Friday, July 31, 2020

Which are New York's Greenest Boroughs?

Staten Island is New York's greenest borough. 59% of Staten Island is covered in either landscaped or natural greenery. A large percentage of that green land cover is provided by the borough's 5,566 acres of forest. At the other end of the scale is Manhattan. Only 28% of Manhattan is covered with natural or landscaped greenery making it New York's least green borough.

A new interactive map from the Natural Areas Conservancy can help people in New York find their nearest green spaces. The NAC's Nature Map shows where you can find green spaces in New York and how much green land cover can be found in each neighborhood. If you select a borough on the map you can not only view where all its green spaces are but you can also view how many acres of forest, freshwater wetland, salt marsh and stream can be found in the borough. For example once upon a time Manhattan had hundreds of freshwater streams. Most of those streams however have long been buried or filled, and today it only has 2,224 feet of streams. In contrast Staten Island has 471,575 feet of freshwater streams.

Here are the percentages of green land cover in all five New York boroughs:

59% Staten Island
41% Bronx
40% Queens
31% Brooklyn
28% Manhattan

The Nature Map can also tell you which are New York's greenest and least green council districts. Select a district from the map's drop-down menu and you can view the amount of green land cover in a district and how much forest, freshwater wetland, salt marsh and stream can be found in the district.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Future of 3D Tours

Over the last few months I have spent a lot of time exploring 3D tours created by museums and art galleries around the world (here is a list of links to museum virtual tours). A lot of these museum virtual tours were created with the Mattterport, 3D data platform.

Matterport is an easy way to capture imagery and create a 3D tour. It allows you to capture your own imagery and create what are essentially custom Street View tours from this imagery. However Matterport tours can be a little disappointing. Using a Matterport virtual tour of a museum is a little like exploring a museum on Street View. It simply allows you to navigate around a series of static photographs. It isn't really a truly immersive experience.

To create a truly immersive 3D virtual tour you need to use photogrammetry. Using photogrammetry you can reconstruct a space in 3D and then explore it from any angle. The New York Times Research & Development team has created an awe inspiring demonstration of photogrammetry in action.

In Reconstructing Journalistic Scenes in 3D you can explore a New York loft and a shanty town in Haiti in immersive 3D. In these two 3D tours you can see how photogrammetry can be used to create narrated 'scrollytelling' like tours around a 3D scene. You can also see how you can add annotations and interactive elements to objects in the scene, so that users can explore the scene for themselves.

The problem with photogrammetry is it involves a lot of work. You need to capture extensive overlapping photographic images of the location that you wish to map. You then need the photogrammetry software to stitch all these images together into a seamless 3D scene. And you need the programming skills to be able to create a useful 3D tour of your photogrammetry scene.

As you can see from the NYT's examples the results are really astonishing. The NYT's article includes a few tips on how to make the process easier and how to deliver the finished 3D scenes to different devices and different bandwidths. Even so creating tours like these still requires an incredible amount of work. For most users looking to create a 3D tour Matterport is going to be the easier and more realistic option.

The German Road Accident Map

Every nine hours in Germany someone is killed in a traffic accident where one of the drivers was speeding. In 2019 32% of all the people killed in traffic accidents in Germany involved speeding drivers. The good news is that the number of people dying from speeding motorists is likely to drop this year. In May of this year there was a 6.3% drop in fatalities on German roads compared to May 2019. Because of lock-down and the lower volumes of traffic on roads this year in May there was a 23% overall drop in all German traffic accidents.

You can explore all 2019 road accidents in Germany for yourself on the Accident Atlas, an interactive map showing the frequency of road accidents on German roads. On the map road sections are colored to show the frequency of all accidents involving cars. The map can be filtered to show the frequency of accidents with fatalities, accidents involving pedestrians, accidents involving bicycles and accidents involving motorcycles. It is also possible to filter the map to show the accident data on roads for 2016, 2017 & 2018.

