Sunday, February 15, 2015

Wow - It's the Maps of the Week

The Mapbox Blog is continuing to showcase great maps built using Turf.js. Last week one of my favorite maps was a route planner using Capital Bikeshare stations. That map used Turf.js with elevation data to provide an amazing 3d elevation chart along a bike route.

This week the Mapbox Blog continued to demonstrate the geospatial processing abilities of Turf with an animated map of the Iditarod, an annual sled dog race which takes place in Alaska. Time Travel Across the Iditarod with Turf replays the whole race, allowing you to follow the progress of each of the dog sleds over the course of the 15 day race.

CartoDB has also been busy with new feature releases. This week they announced CartoDB Heat Maps. The new heat maps option in CartoDB leverages the power of the Torque library, which allows developers to efficiently render and publish very large datasets to the client.

Torque is probably best known for its temporal capabilities, which power all those very popular animated Twitter maps that you have no doubt seen (for example this Super Bowl Twitter map). The new CartoDB Heat Maps options can also use Torque's temporal abilities to create animated heat maps.

These new animated heat maps are of course very visually engaging. However, the best example of a map using CartoDB Heat Maps that I've seen so far is this Placenames Heatmap. The map allows you to view a heat map of words used in United States place-names.

Type a word into the map and it searches US place-names and creates a heat map of the results. In the screenshot above you can see the results of searching for place-names, including the words 'silver' and 'gold'.

This week I was also impressed with Events Visualization, an interesting way to animate a time-line of events on a Google Map. The tool can help you create a mapped visualization of events across time and space with markers indicating the magnitude of events.

The tool comes with an interesting demo map visualizing Islamic terrorist attacks around the world since 1983. The map animates through each attack in chronological order, with three different speeds of playback. The red circular markers are scaled to represent the number of deaths involved in each attack.

Finally, for a bit of fun, you might also want to have a look at, a Leaflet map which allows you to draw on a blank map. Actually the map isn't entirely blank as you have to share your canvas with other artists signing-in from around the world.

Once you have zoomed into a blank section of the map you can select the 'draw' tool to start drawing directly on the map. When you have finished your sketch, if you like what you have drawn, you can select the 'share' button to grab a URL which provides a direct link to your drawing on the map.

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