Thursday, October 31, 2019

Mapping Global Wind Power Potential

Despite growing by 30% in the last nine years offshore wind power still only provides 0.3% of electricity around the globe. Some countries, such as the UK, Germany and Denmark have recently added a lot of offshore wind power capacity. However there is still huge potential for offshore wind power around the world. In fact wind power has the potential to provide more than 18 times the global electricity demand today.

The IEA in collaboration with Imperial College London has assessed the potential for offshore wind development across the world. Alongside its report into the potential of wind power IEA has created an interactive map which shows where offshore wind has the highest technical potential and where the latest offshore wind projects are being built. The map in Offshore Wind Outlook 2019 uses four colors to show the areas of highest potential. These colors show areas in deep & shallow water and in regions far & near from shore.

The potential for offshore wind power generation is modeled using a number of variables, including wind speed and weather data from global reanalysis models.

Mapping Cancer Alley

The land along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is often referred to as 'Cancer Alley'. The area is dominated by chemical plants and is consequently one of the most polluted places in the USA. ProPublica has used Environmental Protection Agency scientific model to map out the concentrations of toxic chemicals between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

In a Notoriously Polluted Area of the Country, Massive New Chemical Plants Are Still Moving in uses a story map to show the location of chemical plants in the area and the pollution that they are causing. As you progress through the story the map shows the air toxicity levels from cancer-causing chemicals based on the EPA scientific model. The story map also reveals where Louisiana has granted permits for new chemical plants to be built and what their impact will be on the pollution levels in the neighborhoods where they are built.

ProPublica has also looked at where these highly polluting chemical companies are being allowed to be built. It found that Louisiana are refusing permits in areas which have a predominantly white population but are allowing their construction in predominantly black populated districts. Some conurbations in Cancer Alley have city status and are able to refuse planning for new chemical plants. However they can't stop the pollution from nearby plants.

At the end of the ProPublica story you can enter any address in the region to show a map visualizing the local air toxicity levels.

The First 2019 UK Election Map

The UK has set a date for a new national election. The election on December 12th is by default almost becoming a second referendum on Brexit. It will also result in many, many new election maps. The first of which is Maproom's 2019 UK Election Map.

This interactive map colours each electoral constituency by the political party of the currently sitting MP. If you click on a constituency you can view the size of the electorate, the size of the sitting MP's majority and the percentage who voted for Leave or Remain in the 2016 EU Referendum Result. You can also click-through to research the MP's voting record on TheyWorkForYou.

The map is reasonably useful as it stands but I wish it had a few more options. For example, as the map already has the data on the 2016 EU Referendum it would be useful if the map included the option to view constituencies by their support for Brexit. This would help users identify Conservative MP's in remain supporting areas and opposition MP's in leave areas. It would also be useful to have a choropleth layer which allowed you to explore the size of each MP's majority. This would allow users to identify the most marginal seats, these will  be the seats which are likely to decide the outcome of the next government and whether the UK leaves the EU or not.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

How Flanders Has Changed in 50 Years

The Flanders region of Belgium has changed a lot in the last 50 years. If you want to know how the area has changed then you can explore the 50 Years of Concreting in Flanders interactive map.

50 Years of Concreting in Flanders uses aerial photography from 1971 to show how the region looked from the air half a century ago. Using the map you can search for any address and compare modern aerial imagery with the historical aerial imagery to explore how the area has changed. The 1971 imagery has a spatial resolution of 1 meter, which means that it is of a high enough resolution to be able to identify individual houses.

The map was made by Maarten Lambrechts, who has also written an interesting blog post on how the map was made. In A look through history map of Flanders - the making of Maarten explains how he made the historical imagery into a map tile layer which could be viewed using an interactive map. He also explains how he developed the functionality to share a location on the map. This allows users to simply cut & paste the URL of a location on the map which they can then share with friends or family.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

How to Find a Halloween Costume

If you haven't planned what you are wearing for Halloween this year then you need This is Halloween. Every year two major pop-up costume retailers, Spirit Halloween and Halloween City open stores across the country. Because the two companies take advantage of otherwise empty stores their locations usually change year-on-year. This can make them a little hard to find.

That is why Jonah Adkins decided to make his handy This is Halloween store locator. Using the interactive map you can search for an address or zoom in on a city to view all the nearby Spirit Halloween and Halloween City stores. The stores are shown on the map using colored ghost markers (pink for Spirit Halloween and blue for Halloween City). If you click on a marker you can view the store's address and web link.

If you have already chosen your Halloween outfit for this year then you might be more interested in reading about how the map was made. In This is Halloween - It all started with a map Jonah provides detailed information about how he made the map. This how-to guide includes details on using All the Places to scrape the data and create a custom made API. Jonah's guide also includes information about how Tangram was used to style the map into a suitable ghostly theme.

How to Find Your Nearest Volcano

If there is an emergency do you know how to find your closest volcano? I like to think of myself as a keen amateur volcanologist, but even I have to admit that there are times when I am unaware of where to find my nearest volcano. Especially when I am traveling somewhere new, either for work or for pleasure.

That is why I always carry Closest Volcano.

Closest Volcano is an essential interactive map for finding your nearest volcano, wherever you are in the world. If you share your location with Closest Volcano it will show you the location of your nearest volcano on an interactive Google Map. It will also tell you the name of the volcano, its elevation and what type of volcano it is.

My nearest volcano is the Chaine des Puys in France. Luckily for me it is a Dome volcano.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Detecting Slums with AI

The Million Neighborhoods Map is a new tool designed to detect and identify informal settlements across the world. The tool, made by the University of Chicago’s Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, finds communities with limited access to roads and therefore other services. This means that the map can be used to identify urban areas most in need of roads, power, water, sanitation and other infrastructure.

