Saturday, April 29, 2017

Live Traffic with Mapbox

You can now add live traffic conditions to your Mapbox Maps. Mapbox Studio users now have access to two new preset map styles - both of which show live traffic conditions.

The two traffic condition styles are called Traffic Day and Traffic Night. Traffic Day shows traffic conditions on top of a light streets basemap while Traffic Night shows traffic on top of a dark streets basemap. You can preview the results of showing traffic on top of a dark streets basemap on this quick demo map.

In Mapbox Studio you can adjust how traffic congestion appears on your maps. The congestion field has four values: 'low', 'moderate', 'heavy' and 'severe'. By default traffic congestion use a color-ramp from green to red to show low-severe congestion. In Mapbox Studio you can change these colors to anything you want. You can even use different color-ramps for traffic conditions on different classes of road.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Leaflet Flowmap Layer

Sarah Bellum's Canvas Flowmap Layer is a popular ArcGIS JavaScript API library which allows you to map objects flowing from one location to another. It is now also available as a custom map layer for the Leaflet JavaScript mapping library.

Like the original ArcGIS flowmap layer Leaflet.Canvas-Flowmap-Layer uses Bezier curves to visualize the movement of objects from one location to another on an interactive map. One purpose of using Bezier curves is that you can show the direction of flow by using either a convex or concave curve on your flow line. The direction of flow is also visualized by the library with animated dots which travel along the flow map lines in the direction of flow.

You can get a great idea of what you can achieve with the Leaflet.Canvas-Flowmap-Layer on this fully adjustable demo map. The map provides a visualization of airport destinations using animated Bezier curves. It includes a number of options which demonstrate the range of animation options provided with the flowmap layer.

The /r/Place Atlas

On April 1st Reddit uploaded a 1,000 x 1,000 pixel canvas to the /r/place subreddit. The canvas was blank except for the message:
"There is an empty canvas. You may place a tile upon it, but you must wait to place another. Individually you can create something. Together you can create something more".
Reddit users could select one pixel on the canvas and fill it in with any color from a 16-bit palette. That user was then locked out of the canvas for five minutes. After five minutes the user could contribute another pixel to the canvas. The five minute lock-out for individual users meant that different users obviously had to work together to create a recognizable design on the canvas.

The /r/Place Atlas is an interactive map of the complete /r/Place canvas as it looked on the day contributions were stopped a few days after April Fools Day. The map allows you to zoom in and out on the canvas. You can also hover over individual designs on the map for an explanation and links to any relevant subreddits or websites about the design. The map also contains a search facility to automatically find any of 1207 different designs on the canvas,

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Ever Changing World at Night

The lights are going on all over India. A lot of them. If you compare NASA's new nighttime map of the Earth with the 2012 map you can see where in the world electric lighting has grown and where it has fallen over the last four years. India stands out as a country that has seen a huge increase in night lights,

Two weeks ago NASA released a new composite map showing the Earth at night. The so called Black Marble map of the Earth is made up of the best cloud-free satellite images of each land mass captured during 2016. If you want you can view the new Black Marble map on NASA's Worldview interactive map.

John Nelson has compared NASA's 2012 and 2016 Black Marble maps to see where in the world lights have been going on and where they have been going off. He has even created his own map, Lights On & Lights Out, which highlights the locations around the world where there have been significant changes in electric lighting since 2012.

Nelson points out in the text accompanying the map that there are many reasons why places might show an increase or decrease in electric lighting. The increase in India is due to the "massive electrification of northern India in recent years". Elsewhere reductions in night lighting may be due (among other reasons) to attempts to reduce light pollution.

The Global Press Freedom Map

Over the last twelve months the United States has fallen two places in the World Press Freedom Index. In explaining this fall Reporters Without Borders point to Donald's Trump's war with the media and his declaration that the press are the 'enemy of the American people'.

While the USA has dropped two places (to 43rd) Norway has risen two places to become the top ranked country in the world for press freedom. This is partly due to the country's laws on media ownership and the enshrining of media freedom in the country's constitution.

You can view how every country in the world ranks on the 2017 Reporters Without Borders 'World Press Freedom Index' on this interactive map. Countries are colored on the map by their level of press freedom (yellow countries rank highest - black countries have the worst records on press freedom). You can find out a country's individual ranking by clicking on the country on the map. If you then click on the 'read more' button you can read the Reporters Without Borders assessment of press freedom in the selected country.

The View from the Top of the World

An Eye at the Summit is a planned expedition to climb the Baruntse mountain in the Khumbu region of eastern Nepal. In October of this year a team of French mountain climbers will begin a 35 day expedition to ascend the Méra Peak (6,476 m), reach the summit of Baruntse (7,129 m) and finally climb Lobuche Est (6,120 m). The Baruntse climb has been organized in order to raise funds for the visually impaired.

