Thursday, March 31, 2016

Where's in the News

There has been a small explosion in news maps lately. In March alone we have seen the release of:
Heatmap News is another interesting global news interactive map, which we have featured on Maps Mania before. As the name suggests Heatmap News provides a visual heat map of locations around the world which are currently in the news (sourced from Google News).

Heatmap News is an interesting example of how mapping news storied can be very difficult. If you click on Heatmap News you can read the latest news stories about that location as posted to Google News. Or rather you can - if the Heatmap News geocoding algorithm has worked properly.

The map appears to search for place-names within news stories and then automatically geo-code the location. While this works a lot of the time it can also lead to stories being mapped at the wrong location, For example, if you click on the country Georgia you are more likely to find stories about the U.S. state of Georgia (or its capital Atlanta) rather than the country itself.

Geocoding is very difficult and tt appears that Heamap News still needs to work a little on developing a geo-coding algorithm which looks a little more at the context of stories and not just at the place-names which appear in the mapped article.

However, despite some geocoding errors, Heatmaps News is still a useful visualization of global news stories. Perhaps the most useful feature in Heatmap News is the 'Date' filter. This allows you to search for news stories by date as well as location. This can be useful if you want to research which news stories were happening at different locations on specific dates.

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