On the Million Neighborhoods Map urban areas with limited access to road networks are colored red, while settlements with high access to streets are colored blue. If you zoom in on a city on the map you can therefore quickly identify those areas which are most likely to be informal settlements, areas which have sprung up with little planning and possibly little essential infrastructure.

The Million Neighborhoods Map doesn't include much information about how the map was made. However reading between the lines of the 'Interactive explainer' on the map I suspect that machine learning has been used to identify informal settlements - particularly by identifying areas with a high density of buildings which have no direct access to roads or streets. This seems to be supported by the approach suggested in the paper The Fabric of Our Lives, one of whose authors is Luis Bettencourt, the inaugural Pritzker Director of the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation. This paper argues that
"We can take any city block and diagnose its degree of inaccessibility to each building from the transportation network using measures from graph theory and topology. On a larger scale, we can scan an entire city to identify blocks within which some buildings lack access."
This appears to be the approach that has been taken to identify informal settlements in the Million Neighborhood Map.

Another example of using machine learning to identify informal settlements has been developed by Dymaxion Labs. Dymaxion Labs' Maps of Potential Slums and Informal Settlements used machine learning to search the satellite imagery of a number of South American cities in order to identify and find slums and informal settlements. The resulting maps are being used to help urban planners and local councils identify where vital utilities need to be directed.

To help identify informal settlements Dymaxion Labs used the Random Forest machine learning technique. They applied the Random Forest technique to known informal settlements on satellite imagery from South American cities. The Random Forest classifier finds common features found in areas with known informal settlements and absent from areas without informal settlements. It then uses the classifier on new satellite imagery to automatically detect informal settlements in this satellite imagery.

The Machine Learning techniques developed for the Million Neighborhoods Map and by Dymaxion Labs can both be used by governments, local authorities and by non-profit agencies to identify informal settlements. These informal settlements spring up organically in urban areas with little central planning. They are therefore areas which often lack basic services, such as water, sanitation and electricity. Once the location of informal settlements has been identified vital infrastructure can be targeted at these areas. The Million Neighborhoods Map suggests that the same machine learning techniques that have been used to identify the informal settlements can also be used to work out the best way to improve access to streets and roads for the people living in these neighborhoods.

The World's Most Polluted Rivers

The Ocean Cleanup claims that "80% of river plastic pollution entering the world's oceans stem from 1000 rivers". In Plastic Sources the organization has mapped out the world's 1,000 most polluting rivers and the 30,000 rivers responsible for the other 20% of the plastic entering our oceans.

Currently the map includes very little information on how the organization calculates the amount of plastic waste distributed by each river or how they determine which are the most polluted rivers. The organization says that their model is based on data on 'plastic waste, land-use, wind, precipitation and rivers' but not where that data comes from. It does say that "Detailed information on our modeling approach and data will follow in our scientific update."

On the interactive map the 1,000 worst plastic polluting rivers are marked with large red & white circular markers. The other 3,000 polluting rivers around the world are marked with smaller blue markers. If you select a river's marker on the map you can read more about how much plastic the river is estimated to be carrying into the ocean.

The Ocean Cleanup has developed technology which they claim can intercept plastic in rivers and therefore stop it reaching the ocean. Having identified the 1,000 most polluting rivers it now wants to use its technology in those rivers and by so doing reduce by 80% the amount of plastic entering the oceans.

Around 8 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the world's oceans every single year. This plastic  is not only dangerous to marine life it is also a danger to us as well. Once the plastic enters the food chain it ends up being a threat to the health of people around the world. The plastic in the world's oceans comes from mismanaged plastic waste and waste which is intentionally dumped into the world's rivers, which then flows into our seas. Studies are now beginning to map where this plastic ends up and where it originates from.

Litterbase is one organization attempting to collate the results of scientific studies researching the levels of plastic pollution found in the world's oceans. Currently Litterbase provides a summarized overview of the results from over 1,900 studies into the amount and composition of litter and its effect on marine environments. An example of one of these summaries is Distribution of Litter Types in Different Realms, which is an interactive map created from the results of 916 scientific publications on the amount, distribution and composition of litter in the world's oceans.

There are gaps in our knowledge where little scientific research has taken place, for example around Africa and the Polar regions. One way that we can fill in these gaps in our knowledge is by modeling the density of pollution in the oceans based on the results of scientific studies. Sailing Seas of Plastic is a dot density map which shows the estimated concentration of floating plastic in the oceans based on the results of 24 survey expeditions (2007-2013) and on wind and ocean drift models.

Each dot on the Sailing Seas of Plastic map represents 20 kg of floating plastic. According to the map there are 5,250 billion pieces of plastic adrift on the seas of the world. If you want you can also overlay the sailing tracks of the 24 survey expeditions on top of the dot map.

The 2019 Thüringia State Election Map

The Landtagswahlkarte 2019 is an interactive map visualizing the results of the 2019 state elections in Thuringia. In yesterday's election the left-wing Die Linke won the most votes. The extreme right-wing AfD picked up the second most votes in the state. Angela Merkel's CDU, who had won the most votes in the state in every previous election since 1990, was pushed into third place.

The interactive map is colored to show the party which won the most votes in all 664 electoral districts. The darker the color, then the more votes won by the winning party. If you hover over an electoral district on the map then you can view the percentage of votes won in the district by each political party.

If you select a party from the menu beneath the map then you can view a choropleth map showing the party's support in each electoral district in the state. This menu also shows the three districts in which the party had the most support. The map also provides an overview of the swing in votes for each party since the last election. The biggest swings were the +12.8% gain in votes by the extreme right-wing AfD party and the -11.7% loss in votes by the CDU.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Live Wildfire Camera Network

The ALERTWildfire system uses live cameras to detect, locate and confirm wildfires. The system can also be used to monitor fire behavior and help firefighters tackle fires on the ground. The ALERTWildfire system is being developed by a consortium of the University of Nevada, the University of California and the University of Oregon. The system is currently operational in a number of locations in California, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon.