You can follow the planned route of the 35 day expedition on the Carte du Parcours. The map not only shows the expedition's route it also includes some stunning panoramic imagery of Baruntse. If you click on the black circular markers on the map you can explore these custom Street Views which allow you to actually observe for yourself some of the spectacular views of the Himalayas from the Baruntse mountain.

It is also possible to view panoramic imagery from the Everest region of the Himalayas with Google Maps Street View. To capture these stunning panoramas Google teamed up with Apa Sherpa (a Sherpa mountaineer who holds the world record for reaching the summit of Mount Everest 21 times) and the Nepalese nonprofit organization Story Cycle.

During a 10-day trek through the Khumbu region with Apa Sherpa Google managed to capture Street Views of mountain trails and a number of Sherpa villages. The best way to explore this Street View imagery is to visit the Khumba map on Google Treks.

The Khumba site on Google Treks includes some lovely hand-drawn maps of the featured villages. Each of the maps include map markers which lead to Street Views captured on Google's 10-day trek. These include Street View imagery of monasteries, temples, trekker's lodges and of course some wonderful mountainous scenery.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Predicting White Collar Crime

Many police forces now use predictive policing models to identify locations where crimes are most likely to occur. These models scientifically target non-white, low-income neighborhoods as criminal hot-spots and the inhabitants of these neighborhoods as delinquent criminals.

Using current predictive policing models poor neighborhoods with a large proportion of non-white inhabitants are identified and targeted for police action. The result is that police resources are unfairly wasted on these neighborhoods and law-abiding rich folk never get to see any nice police officers in their neighborhoods. However a new predictive policing application hopes to readdress this problem by targeting white collar crime.

The White Collar Crime Risk Zones map shows you where white collar crimes are about to be committed. The map uses historical financial crime data and risk terrain modelling to predict which neighborhoods across the United States are most likely to experience white collar crime. The map can even show you what the white collar criminal in each neighborhood probably looks like.

The White Collar Crime Risk Zones map was created by The New Inquiry who argue that,
"Predictive policing apps are designed and deployed to target so-called “street” crime, reinforcing and accelerating destructive policing practices that disproportionately target impoverished communities of color. Unlike typical predictive policing apps which criminalize poverty, White Collar Crime Risk Zones criminalizes wealth".
Disclaimer: The White Collar Crime Risk Zones map was made with tongue inserted firmly in cheek

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Geography of Death

FiveThirtyEight has mapped the mortality rates in the USA for all of the leading causes of death. 35 Years Of American Death provides a choropleth view of mortality rates in every U.S. county from 1980 to 2014.

The maps show some regional variations in the mortality rates for different causes of death. FiveThirtyEight highlight some of these regional variations in the article beneath the map. For example, 12 counties in rural Appalachia are among the top 20 counties with the highest mortality rates in the whole country. In the top 20 counties with the lowest mortality rates 18 of them are west of the Mississippi.

FiveThirtyEight are also using the mortality rates map to illustrate a series of articles examining the relatively high mortality rates in the Black Belt. The first of these articles examines how Patterns Of Death In The South Still Show The Outlines Of Slavery.

Aleppo in London & Berlin

The city of Aleppo has faced a colossal scale of damage since the start of the Syrian civil war. 65.61% of buildings in the Al Aqabeh neighborhood have been damaged by the fighting. In 18 of the city's other neighborhoods over 40% of buildings have been damaged.

While these figures are shocking it is still hard for those of us unfamiliar with the city to conceive of the scale of this destruction. That is why Berlin developer Hans Hack has created maps of London and Berlin in which these cities are shown with similar levels of damage to that seen by Aleppo. Reprojected Destruction is an interactive map which attempts to portray the scale of destruction in Aleppo by overlaying this destruction on two of Europe's most well known cities.

To create the London and Berlin maps Hans Hack used data from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). UNITAR used satellite imagery to work out the percentage of buildings destroyed in Aleppo. Reprojected Destruction uses the result of this research to present maps of Berlin and London in which the same percentage of buildings are shown as having been destroyed.

The geography of the destruction in Aleppo has also been partly reflected in the Berlin and London maps. The buildings shown in these two maps have mostly been randomly selected. However western neighborhoods in both maps are less damaged to reflect how the New Aleppo district has suffered little damage. Eastern neighborhoods in the European city maps also have a higher percentage of damaged buildings to reflect the fact that the east of Aleppo has been the most damaged part of the city during the civil war.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Diversity Map of the United States

A new interactive map hosted by the University of Cincinnati shows the racial diversity of every neighborhood in the continental United States. It can also show how racial diversity has changed in each of those neighborhoods over the last twenty years.

