Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Dakota Access Pipeline Map

The Dakota Access Pipeline is being built from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to southern Illinois. The pipeline will be nearly 2,000 miles long and travel through four states. When completed the pipeline will be able to deliver up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil every day.

The construction of the pipeline has become increasingly controversial, mainly because of its likely impact on the environment. Much of this controversy has been centered on the potential threat to the water quality on Native American tribal lands.

Cooper Thomas has released an Esri Story Map showing the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline. In Oil, Water and Steel Cooper explores the necessity of the pipeline, discusses the safety of different oil transportation methods and explores the controversy around the pipeline's construction.

As you scroll through Oil, Water and Steel you are taken on a journey along the pipeline's route. During this journey important locations on the pipeline's route are picked out on the map. In particular you can learn more about the most controversial locations on the pipeline's route and where and how the pipeline's construction is being contested

The New York Times has also mapped the pipeline's route. In Conflicts Along the Dakota Access Pipeline the Times has created an impressive strip map of the pipeline and the locations which have seen the most controversy over its construction.

Locations where the pipeline has to cross water are marked with blue circles on the map. Small yellow circles show where land in Iowa was purchased under eminent domain. The NYT's map uses data from The Bakken Pipeline Map, which includes much more detailed information on the progress of the pipeline's construction and the properties it crosses, properties purchased under eminent domain and property owners legally contesting eminent domain.

Friday, December 30, 2016

How to Create a Green & Pleasant Land

It can take a long time to create a green and pleasant land. In the case of Britain it took an ice age, an interstadial phase of global warming, a massive tsunami and around ten thousand years of human occupation.

In The Making of the British Landscape the geographer Nicholas Crane explores how the landscape of Britain has been shaped over the centuries by climate change and human occupation. This Esri Story Map uses a series of interactive maps to show how climate change and rising sea levels separated Britain from continental Europe.

As well as showing how Britain became an island this Story Map also examines how human occupation has shaped the British landscape, Centuries of deforestation, farming and urbanization have all contributed to the landscape of Britain. The construction of huge ritual monuments has also played a role in creating the British landscape that we know today.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Origin-Destination Flow Maps

Earlier this month I read an interesting article in the Cartography and Geographic Information Science journal, examining Design Principles for Origin-Destination Flow Maps. In the paper the authors suggest three good design principles for visualizing origin-destination flows where specific routes between the origin and destination are unknown or unimportant.

One of the three design principles suggested in the article is that "curved flows are more effective than straight flows". A good example of this design principle can be seen in practice in Bostongraphy's Hubway Trip Explorer. In this interactive map Bostongraphy has mapped trips taken on Boston's bike share network.

The map allows you to explore trips taken on the network by time of day, day of the week, month of the year, in different weather conditions and by the gender & age of the rider. Once you have used these options to filter the data the origin-destination flows are then visualized on a map of Boston using curved flow lines.

The use of these curved lines to show the origin-destination flows on the map seems much more effective than assigning specific routes (for example by using the shortest route between the origin & destination), The use of wider curves for longer distances ensures that the individual origin-destination flows can be clearly differentiated on the map. If straight line routes between the individual bike stations had been used instead of these curved line flows the individual origin-destination flows would be much harder to read on the map. It probably also wouldn't have been as aesthetically pleasing as this rather beautiful looking map of the traffic flows between Boston's Hubway stations.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Tracking Santa in Real Time

Rudolph the red nosed reindeer has a very shiny nose. In fact it is so shiny that it gives off an infrared signature so powerful that it can be detected from space.

Every Christmas NORAD's geo-synchronous satellites are able to detect the signature from Rudolph's nose and observe when Santa Claus leaves the North Pole. They then proceed to track his movements for 24 hours as Santa delivers presents to children around the world. You can follow Santa's movements today on the NORAD Santa Tracker.

You can also follow Santa's progress this Christmas Eve on Google's Santa Tracker. Google uses GPS (the Gnome Positioning System) to track Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve. They then plot his movements around the world on a real-time Google Map.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Songs Around the World

It's time to get the Christmas party started. So why not begin the celebrations with this Smithsonian Folkways Holiday Music Map? This map is bursting with traditional holiday music, featuring songs from the the museum's Folkways Recordings collection.

The map includes 56 songs from 24 nations. Songs which celebrate the winter holidays, whether that be Christmas, Chanukah, or Kwanzaa. Using the map you can listen to an Icelandic version of 'Silent Night', 'O Tannenbaum' from Germany, 'Psalm 150' sung by the Jewish Abayudaya congregation in Uganda or traditional Christmas songs from numerous other communities around the world.