You can also view an Accident Calendar of German road accidents. This calendar provides information on accident events by day. The calendar shows that there are some seasonal fluctuations in road traffic fatalities and also in the occurrence of bicycle and motorcycle accidents. It also shows that accidents where drivers were under the influence of alcohol occur more at the weekend and on certain holidays.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Where Foreign Born Residents Live

Social Explorer has released an interesting map which shows the percentage of the population who were foreign born in U.S. counties. The map reveals that the counties with the highest percentage of foreign born people are not to be found in high density Democratic voting inner cities but in rural Republican voting counties.

The Foreign-Born Population: 2010 or Later map uses 2014-18 American Community Survey data to show the percentage of foreign-born residents who arrived in each county after 2010. Each county on the map is therefore colored to show the percentage of residents who were foreign born.

Most of the counties with the highest percentage of foreign born citizens are not in the large cities and densely populated metro areas as you might expect. In fact if you use the interactive map legend to filter the map to show only the counties with the highest percentage of foreign born people you will see that these seem to be mainly in rural, sparsely populated areas.

The reason why the counties with the highest population of percentage of foreign born people may be to do with agriculture. The American Farm Bureau Federation says that around 80% of the agricultural workforce is foreign born. If a number of large farms have imported a number of foreign born workers into a very sparsely populated county then this is going to have a very big effect on the overall percentage of the population who are foreign born.

Therefore in these rural counties we are talking about a relatively small number of foreign born residents having a large impact on the overall percentages. In terms of the number of foreign born residents living in the USA then it is the large cities which do have the largest totals. One-third of the 7.9 million foreign-born people who arrived in the U.S. after 2010 settled in Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, Phoenix, and Boston.

The Scots Place-Names Map

The Scots Map claims to be the first interactive map with place-name labels in the Scot's language. Scots is one of the three native languages of Scotland and is spoken by around 1.5 million people (according to the 2011 Scottish census).

Many of the Scot's place-names used on the Scots Map have been sourced from a 1994 MMA Maps in Glasgow map called 'The Scots Map and Guide/Cairte in the Scots Leid'. Many English names for Scottish places have been borrowed from the Scots, so English speakers may recognize some of the place-names on the map. Other place-names may be less recognizable to non-Scots speakers. The Scots Language Centre has produced a Guide and Gazetteer to the Scots Map which includes an explanation of some of the common forms found in Scots place-names, such as Auld (old), Brig (bridge) and Burgh (borough).

The Scots Map also includes a couple of fun tools for Scots speakers. A 'My Toun' tool allows you to zoom in on locations on the map and create a static map which can then be shared on social media. The 'Make a Road Sign' tool allows you to enter the name of a town to create your own image of a road sign, which again you are then free to share on social media.

Scots speakers may also be interested in The Scots Syntax Atlas. The Scots Syntax Atlas is an interactive map which records the different ways that Scottish people talk in the different areas of Scotland. The map includes sound recordings of Scottish syntax which were recorded across the country. The map also allows you to explore in which different areas of the country different types of Scottish syntax are spoken.

To create the map the researchers visited 145 communities in Scotland interviewing local people and recording their answers. In these interviews the researchers were particularly interested in the syntax of local dialects and in the ways that sentences are built up in the different areas of Scotland.

If you click on the markers on the map you can listen to interesting examples of Scottish syntax which were recorded in different parts of the country. You can also discover where these different types of Scottish syntax are spoken by selecting the 'who says what where' button. This option shows you where different types of syntax are spoken in Scotland. The 'stories behind the examples' button provides a grammatical explanation of the recorded examples of Scottish syntax and information on how Scottish syntax differs from more 'standard' English.

If you are interested in learning more about the meanings of Scottish place-names then you might also enjoy the Berwickshire Place-Name Resource. The University of Glasgow's Berwickshire Place-Name Resource allows you to explore and learn more about the names of villages, towns and other locations in the Scottish Borders county of Berwickshire.

The Place-Name Resource allows you to search for place-names in the county using a number of different methods. You can search for place-names alphabetically. Alternatively you can search using a string (for example entering '*hall' to find all place-names ending ....hall). You can also search using the element glossary which allows you to search by different common elements found in Berwickshire place-names.