If you select a region from the ALERTWildfire interactive map you can see the live views from every single fire camera in the area. A Leaflet.js map shows the location of all the live cameras in the system and the direction of each camera's point of view. If you select a camera on the map you can view its current live feed. All the other feeds from the other cameras in the area are shown beneath this interactive map.

If you want to keep up-to-date with the current wildfires burning in California then you can refer to the LA Times' California Wildfires Map. The LA Times map uses data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites and from Calfire to show the locations of all the current wildfires in the state. The interactive map shows the best guess location of each fire's origin, the latest known fire extents and hotspots showing locations where fires are suspected according to satellite imagery analysis.

Friday, October 25, 2019

What is Your City's Park Score

Around 100 million Americans don’t live within a 10-minute walk of a park. The best city to live in if you love parks is Washington DC. The capital ranks number one on the Trust For Public Land's ParkScore.

The Trust for Public Land's ParkScore ranks America's 100 largest cities based on their parks. A city's ParkScore is calculated based on four different factors. These include the total size of parks in the city, the money invested in parks, the amenities in the parks, and how easy they are to access. Washington DC ranks very highly in three out of the four areas (it only achieves a medium score for the total acreage of its parks).

If you select a city from the ParkScore website you can view a breakdown of how the city's parks rank under each of the four judged criteria. You can also view details on the percentage of the population who live within a ten minute walk of a city park, what kind of amenities can be found in the parks and how much city land is used for parks and recreation.

You can also view an interactive map which visualizes the level of accessibility to parks in US cities on the Trust for Public Land's ParkView application. This map colors areas of the city which have the worst access to city parks. The map also identifies areas of the city which are the optimal points for new parks based on an estimation of the most residents who would be brought within a 10-minute walk of a park. ParkView also provides details on the percentage of the city currently within ten minutes walk of a park and the number of people in the city who aren't within ten minutes of a park.

The Global Chaos Map

There is a growing trend to map the economic and social consequences of global heating on humans. Earlier this week ABC News mapped out how climate change in Australia is likely to make many homes uninsurable and will cause huge rises in insurance premiums for most other homes. A rise in insurance premiums is likely to be among one of the more benign effects of global heating. Dwindling food supplies, increasing social unrest and more frequent natural disasters are likely to have a much more adverse effect on our lives as the planet warms.

That is why the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University has released The Global Chaos Map Project. The Global Chaos Map Project is an interactive map which has plotted events of unrest around the world which were related to limited access to natural resources during the years 2005–2017. By plotting past deaths and events of unrest arising from access to resources the Institute hopes to be able to better understand the patterns of unrest which are resulting from a heating planet.

On the interactive Chaos Map countries which have been affected by social unrest or deaths are highlighted with different colors. These colors indicate the number of recorded deaths. The map includes a timeline which allows you to view episodes of unrest around the world for any year from 2005 to 2017. If you select a colored country on the map you can view whether the recorded event was caused by food, water or fuel scarcity. You can also view details on the type of reported unrest and the number of resulting deaths.

Alongside the interactive map The Global Chaos Map Project is also providing more detailed commentaries. These commentaries explore in more depth some of the events in the project database. These case studies include (among others) an analysis of how the collapse in the price of oil in 2016 led to food riots in Venezuela and how increases in food prices in Tunisia contributed to the Jasmine Revolution.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Street View Landscape Paintings

Google Maps Street View allows you to view locations around the world from the perspective of a panoramic camera. It can also transport you into the center of fictional worlds.

For example the panoramic Street Views in the Big City Map can transport you into the comic book world of the 'Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline' series. Big City Map is a project by Emory University’s Center for Digital Scholarship to digitally recreate the city depicted in the Brotherman comics. This digital creation includes a map of the city and three interactive Street View scenes of locations in Big City.

Currently the Big City Map allows you to explore custom Street Views of 922 Vex Boulevard (pictured above), 550th Street and 456 Street, Tautyard, Big City. Select any of these three scenes and you can explore their 360 degree panoramic images - just as you would explore a real world location with Google Maps Street View.

This isn't the first time that Street View type panoramas have been used for artistic depictions. The Grand Master of Street View art has to be Raúl Moyado Sandoval. Raúl has been creating panoramic paintings since 2013.

Back in 2013 Raúl used the Google Maps API's Custom Street View feature to create immersive 360 degree landscape paintings. Mobile Cyclorama has now moved on from the Google Maps API. These days Raúl creates 360 degree panoramic images which can be viewed using a VR headset, on a mobile device or on a desktop computer. Mobile Cyclorama also includes a brief overview of the history of panoramic paintings, which date back at least to the 18th century.

The Big City Map isn't even the first time that 360 degree panoramas have been used to depict fictional worlds.  For example there is Julien Gauthier with his wonderful biopunk inspired BANGKOKXXIII - 360 Street. This 360 degree panoramic painting depicts a scene inspired by Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl. As you rotate around this panoramic image an imagined Asian street scene looms over your point of view, with towering skyscrapers, an overgrown overpass and even a gigantic elephant.

Modeling Smoke Pollution

Wildfire smoke in Indonesia is a common cause of air pollution in the country. The public health threat from wildfire smoke pollution is why the Smoke Policy Tool has been released to help model and visualize the impact of Indonesian fires on the health of the people living in Equatorial Asia.

