Thursday, February 13, 2020

Viewing National Parks From Your Car

Millions of Americans make at least one visit to a National Park every year. According to an analysis of geotagged photographs submitted to Flickr very few of those visitors ever venture far from a road. Nick Underwood, Clare Sullivan and Peter Newman analyzed 800,000 Flickr photographs taken within America's National Parks and discovered that a large majority of park visitors never stray more than a mile from a road.

Roads and the National Parks presents a number of different data visualizations to show where 800,000 Flickr photos were taken within National Parks. If we assume that the locations of where photos are taken is a rough guide as to where visitors travel within those parks then we can say that more than three quarters of park visitors stay within a mile of a road during their visit.

The map above shows the locations where photographs were taken in Yellowstone National Park in 2018 (as submitted to Flickr). On this map the roads running through the park are clearly revealed, showing that most photographs are taken very close to the park's roads. 'Roads and the National Parks' includes an interactive visualization which allows you to view a similar map for any National Park.

You can explore where people take photographs around the whole world on the Geotaggers Atlas. The Geotaggers Atlas is a fascinating map showing the paths taken by Flickr photographers between separate photographs, based on the time stamps and locations of the photos. Using the map you can zoom in on any city in the world and discover not only the most popular places photographed by Flickr users but the paths the photographers have taken around those cities.

For years Eric Fischer of Mapbox has been extracting location data from Flickr photos and mapping not just where those photos are taken but the routes that the photographers have taken between pictures. Using the Flickr search API Eric is able to retrieve photo geo-tags and draw lines between all the photos in a sequence.

The red lines on the map show where a photographer traveled at a speed between 7 and 19 mph, based on the time stamps and locations of the pictures. As you can see on the map of Paris above the river Seine stands out, a result of ferry passengers happily traveling up & down the river snapping the sights of Paris.

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