Saturday, May 30, 2020

Snapchat Protests

Snap Map can often be a very good guide to how events are unfolding in real-time. With much of America still reeling from the killing of George Floyd you can get a sense of the anger being felt across the country from the videos currently being submitted to Snap Chat.

Snap Map allows you to see where other Snap Chat users are in real-time and view any media that they may have submitted using the application. At the moment Snap Map in the United States is providing a pretty accurate view of where protests against the killing of George Floyd are now taking place.

Obviously Snap Map is not a heat-map of the current protests. All the map really shows is where the most people are currently using Snap Chat to share their locations and videos. However the map does seem to provide a fairly accurate picture of where protests are presently taking place. Snap Map has the added benefit of allowing you to view video being shot by people on the ground. If you zoom in on any of the hot-spots shown on the map then more videos will appear which you can view directly from the map. Most of the videos at the moment seem to be from and of the protests.

Friday, May 29, 2020

London's Victorian Industry

I am fascinated by maps which provide a snapshot of my local neighborhood during different periods of history. Today I've been poring over an interactive map which shows London's industrial buildings at the end of the Nineteenth Century.

Up until the Dissolution of the Monasteries my neighborhood was encompassed within the grounds of an abbey. After the Dissolution not a lot changed locally for the next four hundred years. After the abbey was destroyed in the early 1500's the area remained very rural with a tiny population for a very long time. Then, in the late 18th century, a nearby river was canalised. This attracted industry and residential development. In the 1850's a railway line was built through the neighborhood and a train station was opened. And that was it. Within a few years of the railway opening the area was completely urbanized.

A signpost which now stands near where the gatehouse to the Stratford Langthorne Abbey once stood.

Because of my neighborhood's closeness to the Lee Navigation system and the railway during Victorian times there was a lot of local industry. This can be seen on the London Industry 1893-1895 interactive map. This map uses data taken from vintage Ordnance Survey maps of London to identify industrial buildings during the Victorian period.

The Leather Gardens Estate, built in the 1960's on the site of the Leather Cloth Works.

Nearly all the industrial sites shown on the map have long since disappeared. Around my area the map shows a cluster of chemical and leather works. All of which have now closed. The last of these local industries to go was the Leather Cloth Works, which survived the heavy bombing in the area during World War II, only to go out of business in the 1960's. The huge factory of the leather works was quickly demolished and the Leather Gardens Estate now consists of two ugly 1960's tower blocks and low level housing.

Three Mills at Bow

The London Industry Interactive map also shows that a number of mills seemed to be flourishing in my neighborhood in the 1890's. The only surviving mills in the area now are the ones at Three Mills. The present mills at Three Mills date back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. However there have been mills on this site since the 13th century when the mills belonged to Stratford Longthorne Abbey.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

How to Persuade with Maps

The Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library has created an online exhibition which explores how maps can distort the truth. The exhibition includes a number of interactive maps which have been used to visualize how cartographers attempt to represent reality and how that representation always involves some form of distortion.

In Bending Lines: Maps and Data from Distortion to Deception a number of maps from the library's collection (and from elsewhere) are used to illustrate the choices that cartographers make when illustrating the real world. The exhibition is divided into thematic sections. The first section looks at how maps are used to persuade in politics, business and other areas of life. The second section looks more closely at the technical decisions made by cartographers when mapping a three dimensional world in two dimensions (lots on map projections). The third section looks more closely at who makes our maps and whose world views are being portrayed in those maps. Each of these sections is illustrated with a carefully selected choice of interactive maps.

Many of the interactive maps in the exhibition are accompanied with an 'education tour'. These education tours include a number of questions about the highlighted map which are designed to encourage readers to think about the choices the cartographer has made in creating the map. Each map is also accompanied with details on the year it was created, who it was made by and which map collection it belongs to.

Postcards from the Great War

Return to Sender is an interactive map which allows you to explore and view postcards which were sent during the First World War. The map allows you to explore images of postcards which were sent during a time when many young men were posted to locations a long way from home. Using the map you can also read the often poignant messages which were written by these men to their loved ones back home.

The map is an interface for browsing the postcards collection within the Europeana 1914-1918 thematic archive. Postcards are shown on the map at the location from where they were sent. Animated flow lines reveal where the postcards were delivered to. If you click on one of the blue markers on the map you can view an image of the postcard and the details listed in the Europeana archives.

The map includes a comprehensive search facility which allows you to search the postcards by location, date and by different image archives.

If you are intrigued by the personal stories revealed in the postcards sent during the First World War then you might also be interested in Europeana's Love Across Borders series. This series uses items from the Europeana collections to explore stories of romance and love during the time of World War I.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Communities at Risk from Covid-19

The Washington Post has created an interactive map which allows you to explore which census tracts in your town or city might be most at risk from the coronavirus. We now know that some areas are more susceptible to high rates of Covid-19 than others. Some of the factors contributing to higher rates of mortality include overcrowded housing, high levels of existing health conditions and high percentages of non-white populations.