The Racial Diversity map uses census data to visualize the dominant racial group in each 30 meter by 30 meter square in the country for the years 1990, 2000 and 2010. It is therefore possible to show how racial diversity has changed (or not) in towns and cities across the country over the last twenty years. The map also allows you to view population density at the same level across the continental United States.

If you want to use the data to show the racial diversity or population density on your own maps you can download the data in GeoTIFF format (each download is limited to an area no more than 100000 km2).

French Presidential Election Maps

The independent Emmanuel Macron and the far-right Marine Le Pen emerged as the winners in yesterday's first round Presidential election in France. The two candidates will now go on to the final election to be held in two weeks time.

Mapping the results by department (screenshot above) shows what looks like an east-west split in support for the two candidates. France 24's interactive map of the highest placed candidate in each department shoes that Le Pen was the most popular candidate in most of the eastern departments and Macron was the most popular in the majority of western departments.

However if you switch the map view to show the results by region then a slightly different picture emerges. When you look at who got the most votes in each region you see that Le Pen appears most popular in the north and along the Mediterranean coast. This is a picture which is supported by a choropleth map of Le Pen's support by department.

The Guardian's choropleth map of Le Pen's support shows that she certainly has more support along the Mediterranean coast and the Belgian border (which the Guardian says has long been her heartland) than in the rest of France.

If you want a more detailed view of how France voted in the first round of the Presidential election then you can click on France 24's interactive map to view the results by commune area.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Ecoregion Atlas of the World

The Ecoregions 2017 interactive map provides a guide to the world's 846 ecoregions. Using the map you can view the distribution of the different ecoregions around the globe and discover more about each individual ecoregion shown on the map.

Ecoregions are ecologically and geographically defined areas which have distinct natural characteristics, species and habitats. The ecoregions are colored on the map by the type of habitats that exist within them. If you hover over an ecoregion on the map you can view more details about its natural habitat and the biogeographic realm in which it exists.

The Ecoregions 2017 map also includes a number of other layers. These include a layer showing the global distribution of biomes, a layer showing the protected status of regions around the world and a 'realms' layer showing the Earth's eight biogeographic realms.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mapping the World of Fonts

IDEO has created an interactive map which organizes fonts by their visual similarities. The map provides designers with a tool to explore, 'understand and see relationships across more than 750 web fonts'.

IDEO used machine learning to organize different fonts into a 2D plane based on vision pattern recognition. This 2D plane of fonts organized by visual similarity was then turned into a fully interactive and searchable interactive font map. Using Font Map you can pan and zoom around this 2D plane of fonts exploring different font families by visual similarity.

You can select individual fonts on the map to view the font's name, its page on Google Fonts and a list of similar fonts.

You can read more about the convolutional neural network used to group the fonts and the algorithm used to turn the results into 2D plane on this How To blog post.  IDEO appear to have created their own custom interactive map interface for exploring the fonts organized by visual similarity. However you could easily achieve similar results using an existing mapping library such as Leaflet.js.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Making L.A. Safer for Pedestrians

If there is one city in the USA that really needs a Vision Zero initiative it is Los Angeles. Over 2,800 people have lost their lives on the streets of Los Angeles since 2003. Nearly half of the victims were pedestrians or cyclists.

Thankfully Vision Zero Los Angeles is here and it wants to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2025, To kick-start the initiative the city has released an interactive map of traffic fatalities. The map shows the location of all traffic fatalities in Los Angeles from 2003 to 2016. The map also shows the location of planned safety projects under the Vision Zero scheme.

One reason for mapping traffic fatalities is to identify traffic black spots. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation has identified the Los Angeles streets with the highest concentration of fatal accidents, which they have dubbed the High Injury Network (HIN). Despite contributing only six percent to the city's road network the roads in the HIN have seen nearly two-thirds of all deaths and severe injuries to pedestrians.

You can view the location of the streets in the HIN on the High Injury Network Map. This interactive map identifies Los Angeles most dangerous roads. The map also shows the locations of schools which are on or near the HIN and links to the city's Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan.

You can view other examples of Vision Zero initiatives at Vision Zero Boston, Vision Zero New York and Vision Zero San Francisco.

L.A.'s Elevated Levels of Lead

Children in 323 neighborhood areas in Los Angeles County have lead levels at least as high as found in Flint, Michigan. Some have levels at least twice as high. Reuters has examined the results of more more than 15,000 tests on child lead levels taken between 2011 and 2015 by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The results of that analysis are worrying for L.A.'s children and parents.

In Lead's Hidden Toll Reuters examines the areas of Los Angeles with the highest levels of lead and explores some of the reasons why these levels might be high. The article is illustrated by an interactive map which shows the levels of lead found in children in each census tract area. You can click on each neighborhood on the map to view the number of tested children and the percentage found with elevated levels of lead.

