Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Mapping Null Island

People searching for Null Island on Mapbox

The exact location of the mysterious Null Island has managed to evade explorers for centuries. Two maps released this week may have finally solved the mystery.

Earlier this week Mapbox released a beautiful looking map of the most requested locations on Mapbox. The map (pictured above) shows the top 50,000 most requested map tiles by map developers and the users of their maps.

The Mapbox report Predicting Data Curation in OpenStreetMap is an attempt by Mapbox to compare OpenStreetMap coverage with user demand, in order 'to predict areas that need better tracing in OpenStreetMap'.

On the whole the most requested locations correlate fairly closely to population density. It seems that the more people there are in an area then the more people want to view maps of that area. However there is one glaring hot-spot in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean which receives a lot of map traffic despite its apparent global insignificance.

Could this anomaly in the Atlantic Ocean actually be the location of Null Island? Why else would a seemingly blank space in the Atlantic Ocean get so much map traffic? Mapbox for one seem happy to name this spot as the real location of Null Island.

To this day Null Island remains largely unexplored and its very existence remains a mystery to much of the world. Part of the mystery surrounding Null Island is perhaps due to the ongoing debate among geographers and cartographers about its exact location.

The cartographers at Esri have been working hard for centuries desperately trying to be the first to tie down the actual location of Null Island. Finally the results of Esri's 400 year old effort to map Null Island has been published in the form of an Esri map, called Nill Points.

You can judge for yourself how successful Esri has been in their map making efforts. However the fact that the map still has 5,717 possible locations for the mysterious Null Island I think speaks for itself. It appears that Null Island is not quite yet ready to give up all of its mysteries.

If you want to learn more about the history of Null Island and its wonderful culture and people you should visit the The Republic of Null Island official website.

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