to the local villages, bridges and dams.

Pratik Yadev has also used satellite imagery to provide before and after maps of the Raunthi landslide. His Swipe Between Maps visualization uses Sentinel-2 satellite imagery with Mapbox's 3D terrain view to show Raunthi before and after the February landslide. Two 3D aerial imagery maps are placed side-by-side on Pratik's visualization allowing the user to easily compare the before and after imagery by swiping between the two maps.

The two maps are synchronized together which means that you can explore the before and after imagery in detail by zooming in and rotating the 3D map. As you zoom or pan in one map the other map automatically zooms and pans to stay centered on the same location and view.

Monday, March 01, 2021

Discovering the Northwest Passage

Arctic Fog is a fascinating historical journey into the discovery of the Northwest Passage and the Northeast Passage. The map recounts all the important expeditions carried out by explorers through the ages which eventually lead to the discovery of sea routes from Europe, through the frozen north, to the Pacific and towards Asia.

At the beginning of Arctic Fog you can choose whether you want to discover the Northwest Passage or the Northeast Passage. Choose either of these and you can take an historical journey through all the important and significant expeditions which would lead to the discovery of the chosen passage.Each of these two story maps will take you on a chronological journey through time, exploring in detail all the significant expeditions on the voyage to the discovery of the Northwest and Northeast Passages.

At the beginning of both the Northwest Passage and the Northeast Passage story maps the areas which before their discoveries had been unnaviagable or believed to be impassable are fogged out on the map. As you progress through the timeline the different expeditions reveal new areas of the map. Progress through all the expeditions and the passages are finally revealed on the map.

Switzerland is Now Open

The Swiss Federal Office of Topography, or 'Swisstopo' as they are officially known, is Switzerland's national mapping agency. Swisstopo are renowned for their incredibly detailed and accurate topographical maps. Maps which you can now use in your own mapping projects.

From today Swisstopo is making its geodata free to use according to the principles of Open Government Data (OGD). This means that you can Swisstopo's national maps, orthophotos and geological vector data in your own mapping projects - free of charge. 

To get started you should head over to Swisstopo's new Free Geodata page, which explains in detail which of its products are now freely available and which also includes links to Swisstopo's free geodata and geoservices. If you are interested in creating interactive maps using Swisstopo's map tiles then you might be interested in the JavaScript API examples for Swisstopo's Web Map Tiling Services. This section of Swisstopo's API docs includes links to a number of demo maps showing Swisstopo's map tiles being used with Leaflet.js, OpenLayers 3 and CesiumJS.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Making History with Maps

Making History Sandbox is an interesting interactive mapping tool which allows you to make maps which show developments over time. It is probably easiest to explain this tool using a working example - so here is a little demo map of an animated timeline I created with Making History Sandbox.

Essentially the tool consists of a timeline and regions which can be colored on the map. To create a history timeline map you add frames to this timeline with different areas colored on the map. By adding additional frames to this timeline you are then able to show geographical developments over time. 

By default the world is mapped to the state level. However Making History Sandbox allows you to import your own region/territory data as a geoJSON file. So, for example, in the United States you could import county boundaries to plot developments over time at a higher resolution than the state level.

It is possible to save and load your created timelines. Unfortunately Making History Sandbox doesn't have a 'share' option so it isn't easy to share your created timeline with anybody else.

Friday, February 26, 2021

The Affordable Housing Map

The average house price for all home types in the United States is now around $295,000. The days of being able to buy a five figure starter home are fast coming to an end. But they aren't over just yet.If you want to know where your can find a home for less than $100,000 then you can refer to Social Explorer's Housing Units Less Than $100,000 interactive map.

Housing Units Less Than $100,000 uses data from the 2015-19 American Community Survey to visualize the density of affordable starter homes in the United States. This choropleth map shows the number of homes valued under $100,000 at the census tract level.If you click on an individual census tract on the map you can view the exact percentage of homes in the tract valued under £100,000.

The map reveals that the lowest density of affordable starter homes are along the east and west coasts. Texas appears to have the highest percentage of homes valued under $100,000. Seven of the ten counties with the highest percentage of five-figure homes are at the edge of the South Plains in Texas. These include King County, where 96.2% of homes are valued under $100,000, Stonewall County (90.2%), and Hardeman County (86.6%).

The Coronavirus Monitor

The map I have consulted most often in the last few months has been the Berliner Morgenpost's Coronavirus Monitor. The German newspaper's visualization of the epidemic not only provides a global overview of the present number of new infections in countries around the world but also allows you to explore how the virus has spread in those countries since the beginning of the outbreak at the start of last year.

Circles are used on the map to show the total number of cases of Coronavirus in each country (the red circles), the number of people who have recovered from an infection (green circles) and the total number of deaths (black circles). The larger the colored circle then the larger the number of cases. If you select a circle on the map you can also view the rates of cases, recoveries and deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. A timeline running along the bottom of the map allows you to view the data for any date since Jan 29 2020.  