If you want to learn more about how different cultures celebrate Christmas then you can also explore the Santas Around the World map. Santa goes by many different names. In many countries he is of course Saint Nicholas, but he is also known as Father Christmas, Agios Vasilis, Shengdan Laoren and Ded Moroz.

It seems that there are two main versions of Santa's name. In many countries Santa is named after Saint Nicholas, for example 'Santa Claus' itself derives from the Dutch 'Sinterklaas', a dialectal pronunciation of Saint Nicholas. In many other countries he goes by the name of Father Christmas, for example he is 'Père Noël' in France, 'Pai Natal' in Portugal and 'Papa Noel' in Spain.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

In the Age of Wooden Ships

National Geographic has published their round-up of the Best Maps of 2016. The collection includes fifteen maps, including vintage, interactive, digital and hand-drawn maps from around the world.

One of the maps featured in National Geographic's top fifteen maps is Wooden Ships, an interactive map which allows you to explore European maritime activity from 1750 to 1850. The visualization is based on digitized shipping logs from the Climatological Database for the World's Oceans 1750-1850.

Using the map menu you can view a mapped visualization of the marine journeys undertaken by British, Dutch, French or Spanish ships. You can use the time-line at the bottom of the map to select any range of years from 1750 to 1850. The map also allows you to filter the data by wind speed patterns and by other weather and climatic conditions. If you click on a hexbin on the map you can also read entries from the ship logbooks yourself.

Morgan Herlocker has also used the Climatological Database for the World's Oceans to create an interactive map of international ship traffic between 1750 and 1850. These historical ship logbooks contain a wealth of data both about the routes taken by ships and the weather conditions encountered by the ships during their voyages.

Morgan took the location data from these 100 years of ship logs and plotted them on a Mapbox map. The thousands of data points in Ships Logs were processed into vector tilesets using tippecanoe. One thing that clearly emerges from mapping all this data is the routes of the major shipping lanes from 1750-1850.

Mapping New York's Shadows

Yesterday the New York Times honored the shortest day of the year with its own mapped homage to the sun. In Mapping the Shadows of New York City the NYT has created a truly beautiful map which shows the extent that the city's tall buildings block the sun throughout the year.

The Times says that most Manhattan neighborhoods will remain in shadow for at least half of daylight hours. They also claim that the amount of time a location spends in shadow during daylight hours can affect everything from apartment rental prices to the flow of foot traffic on the city's streets.

To calculate the extent of building shadows in winter, summer and spring/fall the NYT used 3d building data provided by the city. With the help of the Tandon School of Engineering at New York University they then calculated the total number of minutes that a given point spends in shadow over the course of a day based on the height and location of nearby buildings.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Water - Not Safe for Drinking

In January the Governor of Michigan declared that the city of Flint was in a state of emergency because of the high levels of lead contamination in the city's drinking water. A new investigation by Reuters reveals that Flint is not the only district suffering from lead contaminated drinking water. After analyzing lead testing results from across the USA Reuters reports that around 3,000 areas have higher levels of lead contaminated water than those found in Flint.

The Reuters investigation Off the Charts is accompanied by an interactive map which allows you to view the results of childhood blood lead tests in 21 U.S. states. The map shows the local prevalence of elevated lead levels in children at the census tract or zip code level. If you select an area on the map you can view the results of Reuters lead tests on local children, These results show the number of children tested and the percentage of those children who had elevated lead levels.

Lead isn't the only substance that could be contaminating your drinking water. In 1993 Erin Brockovich brought litigation against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company for the contamination of drinking water with hexavalent chromium in the California town of Hinkley. The case led to the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit.

In 2016 the drinking water of two-thirds of Americans is contaminated with the same carcinogenic chemical. The Environmental Working Group has released an interactive map which allows you to find out the levels of Chromium-6 contamination in community water utilities across the United States. The EWG's Chemical Taints in Tap Water map provides a choropleth map view of the average levels of contamination found in community water utility tests at the individual county level.

If you select a county on the map you can discover the number of water systems in the county which have tested positive for chromium-6 and the number of samples which tested positive. You can also view details on the average level of chromium-6 discovered. As a guide to reading these levels you might want to consider that California has a public health goal of a maximum of 0.02 parts per billion of chromium-6 in drinking water.

Mapping Changes to Global Surface Water

A new map from the European Commission's Joint Research Council allows you to explore how climate change and human interference has affected surface water levels across the globe. Since 1984 every continent, apart from Oceania, has shown an increase in permanent surface water. However some locations, particular in the Middle-East, Central Asia, Australia and the USA have seen net losses in surface water as a result of drought and /or human engineering (e.g. river diversion and damming).

The Global Surface Water Explorer allows you to view changes to surface water levels across the world over the last 32 years. Using the map you can explore the changes and persistence of surface water over time at any location on Earth. The visualization is based on an analysis of over three million Landsat satellite images dating back to 1984. The historical satellite imagery was used to record the dates when surface water was present, how surface water changed over time and how water surface was affected by seasonality and persistence.