The use of fire to clear land in Indonesia, particularly in the fuel-rich peatlands, often results in a smoky haze which carries toxic particulate matter throughout the region. The Smoke Policy Tool uses Google Earth Engine to model where the dangers of smoke haze carries the greatest threat to human health. This model considers such factors as land use, how smoke travels in the atmosphere, and the region's weather conditions. Using the tool it is possible to enter different variables to estimate the threat to human health of different wildfire scenarios. Users can choose different patterns of fire emissions, different weather conditions and different areas of interest (Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore) to model the effect of wildfire smoke.

The authors of the tool predict an average 36,000 annual premature deaths across Equatorial Asia in the next decade should fires continue at a similar rate as they have in the past. Most of these deaths are preventable. The authors hope that the Smoke Policy Tool will be used to determine where the public health threat from smoke is greatest. This information can then help policy makers prioritize where to prevent fires in order to save the most lives.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Uninsurable Australia

Last month The Guardian released an interactive map which explored how Australia will be affected by future climate change. If you enter a postcode or click on the How the climate crisis will affect you interactive map you can see how your region's temperatures, rainfall, sea levels and fire risk will be affected by future climate change.

One expensive result of this changing climate is likely to be a hike in insurance premiums. The company Climate Risk believes that around 5% of properties in Australia will become uninsurable on current global heating projections. Thousands of other homes will see their insurance premiums double or triple in size.

ABC News has taken this data from Climate Risk to visualize where in Australia insurance premiums are likely to rise and by how much. Extreme Weather Red Zones includes a number of maps which show the areas in Australia's major cities which will see the highest rises in insurance premiums. The article also includes a large map of Australia which is colored by the percentage of uninsurable properties there will be in each suburb by the year 2100. As you scroll through the ABC News report this large map zooms in on individual cities to explore in closer detail the projected insurance costs. For example, the map pans and zooms to highlight the areas of Sydney which will likely become uninsurable in the future (these will be concentrated near the Georges, Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers).

ABC New's 'Extreme Weather Red Zones' also includes a tool which allows you to view the potential insurance situation in any Australian suburb. If you enter the name of your suburb into this tool then you can view the percentage of properties in the suburb which will become uninsurable by 2050 and by 2100. The tool also tells you how much your insurance premiums are likely to rise by and the premiums you will most likely have to pay.

The Fool's Cap Map of the World

After 14.5 years Maps Mania finally has a logo. The new logo is inspired by The Fool's Cap Map of the World. The Fool's Cap World Map is a Sixteenth Century map in which the world is depicted encompassed by a fool's cap.

The Fool's Cap Map is a bit of mystery. We don't know who it was made by and it can't be precisely dated. However we do know it was made sometime after 1570, as the map in the fool's cap appears to be based on an Abraham Ortelius' atlas of the world, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. The map also appears to have been largely inspired by an earlier Fool's Cap Map made by Jean de Gourmont.

Debate about the map's meaning has raged for centuries - probably since the day it was made. There are those who argue that the fool's head mocks cartographers who think that they can accurately represent the whole world in a map. Immediately below the map on the Fool's neck are the Latin words "Stultorum infinitus est et numerus". Translated this reads 'The number of fools is infinite'. These words seem to support a reading of the map which says that placing the world inside a fool's cap suggests that everyone on the planet is a fool.

I like to think however that the Fool's Cap Map of the World was made not to mock cartographers but as a loving representation of all those who are fools for maps - for all of us with an enduring Maps Mania.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

How Clearwater was Conquered by Aliens

Like an invading race of aliens from a bad science-fiction novel Scientologists have slowly and stealthily taken over the city of Clearwater, Florida. There are now very few non-infected humans left in the town. In 1975 the Scientologists bought one hotel in Clearwater. They then drew up plans to take-over the city. Over the years the church bought up properties in the surrounding blocks. The church now owns 185 properties in Clearwater. These properties cover 101 acres in the center of the city.

The Tampa Bay Times has created a story map which uses Google Earth satellite imagery to show the extent of Scientology's control of Clearwater properties. As you scroll through How Scientology Doubled its Downtown Clearwater Footprint in 3 Years individual buildings are lit-up on a darkened oblique aerial view of the city to show which buildings have been taken over by the church. The technique is a very effective way to visualize the extent that Scientology has taken control of large parts of downtown Clearwater.

The Tampa Bay story includes some shocking details about other tactics that the church has taken to take control of Clearwater, including framing the mayor and planting spies in the local newspaper, chamber of commerce and the state attorney's office. The take-over of such a large area of downtown Clearwater has also had a very adverse effect on local businesses.

2019 Canadian Election Maps

Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party won the most seats in yesterday's Canadian election but he lost his overall majority. The Conservatives won the popular vote but did not win enough seats to form a government. The Liberals are now likely to form a minority government, possibly with the help of the left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP).

So far the Canadian election maps that I have seen haven't been very informative. In the last American and UK elections lots of election maps used arrows to show how votes had swung since the previous election. These arrow maps are great for visualizing how different parties have performed better or worse across the country since the last election (here's an example from the U.S. midterms). With the Liberals losing their overall majority it would be interesting to see an arrow swing map of the Canadian election to see where the Liberals and Conservatives in particular lost and won vote share across Canada. However most of the major news outlets in Canada instead created web Mercator maps with electoral districts simply colored to show the winning political party.

CBC's Canada Votes 2019 includes a simple interactive map showing the result's of yesterday's election. The Globe and Mail have a very similar map on their Election 2019 Results. On these maps each electoral district is colored to show the winning party. You can hover over individual districts on the CBC map to view the name of the winning candidate and by how many votes that they defeated their nearest challenger. Either of these maps could have easily been made more informative simply by shading the districts by the percentage of votes won by the winning candidate. This would at least have provided an overview of where support for the different parties was stronger or weaker across the country.

