Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Hooky Map of America

The Hamilton Project at Brookings has created an interactive map which visualizes the rates of chronic absence at every school in the country. Chronic absence is when a student misses 10% or more of school. Students who miss this amount of schooling are academically at risk.

Individual schools on the Chronic Absence Map are colored to show the percentage of the students who have a record of chronic absence. The red markers show the schools with the highest percentage of chronic absence and the yellow markers those with the lowest. If you click on individual schools on the map you can view the school ratings for a number of other educational outcomes, for example math / English proficiency, the student / teacher ratio and the rate of teacher attendance.

The map also looks at community factors that affect learning in each zip-code area. On the map zip-code areas are colored to show the level of community support for learning. Zip-code areas colored light blue have more supportive community conditions and zip-codes areas with a darker blue have less supportive community conditions. The level of community support is defined by such factors as the share of children living in poverty, household medium income and local employment rates.

One community factor that the Brookings' map doesn't consider is the rate of school funding. The amount of money that schools have can obviously effect levels of learning. To find out how much each school district spends on education you can instead refer to another interactive map. NPR has created a map which visualizes how much each school district in the USA spends on individual students. Why America's Schools Have A Money Problem colors each school district based on the level of school spending in the district per individual student.

The map shows that local funding is usually dependent on the levels of local property taxes. If a district has a number of successful businesses contributing a lot of money through property taxes then the school district is more likely to have higher levels of school spending per student. In essence schools in affluent areas are likely to be much better funded that schools in less-affluent areas.

Unfortunately the data on the NPR map is a little old now. The NPR map shows spending per student for each school district in the 2013 fiscal year.

Friday, September 13, 2019

D.C. Under Water

A new interactive map shows the projected flooding which could affect America's National Parks in 2050. Reveal has used data from the National Park Service to show the areas which could be inundated if a category 3 hurricane hit one of America's most popular National Parks.

The interactive map allows you to view the affect of a storm surge on ten of the U.S.'s most popular National Parks. The map includes a slide control which allows you to switch between a visualization of the current high tides and the likely storm surge in 2050, after a category 3 hurricane. The map sidebar includes quick links which will zoom the map to points of interest within the selected National Park.

Maps like this can be very powerful illustrations of the disastrous future effects of climate change. For example the screenshot above shows how the map can be a dramatic visualization of the effects of a storm surge. However I think that this particular map might be more effective with a little more information on the data used to calculate the storm surge levels. I also think some explanation is needed on why the year 2050 was chosen and why a category 3 hurricane could have more disastrous consequences for National Parks in that year as compared to now.

If you want to know how sea level rises will effect all locations in the USA then you can refer to Surging Seas. Climate Central's Surging Seas is one of the best interactive mapped visualizations of the likely effects of climate change. This particular map also includes a much better explanation of what is being shown and why this data is being visualized.

The Eel Rents of England

In my childhood jellied eels were a reasonably common part of the diet in East London. You can still find a few Pie, Mash and Jellied Eel shops dotted around the East End. However cafes that sell jellied eels are now a much rarer sight in the East End and the consumption of eels has largely gone out of fashion.

The demise of eels as a staple of the English diet is on the face of it very odd. For centuries eels have been a cheap and nutritious food source, readily eaten by the English. In fact for centuries eels were so much a part of the diet that many landlords would accept rent in the form of eels. This isn't as strange as it sounds. In pre-industrial times rents were often paid in livestock, fish, ale or other types of foods. Eels were therefore no less strange a method of receiving or paying rent than any other common goods or produce.

You can learn more about eel rents on the fascinating Eel-Rents Project. This project includes an interactive map which shows where the mention of eel rents can be found in original documents from the late 10th Century through the 15th Century. On the maps the number of eels mentioned in the rent is represented by the size of the marker and the color of these marker indicates the century of the historical record.

The map comes with a note of caution that this isn't a complete record of eel rents but just a map of where they have been revealed by surviving historical records. Therefore the cluster that seems to exist around the Cambridgeshire fens may just be a result of where the historical record has best survived. Or it may reflect the fact that eels were once plentiful in the fens and were a staple part of the local diet for thousands of years. In fact eels are so much a part of the culture of the fens that they even named one of their most important cities 'Ely'.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Two Degrees Hotter

The 2016 Paris Agreement on Climate Change set a long-term goal to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. Unfortunately many places across the globe have already exceeded a 2 °C rise in average temperatures.

The Washington Post has used data from Berkeley Earth to map the global rise in temperatures compared to the average temperature in the years 1880-99. An animated map at the beginning of the article, Dangerous new hot zones are spreading around the world, visualizes how the planet has heated since the end of the 19th Century. Another map, later in the article, takes a closer look at where temperatures have risen the most. According to the Post around 10% of the planet has already heated by more than 2 °C. Around 20% of the planet has heated by 1.5 °C.

Of course this level of global heating is having an effect on environments around the world. The Post's article takes a closer look at some of the most extreme environmental changes taking place across the globe and how these changes are affecting the lives and livelihoods of the people being affected by climate change.

Last month the Washington Post explored in more detail where in the United States the average temperature had risen above 2 °C. and where climate change is having the most visible effects in the country. In 2°C: Beyond the Limit - Extreme climate change has arrived in America the Post uses historical temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature to map where temperatures in the U.S. have already exceeded two degrees Centigrade.