Lead's Hidden Toll and the interactive map are part of Reuters' nationwide investigation, Off the Charts. The map not only show the levels of lead found in L.A.'s children, it also allows you to view the results of childhood blood lead tests in 21 different U.S. states.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The History of Music Around the World

During his long life the American musician Alan Lomax gathered together a huge collection of recorded folk music from around the world. You can now search and listen to the songs from Lomax's collection on the Global Jukebox. The Global Jukebox allows you to listen to music from around the world. giving you access to folk recordings not just from the Alan Lomax collection but from other well known international folk music collections.

There are many different ways to search and listen to folk music from round the world using the Global Jukebox interactive map. At its simplest you can click on the markers on the map to listen to examples of folk songs from that location. The Global Jukebox however also contains a number of curated journeys around the world of folk music. These journeys have been created by folk music experts to take you on a tour of the music from particular traditions and cultures.

If the curated journeys and lesson plans of the Global Jukebox are too structured for your liking then you can try the 'surprise me' button to listen to a random song. You can also select the 'Wander the Earth' option to be taken on a continuous random trip around the world's folk music.

30 Years of The Simpsons

The Simpsons are celebrating their 30th anniversary. The first ever short episode of The Simpsons appeared on The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. Remarkably Bart Simpson doesn't look a day older now than he did in that first ever episode.

A new Esri Story Map of Springfield has been released to celebrate this 30th anniversary. The map not only allows you to explore America's most famous town but also includes a wealth of information about the show and all the main characters. As you progress through the Interactive Simpsons Story Map you are introduced to the show's characters and also shown where they live on the Springfield map.

You can also explore the map yourself. If you click on any of the colored building footprints on the map an information window will open with a description of the selected building.

The Simpson's City Map provides a bird's eye view of Springfield. This map allows you to explore an oblique view of Springfield and view places of interest in the town, such as the home of the Simpsons family (742 Evergreen Terrace) and the location of's first ever Kwik-E-Mart.

If you select a marker on The Simpson's City Map you can learn more about some of the town's most important locations, The Simpson's City Map also include an attempt to crowd-source information. If you have information about a building on the map you can press the 'contribute' button to submit your own knowledge about the town of Springfield.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Comparing Old Maps

The David Rumsey Map Collection is a fantastic collection of vintage maps from around the world. The David Rumsey Map Collection has also been at the forefront in working on digitizing vintage paper maps and making them available to view and use online. For a long time the collection has used Georeferencer to georectify vintage maps and make them accessible as interactive digital maps.

This year Georeferencer has released version 4 of their Georeferencer tool. The tool has added some great new features to aide anyone interested in georectifying and digitizing old vintage maps. It also has a great new interface for comparing different maps side by side.

Georeferencer Compare is an amazing way to find and compare old vintage maps side-by-side, It includes various different view modes. As well as comparing maps side-by-side you can overlay different maps as layers (and adjust their opacity), you can view them in swipe mode or you can use a 'spy glass'.

The David Rumsey Map Collection has updated to version 4 of Georeferencer. This means you can use David Rumsey Georeferencer Compare to find and compare vintage maps from the collection. Using the tool is a great way to see view how maps of specific locations have developed over time,

The Land Information Explorer

A new interactive map from non-profit Shared Assets can help you find out key information about any area of land in the UK. Land Explorer uses open data to provide information at the click of a mouse button about land ownership and current & potential land use.

Land Explorer couldn't be easier to use. Just click on a location on the map and all the land information is automatically displayed in the map sidebar. As well as information from the Land Registry you can view information about flood risk (from the Environment Agency), the potential for agricultural use (from Natural England) and any planning restrictions on the land.

Land Explorer also provides more simple geolocation data, such as the address, elevation and latitude and longitude of the selected location.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

All the World Could Live in Argentina

43.5 million Argentinians live in one of the biggest countries in the world. Every Argentinian therefore could theoretically have a lot of space to themselves. However half the population of Argentina choose to live in a 400 km semi-circle in and around Buenos Aires.

You can see how most Argentinians prefer to live close to each other on this new Population Density of Argentina map. The map uses Mapbox's fill extrusion property to show population density in each census tract as a colored height map (the taller and darker the tract the more people live there). If you mouse-over a census tract on the map you can see how much square footage each inhabitant could have if the tract was divided evenly between each person.

According to the accompanying blog post the whole world's population could comfortably live in Argentina. Everyone would have to live in a huge city with the population density of Buenos Aires. If that doesn't bother you then start packing your bags because Argentina certainly has the room.