The Post has created an interactive map which identifies the census tracts in every town in America which have overcrowded households, the most uninsured, a minority population greater than 50 percent and a high proportion of the population ranking highly on the CDC vulnerability index. If you search for a location on the Explore chronic health rates in your community interactive map and then select one of these four metrics the map will highlight the census tracts which are most at risk under that metric. All census tracts on the map are also colored to show the health risk in each tract compared to the national average.

The Washington Post article accompanying the map looks more closely at those areas where non-white Americans have been experiencing higher rates of Covid-19 than the white population. For example in Washington DC 64% of the population is non-white and yet non-whites have made up 89% of deaths. New York has a 68% non-white population but the non-white population makes up 83% of deaths.

The Campaign for Wider Sidewalks

One of the problems local authorities are struggling with around the world is - as we emerge from lock-down how can we best support social-distancing in our urban environments? One worry is that crowded public transport systems could contribute to a second wave of Covid-19 in areas which are beginning to lower their death rates. Many towns and cities are therefore keen to promote walking and cycling as a safe and healthy way to travel.

One problem in making our cities safe is that many towns and cities have been designed around car travel and have not been designed to promote walking or cycling. Many local authorities are now looking at how they can transform the urban environment to dissuade people from driving and to walk and cycle instead.

One area which authorities might want to consider is pavement / sidewalk width. In order to promote pedestrianization it could be helpful to identify where it is currently impossible to practice safe social-distancing while walking. By mapping pavement width it is possible to identify those areas where infrastructure change is needed in order to make it possible for citizens to walk safely.

In the UK Esri has released the GB Pavement Width Indicator. This vector tile layer for Esri maps colors Great British pavements by width. The map uses three colors. The red pavements show paths which are narrower than 2 meters and show where social distancing is impossible to maintian while walking. Orange pavements are between 2 & 3 meters in width and the blue pavements are 3 meters wider or greater.

Sidewalk width maps are also being developed in other countries around the world. The Florence Sidewalks Map visualizes the widths of sidewalks in the Italian city of Florence. It allows users to see where in the city it is possible to observe social distancing and where it is impossible to maintain a gap of 2 meters between yourself and other pedestrians.

All sidewalks on the Florence Sidewalks Map are colored red if the sidewalk has a width of less than 2 meters. Blue colored sidewalks have a width of over 8 meters. It looks to me like Florence is a city crying out for pedestrianization. Much of the street layout and street widths in Florence date back to at least the Renaissance. Perversely because the roads were designed to accommodate people and horses Florence's streets aren't wide enough to accommodate both cars and wide sidewalks.

If you live in New York then you can use the Sidewalks Width Map to see where it is safe to walk in the city while maintaining social distancing with other pedestrians. The Sidewalks Widths map uses New York City's Sidewalk dataset to show where it is possible to maintain social distancing while walking in the city and where social distancing is impossible.

Blue colored sidewalks on this map are the widest and indicate a sidewalk where social distancing should be easy. Green sidewalks are less wide but still wide enough so that social distancing should be possible. Red sidewalks are narrower than 10 feet and show where a path is too narrow to practice social distancing. Just hover over a sidewalk on the map to view its width in feet.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Changing Cities

Last week Kyle Walker released his Mapping Immigrant America interactive map which is a dot map showing the number and origin of immigrants in America at the census tract level. Kyle's map is an interesting way to explore where immigrants from different regions live in the USA.

If you want to explore how the racial and ethnic diversity of neighborhoods are changing over time then you can refer to the Changing Region interactive map. The Visualizing a Changing Region, Block by Block map allows you to view the change in the racial make-up of neighborhoods in America's largest cities. The two side-by-side maps show the largest ethnic group in each census tract for two different dates. Using the slide control the user can easily make direct comparisons of how the racial and ethnic mix of neighborhoods and cities has changed over time.

If you want to know more about the racial and ethnic mix of a block then you can click on the map to view the percentage of the white, black, Asian and Hispanic populations. The Changing Region interactive map uses data from the U.S. Census bureau and shows race and ethnicity for 2000 and 2010.

You can also explore the racial diversity of American cities in 2010 on the University of Virginia's Racial Dot Map. This map uses colored dots to visualize the geographic distribution and racial diversity of every neighborhood in the USA. The map contains 308,745,538 colored dots. Each dot represents one American and the color of the dot indicates the represented person's race and ethnicity.

In Lockdown No One Can Hear You Scream

The Listening Passport is an interactive map of sounds recorded during the Covid-19 lock-down. The Listening Passport project was originally designed for people in Cornwall, England to record the sounds that surround them during isolation during Covid-19. However the map is actually being used to record the aural soundscapes of coranavirus by people throughout the UK and even further afield.

Anyone can contribute a recording to the map by completing a short form and sharing their location on an interactive map. All recordings submitted to the Listening Passport can be listened to via the project map. Just click on any of the yellow markers on the map and you can listen to the submitted recording.

The Listening Project is not the only map which is interested in recording the sounds of the coronavirus lock-down. Over the last few months many of us have witnessed a dramatic change in our aural landscapes. The huge reduction in air and road traffic has allowed other sounds, like birdsong and the wind blowing through the trees, to come to the fore.