Clicking on an individual marker on this map will open an information window providing details on the selected location. These details include its entry in the OS Name Book. If you are interested in the meaning of a place-name then the 'elements' section allows you to view a definition (where available) of any unfamiliar parts of the place-name. For example both Kimmerghame (cow's bridge) and Birgham (a settlement beside a bridge) contain derivations of 'brycg' - which means bridge.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Comparing Map Projections

Comparing Map Projections is a clever visualization of different map projections. It allows you to directly compare different types of map projections and see the levels of distortions which each map projection introduces by visualizing a globe in two dimensions.

This interactive visualization provides a useful overview of the advantages and the disadvantages of specific map projections. For example if you select the much maligned Mercator map projection you can see that it scores very low for angular distortion. This means that all the lines of longitude are straight (compare the vertical lines of longitude on the Mercator projection to those on the Sinusoidal projection). The result is that a Mercator projection is really useful for navigation.

However if you refer to the Mercator projection on the Comparing Map Projections interactive visualization you will also see that it has very large overall scale and angular distortion. A consequence of having a very low angular distortion is that the Mercator projection distorts scale (especially the further you move from the equator).

As you can see from Comparing Map Projections all map projections introduce some degree of distortion.

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

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

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

If you want a little help deciding which map projection you should use for your current map project then you can use the Projection Wizard to decide on the best projection.

This map projection guide allows you to select the extent of the map view you are working with by outlining the area on a Leaflet map. Once you've highlighted your map bounds you can choose a distortion property (Equal-area, Conformal, Equidistant or Compromise).

The Projection Wizard will then suggest which map projection you should use depending on the extent and the distortion property of the map. The suggested projections are based on 'A Guide to Selecting Map Projections' by the Cartography and Geovisualization Group at Oregon State University.

A Proj.4 link is provided next to each suggested projection, which opens a popup window with a Proj.4 library. Once you've settled on your map projection you might want to check-out the Proj4Leaflet plugin for using projections supported by Proj4js with Leaflet powered maps.

The Famous Greek Map of the World

The World Map of Greeks is an interactive map showing the most famous Greek citizen in every city of the world (based on 2019 Wikipedia views).

For some reason most famous Greek people seem to have been born in Southeastern Europe. However there are some famous Greek citizens who were born elsewhere. For example Tom Hanks was born in Concord, USA (earlier this year Tom Hanks was awarded Greek citizenship alongside his wife Rita Wilson). If you zoom-in on Greece itself then the map becomes much more detailed, showing you the most famous Greek person from every town in the country.

The World Map of Greeks was inspired by a similar map of famous Americans, created by The Pudding in 2019.

Last year The Pudding created an interactive map which showed the most famous person from each town in America. A People Map of the USA shows the person born in each town or city whose Wikipedia entry gets the most traffic. So on this map Dodge City becomes 'Wyatt Earp - Dodge City' and Memphis becomes 'Elvis Presley - Memphis'.

The People Map of the USA proved so popular that The Pudding soon followed the American map with a British version. The Pudding's A People Map of the UK shows the most famous person from each town in the UK based on each town's most Wikipedia'ed resident.

Other map makers realized that The Pudding had stuck meme mapping gold and so soon after the US & UK maps we also had Most Popular Natives of Czech Towns. This map by iROZHLAS reveals the most famous person from 1,749 Czech towns and cities.

The Pudding map also went on to inspire The Film Map of the World, an interactive map which shows the 10 most Wikipedia'ed films which are set in every country in the world. On this map the ten biggest cities in each country are labelled to show one of the ten most popular movies which were set in that nation.

How these Maps Were Made

All of these maps were made using Mapbox GL with a GeoJSON layer to hold the famous people (or film) data. Mapbox Studio allows you to add GeoJSON data to a map as a layer. This has one great advantage if you want to add place-label names to a map (which is essentially what these maps do - using the names of famous people instead of real place-names).