A number of interesting examples from around the world are provided in the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. These include an analysis of surface water changes in the Aral Sea, the Mississippi Delta and the Amazon River. The right hand menu allows you to add a number of different data layers to the map, which visualize surface water changes, seasonality and maximum water extent. You can also click anywhere on the map to view temporal profile charts of surface water levels for the selected location.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Ships of San Francisco

Mapbox has created an impressive animated map visualization of 24 hours of marine traffic in the San Francisco Bay. Ships in the SF Bay uses ship telemetry data to map all of the marine traffic in the bay on September 1st, 2014.

The map sidebar does a great job of explaining the reasons behind the patterns in the data and how ship trip traffic is organised in the San Francisco Bay. As you scroll down the map you can follow the process of a ship entering the bay on the dedicated ship lanes, waiting for a harbor pilot and finally entering a port to unload its cargo.

The map sidebar also examines the patterns of San Francisco Bay's ferries crossing the harbor and the movements of pleasure boats in the shallower waters. Water depth is visualized on the map using bathymetry data from NOAA.

You can also use the clock control at the top right of the map to watch the movement of ship traffic in the San Francisco Bay over the course of the whole of September 1st, 2014. Just move the hands around on the clock to change the time of day.

Unemployment in 3D

Ubilabs has published a nice tutorial on how you can use Mapbox GL's fill-extrusion property to create a 3d mapped visualization of geographical based data. Using the fill-extrusion property you can extrude the height of shapefiles on a Mapbox GL map depending on the height of a value in your data. In this case Ubilabs have used this property to create a 3d map of Unemployment in Europe.

The Ubilabs tutorial shows you how you can use 'fill-extrusion-height' to apply a height to a polygon area based on data values. In the demo map European country shapefiles are extruded based on the unemployment rate in each country in 2015. Each of the country shapefiles on the map are also colored based on the country's unemployment rate.

Another good example of a map using the fill-extrusion property is this San Francisco Lidar Map, which applies the extrude property to San Francisco tree and building Lidar data. This Lidar data has been added to the map in Mapbox Studio from a GeoJSON file (presumably downloaded from the City of San Francisco). The result of using this Lidar data is that as well as visualizing buildings in 3d the map also extrudes other features, such as ships and individual trees.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Shortest Historical Tour of America

Last week I was impressed by this map of the world's longest pub crawl.  A map which shows the shortest route around 25,000 UK pubs. It is also a neat demonstration of a particular Traveling Salesman Problem and its solution.

The map was created by the University of Waterloo's Department of Combinatorics and Optimization. The department actually has a whole website dedicated to exploring the history, applications, and current research into the Traveling Salesman Problem.

The department's Traveling Salesman Problem website includes links to a number of mapped examples of different traveling salesman problems. It also has two demonstration maps created by the university itself; the aforementioned world's largest pub crawl map and US50K, a map of the shortest route around 50,000 sites from the National Register of Historic Places.

It took 310 computers nine months to actually work out the shortest walking route around 50,000 historic locations in the United States. The best route discovered by the university's computers is 217,605 miles long, which is nearly the distance from the Earth to the Moon. You can read more about how the university solved this particular traveling salesman problem on the US50K Index page.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

One Country Divided by a Common Language

In the evening, when most of the USA is sitting down for dinner, people in the Midwest have their supper instead. This is just one of the many variations in the use and choice of language which is determined by where you live in America.

Linguists at Aston University and the University of Manchester have analysed the top 1,000 words used in Twitter messages. They then used users' location data to see how often these words are used in each county in the continental United States. The results of this analysis provide an interesting insight into the regional variations in language use across the United States.

Quartz has used this analysis to create an interesting mapped visualization of the use of these top 1,000 words throughout the United States. Type a word into the Quartz Great American Word Mapper and you can view a heat-map of its use on Twitter in each county of the USA.

The most popular interactive webpage on the New York Times website in 2013 was How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk. This interactive feature asks a series of questions about your pronunciation and use of certain words.

From the answers you give to the questions the NYT creates your personal dialect map. This heat-map shows you which areas of the USA have a dialect similar to your own. You can also view a heat-map for each of the individual questions.

The NYT interactive also asks you whether you call your evening meal 'dinner' or 'supper'. The NYT map shows very similar results for where these words are used to the Quartz map.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Evicted from New York

Rent control is disappearing fast in New York. ProPublica reports that since a 1994 City council vote on 'vacancy decontrol' 250,000 New York apartments have lost their rent stabilization status. The 1994 vote allowed landlords to "to escape regulation and charge market rates once tenants moved out of apartments that cost at least $2,000 a month".