As they are these maps do provide some insight into some of the major stories of this election. The light blue colored districts in Quebec highlight the surge of the Bloc Québécois. They tripled their party’s seat count, compared to the 2015 election (mostly at the expense of the Liberals), and have become the third largest party after the Liberals and Conservatives. Elsewhere, in the western Prairie provinces, the Conservatives swept the board and the Liberals failed to win a single seat in the area.

Global News has a similar map, which also simply colors each electoral district by the color of the winning party. The Global News map does include a button for an 'equal area' view. However this equal area view isn't a map but simply a series of colored squares representing each electoral riding. These square are at least organized by province. However they would work far better organized into a cartogram, which would present an equal area view but also retain some geographical shape.

One of the major problems with all these election maps is the huge scale of some of Canada's rural electoral ridings. These rural electoral districts dwarf the much smaller ridings which are found in Canada's cities. For example, glancing at the Global News map above you might be mistaken to think that the huge amount of orange on the map meant that the New Democrat Party was one of the biggest winners in the election. In fact they came fourth with only 24 seats. It's just that some of those seats are among the largest ridings in the country.

My favorite map of the 2019 Canadian Election is the Canadian Election Bubble Animation. This map animates back & forth between a geographical map and an equal sized cartogram. The cartogram view (pictured above) presents each electoral riding as an equal sized circle. This cartogram view enables you to see more clearly the number of seats won by each party (see how the orange on this cartogram isn't as dominant as on the other election maps).

To overcome the geographical problems with this cartogram the visualization tweens and animates into a more geographical map view. It would be nice to have a button which allowed you to switch between the two views so that the user actually had control of the map animation. As it is the perpetual switching between the two views cannot be controlled by the user and can be a little annoying when trying to read the results of the election.

Luke Andrews' Electoral Cartogram of Canada also provides a cartogram map with an equal area view of the Canadian election. On this election map each electoral district is the same size. This cartogram view also provides a more easy to understand overview of the seats won by each party than provided by the geographical maps used by the major news outlets. The geographical unfamiliarity is partly overcome on this cartogram by also mapping the lakes, the USA and by labeling the provinces.

Monday, October 21, 2019

The More Modern Plague of New York

Over the last week I've become a little obsessed with Nineteenth Century temperance maps of drinking establishments in London and New York. These maps were designed to give the impression that the two cities were overrun by a plague of alcohol.

The temperance maps of New York show that in the Nineteenth Century many areas of the city really were heavily populated by bars and saloons. I thought it would be interesting to see how many bars there were in New York today - in the Twenty-First Century. I also wanted a good excuse to play with Mapbox's new Data Explorer.

Mapbox Data Explorer is a new tool for previewing spatial data in the browser and to carry out spatial analysis of this data. If you upload spatial data to Data Explorer (in GeoJSON, CSV, KML or SHP formats) you can view the data on an interactive map. Using Data Explorer you can then color your data to create choropleth maps or use the Point Binning tool to explore how many points are within defined areas (point binning).

I thought that New York bars would be a great way to test Point Binning in Data Explorer. I downloaded all the bars in Manhattan using Overpass Turbo. Saving this data as a GeoJSON file gave me the points for my point binning test. I then needed some polygon areas. I therefore used Overpass Turbo to retrieve the boundaries of Manhattan neighborhoods. After exporting this data as another GeoJSON file I was ready to go.

Loading the point data for Manhattan bars and the polygon data for of Manhattan neighborhoods into Mapbox Data Explorer enabled me to see how many bars are in each Manhattan neighborhood. I found it very intuitive to work out how to do this in Data Explorer. If you need more guidance on how to do this then you should have a read of Introducing Data Explorer: A new way to quickly visualize data in the browser on the Mapbox blog.

You can view the finished map that I made from my Point Binning test at Manhattan Bars. My map shows the locations of all the bars in Manhattan (as mapped on OpenStreetMap). The bars are indicated on the map with small black dots. You can click on these dots to view a bar's name. The map also includes a choropleth layer (created from my point binning) which is colored to show the number of bars in each Manhattan neighborhood.

*Bad Cartography Warning*
There really is little merit in showing a choropleth layer of the number of bars in each neighborhood. A large neighborhood is likely to have a lot more bars than a small neighborhood because it covers a larger area. A larger neighborhood is therefore likely to be colored more strongly on the map - even though the density of bars in the neighborhood isn't necessarily particularly large. The only reason I decided to color neighborhoods by the total number of bars is because I wanted to try point binning in Mapbox's Data Explorer.

I am impressed with Mapbox's Data Explorer it is an easy to use tool to explore your spatial data in order to look for patterns and stories in your data. However at the moment Data Explorer has one major drawback - that is you can only save your work as a JSON file. After saving my Manhattan neighborhood bars point binning results it took me an age playing around with the saved JSON file to mangle it into a valid GeoJSON file. Data Explorer would be a much more useful tool if you can save the results in a recognizable spatial format - such as GeoJSON, KML, SHP etc. It would also make much more sense for users of Mapbox's other products. For example Mapbox Studio doesn't recognize JSON files but it does recognize GeoJSON. If you could download your Data Explorer results as GeoJSON you could then load your data straight into Mapbox Studio.

Mapbox are calling Data Explorer a prototype. Which suggests they are still working on the finished product. Hopefully support for exporting data in recognizable spatial formats is on the to-do list.

The Modern Plague of New York

During the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries the Temperance movement campaigned against the consumption of alcohol. The tendency of the Temperance movement to see alcohol or alcoholism as some form of social disease is apparent in maps such as the Modern Plague of London, which was created by the National Temperance Publication Depot in 1886.