According to the Post's analysis seventy-one counties have already experienced a rise of 2 degree Celsius. The Post's story includes a more detailed look at some of the regions of America which are experiencing extreme global warming and the effect that this warming is having on local environments. In particular the Post's story concentrates on the North East, where extreme warming has led to rising seas, loss of land, warmer winters and many other environmental problems.

The Wealth Divide in Spain

Spanish newspaper El Pais has mapped out the average income per person across the whole of Spain. The map shows a stark divide between the north and south of the country.

The Map of Spanish Incomes, Street by Street visualizes the average income in every neighborhood in the country. If you hover over an individual neighborhood on the map you can view the average income in the area. Immediately below the map you can also view in which percentile the neighborhood's income resides compared to the whole of Spain. This allows you to compare the local average income to the average income across the country.

The article accompanying the map includes an analysis of the income levels in a number of Spanish cities. For example in the northern city of San Sebastian all the city's neighborhoods have an average income in the top 30% of earners. In Madrid there is a larger wealth divide between some neighborhoods. This divide is marked by the M-30 orbital road. With those living inside the orbital earning, on average, significantly more than those living outside the ring-road.

The city of Almeria, in the southeast of Spain, has a number of neighborhoods with some of the lowest average incomes in the country. Like Madrid there is also a stark wealth divide between some of the city's  neighborhoods. Many of Almeria's poorer areas are immediately adjacent to some of the town's richest neighborhoods.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Geology of South Limburg

The Geology of South Limburg is an interactive geological map of the South Limburg region of the Netherlands. On the map different colors are used to show the different types of geological features which can be found in the region. The map also provides a guided tour and explanation of these geological features.

The dramatic geology of South Limburg has been formed over the last 300 million years. The geology has been formed by extreme climates, shifting continents and endlessly changing sea levels. The map provides a schematic representation of this geology and a detailed explanation of how the region has been shaped throughout history.

You can take a tour of some of the geological features which are found in the South Limburg region by using the 'vorige' (previous) and 'volgende' (next) buttons on the map. As you progress through this tool the map zooms in on different regions in South Limburg where you can find distinct geological features. The map sidebar provides a detailed explanation of the geology highlighted on the map and how this geological feature was formed.

The Geology of South Limburg is just a part of the much bigger interactive Geological Map of the Netherlands.

If you are a fan of geological maps then you will also enjoy this roundup of Geological Interactive Maps.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Homeless Should Sleep at Home

Mahatma Gandhi once noted that "the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members." Let's explore a little how the United States treats its most vulnerable citizens.

The City of Los Angeles is currently considering plans to ban homeless people from sleeping on many of the city's streets. These plans will make it illegal to sleep rough within 500 feet of schools, parks, day-care facilities and some popular venues. According to the Los Angeles Times this will mean at least a quarter of Los Angeles will be out-of-bounds to the city's most vulnerable people.

In Could Homeless People Sleep in Your Neighborhood? the LA Times has created an interactive map which shows all the areas of Los Angeles which could be restricted to the homeless under the new plans. The map shows the exclusion zones around every school, park and day-care facility. Enter an address into the map and you can find out what percentage of your neighborhood's streets will be restricted to the homeless under the new plans.

Another way that American cities tries to deal with vulnerable people is by dumping them on other cities. Thousands of one-way bus tickets are given to the homeless every year in the United States. In Bussed out: How America moves its homeless the Guardian newspaper explores the reasoning behind homeless bus relocation programs, their effect on the homeless and the impact on the cities where the bussed out homeless eventually end up.

As you scroll through the Guardian's article an interactive map automatically updates to visualize the results of the homeless relocation programs run by cities across America. This map shows the homeless rate in each state and the number of homeless arriving in cities across the country.

New York city spends the most money of any city on their homeless relocation programs. In fact New York doesn't just bus its homeless problem on to other cities it also give homeless citizens free flights to other cities. As with the bus relocation programs most of the people moved on by plane end up in locations where the residents have a lower than average median income.

Forget Gandhi's words, Americans prefer the saying 'out of sight, out of mind.' In the United States the most vulnerable citizens are treated as a problem which should be passed on to somebody and someplace else. In fact the vulnerable in America are dumped on those who are least able to help solve their problems.

The Saints of Europe

I was so fascinated by Dirk Kloosterboer's fascinating investigation into the spatial distribution of roads named 'Holleweg' (or 'Holloway') around the world that I decided to try my own investigation into the spatial distribution of place-names. For my analysis I wanted to explore the density and distribution of towns and cities in Europe named for Christian saints.

As a work of data visualization my finished map should be taken with a piece of salt. Soon after starting my investigation I realized my lack of language skills was seriously going to impair my research into towns named for saints across Europe. However despite the fact that my map is next to useless I still think the process of making it is quite interesting.

If you want to view the finished map then you can find it here - The Saints Of Europe.