Pete Stollery has created a Google Earth sound map which aims to capture the new soundscapes which have emerged as a result of the huge reduction in normal human activity around the globe. The Covid-19 Sound Map includes recordings from all across the world. These sounds include recordings of now empty city centers, people clapping for health workers, croaking frogs and traffic free streets.

You can add your own sounds to the map by sending recordings and a short explanation of the recording to Pete Stollery. The instructions for how to record your sounds and the form for submitting your recordings are on the Sound website.

Monday, May 25, 2020

The Past Climate Explorer

Past Climate Explorer is a fascinating interactive map which allows you to explore historical climate records for any location on Earth. Using the map you can explore average temperature, average precipitation, wind speed and cloud cover anywhere around the globe.

If you click on the Past Climate Explorer interactive map you can view a range of different historical climate records from the ERA5 dataset (1981-2010). For example if you click on New York you can view the records for air temperature, frost days, warm days, precipitation, rainy days, humidity, wind speed and cloud cover.

These records are shown using a number of different visualization methods. For example if you select to view air temperature you can see a warming stripes visualization for your chosen location, showing the average temperatures by year (1981-2010). This warming stripes visualization provides a useful guide as to whether global heating is leading to rising temperatures at the location you selected on the map.

The other charts and graphs allow you to explore the seasonal patterns of weather around the world. They let you see at a glance the hottest, wettest, coldest and windiest months at different locations around the world.

Myriahedral Map Projections

In 2008 Jack van Wijk devised a new method for visualizing the Earth in two dimensions. His Myriahedral projections manage to map the Earth onto a flat surface with very little angular and area distortion.

Mapping a sphere onto a flat surface always requires some level of distortion. For example the Mercator projection has a large degree of area distortion and famously makes Europe and North America appear disproportionately large compared to Africa. Myriahedral projections attempt to reduce area and angle distortion as much as possible. In praising Jack van Wijk's Myriahedral projections CartoNerd's Kenneth Field says, "He managed to achieve a projection that reduces angular deformation to an absolute minimum and preserves area – not an easy trick."

You can explore a number of different Myriahedral Projections on Unfolding the Earth: Myriahedral Projections In WebGL. This interactive, WebGL powered, application allow you to view a number of different Myriahedral projections of the Earth using a number of different methods, including graticules, recursive subdivisions, platonic solids, archimedian solids and geography aligned meshes. For each map projection you can use the 'unfold' slider to see how the two dimensional map emerges from the spherical shape of the Earth.

If you are interested in learning more about map projections then have a look at 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.

Degenerate State's Map Projections tool is another interesting visualization of how different map projections distort our picture of the world. Map Projections is a very similar tool to Projection Face but this interactive shows you how map projections effect maps of the Earth and not maps of a face.

The tool allows you to view a map of the world using 11 different map projections. This in itself is a good demonstration of the choices cartographers make when depicting a three dimensional sphere on a two dimensional plane. However Map Projections also allows you to explore how these different map projections would change if you changed the 0,0 point of latitude and longitude on the map. If you click anywhere in the world then the map will automatically change to show the distortion needed if this was the origin of the map.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Dot Map of Immigrant America

Kyle Walker of Texas Christian University has updated his Mapping Immigrant America to include the latest ACS data.

Mapping Immigrant America is a dot map showing the number and origin of immigrants throughout the United States. The data for the map comes from the 2014-2018 American Community Survey carried out at the census tract level. Each dot on the map represents different numbers of people from the same geographical region. The number of people represented by each dot differs at different zoom levels. At the highest zoom level one dot equals approximately 25 people.

The map legend shows which colored dots represents which region of origin. This legend is interactive and allows you to turn individual groups on or off on the map. This means that you can more easily visualize where immigrants from distinct regions have settled within the USA. It also allows you to more clearly see the distribution of different immigrant groups within individual towns and cities.

Friday, May 22, 2020

The Street Age Map

Mamaroneck Village in Westchester County, New York was incorporated in 1895. The village first developed as a small farming community on both sides of the Mamaroneck River. The two built areas on both sides of the river were joined into one commercial village in the 1890's. The population of Mamaroneck village in 1895 was 1,500. Over the last 125 years the population of Mamarneck has grown in size and is now approaching 20,000. Over that same period the village has expanded to accommodate that ever growing population.

You can see how Mamoroneck Village has developed over the last 150 years on How Mamaroneck Village NY Grew. This interactive map colors the village's streets by the year of their construction. Michael Meaney created the map by scouring vintage maps of Mamoroneck to determine when the village's streets were first constructed. If you select a street on the map you can see the street's name, when it first appeared on a village map and an estimation of when the street was built.

I am big fan of building age maps, which I think often provide a fascinating insight into how towns and cities have developed over time. One problem with building age maps is that in older cities they only show the oldest buildings, which are still standing. They can present a distorted picture of historical development because they don't show where newer buildings have been built on top of demolished older building footprints.

By mapping street ages instead of (or alongside) building ages you largely overcome this problem. Obviously old streets can be demolished and a complete new street pattern can be developed in its place. However I suspect that this is much less common than a more organic development of cities where the street layout stays the same but where older buildings are gradually replaced over time. Therefore a street age map, such as How Mamaroneck Village NY Grew, in most cases will usually provide a pretty accurate picture of how a town or city has developed over time.