The ProPublica report on the 1994 'vacancy decontrol vote, and its consequent affect on New York's rental market, suggests that some unscrupulous landlords have, since the change in the law, sought to drive out rent stabilized tenants in order to hike up rents.

ProPublica's interactive map Tracking Evictions and Rent Stabilization in NYC shows the number of eviction cases that were made in New York City apartment blocks between January 2013 and June 2015. There may not be a direct correlation between the number of eviction orders in New York and the desire of landlords to drive out rent stabilized tenants. However the ProPublica map certainly shows an incredible number of eviction orders have been made against New York tenants in recent years.

Clicking on the apartment buildings colored on the map reveals the number of eviction orders placed on tenants (and the likely rent stabilization status of the building's apartments). It is truly remarkable how many apartment buildings in New York have had over 100 eviction orders served on tenants in such a short space of time.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Explore the World Through Gesture

A new experimental website from Google allows you to explore satellite imagery through finger or mouse gestures. Land Lines is an impressive demonstration of how machine learning can detect and recognize patterns in abstract imagery.

Land Lines includes two ways that you can interact with Google Maps satellite imagery. 'Draw' allows you to draw directly on your device's screen using your finger or mouse. After you draw a line the application instantly searches through thousands of satellite images from around the world to show you satellite images which contain similar patterns to your drawn line.

'Drag' allows you to drag a line around your devices' screen. As you drag the line up, down and around satellite images which match the dragged line are shown on your screen.

You can learn more about how Land Lines works on the Land Lines Case Study.

The World's Biggest Pub Crawl

The USA has developed some great optimal road trips which provide you with the shortest routes for visiting every major state landmark in the United States or for visiting every National Park. These maps provide a great guide for anyone who wants to make an epic sightseeing road trip across America

Here in the UK we also like sightseeing - visiting historical buildings and monuments gives us something to do in the mornings before the pub opens. The optimal road trip around the UK however doesn't really need to take in historical monuments and landmarks. Most Brits will be more than satisfied with a route that just shows the shorted route between every pub in the UK.

The UK Pub Crawl Map is a handy guide to the optimal route around the UK visiting 24,727 pubs. I think there are currently around 50,000 pubs in the UK. Therefore if you complete the UK Pub Crawl Map you will end up visiting around half of all the pubs in the UK. If you have a pint of beer in every pub the map should keep you busy for a few days. You can then visit the other 50,000 pubs next week.

If you want to create an optimal route for the other 50,000 pubs not included on the UK Pub Crawl Map then you might find Mapzen's Optimized Route API useful. You can view the API in action on a demo map which Mapzen published on its blog. Optimizing Your Route explains how you can use the Optimized Route API. To illustrate the blog post Mapzen has created an optimal route of some of San Francisco's best burrito restaurants. If you move the markers on the map the route automatically updates to show the new optimal route taking in the new location.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Mapping Every Human Being on Earth

70 million people live in the Yangtze River Delta in China. Another 60 million people live in the Pearl River Delta. China really does have some of the most densely populated regions in the world.

You can now explore where the rest of the world's people live on the World Population Density map. This interactive map uses analysis of satellite imagery and national census data to show the population density of the whole globe. The map also allows you to select individual countries on the map to view statistics on an individual country's population and population density history. If you zoom in on a country you can also view population and population density statistics for individual towns and cities.

The 'Map Guide' section of the World Population Density map provides a great introduction to population density, It includes links which zoom the map to different areas of the world to illustrate concepts about different types of urban conurbations, urban sprawl, desakotas and other interesting examples of population density around the world.

Your Chances of a White Christmas

Earlier this year NOAA released a handy interactive First Snow Map which provides a nationwide guide to when you can expect to get the first snow of the winter. The map shows the date at your location when the chance of snow is at least 50%, based on historical weather records. NOAA have now released a similar looking map which shows the historical predictability of whether you can expect a white Christmas.

The Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? map uses historical weather data to provide a prediction of the chance of experiencing at least 1 inch of snow at your location on Christmas Day. The whiter the map at your location then the more chance you have of having a white Christmas. The chances of you experiencing a white Christmas are based on the last three decades of weather records at your location.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Live Air Pollution Maps

You can now view a real-time map of air pollution around the world. AirVisual Earth is an interactive 3d globe which shows animated wind patterns and / or the Air Quality Index across the whole planet.

AirVisual Earth uses the American system of measuring air pollution based on the present levels of six ground level pollutants (ozone, PM2.5, PM10, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide). These levels are combined to give an overall air pollution score.

AirVisual Earth is an impressive animated real-time globe. I'm not quite so impressed by some of AirVisual's claims that it is 'groundbreaking' and the 'first map of its kind'. Especially when the map owes such an obvious debt to the Earth 3d globe.