All the data from my map comes from OpenStreetMap. To get the data I used Overpass Turbo. I queried Overpass Turbo to find towns and cities which included the words 'St', 'Saint', 'San', 'Santo', 'Santa' and 'Sankt'. You can see how the query is formed in the example below:
// gather results
node[place=town] ["name"~"Santo "]({{bbox}});
node[place=city] ["name"~"Santa "]({{bbox}});
node[place=city] ["name"~"Santo "]({{bbox}});
node[place=town] ["name"~"Santa "]({{bbox}});
node[place=city] ["name"~"San "]({{bbox}});
node[place=town] ["name"~"San "]({{bbox}});
// print results
out body;
out skel qt;

Rather than search for specified countries I restricted my search to rough bounding boxes around the UK, France, Spain, Germany and Italy. I wanted to restrict my search to these countries but I was also interested in capturing any towns and cities named for saints in areas closely bordering these countries as well. Therefore rather than querying these countries individually by name I used a bounding box for searching each country. These bounding boxes overlapped other countries to capture towns in other countries near the country border.

I carried out five separate searches in Overpass Turbo (one each for the UK, France, Spain, Germany and Italy. I downloaded the results of each search as a GeoJSON file. I then combined the five separate files into one GeoJSON file using

Once I had one GeoJSON file containing all the towns and cities named for saints I saved it as a tileset in Mapbox Studio. The data downloaded from Overpass Turbo also included the population of every town and city named for a saint. When you load a tileset into the Mapbox Studio style editor you can style how the data appears on the map. I decided to show each town as circles with the radius of the circles determined by the population size of the town or city. Therefore on my finished map the size of the circles represents the size of the population.

Although I wouldn't recommend my map as an effective data visualization I do find it interesting that the Protestant countries of Germany and the UK appear to have far fewer towns named for saints than the Catholic countries of Italy, France and Spain. Germany in particular seems to have very few towns named for saints.

The Beating Heart of Paris is a new collection of interactive mapped visualizations of Parisienne open data. The project visualizes data made available by the city of Paris and its transport networks (Ile de France Mobilités, RATP, etc.).

So far consists of five mapped visualizations. These include an interactive map of all public streetlights in the capital (pictured above), the location and types of complaints filed to In My Street and an animated map which visualizes 41,700 runners competing in the 2018 Paris marathon.

One of my favorite maps in the collection visualizes traffic counts from June 2019. This map includes an animated option which allows you to view the traffic in Paris fall and rise every day during June. As the map plays through the data you can see the traffic get busier during the morning and evening rush hour and falling away at other times of the day, particularly around Paris' Périphérique ring road. In this mapped visualization Paris resembles a beating heart, with its roads delivering the city's lifeblood. Even though this map of Paris traffic visualizes different data it reminds me a little of Mark Evan's Commute Map, which animates commuters flowing in and out of U.S. cities.

I also really like' real-time map of the Paris Metro. This map shows all the subway trains moving in real-time on a map of the Paris Metro. If you want to know more about how all these maps were made then you might want to explore the code behind the different maps on the project's GitHub page.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Holloways of the World

In my twenties I briefly lived in a squat in the North London district of Holloway. Despite having once lived in an area actually called 'Holloway' I never knew what a 'holloway' was - until today.

A Holloway is a road or track which is significantly lower than the land on either side. I only discovered this fact thanks to Dirk Kloosterboer's fascinating investigation into the spatial distribution of roads named 'Holloway' around the world.

Dirk had an idea that if you mapped all the 'Holloways' in a country then you might end up with a basic elevation map. You can read the results of Dirk's mapping in Holleweg. As part of his investigations Dirk mapped the locations of roads named Holleweg (nl), Holloway (en), Chemin Creux (fr), Hohlweg (de), Corredoira (gl), Hulvejen (da), Hulvei (no) or Hålväg (sv). His article includes an interactive map showing the locations of roads with these names around the globe.

I don't think I'm giving too much away by revealing that Dirk discovered that you can't really create a simple elevation map by mapping roads called Holloway. However he did discover that there could well be a link between elevation and the distribution of roads named Holloway. You can discover what that link is at Holleweg.

The Genius of Mercator

The Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality believe that the Mercator map projection "has fostered European Imperialist attitudes for centuries and created an ethnic bias against the third world". However they do admit that the Mercator projection is a useful tool for European sailors.

If you want a more balanced account of the Mercator projection then you you should read Tass's excellent introduction to the Flemish Cartographer Gerardus Mercator and his popular map projection. Mercator - It's a Flat, Flat World provides a wonderfully illustrated history of the Mercator projection and its creator, while also examining the benefits and problems of this popular cartographic representation of the world.

Tass's analysis of the Mercator projection includes an annotated guide to Gerardus Mercator's groundbreaking 1569 map, the 'New and More Complete Representation of The Terrestrial Globe Properly Adapted for Use in Navigation'. This guided tour introduces you to the map and provides a close-up examination of some of the map's features. The tour explains why the map is so useful as an aide to navigating at sea. It also explores the extent and limitations of geographical knowledge in the period when the map was made.

Alongside this detailed tour of Mercator's 1569 map 'Mercator - It's a Flat, Flat World' explores why it is so difficult to create an accurate flat two dimensional map of a three dimensional world. It explores the advantages and disadvantages of some of the other map popular projections and it illustrates how the different map projections each distort different areas of the world.

If you are interested in how different map projections distort the world then you should also like Projection Face. Projection Face is a great illustration of the distortions created by different map projections. The interactive shows how 64 different map projections effect our view of the world by showing each projection's effect when applied to something very familiar - the human face.