If you add your labels (or people names) to the map as a GeoJSON layer in Mapbox Studio then Mapbox will automatically handle how that data is displayed. You therefore don't need to worry about your labels overlapping or colliding as Mapbox will do all the heavy work for you.

All the GeoJSON data from your added layer can be accessed from JavaScript. This means that you can add interactivity to your map. In the maps above when a user hovers over a name a short biography of the selected person is displayed. This is achieved in Mapbox GL JS by using queryRenderedFeatures to access the properties of hovered-over map elements.

If you want to see queryrenderedfeatures in action then have a look at my Map of English Literature. The code for the map is shown beneath the map. When you hover over an author name on the Map of English Literature the map queries that layer and can access all the GeoJSON data associated with the selected author. In this way when you hover over an author's name the map displays the writer's date of birth, where they were born and some brief biographical information.

Monday, July 27, 2020

74,762 Things To Do in America

There are 74,762 things to do in America. That is according to Tripadvisor - which currently has 74,762 different venues that have been rated and reviewed by its users.

In Travel Like a Local The Pudding has analyzed the reviews posted by Tripadvisor users to see if there is any difference in the type of places liked by tourists and those liked by locals. To do this they separated all the reviews into 'tourists' and 'locals' (locals being defined as those living within a 30 mile radius of a venue and tourists as those living more than 30 miles from the venue reviewed).

It turns out that there is a huge difference between the sorts of places liked by tourists and those liked by locals. For example in New York locations such as the Statute of Liberty, Central Park and the Empire State Building are very popular with tourists. However locals seem to prefer venues such as the Noguchi Museum and Domino Park, which are mostly ignored by tourists.

Using The Pudding's interactive map you can zoom in on any town or city in the United States to discover which venues are most popular with tourists and which are favored by locals. You can obviously also use the map to quickly find places of interest to visit across the country. There are 74,762 of them.

Back in 2013 Eric Fischer made a similar (but global) map of places visited by locals and tourists. His Locals & Tourists map highlights areas of cities popular with locals and places where tourists visit. To determine who are locals and who are tourists Fischer used Twitter data.

The Locals & Tourists map shows the locations of Tweets sent by locals (those who post in one city for one consecutive month) and tourists (whose tweets are usually centered in another city). The map provides a fascinating insight into locations that are popular with tourists and those which seem to be frequented mostly by locals. For example, in the screenshot above (of my neighborhood in London) you can clearly make out the London Olympics stadium - a local venue which is much visited by tourists.

Before creating his Twitter map of Locals and Tourists Eric Fischer had created a series of Locals and Tourists maps made by Flickr users.

The Locals and Tourists - Flickr maps used a similar methodology as that used in the Twitter map. On the Flickr maps blue points show where pictures were taken by locals and red points show where photos were taken by tourists. The locals were determined by identifying the people who had taken pictures in a city over a period of one month or more. Tourists were defined as people who had taken pictures mainly in another city and who posted pictures to Flickr in the mapped city for less than a month.

The Big Butterfly Count

The UK's Butterfly Conservation organization is currently holding its annual Big Butterfly Count. Every year Butterfly Conservation asks members of the public to take part in a national survey on the health of the UK's butterfly species by spending 15 minutes counting butterflies.

Since 1976 76% of UK butterfly species have declined in either occurrence or abundance. This is of concern both for the health of these butterfly species but also for other wildlife species and the overall environment. It is therefore important to continue to monitor the health and abundance of the UK's different species of butterfly

Last year over 113,500 people took part in the Big Butterfly Count. To take part in this year's survey you just need to count butterflies for 15 minutes during a bright day. You can download an identification chart to help you identify how many butterflies of different species you see in your chosen fifteen minutes. If you want to take part you can count butterflies for the survey on any day between Friday 17 July and Sunday 9 August.

You can learn more about each species of UK butterfly on Butterfly Conservation's A-Z of Butterflies. This A-Z guide provides detailed descriptions of each butterfly species (and photos) and information on the species' health & conservation status. Each species' entry also includes a distribution map which shows where in the UK the species can be found (presumably at least partly based on previous Big Butterfly Counts).