Beneath the global Coronavirus monitor is another interactive map which shows the number of new infections over the last 7 days in each German state. You can also find graphs on the R rate in Germany over time, a bar chart of the number of weekly deaths, and data on the number of Germans who have been vaccinated against Coronavirus.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Stars & Warming Stripes

In 2018 Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading, released a powerful data visualization to illustrate how temperatures have risen around the globe over the last century. His visualization used colored stripes to show the average annual temperatures for every year of the last century. This type of data graphic is now commonly known as a 'climate stripes' visualization.

You can view the climate stripes of every U.S. state using the Stars & Warming Stripes visualization. Select a state from the drop-down menu and you can see the climate warming stripes which show how average yearly temperatures in the state have changed over the last 115 years. The visualization includes an option to view a scatter plot superimposed on top of the state's climate warming stripes.

You can also create warming stripes for each state and for other regions and countries around the world from Ed Hawkins' own #ShowYourStripes website. Select a region and then a country from the drop-down menu on #ShowYourStripes and you can view and download an image showing how temperatures have risen over the last 100+ years at your selected location.

Global warming stripes are a very powerful way to visualize a complex issue with one simple and easy to understand image. The general progress from blue to redder stripes is both visually striking and very hard to dispute. The temperature data used for creating the stripes on both Stars & Warming Stripes and from #ShowYourStripes come from the Berkeley Earth temperature dataset and from a number of national meteorological agencies.

100,000,000 OpenStreetMap Edits

Update: The 100,000,000th edit has now been made to OpenStreetMap. The edit was made by user Lamine Ndiaye, who made a change to OSM in Nianiane, in the Fatick Region of Senegal. Lamine has been a registered user of OpenStreetMap since 2013 and has made 2,151 edits to the map.

Later today the 100,000,000th edit will be made to OpenStreetMap. OpenStreetMap is a free crowdsourced map of the world which is edited and maintained by millions of volunteers all around the globe. Since its inception in 2004 over two million registered users have added millions and millions of new data and changes to this free map of the world. 

You can watch the 100,000,000 edit being made to OpenStreetMap live on the OSM in Realtime interactive map. This map displays in real-time the changes being made to OpenStreetMap around the world. At the time of writing the OSM in Realtime counter shows there have been 99,958,361 changesets made to OSM. When users edit OSM they can add new features to the map or edit existing data. When these edits are made the user writes a short message describing the change and then this message & the edit are saved as a 'changeset'. As you can see from OSM in Realtime the number of changes made to the world's leading crowdsourced map are fast closing in on 100,000,000.

You can also watch live changes being made to OpenStreetMap on ShowMeTheWay. ShowMeTheWay is an interactive map which highlights edits being made to OSM in real-time on top of satellite imagery. The map shows you the nodes, ways and relations actually being edited and provides information on those changes.

You can also view information about individual edits made to OSM on OpenStreetMap Changesets. This map allows you to view details about each individual edit made to OSM, including the name of the user, when the edit was made, and what data was added or edited on the map. After the 100,000,000 edit has been made to OpenStreetMap you will be able to explore details on the changes made at:


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Street Fashion on Street View

European fashion retailer Zalando has launched a new and unique online shopping experience. With its new Street It All campaign Zalando allows customers to view and buy street fashions directly from a Google Map.

Using the Street It All interactive Google Map you can explore custom street views shot in four different Spanish cities. Click on the map markers in Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga and Valencia and you can view custom shot 360 degree panoramic images captured by Zalando. In these custom Street View scenes you will find models wearing Zalando's street fashions. 

If you like any of the clothes being modeled in these street scenes you can click on the featured item and buy the item directly from the map.


Of course when I say this is a 'unique' online shopping experience I am stretching the truth a little. Very little online is truly original and Zalando's Street View campaign is very similar to a campaign launched two years ago by Fred Perry and Raf Simons.

In 2019 Fred Perry and Raf Simons released their own virtual reality shopping experience. Fred Perry x Raf Simons is a custom Street View tour which you can navigate around just like you can move around in Google Maps Street View. However, unlike on Google Maps, on these virtual panoramas you can click on the people and buy their clothes.

All the models that appear in Fred Perry x Raf Simons are interactive. Click on a model and you can browse the clothes that they are wearing and even click through to buy an item on the Fred Perry online store. As on Google Maps all the models have their faces blurred. Some of the items of clothing are also blurred. This means that the item is not yet available to be purchased on the online store.

Mapping Attacks on the Press

Every year the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) releases an annual report on the number of journalists imprisoned and killed by countries across the world. This year the CPJ has created a story map Attacks on the Press 2020 which explores in detail attacks on the press around the globe. 

In its annual global survey the CPJ report that across the world at least 274 journalists are in jail as a direct result of their work. This exceeds the previous high of 2016 when 272 journalists were imprisoned. Last year China was the worst country in which to work as a journalist for the second year in a row. In 2020 China imprisoned a number of journalists in response to how they reported on the outbreak and spread of Covid-19 and how their government were responding to the epidemic.

The CPJ map colors the world's countries based on the number of journalists that were imprisoned during 2020. The yellow dots show where journalists were killed in 2020 in relation to their work. As you scroll through the story the map pans to explain the attacks on the press in the worst offending countries. A menu allows you to switch between imprisoned journalists, journalists killed in 2020 and an 'explore' option. If you select 'explore' you can then click on the individual yellow dots on the map to learn more about the individual journalists who were killed around the world during the course of last year.