Almost at the same time as the National Temperance Publication Depot was mapping the location of pubs in London a Republican senator, called Henry Blair, was mapping the locations of saloons in New York City. The Saloon Map of New York map plots 10,168 saloons and places selling alcohol across the city. The map was published in 1888 and shows that in some areas of New York there were nearly as many saloons as there were buildings.

The senator wasn't the first person to map drinking establishments in New York City. In 1881 the secretary of the Church of England Temperance Society, Robert Graham, traveled to America and in 1883 he published a pamphlet entitled, Liquordom in New York City, New York. The pamphlet included a number of maps showing the locations of 'liquor saloons' and 'lager beer saloons'.

As with senator Henry Blair's map the maps in Robert Graham's pamphlet show that many neighborhoods in Nineteenth Century New York City had a fantastic choice for those who liked a little drink (or even a lot).

The 2019 Swiss Election Maps

Yesterday federal elections were held in Switzerland to elect members of both houses of the Swiss Federal Assembly. The largest party, the anti-immigrant Swiss People's Party, remained the most popular party but lost 12 seats on a -3.8% swing. All the major political parties, except for the two Green parties, saw a downturn in their vote share. The Greens gained 17 seats on a 6.1% swing (they now have 28 seats in total). The Green Liberals gained 9 seats on a 3.2% swing (they now have 16 seats).

You can view interactive maps of yesterday's election in Switzerland on the Federal Statistical Office's website. Their Political Atlas for Switzerland allows you to explore maps of all federal elections since 1866 - now including the 2019 Swiss Federal Election. The Political Atlas for Switzerland allows you to view the election data in a number of different ways. For example you can view a breakdown of the votes cast in every canton. In this view you can see the percentage of votes cast in the canton for each of the different political parties.

You can also view choropleth maps for each of the political parties. These choropleth maps show the percentage of the population who voted for a political party in each electoral ward in the country (or in each canton). The canton view also includes scaled squares which show the number of votes cast for the party within the canton.

Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung has created a number of cartograms which allow you to see the vote share that each party achieved in each canton. The newspaper also has more detailed choropleth maps showing the percentage of votes gained in each election ward across Switzerland for each of the main political parties.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Weather Forecast - 120,000,000 BC

Cameron Beccario's earth animated wind map library is a fantastic way to visualize weather conditions around the globe. The library is most often used to map wind, ocean and atmospheric conditions in real-time. It has now also been used to map the climate 120 million years ago, in the Early Cretaceous.

During the Early Cretaceous or the Lower Cretaceous the Earth had a very different climate to what it has now. In particluar atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were above the levels they are today. The period was also characterized by the ongoing breakup of the super-continent Pangea. The kcm-earth 3d globe applies the Kiel Climate Model to the Earth as it looked in the Early Cretaceous. The globe presents the continents as they looked 120 million years ago and animates the modeled ocean and atmospheric conditions.

kcm-earth was created by Sebastian Steinig as part of his PhD project. You can read a little more about the project on his page on Geomar.

The super-continent of Pangea existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras, before it began to break apart about 175 million years ago. Of course there weren't any country borders on Pangea. By some estimates, however, the land mass that is now North America was attached to North West Africa. Therefore what is now the United States would perhaps have shared a border with what is now Morocco.

Pangaea Politica by Massimo Pietrobon is a rather fanciful map which overlays modern country borders on a map of Pangea. The map is at best a guesstimate of where modern countries might have been on Pangea. There are some obvious errors, for example the map includes the country of Iceland, a volcanic island which didn't exist when Pangea was around. However it is still quite good fun to imagine which modern countries might share borders today if Pangea had never broken apart.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Modern Plague of London

The Modern Plague of London is a map showing the density of pubs in central London. On this map the number of pubs in each kilometer square is represented by the size of the yellow circles. The more pubs there are in a square kilometer then the larger the size of the yellow circle.

The areas with the most pubs are mostly found in Westminster and the City of London. On the 16 x 7 square kilometers shown on the map (112 circles) there are only 9 circles where there are absolutely no pubs. The two most central of these circles are both nearly completely contained within parks (Regents Park and Hyde Park). There are two circles which both contain no pubs in south-east London in South Bermondsey. Four of the other circles containing no pubs are found at the extreme eastern column of circles on the map. These circles are all in close proximity to the vertical population desert created by the Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road and the River Lea in London's East End.

The title of my map, The Modern Plague of London', was stolen completely from an 1886 map created by the National Temperance Publication Depot. The original Modern Plague of London map was a dot map showing the locations of all the pubs in London in 1886. The original map doesn't extend as far east as my more modern version of the map. So we can't see if there were any pubs along the River Lee in 1886. However the area in South Bermondsey which now has no pubs can be seen on the original map. In 1886 this area did have one or two pubs but was an area mostly covered by a large railway junction - which is presumably why historically there have been very few pubs located in this area.

Most areas of London now have far fewer pubs than they did in 1886. On the whole though I think it is most striking how many pubs have disappeared from London's East End. Huge areas of Tower Hamlets now have very few pubs. If you had walked through these areas in the Nineteenth Century you couldn't have walked very far in any direction without passing a number of pubs. In 2011, in the last UK census, 38% of Tower Hamlets residents said they were Muslim. Obviously having a large percentage of the population who don't drink alcohol has had an effect on the number of pubs which have been able to survive in the borough.

The only reason I didn't create a dot map of pubs in London, like the original Modern Plague of London map, was because I was inspired by Jennifer Bell's recent blog post on Wurman Dots. Rachel's post looks at the maps created by Richard Saul Wurman in the 1960's. These maps show  density by the size of the fills in circles. Inspired by Bell's post I wanted to try my hand at creating a Wurman Dot map.