Of course building a street age map of a larger city will take a lot of work. A lot of work that Myles Zhang out in to create this animation of the evolution of New York.

Myles Zhang's The New York City Evolution Animation was created by analyzing hundreds of vintage maps of New York City. The data extracted from these vintage maps was then used to create cartographic snapshots of NYC for every 20-30 years. As the video progresses you can see how the city started as a small settlement in Manhattan and over a couple of centuries grew into the huge metropolis that it is today.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Covid-19 Trend Map

ProPublica has created an impressive interactive map which allows Americans to see at a glance the trajectory of Covid-19 in each state. As more and more states are lifting stay-at-home orders the map has been designed to give Americans an overview of whether the number of cases of Covid-19 are going up or down in each state.

On the Reopening America map each state is represented by a directional arrow. If the arrow is pointing upwards then the trajectory of Covid-19 positive tests is upwards over the last two weeks. An arrow pointing downwards shows that the number of Covid-19 positive tests in the state has gone down over the last two weeks.

The map doesn't compare the number of positive tests results between different states. It is designed purely so users can tell at a glance whether the number of positive Covid-19 tests is going up or down in their state and the relative rate of that rise or fall. It is worth noting that a state with a downward trajectory may still have a higher rate of Covid-19 than a state which is on an upward trajectory.

If you click on a state you can view a number of other metrics, which have been derived from government guidelines used by states when considering whether to loosen lock-down restrictions. These metrics include the number of positive tests per 100K people, the percentage of positive tests and ICU bed availability. When you select a state on the map you can also view whether it currently has a stay-at-home order in place.

The Scottish Isochrone Map

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday who teaches in a school which is re-opening for students in two weeks time. She is very keen for her students to be able to go back to school. However she really doesn't want to start travelling again on the London Underground twice a day during the morning and evening rush hour. And I really don't blame her.

My friend knows that I cycle a lot in London so she was eager to find out how long it would take her to bike to work everyday and which would be the quickest and safest routes. I was surprised that my friend had very little understanding of the distance she could cycle in 30 minutes. Which obviously got me thinking about isochrone maps.

The fact that I had also just been playing with the Scottish Travel Isochrones map might also be why I immediately thought about travel time maps. The Scottish Travel Isochrones interactive map allows you to view cycling, walking and public transport isochrone layers for workplace zones in Scotland. The map allows you to quickly see how far you can travel in different amounts of time using different modes of transport within Scottish towns and cities. The map is particularly useful if you want to compare the effectiveness of public transport systems in different cities.

Obviously a Scottish travel time map isn't much use to my friend in London. Luckily my encyclopedic knowledge of interactive maps allowed me to point her towards Parallel's Schools in England & Wales map instead. This interactive map provides, walking, cycling and driving times for every school in England and Wales. Zoom in on any school and you can view isochrone layers showing the areas that you can walk, bike or drive to (from the school) in six minute increments.

If you want to view other interactive isochrone maps then you can explore the isochrone label on Maps Mania, which includes many examples of travel time maps from around the world.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Unequal States of America

If you live in Wyoming your vote is worth 3.64 times more than a voter in California. This is because of the uneven spread of electors per state in the United States. Wyoming has more votes in the Electoral College per registered voter than any other state.

With the 2020 Presidential election looming large on the horizon it seems like a good idea to look once again at the peculiarities of America's Electoral College. U.S. Presidents are not directly elected by the voters. The President and Vice-President are elected by the Electoral College. Voters in each state vote to select a set of electors to sit on the Electoral College. However the number of electors that each state has is not proportional to the population of each state. This results in a strange situation where every American's vote is not equal. Some votes count more than others - and the weight of your vote is entirely dependent on where you live.

You can see how much your vote is worth compared to voters in other states on Heinrich Hartmann's Electoral College map. Click on a state on this map to see how one vote in that state compares to the votes in other states. After you click on a state all the other states are colored to show whether their votes are worth more or less than your selected state. You can then hover over individual states to see the exact comparison of votes between two states.

You can learn more behind the history of America's Electoral College system on What's Your Vote Worth. What's Your Vote Worth is an interactive story map which explores the history of America's voting system, the right to vote and how voter representation is skewed under the present system and map. The story map includes a choropleth view of how much one vote is worth in each state compared to Wyoming. For example, it takes 3.4 voters in Pennsylvania to equal one Wyoming voter.

After exploring the uneven voting power of different Americans What's Your Vote Worth goes on to examine how gerrymandering is used to skew your vote even more. It looks at examples of gerrymandering in a number of states. In particular it looks at examples where voting district boundaries have been redrawn to 'pack' or 'crack' votes. Packing involves redrawing boundaries so that you pack voters who tend to vote for a particular party into one district. Cracking involves diluting like minded voters into many different districts.

Petrichor GeoViz Studio examines the issues behind their interactive map in more detail in an article called What Your Personal Geography Means to Your Voting Power.

FiveThirtyEight, as part of its Gerrymandering Project, has had a go at redrawing America's voting districts for themselves. In the Atlas of Redistricting FiveThirtyEight has created a number of new congressional maps, each designed with a different goal in mind.