Like AirVisual Earth, Earth allows you to view real-time wind and air pollution data on a 3d map. It also allows you to view lots of other data which isn't available on AirVisual Earth, such as ocean currents and waves.

Global Radio FM

You can now listen to music from around the world. From the Pacific sounds of Radio Guam to the Siberian tunes of Radio Sabir, a new interactive 3d map allows you to listen live to thousands of radio stations across the globe.

Radio Garden features radio broadcasts from hundreds of countries around the world. Just click on a marker on this interactive map and you can tune in to local radio stations which provide live internet radio streams. Radio Garden is a great way to explore the sounds of different cultures around the world. It also provides an interesting insight into the broadcasting traditions of different countries.

As well as the thousands of live radio streams Radio Garden includes a 'History' section which features audio clips from the selected country's radio history. The map also includes a 'Jingles' sestion providing a "crash course in (global) station identification".

The 3d map itself was developed using the Cesium JavaScript library for 3d globes.

If you browse Radio Garden for a little while it soon becomes that English language music has conquered the world. If you really want to explore the different musical traditions of countries across the globe then you might want to try Radioooo instead. Radiooooo is a fun global music map which allows you to listen to music from anywhere in the world and from any decade going back to 1900.

To start listening to music on Radiooooo you just need to click on a country on the map. You can then select a decade using the buttons at the bottom of the map. You will then be able to sit back and listen to a stream of music from the country & decade that you have chosen.

Radiooooo also includes the option to select the 'mood' of music that you wish to hear (slow, fast or weird). The map itself also includes a  'Taxi' option which allows you to select to listen to music from more than one country.

Another interesting way to explore radio stations around the world is via radioISS. RadioISS features a live video stream of Earth from the International Space Station and an animated interactive map showing you the live position of the ISS.

RadioISS allows you to view the ISS HD Earth View while listening to radio stations from around the world. As the International Space Station travels around the Earth radioISS automatically tunes into radio stations from the country that the ISS is currently flying over (or from countries nearby).

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Landuse Map

The GIScience Research Group of Heidelberg University has released an interactive map that can show you land-use and land-cover information for any location in the world. The map uses OpenStreetMap data to map land-use and show the percentage of different types of land-use around the globe.

The OSM Landuse Landcover map uses contrasting colors to show how areas have been tagged in OpenStreetMap for land-use and land-cover. If you zoom in on a location on the map you can see how different areas have been tagged for land-use and land-cover. A dynamic pie chart also provides an overview of the percentages of different types of land-use in the current map view.

Obviously the data on the map is only as accurate and complete as the data in OpenStreetMap.

Via: weeklyOSM

Divided Cities

The middle class is shrinking in the USA. According to a 2016 Pew report the number of people living in the middle income tier fell in 108 of 229 metropolitan areas between 2000 and 2014. The result is that American cities are becoming more economically divided than they have been for decades.

An Esri story map, Wealth Divides, explores the effect of this growing income divide in American cities and the effect it has on the geographical boundaries between wealthy and low-income areas. In a series of interactive maps Esri has plotted where the richest and poorest live in a number of the country's biggest cities. The maps reveal the new economic dividing lines which are emerging in the major metropolitan areas.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

How the Environment Affects the Brain

UK geographer Daniel Raven-Ellison has been exploring how the environment affects the human brain. Daniel has been walking across the UK while wearing an Emotiv sensor which records his brain activity. The sensor is able to record Daniel's stress levels and provide insights into how the environment affects his mood and happiness.

National Geographic has been reporting on Daniel's progress in an on-going report called There’s Never Been A Better Time To Make Our Cities Wild. The report so far includes three interactive maps which allow you to explore the results of Daniel's walks in Edinburgh, the Lake District and London.

The Google Map for each of these walks show the route of Daniel's walk and an interactive graph of the brain sensor readings captured on the walk. The graph shows Daniel's stress and relaxation readings during each walk. The map and the graph are synchronized so it is possible to see which areas on the walk caused the most stress or induced a more relaxed mood. The map also includes photos and Tweets to provide more of an insight into the actual environments that Daniel was walking through at the time of the different brain sensor readings.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Winter Window Wonderlands

This winter you can explore New York's wonderful Christmas window displays on a Google powered tour of Manhattan's biggest stores.

Google's Window Wonderland tour features photos, audio and Street View images of the Christmas window displays of 18 New York stores. The photos of each store front have been stitched together to create a scrolling display of each store's window display. This allows you to take a virtual stroll along each store front and examine in high resolution each of the featured windows.

Each of the store's window displays in Winter Wonderland also includes either an audio commentary from the window's dresser or the background street sounds from the actual store front. Each store has also been captured in special custom Street View panoramas.