The distortions of each of the different projections can be illustrated further by clicking and dragging any of the mapped faces. This illustrates how the different map projections can be distorted themselves simply by changing the center of the map.

Projections Face is an interactive version of a 1924 illustration from Elements of Map Projection with Applications to Map and Chart Construction.

Mapping French Population Density

France's most populated city is Paris. With a population of over two million it has nearly three times the population of the next largest city of Marseilles. France's third most populated city is Lyon. You can explore the population of every commune in France for yourself on the Communes Population interactive map.

Communes Population uses scaled circles to visualize the population size of every French town and city. If you zoom in on the map you can also view the population density of France. This population density choropleth layer allows you to see which communes are the most and least populated in every town. If you click on a commune on the map you can also view a breakdown of the population by age group, showing both the population of each age group and the percentage that each age group contributes to the total population of the commune.

You can probably get a better idea of the population density of French towns and cities using the Population Données Carroyées interactive map. This map visualizes the population density of France using 3D towers.

On the map the height and color of each square relates to the number of inhabitants living in that 200 x 200 meter square. If you hover over a square you can view a breakdown of the local population by age. It would be useful if the map also provided an option to change the color of the 3D towers to visualize the population density of different age-groups. The map could then be used not only to view the overall population density but the population density of different age-groups within individual towns and cities in France.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Who Owns America?

John Malone owns 2.2 million acres of the United States - an area of land which is bigger than the state of Delaware (1.5 million acres). Malone is the largest private landowner in the US. The Emmerson family are the second largest private landowners and Ted Turner is third. Both the Emmerson family and Ted Turner also own more land than the state of Delaware.

You can discover how much land is owned by private landowners in Bloomberg's article The Largest Landowners in the US. The article includes a map which shows which land in America is owned privately and who owns it. The map shows that between them the 100 largest owners of private property own 2% of the USA, an area about the size of Florida. The 100 largest landowners are also buying up more land all the time. In fact ten years ago the top 100 landowners owned fewer than 30 million acres. They now own 40 million acres.

If you select a state on Bloomberg's map you can view an annotated overview of the land owned by the state's biggest private landowners. The map also provides a visualization of land owned by America's top 10 landowners.

Also See

Who Owns England?

Visualizing Zip-Code Areas

If you want to know how America's zip-code system works then you should refer to Engaging Data's Zip Code Map of the United States. Enter a five number zip-code into this map and with each digit you enter the map will show the area which your digits represent.

The zip-code system was introduced by the United States Postal Service in 1963. The five digits of a zip-code number indicate the address where a letter should be delivered. The first digit in a five digit zip-code represents a group of U.S. states. For example the number 9 (shown in the map above) is used for states along the western seaboard. The first digit numbers run roughly east to west across the USA. A first digit of 0 indicates an address in the far North-East (shown in the map below).

Each subsequent digit in a five digit zip-code indicates an ever more refined and smaller geographical area. The second and third digits together represent a region within the area indicated by the first digit. For example a large city. The fourth and fifth digits represent a group of delivery addresses within that region.

The Engaging Data map visualizes this system very neatly. As you enter each digit of a five digit postcode into the map the highlighted region of that postcode becomes ever more refined. When you have entered all 5 number of a zip-code you will have narrowed down the area to an individual postal delivery route.

Carto recently published a blog post about Why You Shouldn't Use Zip-Codes for Spatial Analysis. Even if you disagree with Carto's conclusion the article includes an interesting history of the zip-code and explanation of how the zip-code system works. Carto's main argument about why zip-codes shouldn't be used for spatial analysis is that the 5 digits don't really represent geographical areas but a collection of postal routes.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Bolsonaro's Amazon Fires

Buzzfeed has mapped out all of the wildfires that burned in the Amazon during August of this year. The Amazon has witnessed more than 90,000 fires so far in 2019, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). Buzzfeed has used data from NASA to show where these fires were burning in the Amazon during each day of August.

If you use the timeline control on Buzzfeed's We Mapped All The Fires That Burned In The Amazon In August you can view an overlay visualizing each day's wildfires. NASA says there were 66,000 fires last month across the whole of the Amazon. Over recent years the number of fires in the Amazon had begun to fall. However since the election of Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, farmers have been encouraged to clear trees for livestock, cultivation, and development. The result is that the rainforest is burning once again.

In truth much of the Amazon has remained unaffected by the fires. The Washington Post shows this in their article Maps of the Amazon Fires Shows We Are Thinking About Them Wrong. The Post has used NASA's data to map where fires have burned over the last first years.

The map reveals that most of the fires occur on the edge of the rainforest. The reason for this is that is where flash and burn is used to clear trees to expand agriculture. Since Jair Bolsonaro became president of Brazil environmental protection of the rainforest has been weakened. The environmental protection agency has had its funding slashed by 24 percent, employees have been fired and a new department has been created just to help reduce and stop fines for environmental crimes.

The result is that this year the number of fires in the Amazon has increased by a huge amount compared to the last few years.