These alternative congressional maps show how voting districts could be redrawn or gerrymandered in order to favor Republicans, to favor Democrats, to promote proportionally partisan representation or to maximize the number of majority-minority districts.

The Lethal Heat Map

A new study shows how global heating is already causing extreme dangerous heat & humidity conditions in locations across the world. High wet bulb conditions, when there is a combination of high heat and high humidity, can be very dangerous to the health of human beings. A new study by climate scientists show how these conditions are beginning to emerge around the globe.

The study, called The emergence of heat and humidity too severe for human tolerance, argues that thanks to global heating extreme humid heat conditions are becoming extremely severe. Many scientists have warned that global heating will lead to dangerous and fatal bouts of extreme heat by the end of this century. This new study argues that those conditions are already here and identifies thousands of instances where previously rare occurrences of extreme heat and humidity have been seen in Asia, Africa, Australia, South America and North America.

Colombia University has created an Interactive Map: Daily Maximum Wet-Bulb Temperature (°C) to plot the wet bulb conditions documented in the new report. The map shows the results of a survey of the climate records from weather stations around the globe. On the map the yellow and red colored locations signify the worst combinations as measured on the Centigrade 'wet bulb' scale.

The Tree Watering Map

Global heating, and in particular long dry hot summers, has had an effect on Berlin's ecosystem. The fall in precipitation has been particularly harsh on the city's trees which suffer from drought conditions. In recent years many trees have suffered long term damage from lack of water and more and more trees have had to be felled.

Giessdenkiez is an interactive map which shows the location of trees in the city of Berlin and provides information about their water requirements. Using the map Berliners can find out about trees in their neighborhood and learn more about their water requirements. Users can then subscribe to individual trees in order to help water them when needed and use the map to record when they have been watered.

Individual trees are colored on the map to indicate the daily amount of water that they require. The proper irrigation of individual trees depends on age, location and tree type. The colors of the trees on the map show whether they have low, medium or high water requirements. The map shows the majority of Berlin's street and plant trees. The map also shows how much precipitation has fallen in the last 30 days and whether a tree has already been watered during this time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Hyper Resolution Mapped Paintings

Last week Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum released a hyper-resolution image of Rembrandt's The Night Watch. This hyper-resolution image allows you to explore Rembrandt's masterpiece in very close detail, zooming in and panning around the image just as if it was an interactive map.

On its own the new hyper-resolution image viewer allows you to get an unrivaled close-up view of the painting. However you can also use the map in conjunction with the Rijksmuseum's Masterpieces Up Close tour to learn much more about the famous painting. The audio and textual guides for The Night Watch on the Rijksmuseum website provide a detailed introduction to the painting’s history and composition.

The Night Watch, depicts the Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq. There are 17 members of the guard (and the captain) shown in the painting, each of whom paid Rembrandt 100 guilders to be included in the picture. The painting is particularly noteworthy because of its dramatic use of light and shadow and the perception of motion captured within the scene.

You can also learn more about The Night Watch on the BBC website, where Will Gompertz reviews the Rijksmuseum's high tech photo.

Creating your own interactive map from paintings is a lot easier than you might think. Many galleries and museums around the world use the IIIF format for displaying digital copies of their artworks. The IIIF format works a lot like interactive maps in that it creates a series of tiled images at different zoom levels. This means that you can use these images within a JavaScript mapping library, such as Leaflet.js.

In Teaching Art with Leaflet I used the Leaflet-IIIF plug-in to show how to map Van Gogh's painting Self-Portrait Dedicated to Gauguin. My interactive map of Van Gogh's painting provides a demo of how you can add links and markers to details within paintings when you use an interactive map library with a IIIF image manifest.

New York Covid Death Rates

Yesterday the New York City Department of Health released an interactive map which shows for the first time the NYC Covid-19 death rate by zip-code area. The map confirms earlier reports that the virus has had the most devastating impact in low-income boroughs and the boroughs with the highest percentage of non-white populations.

Last month Ed Pilkington and Ankita Rao in A Tale of Two New Yorks made a convincing case that many wealthier white New Yorkers have been able to sit out the pandemic relatively safely, working from home and relying on home deliveries. Conversely poorer, often non-white, residents have been forced to continue working in 'essential' jobs and traveling on public transport.

The new NYC Department of Health map confirms this hypothesis. The zip-code areas with the lowest death rates are all in Manhattan neighborhoods with relatively high average incomes. The zip code area with the highest death rate is Canarsie-Flatlands in Brooklyn. The median household income is $27,104 in Canarsie-Flatlands. In Greenwich Village (zip-code 10012), which has one of the lowest death rates from Covid-19, the median household income is $109,037.

The Department of Health has also released a table showing the death rates by race/ethnicity. This table reveals that the death rates among Black/African-American and Hispanic/Latino people is twice as high as it is among white people in NYC.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Mapping the Nakba

During the 1948 Palestine War around half the Palestinian people were forced from their homes. Nearly the entire urban Palestinian population was expelled before the Israeli Declaration of Independence in May 1948. For this year's Nakba Day the Palestine Open Maps project has created an interactive story map exploring the effects of the Palestine War on the Palestinian people.