Animated Data Transitions

Sasaki's Understanding Homelessness is a very impressive data visualization. What makes it so impressive is the way it picks out and explains some of the important stories about homelessness in the United States hidden in the data. One of the main ways that it explores and explains the data is through the use of animated transitions between different types of data visualization. For example, if you switch between the 'map' and 'table' visualizations then the dots (each one representing 5 homeless people) actually fly off the map and rearrange themselves into a table.

To create these animated data transitions Sasaki developed their own data visualization library called Continuity. At the moment Sasaki isn't providing much support for using Continuity but they do say that they are "are working to document and release more components and examples" of Continuity.

Before these components and documentation are released you can see Continuity in action on the Understanding Homelessness map and on Imagine Boston. The Imagine Boston map visualizes a range of demographic, transport and other data about Boston. It uses the Continuity data visualization library to explore and visualize this data. As with the Understanding Homelessness map animated transitions between different types of visualizations are used to help explain some of the stories revealed by the Boston data. Particularly impressive is the racial population data and how you can click on the different races in the racial breakdown table to add that specific demographic to the interactive map.

Introducing the New Google Earth

Today Google unveiled the new Google Earth. The most obvious difference to the latest incarnation of Google's 3D map is that Google Earth is no longer a stand alone application but is instead now entirely browser based.

The new Google Earth allows you to explore the world in glorious 3D. To this end the main on-screen tools are all designed to help you explore the world more easily. These tools include a 'Voyager' button which provides a number of great tours of the world (provided by the BBC Earth TV program) tours of some of the world's national parks and a Street View tour of the Galápagos Islands. My guess is that Google will be working with other content providers to help develop and add more of these curated 'Voyager' tours to Google Earth.

The on-screen tools also include a search option, which allows you to quickly find your favorite locations around the world. If you run out of places to search you can also use The 'I'm Feeling Lucky' button, which will take you to a random location. One of the great features of the new Google Earth is the 'Knowledge Cards', small information windows which appear on screen to provide you with information about locations and to provide links to other nearby points of interest.

As well as the on-screen buttons you can access more functionality from the burger menu. This includes 'Map Style' which allows you to adjust map features, such as the visibility of place labels. 'Settings' can also be accessed from the burger menu, where you can adjust things such as the 'fly-to' speed and the unit of measurements used by Google Earth.

I've only had a brief look at the new Google Earth and so far I'm very impressed. One of the reasons I hardly use Google Maps any more is that it is soooooo slow and is too keen to show me the world I already know (giving preference to places my friends and I have already been and know exist). Google Earth doesn't seem to suffer from the new Google Maps speed problems. It also seems designed to help you explore and find the wonders of planet Earth.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Homelessness Dot Map

According to a new map of the homeless California and New York have the highest number of homeless people. The northeast as a whole has the highest population of homeless families. However the southwest has the most homeless children.

Understanding Homelessness is an amazing dot map of where the homeless are located across the United States, The map allows you to see which areas have the biggest problems with homelessness. It also allows you to analyse the demographics of the homeless population in a number of ways.

Understanding Homelessness has a number of filter controls and visualization options which allow you to explore the homelessness data in various different ways. You can get a good understanding of how these filter & visualization options work by pressing the 'Tell Me A Story' button. If you do this you can progress through a number of different observations about the nature of homelessness in the United States using the filter & visualization options.

The ability to explore the data is very impressive. As are the dot animations as you switch between the different visualization methods, My one problem with this map is the data itself. The map says that the data is based on a nationwide count by volunteers made in January 2015. This resulted in a count of 546,580 homeless people across the United States. This information makes me worry a little about the accuracy of the data. At the very least Understanding Homelessness needs to provide more information on how the data was collected.

Mapping Marine Traffic Accidents

Scotland's National Marine Plan interactive allows you to view all the maritime accidents in the seas around Scotland. It shows the locations of all ships wrecked off Scotland's coasts and the locations of marine accidents involving the loss of life.

The National Marine Plan interactive provides a mapped interface to access data designed to assist in the development of Scotland's National Maritime Plan. The National Maritime Plan sets out the government's mission to manage the marine environment and promote the sustainable development and use of marine areas and marine resources.

Using the map you can view a number of different data layers related to the seas around Scotland. As well as the Maritime Casualties layer the map includes spatial layers about all aspects of the marine environment and data important to Scotland's National Marine Plan.

Mapping the Freedom of the Press

Mapping Media Freedom is mapping threats to the media throughout the European Union and neighboring countries. It is a joint initiative from the Index on Censorship, the European Federation of Journalists and Reporters Without Borders. The map uses clustered markers to show the locations of crowdsourced reports of threats, violations or limitations faced by journalists, newspapers or other media.

