Thursday, October 25, 2018

Global Population Pyramids

The Pudding has released a really interesting mapped visualization of the world's population. Their Human Terrain interactive map shows population density across the globe using 3D population pyramids. The taller a pyramid block on The Pudding map then the more people are living there.

The use of population pyramids is a well used and visually dramatic way to show population density. Foe example The Pudding's map is very similar to a WebGL powered map that Topi Tjukanov released earlier this year to show the density of Europe's population.

While being visually dramatic population pyramids do have some problems. Duncan Smith's interactive of World Population Density map might not be as visually dramatic as The Pudding's map but it is a lot clearer to read. If you compare the two map screenshots used in this post the bottom map is much easier to read both as a map and as a data visualization. The tilted oblique view in The Pudding Map distorts the geography of the map, foreshortening distances the further you move north. While the tall 3D towers on the map for densely populated cities obscure the data for the locations immediately to their north.

The Pudding's Map is still a very interesting map. In particular the ability to compare historical and present day population density side-by-side provides a fascinating view into population change across the globe.

Another interactive map which shows worldwide population data is the SEDAC Population Estimator (GPWv4). This interactive map uses NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) data to show where the world's population lives. The SEDAC Population Estimator map includes a really useful tool which allows you to draw a custom area on the map to see an estimate of the population that lives in your selected area.
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