Citizen science survey counts are beginning to become popular in animal conservation efforts. Earlier this year, in January, the Dutch National Garden Bird Count and the UK's Big Garden Birdwatch took place, to measure the health of different bird species in the Netherlands and the UK. The National Garden Bird Count results page includes an interactive map which allows you to view the numbers of different species of birds spotted in each region of the Netherlands over the weekend of the Dutch survey.

Unfortunately the RSPB are not as good at publishing bird distribution maps as their Dutch counterparts. You can view the top ten list of birds counted across the UK in this year's bird count on the Big Garden Birdwatch results page. The House Sparrow is the most common bird seen in both Dutch and UK gardens.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Biden is Winning the Money Race

The New York Times has mapped out the campaign donations to Biden and Trump over the last three months. In Trump vs. Biden: Who’s Winning the Money Race in Your ZIP Code? you can view an interactive map which shows which candidate is raising the most money in different parts of the country.

Zip-code areas on the NYT interactive map are colored to show whether Trump or Biden had more individual donors in the area from April 1 to June 30, 2020. Across the whole country Biden had around 400,000 more individual donors than Trump. In general the map reveals that Trump is mostly popular in rural areas, while Biden is more popular in urban areas and along both the east and west coasts.

Biden had more individual donors in 26 states and Washington D.C.. Trump had more individual donors in 24 states.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Epicenter of Covid-19

No Epicentro is a brilliant visualization of the scale of the Covid-19 disaster in Brazil. 84,448 people have died of Covid-19 in Brazil. In order to try and humanize the sheer numbers of deaths from Covid-19 in the South American country No Epicentro creates an interactive map which shows you what 84,448 deaths would look like if they all occurred in your neighborhood.

The human brain finds it very difficult to understand very large numbers, mostly because we don't have a ready context for numbers over a certain size. So when we say that 84,448 people have died from Covid-19 we have difficulty processing the scale of this disaster. No Epicentro provides a fantastic way to contextualize this number by allowing you to see what this number of deaths would look like if they all happened in your neighborhood.

Enter your address into No Epicentro and it will draw a circle around your house showing the extent where 84,448 people live. By drawing a circle showing the area around your own home where 84,448 people live it is much easier to conceptualize the sheer scale of this number of deaths from Covid-19. This map obviously also brings the disaster much nearer home, which helps to humanize what could otherwise be a largely abstract number.

To create the circle around your home No Epicentro uses census data on the local population. No Epicentro adds census tracts around your home until it has a number close to a population of 84,448. There is a link to the complete methodology used for the simulation in the 'How the simulation works' section of No Epicentro.

Friday, July 24, 2020

The American Crop Map

Indigo Ag has released an interactive map visualizing the results of a 1,498-county study into how regenerative farming practices are being used in American agriculture. The Indigo Field Level Crop Map reveals the crop health and farming practices on over 300 million acres of American farmland.

The map allows you to explore how regenerative farming practices, such as cover cropping, no-till, and extended crop rotations, are used across the country. Using the map menu you can view how widespread different farming practices are and where they are being used. The data for the map has been gathered through a combination of satellite analysis and ground studies.

Practicing a combination of regenerative farming practices can make agricultural land much more productive and profitable. Cover crops are plants that are planted to just cover the soil and are not intended for harvest. Cover crops can help to mitigate against soil erosion, improve fertility and increase biodiversity. Crop rotation involves growing a succession of different crops on the same area of land. It helps to lower the need for artificial fertilizers and herbicides. No-till farming is growing crops without disturbing the soil through tillage. No-till crops decrease the amount of soil erosion.

If you are interested in what types of crop are grown where in the United States then you can refer to the OneSoil map. OneSoil is an interactive map which provides insights into European and US crop production. The map shows which crops are being grown where, revealing local and global trends in crop production. In total the maps shows what crops have been grown on over 57 million fields in the EU and the US over the last three years.

The OneSoil map was created using AI algorithms to detect the types of crops being grown around the world from satellite imagery. The algorithms are able to recognize 19 different crops with a 92 percent accuracy. OneSoil is also able to analyze from this same imagery the development stage of the crops being grown.