The map sidebar provides links to read more about the reports shown in the current map view. This list updates automatically as you pan and zoom the map. If you click on an individual map marker or one of these headlines in the map sidebar you can read the full submitted report.

You can filter the reports shown on the map by location, date range or category. The categories include different types of censorship and limits to press freedom. They also include the option to filter by sex, type of journalist and the source of the threat to media freedom.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Opioid Obituary Map

One of the biggest health crisis in the United States is the current opioid epidemic. In fact more people are now killed by drug overdoses than from gun homicides and car accidents.

An ESRI Story Map is attempting to highlight and personalize the current prescription drug and heroin epidemic by providing a way for families to share their memories of loved ones who have died from the epidemic. Celebrating Lost Loved Ones allows anyone to add photographs and memories of an opioid overdose victim to the map.

The map was created by ESRI software developer Jeremiah Lindemann, who lost his own brother to the prescription drug and heroin epidemic. You can read more about the map in Jeremiah's blog post Mapping the Prescription Drug and Heroin Epidemic, in which he also links to a few other maps concerned with the current epidemic.

You can see from the screenshot of the map at the top of this post that more people have added obituaries to the map in the north-east of the USA than in any other part of the country. This isn't just a coincidence. According to the New York Times the epidemic "has hit particularly hard in New England and in parts of Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Those are the places where fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, started to flood into the heroin supply five to 10 years ago."

Yesterday the NYT released an interactive report called Just How Bad Is the Drug Overdose Epidemic?. This report includes an interactive choropleth map showing the percentage of deaths caused by drug overdoses in 15 to 44 year-olds in each U.S. county. The map clearly reveals the higher than average number of drug overdose deaths in the north-east.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Explore the World in Virtual Reality

You can now explore the world in virtual reality thanks to a new Google Street View application. Speak to Go is a WebVR experiment which allows you to navigate around the world on Google Maps Street View using just your voice.

Speak to Go works with Google's Daydream and Cardboard VR headsets. Don't worry if you don't have a VR headset. Speak to Go also works perfectly fine on a normal computer monitor.

To teleport to a location using Speak to Go just press your space bar and speak your destination out loud. If Google Maps has panoramic imagery available you will then be taken to the Street View of your chosen destination. If you run out of ideas for places to explore just say ‘I’m feeling lucky’ to be transported to somewhere new.

You can find lots more VR applications on Google's WebVR Experiments website.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The 2016 Night Light Map

NASA has released a new composite map of nighttime satellite images of the Earth. The map is made up of the best cloud-free satellite images of each land mass captured during 2016. You can view the new 2016 Black Marble map on NASA's Worldview interactive map.

A number of factors can affect how light appears in nighttime satellite imagery. The phases of the moon, atmospheric conditions and clouds can all change the way that light on the Earth appears when viewed from space. To create the Black Marble map NASA filters out these factors to provide a more consistent global map of the world at night.

As well as exploring the new 2016 Night Light map on Worldview you can also view and download 2016 night light images and learn more about night light science on NASA's Earth at Night page.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Mapping America's Vanishing Middle-Class

Metrocosm has created an interesting 3D mapped visualization of the median household income in each census tract in 10 of America's largest cities. Each of the 10 city maps show the median household income in neighborhoods for both 1970 and 2015. The map therefore allows you to compare how household incomes have changed at census tract levels over the last 45 years.

The Income Polarization in U.S. Cities map visualizes median household income by color and height. The central argument of Metrocosm is that there is a widening gap in cities between those with the highest household incomes and those with the lowest. If this is true then the census tracts in the 3D city maps should show a more uniform height in 1970 than in 2015.

The Metrocosm map is very similar to a Wall Street Journal visualization of how the middle class in Philadelphia, Chicago and Baltimore have suffered at the expense of the super rich.

In The Carving Out of the Urban Middle Class the WSJ uses 3d choropleth maps to visualize the dominant income groups living in city neighborhoods in 1970, 1990 and 2014. By toggling through the dates on each of the city maps you can clearly see how the middle income neighborhoods ($50,001 - $70,000) have dwindled in number in each of the three cities.

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.

The 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.

The Contours of Cycling

2017 is definitely the Year of the Travel Time Map. For most of the world this means that there has been an outpouring of maps which show you how long it takes to drive to any location from your home. In the Netherlands however a travel time map for cars is a laughable proposition, What is needed instead is a travel time map for bikes.

Step forward nsmaps. Nsmaps shows you how long it takes to travel to anywhere in the Netherlands from any train station using only trains and a bicycle. Click on a train station on the map and you can instantly view a beautiful looking contour map showing you how long it will take to travel anywhere in the country.