In How the Nakba Transformed Palestine the Palestine Open Maps project explores how 500 Palestinian towns and villages were depopulated and over 750,000 people displaced during the creation of the State of Israel. The Palestine Open Maps project has used 155 vintage maps from the British Mandate of Palestine to create a huge interactive map of Palestine in the 1940's.

This large interactive map is used to show the huge number of Palestinian towns and villages which were destroyed and displaced during the creation of the state of Israel. The map shows an overview of the Palestinian villages and towns which existed across Palestine before the Nakba. Colored dots are overlain on the map to show the towns which were destroyed, depopulated and those which remain today.

Each time you reach the end of the story map a different Palestinian town or village is highlighted on the map to show how it was effected by the Nakba. This includes details on the historic Palestinian population in the town and a satellite view of how the town looks today. If you want to learn more about other individual towns or villages you can hit the 'random' button (to learn more about a random town) or you can type in the name of a town or village to learn more about its fate.

Mapping Stores Open in Italy

Last month a French interactive map was released to show which stores were open and which were closed during the lock-down in France. Ça reste ouvert is a crowdsourced interactive map which provides information on the operating status of stores across the whole of France. The map's creators also made the code for the map freely available on GiHub so that people in other countries could make their own store maps.

Inspired by Ça reste ouvert interactive maps for Germany, Switzerland and Austria soon followed:

Bleibt offen Germany
Bleibt offen Switzerland
Bleibt offen Austria

On all three of these maps the stores which are open are marked green and stores which remain closed because of the epidemic are colored red.

Italy now also has its own interactive map to show which stores are now open as the country begins to emerge from its lock-down. Restiamo Aperti can be used to see which stores are open and closed across the whole of Italy.

If the status of a business is unknown anyone can add or change the details by completing a short form. In addition to showing whether a location is open, it is also possible to optionally enter a store's opening hours and add details on whether the store delivers and / or has a take-away service.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

The 2020 Eurorail Contest

Tonight's Eurovision Song Contest has been cancelled. In its place you can watch live Eurorail instead. Listed below are the entries in the 2020 Eurorail Contest - a battle between Europe's live real-time animated maps of trains.

Belgium's entry into this year's Eurorail Contest is Train Map. Train Map is a live map of the Belgium rail network which shows the position of Belgium's trains moving in real-time. If you select an individual train not only can you follow it moving in real-time on the map but you can also see its schedule and its estimated arrival time at every station on its route.

In France SNCF has a nice interactive map which shows French trains in real-time. Réseau SNCF en Temps Réel shows the live position of all SNCF's trains throughout France. Zoom-in on the map and you can watch SNCF trains moving on the map. You can even select individual trains on the map to view the train number and the train's scheduled stops.

Switzerland is home to what is probably the world's longest running live transit map. Vasile Coțovanu's Swiss Railways Network is the oldest nationwide transit map which I know of. Vasile has been a pioneer of real-time transit maps for a number of years and has even released a Transit Map library to help other developers create their very own live animated transit maps. You can also follow Swiss trains in real-time on the Swiss Railways map Trafimage, which shows the entire public transit network of Switzerland in real-time. Trafimage maps trains, trams, buses and even cable-cars.

In the UK Mathew Somerville was also an early pioneer in the development of live real-time transit maps. Mathew's UK Train Times map allows you to view a real-time map of the whole UK rail network. Mathew has also released a Live Tube Map of the London Underground and a Live London Bus Map, showing the location of London's buses in real-time.

If you like real-time transit maps then you might also like:

OSM Tchoutchou - shows real-time trains in France, Ireland, Denmark and Finland
Travic - animated maps of over 700 transit systems around the world.
Mini Tokyo 3D - a live real-time map of Tokyo's public transit system. The map shows the live position of Tokyo's trains in 3D as they move around the city.

For more live real-time transit maps (including trains, planes, boats and automobiles) refer to the Maps Mania real-time tag.

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Beer Belly of America

Flowing Data has used Google Places data to work out where there are more bars than grocery stores. The results of this analysis are mapped out in Where Bars Outnumber Grocery Stores.

In the United States Wisconsin emerges as the location with the highest ratio of bars to grocery stores. Across the whole of the USA there are about 13% more grocery stores than bars but in Wisconsin there are 2.7 times more bars than grocery stores. Looking at it in terms of the population there are about 8 bars per 10,000 people in Wisconsin.

Flowing Data has also mapped out the ratio of bars to grocery stores in a number of other countries around the world. The per capita total of 8 bars to 10,000 people in Wisconsin beats out most European countries. Only France, with 8.4 bars per 10,000 people, has a higher number of bars per capita. Italy has 5.6 bars per 10,000 people, Spain has 3.9 and the United Kingdom has 3.9.

Running Pretty

Cycling, walking and jogging seem to be more popular than ever. At the moment, however, most of us are limited to exercising in areas which are close to our homes. If you want to find new nearby routes for your daily exercise then you could try Trail Router.

Trail Router is a routing engine which is designed to help you find new running routes, preferably routes which avoid busy roads. The Trail Router algorithm looks for routes that go through parks, forests or near water, and that avoid busy roads wherever possible. Trail Router can also be asked to find you routes which avoid steep hills.