In their 2014 paper Becksploitation: The Over-use of a Cartographic Icon Kenneth Field and William Cartwright rail against the overuse and parody of Harry Beck's iconic London Underground map. In their paper Field & Cartwright argue that Beck's map has become widely overused as a map metaphor and is now often used as "a short‐cut approach that rides on the success of someone else’s hard work, perhaps with the principle aim of getting a job done rapidly".

To emphasize this exploitation of Beck's London Underground map Field & Cartwright created their own London Underground map which links to over 220 examples of people copying or parodying Beck's classic design, You can view the original Beckploitation map on Kenneth Field's Cartonerd blog.

Of course Field & Cartwright's paper on the overuse of Harry Beck's iconic Underground map has had little effect on the number of people copying Beck's tube map design. His iconic design is an easily reproduced and recognized map metaphor and parodies of the map continue to be created on an almost weekly basis.

Kenneth Field has therefore been able to update his meta-Becksploitation map with many more examples of Harry Beck inspired maps. Field's new End of the Line: A Tube Map of Tube Maps Parody Map now includes almost 300 maps inspired by the London Underground map. In both the original Beckploitation map and this new updated version each London Underground Station on the map is an example of a Beck inspired parody map. If you click on a station name, on either map, you can view a thumbnail image of the parody and then click on the thumbnail to view the linked map.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Mapping Global School Rankings

The latest global school rankings are an interesting read. Unless, of course, you live in America, in which case the poor standards in the teaching of literacy means that you will probably struggle with the long words.

The OECD's 'Programme for International Student Assessment' (Pisa) assesses education rankings in countries around the world in the core subjects of reading, mathematics and science. The 2015 results have now been released and you can browse the country rankings on two interactive maps, one created by the BBC and the other released by Compare Your Country.

Both maps allow you to view the rankings of each country tested by PISA in the subjects of reading, mathematics and science. The BBC map provides a choropleth view of each country's ranking for science. You can also click on a country on the map to view the country's score for reading and mathematics.

The Compare Your Country map is the better of the two maps and actually allows you to view a choropleth view for the country rankings in each of the three core subjects tested, It also allows you to view the rankings for the three 'Equity' scores, which compare the education scores of boys vs girls, students from different social backgrounds and students from immigrant families.

I was actually joking about the USA's poor reading skills. The USA scores above average in reading and science. However the USA is below average in mathematics, coming 40th out of the 70 countries tested.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Chopping Down the London Tree Map

This week Cartonerd has taken his sharpened axe to the London Tree Map. This new interactive map from the Greater London Authority shows the location and genus of 700,000 London trees.

London has over 8 million trees, therefore the London Tree Map is clearly not an exhaustive map of all of London's trees. This is one of Cartonerd's main complaints with the map. In Can't See the Woods for the Trees he argues that by mapping less than ten percent of London's trees the map is obviously a false representation of London's trees.

This criticism is obviously true. However the introduction to the map clearly states that the map is not an exhaustive survey of London's trees. So this criticism is also a little harsh, However another of Cartonerd's criticisms of the map, namely the 'lack of naming conventions for recording species' in the data, highlights a really serious problem with the quality of the data.

Before reading Cartonerd's criticisms of the map I had happily been using the map to identify the species of trees in my street. I also used the map to find out the locations of a number of edible fruit and chestnut trees that I didn't know about in my neighborhood.

Cartonerd clearly feels that the London Tree Map 'lies' and shouldn't have been released until the errors and inconsistencies in the data are addressed. If you live in London I think that you still might be interested in using the map to help identify the trees in your street and neighborhood. However it is obviously worth bearing in mind the inconsistencies in the data identified by Cartonerd and remaining aware that this map shouldn't be read uncritically.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Christmas Traditions Around the World

Every Christmas Eve you can track Santa's journey around the world on Google's annual Santa Tracking map. However you don't have to wait until Christmas Eve to visit the Google Santa Tracker. Every day, between now and Christmas Eve, the Google Santa Tracker will feature a different Christmas related game.

The Google Santa Tracker also includes a Google Map looking at Christmas Traditions around the world. It is always fascinating to explore how different cultures celebrate Christmas around the world. For example did you know that in Iceland the Christmas Cat prowls the streets at Christmas gobbling up anyone who is not dressed-up in clothes warm enough to ward off the winter cold?

If you want to learn more about Christmas traditions around the world then you can also explore the Santas Around the World map. Santa goes by many different names. In many countries he is of course Saint Nicholas, but he is also known as Father Christmas, Agios Vasilis, Shengdan Laoren and Ded Moroz.