The Archives of the Planet

At the beginning of the 20th Century Frenchman Albert Kahn decided to send a group of photographers around the world. He wanted the photographers to capture a record of a way of life that Khan thought was about to disappear. Between 1909 and 1931 Khan's photographers collected 72,000 color photographs and 183,000 meters of film. This imagery provides an amazing historical record of the world at the beginning of the 20th Century. His collection is known as The Archives of the Planet.

The website of the Albert Khan Museum has created an interactive map which allows you to explore this incredible archive of 20th Century life by location. The Collections of the Albert Khan Museum uses a Leaflet map to show where photographs in the collection were taken and which allow you to browse the photos by geographical location. The map includes a number of filters which also permit you to search the historical pictures of the world by different themes and categories. These include themes such as people, religion, nature and transport. You can also filter the photographs on the map by the name of the individual photographers.

If you are a fan of vintage photography then you might also appreciate these other interactive maps of historical photographs:

Historypin - a huge collection of mapped vintage photos from around the world
OldSF - vintage photos of San Francisco (has Google Maps licencing issues but photos still work)
OldNYC - old photographs of New York
Old Toronto - historic photos of Toronto from the City of Toronto Archives
Wymer's DC - view images of D.C. from the John P. Wymer Photograph Collection
The Yangon Time Machine - a map of vintage photographs of Yangon, Myanmar
Smapshot - historical images of Switzerland
OldAms - thousands of vintage photographs of Amsterdam
Tids Maskinen - explore photos of Norway by location & date
Helsinki Ennen - historical maps and photographs of the Finnish capital
Our Town Stories - Edinburgh - vintage photos & maps of the Scottish capital
Vintage Greece - geo-located vintage photographs and historical maps of Greece
Ajapaik - vintage photos of Estonia

Thursday, September 05, 2019

The Map of Really Rude Place-Names

In 2004 the residents of the small town of Fucking in Austria had a vote on whether they should change the name of their settlement. Many residents had become tired of the frequent theft of the town's street signs and the endless visits of puerile English speaking tourists. Fortunately, for those of us who are are amused by infantile humor, the residents voted to keep the Fucking name.

Of course Fucking isn't the only town with a place-name which sounds rude to English speakers. Around the world there are many locations which have names which sound rude to English speaking ears. I could list hundreds of examples, like the town of Vagina in Russia, the towns of Clit in Romania and Condom in France. But why list all the rudely named places around the globe when I can show you them all on an interactive map.

The Really Rude Map is an interactive map of rudely named places around the world. I created the map using Mapbox GL. In truth however most of the effort behind this map was done by Gary Gale for his Vaguely Rude Places. Gary's own interactive map of the data is currently offline (which is partly why I created my map). If like me you want to create your own map from the data then it is available under an Open Data Commons Attribution license.

The 45 Types of Road in Paris

There are 45 different types of road in Paris. Les types de voies à Paris is an interactive map which allows you to view the distribution and location of all 45 different types of road in the French capital.

By far the most popular type of road in Paris is the simple 'rue' or road. 3,422 or 57% of all roads in Paris are 'rues'. The second most popular type of road is 'place' (549). The third most popular type of road is 'voie' (433). If you select a road type from the map menu you can view every instance of this type of road on the interactive map. On the map all the public roads of this type are colored pink and the private roads are colored red.

When you select a road type from the map menu you also have the option to read a definition of the chosen type of road and an analysis of how that road type is distributed in the French capital (in French). For example if you select 'place' from the map menu you will learn that 'places' are one of the earliest examples of town planning. They were particular popular in the time of Henry IV, in the sixteenth century, when they were constructed to highlight a statue or monument and provide a public space for meeting and strolling.

Many 'places' in Paris are connected to 'avenues'. For example the Place Charles de Gaulle, where you will find the Arc de Triomphe, is the starting point of 12 different avenues. Many of Paris's avenues are in the west of the city where prestigious districts developed in the second half of the 18th century.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

The Poor & Urban Heat Islands

In August 2018 NOAA ran a citizen science project in Washington D.C. and in Baltimore to discover which part of those cities were effected by urban heat islands. You can see the results of this study on NOAA's Detailed maps of urban heat island effects in Washington, DC, and Baltimore.

The detailed maps produced by NOAA show that the hottest areas in both cities are the areas with the densest built environment and the most roads. This is a result of un-shaded roads and buildings absorbing heat and then radiating it out to their surroundings. The coolest places in both cities are in parks or in other areas with lots of tree cover. The dark surfaces of roads and built materials, such as bricks and concrete, absorb more heat than grass and vegetation. Which is why the densest built areas tend to be significantly warmer than areas with tree cover or parks.

Guess who lives in areas with parks and trees and guess who lives in densely built areas with lots of bricks and concrete. That's right the hottest areas in cities tend to be the areas where the poorest residents live, while the richest residents can afford to live in the coolest areas with lots of parks and trees. You can observe this pattern in cities across the USA using NPR's interactive heat island maps.

In As Rising Heat Bakes U.S. Cities, The Poor Often Feel It Most NPR has published an interactive tool which allows you to view heat island maps of US cities side-by-side with a map of income levels. Using this comparative tool you can directly see if there is any correlation between high surface temperatures in a city and the level of income. When you select a city the tool even tells you directly if there is a strong, moderate or weak link between surface temperatures in the city and where different income groups live.

Who's to Blame for Climate Change?