Share your location with Trail Router and tell it how far you want to walk, run or cycle and it will suggest a route which avoids busy roads. If the suggested route is too long or too short you can just click on the forward or back arrows to instantly view a longer or shorter route. If you open the settings menu you can adjust your options, these include to avoid repetition, avoid hills, avoid unlit streets and to prefer green areas.

I often find that routing engines which promise to find me interesting routes don't work very well. They often seem to ignore the tow paths, cycle paths, and wooded trails near me that I use to avoid roads. However when I ask Trail Router to find routes near my home it seems to generate routes which I would use and these routes do actually seem to avoid the busiest roads.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Melting Borders

The border between Alberta and British Colombia is moving. This shifting border has nothing to do with any territorial dispute between the two Canadian provinces. It is moving because it lies across the Haig glacier. And the Haig glacier is melting.

The boundary between Alberta and British Colombia is determined by the hydrological divide, that is "the spot where a raindrop at the highest point either falls west into B.C. or east into Alberta". However as the glaciers melt the hydrological divide can shift, so that runoff which once flowed in one direction will now flow in another direction as rock formations, preciously covered by ice, are revealed.

This process is beautifully visualized in CBC News' How a melting glacier could redefine the Alberta–B.C. border. Using a 3d map of the Haig glacier CBC shows how the glacier is melting and causing a shift in the border between B.C. and Alberta. Of course this shift in the boundary is pretty insignificant but it does provide a gripping introduction into the real story about how global heating is causing Canada's glaciers to melt. The Haig glacier is losing about a metre a year and is projected to completely disappear in the next 80 years.

A shrinking glacier can have a dramatic impact on those living nearby. For example Calgary relies on glacier melt to provide up to 20% of its water supply during times of drought. Across the border in B.C. hydro-electric power stations also depend on water flow determined by the Haig glacier.

Land-Grab Universities

Many universities in the United States owe their existence to the theft of indigenous American land. The 1862 Morrill Act aimed to establish colleges across the United States. Colleges which were to be funded by "donating Public Lands to the several States and Territories". That 'donated' land was to come from indigenous territories.

Under the act, through 162 violence-backed cessions, the USA stole approximately 10.7 million acres of land from 245 tribal nations. This land was divided into roughly 80,000 parcels. Under the Morrill Act states received 30,000 acres of this land, for each member of congress. The land, or the proceeds from the land's sale, was to be used by the states for creating new colleges of higher education.

In Land-Grab Universities High Country News shows how 52 American universities owe their existence to the land-grant university system. These are universities which to this day educate very few indigenous people. The article includes a Mapbox powered interactive map which allows you to choose any state in the USA to see which universities received land-grants under the Morrill Act and which Morrill Act land parcels were used to fund each university.

Western states mostly received land parcels from within their borders. Eastern states, which had no remaining indigenous land to steal, benefited from the sale of land parcels in other states. The High Country News investigation allows you to explore how individual universities benefited from land-grants. For example Cornell University, in New York state, benefited from 6,716 stolen land parcels from across the United States. Land stolen from 166 different tribal nations. In 2018 only 69 of Cornell University's 22,000 students were American Indian or Alaska Native.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Flying Home to Texas

Going Back Home is an interesting concept for a map based game. The game's scenario is that you are the pilot of a plane and all the world's compasses have gone haywire. You therefore have to fly your plane back to Dallas unaided, using just the place-names you can see on your map.

There is one other complication which makes your task a little more difficult. You only have one tank of fuel. You therefore need to find your way back to Dallas before your fuel runs out.

In reality Going Back Home is a little more interesting in concept than in actual game play. Either you know your way from the game's starting point to Dallas or you don't. If you don't know where you should be going (which I don't) the game isn't much fun.

However despite this problem I do think that Going Back Home could be the basis for a fun game. For example tt should be relatively easy to allow users to pick a different starting point or destination. This would allow people who don't know Texas very well to also play the game. I also wonder about whether using terrain features might also help. For example picking a starting point and a destination where a river system or mountain range could be used by the pilot to help navigate their way home.

Our Sidewalks Are Too Narrow

The Florence Sidewalks Map visualizes the widths of sidewalks in the Italian city of Florence. It allows users to see where in the city it is possible to observe social distancing and where it is impossible to maintain a gap of 2 meters between yourself and other pedestrians.

All sidewalks on this map are colored red if the sidewalk has a width of less than 2 meters. Blue colored sidewalks have a width of over 8 meters. It looks to me like Florence is a city crying out for pedestrianization. Much of the street layout and street widths in Florence date back to at least the Renaissance. Perversely because the roads were designed to accommodate people and horses Florence's streets aren't wide enough to accommodate cars and wide sidewalks.

On average the streets in London are significantly wider than in Florence. However all that extra space in London is of course devoted to cars. University College London analyzed the width of pavements in London and discovered that Most London pavements are not wide enough for social distancing.

From its analysis UCL discovered that at least 66% of London's pavements are not wide enough for people to observe the two metres apart social distancing suggested by the government. In fact UCL discovered that only 36% of London pavements were at least three metres wide, which they judge to be the minimum width for people to be able to leave a gap of 2 meters when passing other pedestrians.