It seems that there are two main versions of Santa's name. In many countries Santa is named after Saint Nicholas, for example 'Santa Claus' itself derives from the Dutch 'Sinterklaas', a dialectal pronunciation of Saint Nicholas. In many other countries he goes by the name of Father Christmas, for example he is 'Père Noël' in France, 'Pai Natal' in Portugal and 'Papa Noel' in Spain.

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Art of Mapping Art

One of the great advantages of flexible JavaScript mapping libraries like Leaflet.js is that they can be used to create far more than just interactive maps. For example, if you swap your map tiles for image tiles, you can quickly create an impressive interactive image viewer.

Last week we looked at how Europeana Labs has used Leaflet.js to create a simple interactive interface for viewing medieval manuscripts. Prophesies About the Papacy allows you to use Leaflet's panning and zooming controls to explore the illustrations and text in the Vaticinia de Summis Pontificibus, a series of prophetic manuscripts dating from the 14th century.

Europeana Labs are not the only developers to use Leaflet to provide a simple interface for exploring images. The Rijksmuseum also uses Leaflet to allow visitors to explore the works of the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt in close detail. The Rijksmuseum's dedicated Rembrandt web page includes a number of the Dutch master's paintings, all of which can be explored in detail using a Leaflet powered interactive image viewer.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art has also used Leaflet to provide an interface to view works of art in its extensive collection. For example this Leaflet map of Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple allows you to examine El Greco's painting in all its stunning detail, including the portraits of four other Renaissance painters in the lower right-hand corner.

Of course image viewers created with Leaflet don't have to be confined to presenting the paintings of famous artists. The Getty Museum has used Leaflet to provide a way of exploring the beautiful designs which can be found in Roman mosaics. The Getty's Roman Mosaics website includes a Leaflet map showing the original locations of the Roman mosaics in its collections.

Leaflet wasn't used just for the map. If you click through on the links provided in each mosaic's marker on the map you can actually explore the mosaics themselves on their own individual Leaflet image viewer.

Gunma GIS Geek has also used the Leaflet mapping platform to create interactive maps from a couple of famous Japanese pilgrimage mandalas. Pilgrimage mandalas are paintings which provide a panoramic view of temple and shrine sites.

The first map on Temple Pilgrimage Mandala is of the Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala. This 16th–17th century hanging scroll depicts the Nachi Shrine on the Kii Peninsula in Japan. The painting represents the journey of two pilgrims (the couple clothed in white) as they enter the scene (bottom right) and take a circuitous route through the temple complex to the Nachi shrine.

Mapping the Attack on Pearl Harbor

75 years ago, on the 7th December 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. Around 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,178 wounded in the attack. The attack directly led to the USA entering into World War II.

Japanese developer Hidenori Watanave has mapped eyewitness reports of the attack on a 3D interactive map of Oahu island in Hawaii. The 1941 Project allows you to read testimony of the attack on Pearl Harbor from actual eyewitnesses of the attack, as documented in Katrina Luksovsky's book, 'Ford Island December 7, 1941'.

The map was created using the Cesium WebGL virtual globe library. The 1941 Project also includes links to Hidenori Watanave's other 3d mapping projects. These include the Hiroshima Archive, a 3d map of eyewitness accounts of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb, the Nagasaki Archive, eyewitness accounts of the bombing of Nagasaki, and the Battle of Okinawa, eyewitness accounts of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

How to Find Your Local Superhero

Jonah Adkins has created a U.S.Avengers interactive map which can help you find your local Marvel superhero. U.S.Avengers is a new Marvel comic book series which features an America-themed team of Avengers. Using Jonah's map you can discover which of thees superheroes is from your U.S, state.

io9 has been keeping tabs on Marvel's promotional cover art releases for the new U.S.Avengers comic. Marvel has released one promotional cover for each U.S. state. Each of these individual state covers assigns an individual Avenger hero to the featured state. So io9 has been able to work out the Avenger superhero for all 50 states.

Jonah has used this information to create his U.S.Avengers Map, which shows the Avenger superhero for every state. Each state includes a map label which shows the name of the local Avenger superhero. You can even mouse-over these superhero labels to view a picture of the hero,

Jonah used Mapbox Studio to create his custom comic styled map. The map uses four different background images to create the comic half-tone type effect.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

How to Map Anti-Papal Propaganda

The Vaticinia de Summis Pontificibus are a series of prophetic manuscripts, dating from the 14th century. The manuscripts depict a succession of different popes from history, in which the popes are illustrated in various alliances with the Antichrist.

The European Union's Europeana Labs has used the Leaflet mapping platform to create an interactive presentation of the University of Fribour's copy of the manuscript. Prophesies About the Papacy allows you to use Leaflet's panning and zooming controls to explore the illustrations and text in this ancient manuscript.