In 2016 countries around the world signed up to fight global heating. So three years later how well are individual countries meeting their individual targets to restrict climate change? You can find out using a new interactive map called the Climate Action Tracker.

195 countries from across the globe have signed the Paris Agreement on climate change. By signing the agreement governments have pledged to hold global heating to well below 2°C, and to pursue efforts to limit heating to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The Climate Action Tracker rates countries around the globe based on how well their current pledges and targets are "consistent with a country's fair share effort to the Paris Agreement 1.5°C temperature goal". On the interactive map countries are colored based on how well they are meeting their targets. Countries colored black or red are the countries which are completely failing to meet their 'fair share' of action limit global heating. The worst performing countries include the USA, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The countries colored green on the map are consistent or exceeding their obligations under the Paris Agreement. Currently the only countries colored green on the map are Morocco and Gambia. If you select an individual country on the map you can read its full profile. This profile explains in more detail why a country has achieved its individual Climate Action Tracker rating and how well it is meeting its targets under the 2016 Paris Agreement.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Mapping Japanese Land Values

A new interactive map visualizes how Japanese land values have fluctuated over the last 30 years. Every year Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism publish details on the value of land at around 26,000 different locations. The 3D Map of Land Values in Japan: 1989 - 2019 map allows you to see how the cost of land has fallen and risen across Japan each decade since 1989.

On the map land values are visualized by both color and height. Each hexagon on the map has a radius of 2000 meters. When two or more locations from the ministry's report fall within one hexagon area then the color and height of the hexagon reflect the average price of all locations. You can compare the 2019 land values with previous decades by selecting a year from the drop-down menu. On these comparison views the hexagons are colored to show how the 2019 land values compare with the selected year. Blue indicates that values have fallen and red indicates land values have risen since the chosen year.

Commercial areas in Tokyo make up all of the twenty most expensive locations in Japan. The next most expensive area is in the business district in Osaka. Despite the still relatively high cost of land in Japan compared to twenty or thirty years ago the cost of land has actually fallen in most areas. However this year's land value survey reveals that on average residential land values in Japan have risen for the first time in 27 years.

NASA Earth Observation in 3D

Emerson Walsh's WebGL Globe allows you to explore a number of NASA satellite views of Earth on a fully interactive 3D globe.

The 3D globe visualizes a number of different layers from NASA Earth Observations. These layers include global population density, land & sea surface temperatures, albedo, crowd fraction, leaf area index, vegetation index and chlorophyll concentration. You can learn more about each of the different layers visualized on the globe by hovering over the layer's name in the bottom-right hand corner of page.

NASA Earth Observation has numerous other global data-sets of Earth's ocean, atmosphere and land surfaces, all of which can be downloaded in various image formats. These images are all derived from satellite data obtained from NASA's constellation of Earth Observing System satellites.

Emerson's WebGL Globe was created using Three.js. If you want to make your own WebGL globes using Three.js then you might find How to Make the Earth in WebGL useful. This tutorial on WebGL globes was created by the creator of planets, a collection of 3D globes of all the planets in our solar system.

One Hour on the Irish Border

One of the major considerations in the Brexit negotiations between the EU and the UK is the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. This is the only land border between the UK and the EU. When free movement and free trade between the EU and the UK ends there may need to be a return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The Guardian newspaper has created an animated map which shows the traffic crossing the border at 10 different locations during one hour on Monday 2nd, September 2019. A Typical Hour in the Life of the Irish Border uses data from under-wheel sensors at ten different locations on the border. The animated map helps to visualize the amount of traffic between the two countries. Traffic and trade which is likely to be seriously disrupted and slowed if a hard border is reintroduced between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The 1998 Belfast Agreement ended the Troubles in Northern Ireland and removed the hard border. The worry is that a return to a hard border would destabilize the Belfast Agreement and could even reignite anger and violence. If anyone is in any doubt about the level of violence experienced along the old hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland they should check out the Irish Times' Explore the Border interactive map.

Explore the Border maps a sample of just some of the border incidents experienced during the Troubles. Click on a marker on the map and you are taken to one of the old crossings along the border. The map sidebar reports on any major violent incidents which occurred at this crossing. The number of bombings, shootings and arson attacks are also listed.

Explore the Border also uses Google Street View images of each mapped crossing on the border. This allows you to explore the border for yourself and highlights how a hard border would not only be difficult to implement but would be an ugly scar on a very beautiful country

Keith O’Faoláin has created an animated movie of the Irish border, Oh Border Where Art Thou. The movie uses satellite imagery to explore the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Watching the movie it is very apparent that the current border is very 'soft'. There are very few hard geographical barriers between the Republic and Northern Ireland. Mostly the border just follows roads and fields. If a hard border does have to be created it will prove very expensive and we will probably have to ask Mexico to pay for it.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Slopeless in Seattle

If you want to avoid the hills of Seattle then you can use AccessMap, a map which provides walking directions that avoid hills and other accessibility barriers.

Streets on AccessMap are colored by the steepness of their incline. The map also includes the locations of marked and unmarked crossings. When you ask for directions from one part of Seattle to another you can assign the maximum uphill and downhill steepness that you are comfortable with. The map includes a number of preset options which are designed for wheelchairs, powered chairs and walkers with canes.