If you live in New York then you can use the Sidewalks Width Map to see where it is safe to walk in the city while maintaining social distancing with other pedestrians. The Sidewalks Widths map colors New York City's sidewalks based on their widths. It uses New York City's Sidewalk dataset to show where it is possible to maintain social distancing while walking in the city and where social distancing is impossible.

Sidewalks on the map are colored to show whether social distancing is possible. Blue colored sidewalks are the widest and indicate a sidewalk where social distancing should be easy. Green sidewalks are less wide but still wide enough so that social distancing should be possible. Red sidewalks are narrower than 10 feet and show where a path is too narrow to practice social distancing. Just hover over a sidewalk on the map to view its width in feet.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Is the Water Safe to Drink?

Is Water Safe to Drink is an interactive map which advises you on the drinking quality of tap water in countries around the world. The map uses water quality assessments from a number of different sources to provide an overview of the water quality in each country.

When we travel to foreign countries many of us default to drinking bottled water because of our doubts over the quality of the local tap water. This can not only be expensive it is also very bad for the environment. Is Water Safe to Drink hopes to encourage you to avoid bottled water where possible by telling you where it is safe to drink the local tap water.

Countries are colored on the Is Water Safe to Drink map based on an their water quality score. The darker the blue then the safer the water is to drink. If you click on a country you can view its World Health Organization score (which is the percentage of the country's tap water which is safe to drink), the Lonely Planet assessment of the country's water quality and its Numbeo score (a number out of 100).

If you click on a country on the map you can also view a calculation of the amount of money you can save by drinking the local tap water rather than buying bottled water.

Map Based Video Chat

Video conferencing applications are all the rage right now. So it was probably only a matter of time before someone developed a new mapped based platform for chatting on video.

Besedky is a new open video meeting platform. The application is very easy to use. All you have to do to start a chat is click on the 'Add' button and click on the map. You can give your chat room a name and a room topic and even add a picture. Your chat room will then be added to the map and you can sit back and wait for people to join you in your chat room. Once you enter a chat room on the map you can copy the link to the room if you want to share it with friends by e-mail or text.

On the face of it a map based chat room seems to make sense. A map interface allows you to search for chat rooms which are close to your location. Or, if you want to practice your language skills, it provides a handy way of finding chat rooms in different countries and languages. Unfortunately I have seen a few map based video chatting sites over the years. None of which has ever seemed to stick. However if there was ever a time when a map based video conferencing site was going to breakthrough then this is probably it.

Monday, May 11, 2020

The World is on the Move Again

Google, Apple and Facebook all provide data on how much people are moving during this epidemic - in comparison to their normal movements before the emergence of coronavirus. The mobility reports published by all three of the tech giants suggest that around the world people are beginning to show less discipline in restricting their movements. This trend seems particularly apparent in the United States.

Apple's daily published Mobility Trends Report provides a useful insight into how well different countries around the world are managing to maintain their lock-downs. The Mobility Trends Reports shows the level of requests made on Apple Maps for walking, driving and transit directions. For each country Apple plots the number of direction requests made per day on a chart. The charts allow you to compare the requests made in different countries. These requests provide an insight into how successful individual countries have been in restricting the movements of their populations during the current epidemic.

In the screenshot above you can see how movement behavior in the United States appears to have changed significantly less than in Germany, Italy and the UK. The graph also reveals that in all four countries requests for travel directions are trending upwards, presumably as people are beginning to ignore their country's lock-downs and / or as confinement restrictions are beginning to be relaxed.

Google's Covid-19 Community Mobility Reports use aggregated, anonymized data gleaned from mobile phones to chart movement trends over time. They show how visits to different categories of venues (retail & recreation, groceries & pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential) have been effected by the spread of Covid-19 and by government lock-downs.

The Google mobility report for the United States shows that there has actually been a 28% increase in the number of visits made to parks since the beginning of this epidemic (comparison is to the median average on the corresponding day of the week, during Jan 3–Feb 6, 2020). However the report also show that there has been a 34% drop in visits to retail & recreation venues (places such as restaurants, cafes, shopping centers, theme parks, museums, libraries, and movie theaters). Although even here there is a general trend upwards as people appear to be venturing out more.

In comparison the UK has seen a 78% drop in visits to retail & recreation venues and an 18% drop in visits to parks.

Facebook's Movement Trends uses a number of different metrics to estimate mobility rates for people in the USA. The United States Movement Trend map shows that since April 12th there has been an upward trend in movement across the United States. The 'relative mobility rate' in the US is still -21%, showing a drop in movement since the start of the epidemic. However this is a rise of over 20% since April 12th when the 'relative mobility rate' was -43%. There is also a huge difference in the mobility rates between different states. In fact states such as Wyoming and Montana don't appear to have shown any drop in their mobility rates since this epidemic began.

It is clear that the lock-down has been a lot less disciplined in the United States than it has been in many other countries. It is also clear that the lock-down is increasingly being ignored. It will be interesting to see how successful the United States will be in reducing the number of Covid-19 deaths in comparison to the rate of reduction in other countries around the world.