Strictly speaking circles are probably not the best choice for visualizing the pub data. The circles kind of imply that the areas in between the circles are not covered and that any pubs in between the circles are not included (which they are). Obviously squares or hexagons do not have this problem as they leave no gaps on the map. However there is something very striking about Wurman Dots - which makes a particularly appealing visualization of the data (at least to my eye).

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Polish Imperial Election

On Sunday Poland held a national election. The right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS) won a majority in the lower house of parliament (the Sejm), but lost its majority in the upper house (the Senate) to the opposition.

Before looking at the maps of this week's election in Poland I want to show you a map of how modern day Poland looked in the Nineteenth Century:

The Partitions of Poland 1815–1918 (from Lessons from the Partitions of Poland)

In August, 1772, Russia, Prussia, and Austria signed a treaty that partitioned Poland. Poland only regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic in 1918 after World War I. The borders that divided Poland during the Nineteenth Century disappeared over 100 years ago. Except on the country's election maps.

Here are the results of this week's elections for the winning Law and Justice Party (left) and the second placed Civic Coalition Party (right).

October 2019 Polish Election (from WBData)

These choropleth maps show the levels of support for the two main parties in each electoral ward in Poland. However they also seem to show that Poland is still divided along the lines of the old Imperial borders. At least politically.

The ruling right-wing Law and Justice Party was clearly most popular in the areas of Poland which were part of Russia and Austria during the Nineteenth Century partition of the country. The Civic Coalition Party won most of its votes in the area which was held by Prussia before the First World War.

This split in voting patterns along the lines of the old Imperial borders is nothing new. Back in 2013 Irena Grosfeld and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya wrote about how the spatial pattern in the 2007 election in Poland was "determined, to a large extent, by the Partitions of Poland (1772-1918)". In The Past in the Polish Present the two professors argue that the very different economic and social policies which were followed by Russia, Prussia, and Austria in Poland for over a century have had a persistent legacy in Poland. This legacy appears to have been very apparent in this week's Polish election.

Of course the economic and cultural effects of borders can be very long lasting. For example Germany still shows the effects of being split in two after World War II. Back in 2014 Zeit Online, in German Unification: A Nation Divided, explored how this split still 'remains visible in statistics'. Twenty Five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall the paper published German maps of average income, the average age, the number of children in day care and in many other areas. In nearly all of these maps you can clearly see that there is a marked difference in the economic performance of the former East Germany to that of West Germany.

Of course the 100 year legacy of the partitioned Poland is on another order of magnitude to the 30 years that have passed since the Berlin Wall came down. Mind you the partitioned Poland lasted for four times as long as the partitioned Germany. Is it therefore so surprising that its effects can still be seen in the cultural, economic and political landscape of modern day Poland?

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Mapping California's Poisoned Wells

California state regulators have tested 600 wells across the state for toxic chemicals. The Los Angeles Times has created an interactive map which allow you to view the safety of the water in each well. Twenty-four of the wells now have a health advisory.

Hundreds of wells are contaminated across California. Find out where uses colored markers to highlight the wells where dangerous chemicals were detected, where no chemicals were detected and where a health advisory has been issued for the well. If you hover over a well on the map you can view the levels of PFOS and PFOA detected in the well (if any). The EPA has established health advisory levels at 70 parts per trillion for PFOS and PFOA.

PFOA and PFOS are chemicals which have been used in manufacturing since the 1940's. Both chemicals are very persistent both in the environment and in the human body. They are commonly known as 'forever chemicals'. This means that they don’t break down and their levels can therefore accumulate over time. Exposure to these chemicals can lead to adverse human health effects.

The Environmental Working Group has created a nationwide interactive map of PFC contamination in drinking water.The PFC Contamination Map uses data from the the Environmental Protection Agency to show the level of PFC's found in water supplies at the county level.

You can read more about the dangers of PFC's and the PFC Contamination Map in this EWG article. Many of the highest levels of PFC contamination in groundwater have been found at military sites (often from fire fighting foams containing PFC's). The EWG has also created a list of the 100 U.S. Military Sites With the Worst PFAS Contamination.

Mapping the Natural World

We all rely on nature for our food & water and even for the air that we breathe. These are only some of the most visible benefits that nature provides. The UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services (IPBES) believe that we all need to better understand the full value of nature in order to ensure that we take every step to protect it for sustainable use.

Stanford University's Natural Capital Project explores some of the contributions which nature makes to people around the world. You can explore some of these contributions on the Nature's Contributions to People Viewer. This 3d globe allows users to see where we are receiving benefits from nature around the world. It also allows us to see where people are likely to lose these vital benefits from nature as ecosystems are negatively impacted by human development projects.

The globe concentrates on three key areas: pollination, water quality and coastal risk. You can select to view any of these key areas from the map menu to view how the area could be affected under different future scenarios. These scenarios show how the flow of these benefits might change in the future around the world. By 2050 around 5 billion people across the globe could be at higher risk of under-pollinated crops, water pollution and coastal storms. The Nature's Contributions to People Viewer allows us to see where these risks might be the greatest in each of these three key areas.

The IPBES's studies into biodiversity and ecosystems reveal that people in developing countries rely more heavily on the benefits of local ecosystems. Going forward these people are most at risk from the detrimental impacts on local ecosystems. The Nature's Contributions to People Viewer can help to identify where these ecosystems are most at risk and help to inform policy makers where sustainable development and conservation is most at need to protect biodiversity and local ecosystems.

Mapping Cuts in School Funding

Next year 83% of schools in England will be worse off than they were in 2015. A new interactive map from the School Cuts coalition allows you to see how your local schools' government funding for next year compares with the funding they received in 2015.

On the map schools are shown using colored map markers. The lighter colored markers indicate where a schools has made a funding gain on 2015 and the darker colors indicate schools which have lost funding. If you click on a school's marker you can view how much funding the school as a whole has gained or lost and how much has been gained or lost for each individual pupil.