After a query the suggested route for your journey is shown on the interactive map. If you click on the 'Trip Info' button you can view an elevation of your suggested route, the total distance of the route and the estimated time. If you select the 'Directions' button you can see step-by-step instructions for the trip.

If you are a wheelchair user in Seattle, or anywhere else in the world, then you can use Wheelmap, to find out how accessible buildings and services are. The colors of the markers on the map indicate how accessible a venue is. Green markers indicate that a building is fully wheelchair accessible. Orange markers show a location is only partially accessible and red markers indicate venues which cannot be accessed by wheelchairs.

Wheelmap is a crowd-sourced project which means that anybody can add information to the map. The grey markers on the map indicate venues that Wheelmap has no information about. If you have information about the venue's accessibility to wheelchair visitors you can simply click on the marker and select whether it is wheelchair accessible, partially accessible or not accessible.

Europe's Renewable Energy Potential

According to the Paris Agreement all signatory countries should increase the market share of renewable energy to at least 20% of the total energy market. According to a new interactive map this is potentially achievable by all European countries. The Possibility for Electricity Autarky map shows the potential that every country in Europe has for producing all its electricity demands from renewable energy.

Countries on the map are colored based on their potential for generating all their electricity needs from renewable energy sources. Therefore, according to the map, every European country is capable of meeting 100% of electricity demand with renewable electricity, generated locally from wind and solar power. If you hover over a country on the map you can view the country's population, electricity demand and how much electricity potential there is from local wind and solar power.

If you zoom in on the map you can view the potential for renewable energy within individual administrative areas within European countries. At this zoom level you can begin to see areas where renewable energy doesn't have the potential to meet demand. Many of these areas appear to be urban areas which are densely populated. I'm guessing this is due to the higher numbers of electricity consumers combined with less room for wind and solar power generation.

The data used to create the map comes from the peer-reviewed article, Home-made or imported: on the possibility for renewable electricity autarky on all scales in Europe.

German State Election Maps

Yesterday two state elections were held in Germany. The two states, Saxony and Brandenburg, are both in the part of Germany which was once East Germany. In both of yesterday's state elections the far-right AfD made strong gains but failed to become the most popular party in either state. The AfD were the second largest party in both states but it is likely that they will be frozen out by the other political parties from playing any role is either state's coalition government.

The Berliner Morgenpost has created two interactive election maps; one for Saxony and the other for Brandenburg. On both maps electoral districts are colored to show the party which won the most votes. You can also click on individual political parties on both maps to see how they performed across each state. In Saxony Angela Merkel's CPD party won the most votes, but the party saw their vote drop by 7.3% compared to the last state election in 2014. In Brandenburg the left-wing SPD won the most votes overall, but saw their vote drop by 5.7% since 2014. In both states the far-right AfD saw a significant two digit increase in votes since the 2014 elections.

Zeit has also mapped out the results of both state elections. Zeit's Saxony map, like the Berliner Morgenpost map, shows that the AfD performed particularly strongly in the east of the state. All constituencies in the state were won by either the CDU or the AfD. The CDU performed particularly well in the most westerly constituencies. The Green party picked up their largest share of the vote in cities and towns and performed less well in more rural constituencies.

Zeit's Brandenburg election map reveals a similar east-west split. In Brandenburg, as in Saxony, the AfD performed much better in the eastern constituencies. In this state however it was the SPD who picked up the most votes in most western constituencies.

Waz has also created interactive maps of the Saxony and Brandenburg state elections. Alongside the traditional choropleth maps Waz has published some interesting swing maps. These maps visualize perfectly the increase in the vote share of the AfD and the large falls in the vote share for both the CDU and SPD, since the 2014 elections.

Waz has also created interesting tables which show how the different political parties could combine to create a working coalition in each state. It is likely however that neither the SPD or CDU will want to work with the AfD.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

California's Rental Calculator

If you want to rent a property in California then you can use a new interactive map from the Los Angeles Times to discover the zip-code areas which have properties within your price range. Just enter your income into the Where can you afford to rent in California? and all zip-code areas in the state will be colored to show how many properties you can afford to rent in each neighborhood.

The LA Times map automatically calculates how many properties you can afford based on 30% of your annual salary being spent on rent and utilities. If you can afford to spend more than 30% of your salary then you can adjust the percentage using a slide control. The map will automatically update to show how many properties you can afford in each zip-code area.

The map uses data from the real-estate website Zillow. The current data is based on rental rates advertised in July and August of 2019, however the data is regularly updated with the latest rents on Zillow. The utility costs are based on averages estimated by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Friday, August 30, 2019

The World's MegaCities

The biggest city in the world is Tokyo, with a population of  38 million. Or it could be Guandong, with a population of 40.5 million. It all depends on which list of the world's largest megacities that you refer to.

Earlier today I linked to a number of maps which allow you to explore population density around the world. However the cities with the most dense populations are not necessarily the cities with the largest populations. The European Commission's Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL) provides spatial information on the physical size of human settlements and on the population sizes of those settlements. The GHSL Urban Centres Database maps 32 megacities - cities with a population of over 10 million.