Europeana Labs has written up a how-to guide on how the map was created with the Leaflet and Europeana API. Building a rich media experience with the Europeana API and IIIF explains how Leaflet can be used to display Europeana records through a simple call to the Europeana API.

Bikes in Boston Bike Lanes

In September Nathan Rosenquist released an interactive map which allows New Yorkers to submit photographs of cars parked illegally in bike lanes. displays the photos of these reported vehicles on an interactive map. It also prominently displays the licence plates of the obstructive cars.

As well as creating this interactive car-shaming map of New York Nathan also open-sourced the code behind the project on GitHub.

Cars in Bike Lanes Boston has used Nathan's code to create a similar map fo Boston cyclists. This means that cyclists in Boston can now submit details and photographs of offending vehicles to their own interactive map of cars illegally obstructing bike lanes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What's Across the Ocean?

A couple of years ago Eric Odenheimer made a very popular static map which was reported as showing you what country you would see if you stood on the beach anywhere in North, South or Central America and could see all the way across the ocean.

What Odenheimer's map actually shows you is the country across the ocean which is on an equivalent latitude. Andy Woodruff was inspired by Odenheimer's map to create a series of static maps which actually show you what is actually across the ocean if you look perpendicular to the coast.

In Beyond the Sea Andy takes into account that the coastline actually bends and turns and faces in lots of different directions and that the world is round. Therefore what country is across the ocean perpendicular to the coast depends on where you are standing on this twisting coastline. Andy's explanation about the maps goes into a lot more detail about how he calculated these great circle lines for different points from the world's coastlines.

Esri UK was in turn inspired by Andy Woodruff's maps to create an interactive map of Coastal Views from the United Kingdom. Esri's map draws lines from different points along the UK coast showing which country lies across the ocean if you look perpendicular to the coastline.

The advantage of using an interactive map is that Esri has been able to add a little more information to their map. If you click on any of the lines drawn on the map the name of the country across the ocean is revealed, as is the number of miles away the country actually is.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Printing 3D Models of Maps

The Tile Exporter helps you to make 3d models of your favorite locations around the world. Enter a location into the Tile Exporter and it will generate the OBJ file that will allow you to print out a model of the location on a 3d printer.

Tile Exporter uses OpenStreetMap data to generate the 3d models. This means that the accuracy of the model will depend on the accuracy of the map and building height data of OSM. Luckily this is pretty accurate for most locations around the world. The Mapzen powered generation tool also means that you can preview the model on your computer screen before attempting to print it out on a 3d printer.

Have you ever dreamed of owning your own 3d scale model of the Grand Canyon or the Matterhorn? Thanks to the Terrainator you now can. The Terrainator is very similar in design to Tile Exporter. The main difference is that the Terrainator is used to create 3d models of interesting terrain rather than 3d buildings.

The Terrainator uses Google Maps to help you select your favorite area of terrain. It then creates an accurate scale model and uploads it to Shapeways, ready for 3d printing. The cost of the model depends on the volume of material required to make the model. Flatter models are therefore cheaper than mountainous areas, although they are much less fun. It is also possible to purchase the created STL files from Terrainator if you want to print out your own terrain model yourself.

The Terrainator is limited to areas of the world where it has accurate terrain data.

Monday, November 28, 2016

3d Marathon Mapping

The Catalina Eco Marathon is a grueling race through some pretty tough mountainous terrain. It isn't easy to convey just how how hard the Catalina Eco Marathon can be to run but Mapbox have given it a good try with their interactive map of the course.

The Catalina Eco Marathon Map uses MapboxGL's new extrude property to overlay a 3d elevation chart over the course of the marathon route. The elevation chart visualizes just how steep parts of the course actually are. The 3d elevation route is itself interactive and you can mouse-over sections of the course to find out the elevation at any point.

The map includes an inset panel which displays a 2d elevation chart of the course. You can interactive with this chart to find out the elevation and distance of different parts of the course. The 2d chart is also synchronized to the map, which means that the map view also updates to show the location of the selected part of the marathon course.

How the World is Connected

The countries of the world are connected in many ways. There are the transportation links that allow us to travel from one country to another. There are the global communication networks which allow us to speak with people on the other side of the world. There are also transnational pipelines and electricity grids which allow countries to import and export power.

Exploring the World of Connectivity shows some of the massive infrastructure networks that make possible global communication, travel and energy exchange. The infrastructure networks displayed on the map are based on those outlined in Parag Khanna’s book 'Connectography - Mapping the Future of Global Civilization'.

The mapped networks are categorized into the three main areas of transportation, energy and communication. These different categories can be isolated on the map by using the filters in the map sidebar. Each of the three categories are subdivided into individual infrastructure networks which can also be selected using the filters in the map sidebar.