The average primary school pupil will receive £245 less in funding next year, when compared to 2015. Secondary school pupils will receive £304 less on average when compared to 2015. When you select a school's marker on the map you can view how much the school has received from the government for every academic year since 2015. You can also see what this represents as per pupil funding for every academic year.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

2018 Global Terrorist Attacks

The Global Terrorist Database has released its report into global terrorism trends in 2018. There were more than 9,600 terrorist attacks across the globe in 2018. More than 22,980 people were killed in those attacks.

The 2018 GTD report is illustrated with a static map which shows all the terrorist attacks which occurred across the world in 2018. Although the map shows that Iraq still suffered a large number of terrorist attacks, in 2018 the country actually saw a 46% decrease in the number of attacks. From 2013-2017 Iraq suffered more terrorist attacks than any other country. This huge fall of attacks in Iraq has an effect on the total incidence rate of terrorism and in 2018 there was a 43% lower number of terrorism attacks worldwide compared to 2014.

The Global Terrorism Database has data dating back to 1970. You can search the entire database by date, attack type, weapon type, perpetrators, causalities, fatalities and by location. You can also download the data at no cost if you want to use it for personal research purposes.

If you want to view an interactive map of global terrorist attacks in 2018 then you can refer to Esri's Terrorist Attacks map. Esri's map uses crowdsourced data from Wikipedia to map terrorist incidents by date. The map doesn't use the same data as the Global Terrorism database, however the map does show similar hotspots of terrorist activity in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, a number of Central African countries and in Colombia.

All the terrorist attacks on Esri's map are color coded to show the responsible terrorist groups. This map is also not restricted just to attacks from 2018. You can therefore use the date control to view the terrorist attacks around the world for any period since the beginning of 2016.

Parks Boost House Prices

The UK's Office of National Statistics has carried out some interesting data analysis to determine if nearby parks increase house prices and if so by how much. The ONS used data of house prices from real-estate company Zoopla and map data from Ordnance Survey's Open Greenspace to determine if urban houses near parks and other green spaces are more expensive than houses positioned further away from parks.

The ONS data analysis revealed that properties that are very near parks attract a premium, and the more green space nearby, the higher the premium. If you live in England or Wales you can use ONS's Urban Green Spaces interactive map to see how nearby parks and green spaces effect the cost of your property. Enter your postcode into the interactive and you can view a map of your home and all the nearby parks. The interactive will also reveal how much the nearby parks boost the value of your home.

My only word of caution with this map is that some local knowledge might be needed to confirm ONS's analysis of an address. My nearest park is positioned between two high rise tower blocks and is a popular retail outlet for the sale and purchase of recreational drugs. Far from adding nearly £4000 to the price of my house (which is what the ONS claims) the position of the park near my home probably knocks £4000 off its value.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Birds & Animals at Risk of Extinction

Two-thirds of birds in North America are at risk of extinction from global heating. That is 389 different species of birds. Conservation group Audobon has mapped out the North American habitats of 604 different species of birds. They then applied the latest climate models to these habitats to project how these habitats will be affected by global heating.

Survival by Degrees: 389 Species on the Brink includes a number of different maps which allow you to find out which birds are at risk in each state and the predicted climate effects on each species of bird. The individual maps for each bird species show the current habitat range of the species. These maps allow you to view how the bird's range will be affected by different global heating scenarios. Under each of these scenarios the map shows where range will be lost and gained and provides an overall vulnerability status for the species.

If you search by zip-code or state you can view a list of all the bird species in your area. Select a species from this list and you can view the species' current range in your area and how that range will be affected under different climate models. You can also view an assessment of the climate threats facing birds (and people) in the selected state and a map of some of the specific threats which global heating will have in your chosen state.

Mapping the birds and animals at risk of extinction from global heating has become more urgent as the pace of global heating accelerates around the world. There are 719 species listed as endangered in the USA under the federal Endangered Species Act. Recently National Geographic used this list to create an interactive map to highlight just one endangered species in every state of the United States. If you hover over a state on National Geographic's See a different endangered animal in every U.S. state map then you can learn about just one of the animals which is currently endangered in that state.

Around the globe more than 28,000 species are threatened with extinction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources's Red List of Threatened Species is a comprehensive database of animal and plant species which are at risk of extinction around the world.

The IUCN Red List website allows you to search for specific animals or plants to view an interactive map showing where the species still exists in the wild and in which areas it has already become extinct. For example this map visualizes the remaining range of the tiger. The map highlights areas where the tiger is still extant (shaded yellow) and the areas where the tiger once ranged but is now extinct (shown in red).

The Fantastic Fall Colors Map

In Fantastic fall foliage … and where to find it the Washington Post has mapped out America's forest species data and colored these forests to show their Fall colors. The colors that forest leaves turn depends on the species of trees. Different trees turn different colors in the Fall and at different times. The Washington Post's map shows the different colors that you can expect across the United States.

The Washington Post article also includes a pretty amazing satellite map which shows the changing fall colors in the Eastern US. This animated map uses MODIS satellite imagery collected over ten years. As the animation plays you can watch the colors of the Eastern US change as the Fall progresses. The article also includes satellite images from across the country, highlighting some of the best places in different states to experience the most vibrant Fall colors.

If you want to know the best time to see the Fall colors in your part of the country then you can refer to Smoky Mountains 2019 Fall Foliage Prediction Map. According to this map every part of the country apart from the most south-eastern states are already experiencing Fall colors.

The Fall Foliage Map uses historical weather records from all 48 continental states to predict the arrival of fall at the county level across the contiguous United States. The map includes a date control which allows you to view the leaf color you can expect for any date from the beginning of September to the end of November.