On the interactive map if you select to view the 'Urban Centre Database' and then 'Visualization' from the two drop-down menus you can view the most populated cities in the world. Beneath the map you can select to filter the cities shown by the size of their population. According to the map there are 32 megacities around the world with a population over 10 million. In the USA this includes Los Angeles (14,281,720) and New York (15,950,674). However LA and New York aren't the biggest cities in North America. That honor goes to Mexico City (19,559,564).

One problem with determining the population size of cities is how you define their borders. Which is probably why there is a large discrepancy between the populations sizes of cities given in the GHSL and Wikipedia's list of Megacities. Wikipedia lists Tokyo as the biggest megacity in the world with a population of 38,140,000. The GHSL says Tokyo has a population of 33,028,731, quite a long way behind the 40,589,878 population that the GHSL says lives in Guandong. Wikipedia list Guandong as their sixth largest city, with a population of 25,000,000.

The top 5 megacities with the largest populations according to Wikipedia are:
  1. Tokyo (38,140,000)
  2. Shanghai (34,000,000)
  3. Jakarta (31,500,000)
  4. Delhi (27,200,000)
  5. Seoul (25,600,000)
The UN has a completely different list. Their top 5 (according to this MSN list) is:

  1. Tokyo (37,500,000)
  2. Delhi (28,500,000)
  3. Shanghai (25,600,000)
  4. São Paulo (21,700,000)
  5. Mexico City (21,600,000)

French Population Towers

Population Données Carroyées is an interactive map showing the population density of France. The map uses 3D towers to show how many people are living in each 200 x 200 meter square.

On the map the height and color of each square relates to the number of inhabitants living in that 200 x 200 meter square. If you hover over a square you can view a breakdown of the local population by age. It would be even more useful if the map also provided an option to change the color of the 3D towers to visualize the population density of different age-groups. The map could then be used not only to view the overall population density but the population density of different age-groups within individual towns and cities in France.

You can compare the population density of France with other European countries on the EU Population 2011 by 1km Grid interactive map. This map shows a finely detailed view of European population density at the 1 km square level. You can also hover over individual 1 km squares on the map to view the total number of people living in that square.

If you are interested in the population density of the world as a whole then you can use 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 tool to draw an area on the map to see an estimate of the population that lives within your selected area.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Mapping the Paranormal, the Weird & the Wonderful is an interactive map of 'strange, wonderful, unusual, and unexpected' stories. Using the map people can submit locations where they have had weird and strange experiences. These could be encounters with fairies or ghosts, close encounters with time travelers or aliens, or even an unexpected meeting with a witch or wizard.

The stories posted on the map are organized into a number of different categories. These categories include (but aren't limited to) visions, time distortions, ghosts and UFOs.

Perhaps the weirdest thing about this map is that it uses the Google Maps API. For those of you too young to remember - in the olden days most interactive maps were powered by the Google Maps API. However one day Google killed the API by charging excessive fees for its use. Somehow has managed to reanimate the Google Maps API. Now that is paranormal.

The UFO Sightings Map plots over 90,000 reports of UFO sightings since 1905. The map uses data from the National UFO Reporting Center. UFO sightings are shown on the map using scaled map markers. The size of each marker relates to the number of eye witnesses. If you select a marker on the map you can actually read the witness reports. Many of the reports are accompanied by videos or pictures recorded by the eye witnesses.

UFO Stalker has been mapping the locations of the latest UFO reports to MUFON (the Mutual UFO Network) for a number of years. This map includes a number of filters, which allow you to filter the aliens on the map by date and the type of close encounter. If you click on a map marker you can read the event details of the reported sighting. It is also possible to search the map by location and date and view the latest reports in list format.

The world is full of frightening ghosts, monsters and mythical creatures. For example Russians are haunted by the skeletal form of Koschei the Deathless, the legendary kidnapper of young women. In Guatemala you need to keep a wary eye out for Jaguar, the God of Fire, with his pointy fangs and catlike ears. In Denmark you don't want to accidentally bump into the Huldufolk, a race of elves who are responsible for local landslides and crop failures.

You can find all these monsters and many more on this Fantastic Folklore and Magical Myths map. Just click on all the monster shaped markers on this map to learn more about the fantastical creatures of the world.

Mapping the Risk of Flooding

Riesgo is an interactive map which visualizes the flood hazards of Marikina City in the Philippines. Marikina City lies on the Marikina River in a valley between the Sierra Madre mountains and the Quezon City hills. The city therefore lives with an almost constant threat of flooding.

The Riesgo interactive map was created as a way to showcase some of the research undertaken to examine suitable areas for flood evacuation centers in Marikina City. That research project explored elevation data, existing hazard maps and existing evacuation centers. The new map uses that data alongside data on population density, the location of critical buildings and road data to identify flood hazards in the city and to identify areas which are most suitable for the placement of new evacuation centers.

All the data used to assess flood risk and to assess the most suitable locations for evacuation centers could have been overwhelming for the map users. However Riesgo uses the story map format to lead the user through this data step by step. The result is a very effective visualization and explanation of the flood risks in Marikina City and how the city could address those risks. In fact Riesgo is so effective that it not only won the Grand Prize in Mapbox's VizRisk 2019 Challenge but also won the Best Interaction Design category as well.

You can learn more about how the map was made with Mapbox GL and ReactJS in Flooding in Marikina City: A Case Study. This blog post also includes a link to explore the map's code on GitHub.