The data for the train journey times comes from the Dutch Railways travel planner API. The minimum travel time for a location on the map is calculated by combining the train travel time from station to station and calculating the cycling time from the station (cycling at 18 km/h) using the route that takes the least time.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mapping the World at War

Since 1969 the indigenous people of Indonesia's Papua and West Papua states have been fighting for independence. Some estimates suggest that more than 100,000 people have died in the struggle. Unfortunately this is just one of many long ongoing conflicts around the world which go largely ignored in the west.

IRIN, the non-profit humanitarian news and analysis team, wants to draw attention to the forgotten conflicts of the world. To help achieve this aim it has created an interactive map of all the current ongoing conflicts around the world. The World's Conflicts map shows where conflicts are currently taking place across the globe.

Each conflict is shown on the map with a scaled marker. The size of the markers represent the length of time that each conflict has been continuing for. You can click on an individual marker to read more about the nature of the conflict, the main protagonists involved and an estimate of the number of casualties involved.

The Global Conflict Tracker is another map which shows the location of conflicts around the globe. This map from the Center for Preventive Action is designed to show "ongoing conflicts around the world of concern to the United States".

The map provides two main views, 'Impact on U.S. Interests' and 'Conflict Status'. If you switch between these two views the color of the conflict markers change to show the severity of the impact to U.S. interests or the severity of the conflict itself. If you select a conflict on the map you can click through to view a detailed account of the conflict, including the historical background and recent developments. also provide an interactive map of armed conflicts currently taking place around the world. The map shows where conflicts are happening and provides links to the latest news stories about the conflicts.

The red circles around the conflict markers on the map indicate the current severity of the conflict (high, medium or low). The colors of the markers provide an indication of the current level of activity (red indicates the most active). If you click on a marker you are provided with a series of links to the latest news reports about the selected conflict.

Analyzing OpenStreetMap Stats

Mapbox has released a series of interactive mapping tools which allow you to analyse and visualize user contributions and edits to the OpenStreetMap mapping platform. These map tools were developed by Jennings Anderson, a PhD student at the University of Colorado Boulder. He developed the tools while working as a Mapbox Research Fellow researching OpenStreetMap contributors and quality.

You can view all the different tools and utilities available at OpenStreetMap Contribution Analysis. The maps include visualizations of general OSM editing activity. For example showing where in the world the most edits are made to OpenStreetMap and when the latest edits were made to OpenStreetMap across the globe.You can also explore the quality of OSM edits, as in where are roads edited the most and where do these edits include name tags.

Other tools allow you to explore the contributions of individual OSM editors and analysis of editors in the same regions.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The FedEx Sound Tracking Map

Most of the large delivery companies provide live tracking maps which allow you to follow the progress of your order while it is on route to your house. FedEx has taken this useful service and turned it into a work of artful cartography with its very own original soundtrack.

FedEx SoundTrack uses your order tracking number to show you the progress of your parcel on a map of the USA. While you watch your parcel moving on the map you can also listen to a piece of algorithmically generated music. The music that you hear is driven by the size of your package. Heavier packages apparently have more drums and the tempo is determined by the speed of the delivery.

The map itself is made up of thousands of pixels (which perhaps represent all the current FedEx deliveries across the country). The map includes some very neat touches. As your package moves through a sorting center the pixels arrange into a 3D model of the actual building. Also note how if your package travels by plane the tracking path curves to create the illusion of flight.

Don't worry if you don't have a tracking number. FedEx SoundTrack allows you to simulate your own package in order to watch it being delivered on a map with your own personal soundtrack.

5000 Vintage Maps of New York

There is now a new way to find and discover old vintage maps of New York. The New York Public Library has a large collection of historical maps of the city. Most of these maps have been geo-rectified, which means that they can be viewed using an interactive mapping platform such as Google Maps.

You can now browse and search this collection using the NYPL's new Maps by Decade map search application. Maps by Decade lets you search the over 5,000 digitized maps of New York by location and time.

Essentially Maps by Decade consists of ten separate interactive maps - one for each decade. These maps show the outlines of the vintage maps available on top of the streets of New York. When you mouse-over the Maps by Decade map the vintage maps from that location and decade are shown in the map sidebar. Each of the available vintage maps has a number of links, including a link to view the map overlaid on Maps by Decade.

Mapping Urbanization in China

The New York Times has created an impressive mapped visualization showing the incredible rate of urbanization in China’s Pearl River Delta. Just thirty years ago this area was mainly rural farmland and waterways. Since then the city of Guangzhou and surrounding industrial towns have all grown at an incredibly rate. The city and towns have now all merged to create one huge industrial urban environment.

In Rising Waters Threaten China’s Rising Cities the NYT illustrates this growing urbanization with a map that shows how the natural environment has been built over during the last thirty years. As you scroll through the article the rust colored areas increase on the map as the years go by and the towns grow in size.

The NYT article examines some of the causes of the rise in flooding in the area. You only need to look at the number of waterways in the delta in the map above and the huge loss of the surrounding natural environment to realize one of the major causes of flooding in the Pearl River Delta.

Saturday, April 08, 2017 - Visualizing Data on a Map

Uber's data visualization framework provides a number of ways to visualize geographical data on top of an interactive map. The framework is used by Uber to help visualize its internal data. It is also available to all other developers under an open license. essentially provides a number of JavaScript layers which can be used with an interactive map to create WebGL data visualizations. These layers include relatively simple layers that can overlay map markers and polylines on a map to more complex layers for visualizing large data sets as 3D hexagons or 3D heatmaps. You can get a good sense of what you can create by looking at the example maps in the Gallery.

Deck/gl can be used with any JavaScript map library. However " has been developed in parallel with the react-map-gl component, which is a React wrapper around Mapbox GL".

Friday, April 07, 2017

Find a Bike Route

BikeRoll is a new bike route planning application which can help you find the best way to get from A to B on two wheels. The application provides an easy to use map tool to find, plan and save bike routes.

BikeRoll has a simple and intuitive interface which is designed to make planning a bike route as easy as possible. You can request a bike route by simply clicking twice on the map to set your starting point and destination. BikeRoll will then show you a suggested route on a Goggle Map. The route is accompanied by a color-coded elevation profile. The different colors in the elevation profile highlight any difficult climbs along the suggested route.

Three different suggested routes are provided for each query. These are 'Road Bike', 'MTB' and Google Bike'. I assume that MTB provides the shortest route, which may include steep climbs. Road Bike is probably the fastest route avoiding the steepest climbs and Google Bike shows the safest route.

BikeRoll provides instant weather support that tells you the forecast on the planned route for the next five days. BikeRoll also supports multiple languages.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

The World's Highest Mountains

Peaks and Valleys is an impressive 3D tour of the Earth's tallest mountains and deepest canyons. This Esri Story Map takes you on a journey from the tip of Mount Everest to the world's lowest valleys, desert basins and inland seas.

As you scroll through Peaks and Valleys the map automatically flies around the world to show each continent's highest mountains in glorious 3D. If you want to examine one of the locations in more detail then you can zoom in or out on the map and use your right mouse button to pan around the 3D imagery.

Scrolling information windows provide details on each of the featured peaks and valleys on the map. You can also use the links at the top of the map to jump to the separate sections on each of the Earth's continents,

If you want to create a similar mapped tour of the world then the Story Map Cascade documentation is a good place to start.

Air Pollution Near Schools

Greenpeace has released a map showing all nurseries and schools in England and Wales that are located near dangerously polluted roads. Currently there are at least 2,092 educational institutions that are within 150 metres of a road breaching the legal limit for NO2 pollution.

Greenpeace's Road Pollution map shows the pollution levels of motorways and A roads and the locations of schools and nurseries near dangerously polluting roads. Because the road pollution is limited to motorways and A roads Greenpeace's map probably vastly underestimates the number of educational institutions suffering from dangerous air pollution.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The Water Quality of US Streams & Rivers

A new interactive map from the USGS allows you to see whether the water quality of US streams and rivers has improved or decreased over the last few decades. The Water-Quality Changes in the Nation's Streams and Rivers map shows water quality trends in waterways since the beginning of the 1970's.

The colored arrows on the USGS map show which streams and rivers have improved in water quality and which have decreased. You can select to see the water quality changes over four different periods of time using the controls in the map sidebar.

The water quality of the country's streams and rivers are assessed in a number of different constituent groups. These are: water chemistry (nutrients, pesticides, sediment, carbon, and salinity) and aquatic ecology (fish, invertebrates, and algae). You can see how stream and river water quality has changed in each of these groups by selecting them from the side panel.

You can also see how groundwater quality has changed over the decades on another USGS interactive map. About half of the U.S. population relies on groundwater for drinking water. The United States Geological Survey is responsible for the National Water Quality Assessment Project, assessing water-quality conditions and whether these conditions are improving or deteriorating over time.

The results of these changing conditions are available in the USGS interactive map, A Decadal Look at Groundwater Quality. The map shows the concentrations of pesticides, nutrients, metals, and organic contaminants in groundwater and how these have changed over ten years.

Using the map you can select to view the test results for a large number of organic and inorganic constituents. Scaled arrow markers on the map indicate whether the tested aquifers showed an increase or decrease in the selected constituent between the decadal testing. For example, if you select to view the results for chlorine, the arrow markers on the map show that most wells tested have shown an increase in chlorine over the ten years between the two latest tests.