Using the interactive map you can view the top crops being grown in each country or region. Select a country on the map and you can see how many hectares of farmland are given over to each type of crop and the average field size for each type of crop. You can also filter the map by individual crops to show where different crops are being grown in the USA and the EU. Using the date filter you can then view the crop distribution for the last three years. This enables you to see how crop distributions have changed over the last three years, at both the local and global level.

If you are interested in which crops are grown in the USA then you might also like Bloomberg's The Consolidation of the American Harvest which maps where different crops are grown in America. At the global level Esri's The Living Land explores how much land is given over to different crops around the world and RTBMaps shows where different root, tuber and banana crops are grown across the globe.

The Longer View of London

In November 1890 The Graphic (a weekly British newspaper) published a wonderful supplement for the enjoyment of its many readers. This supplement included two incredible panoramas of London showing the city 274 years apart.

One of the panoramic views printed in the supplement was a reproduction of Claes Jansz Visscher's engraving of London in 1616. The other panorama was a modern view of the city drawn by H.W. Brewer in 1890. When viewing these two panoramas of London side-by-side we get a fantastic view of London in the year that William Shakespeare died (1616) and of the London of the Victorian age.

I have created an interactive version of the two panoramas which allow you to explore these historic panoramas of London in close detail. My Longer View of London interactive map allows you to zoom-in and pan around both the 1616 and 1890 panoramas. The map also includes a scrollytelling investigation of the two maps to provide a little background information on some of the buildings and bridges which can be seen in the two panoramas. I also give a little context into the changes to the fabric of London which have occurred over the 274 years between each panorama.

If you want to clone my map of these two panoramas you can easily do so on the map's Glitch page.

At the heart of The Longer View of London is the leaflet-iiif plug-in. Museums and art galleries around the world use the iiif format to present artworks as zoomable images. The leaflet-iiif plugin allows you to use iiif manifests with the Leaflet mapping platform. To use a different image you just need to change the manifest URL in the map JavaScript code to a different iiif manifest.

I have also used the waypoints JavaScript library in my presentation of the two panoramas. Waypoints is used to control the scrollytelling elements. It is what triggers the panning and zooming elements as the user scrolls through the page.

The panoramas I examine in The Longer View of London are just two of the many similar panoramas created of London over the centuries. In The Long View of London I look at a few more of these historical views of the city, including the Wyngaerde Panorama from 1543.

This copy of the 'Supplement to "The Graphic" November 1, 1890' which I have used in The Longer View of London is owned by the David Rumsey Map Collection. If you click on this link you can explore an interactive map of the two panoramas without my commentary.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

World Rail Maps

The image above shows the rail networks of Europe, North America, South East Asia and Australia. It was created by the Open Train Project, which is working on creating a map of passenger railway networks across the world.

The maps reveal the huge public rail networks in Europe and India. The Australia map provides an interesting insight into the country's coastal population centers and the huge empty interior. The North America map also provides an interesting picture of sparsely populated areas, with few railway lines venturing into northern Canada and only a few lines crossing the U.S. interior (and those that do almost exclusively traveling east-west / west-east and not north-south / south-north.

You can create similar area rail network maps using OpenRailwayMap. OpenRailwayMap uses OpenStreetMap date to map the world's railways. Judging by a quick look at the two maps it appears that OpenRailwayMap currently has a lot of the world's railway networks mapped than the Open Train Project (for example the interior of the USA is has far more rail lines on this map).

I created the nine mini railway maps above using OpenRailwayMap data. Using OpenRailwayMap you can view rail infrastructure around the world for railways, subways, trams, miniature railways and funiculars. To create the image above I used the OpenRailwayMap API. The OpenRailWayMap API allows you to simply load the OpenRailWay map tiles into a number of different interactive mapping platforms.

I added the OpenRailWay map tiles to a Leaflet map. If you load the map tiles into Leaflet without adding any other map tiles you get a map of just the world's railway lines, without any other map data (for example place labels, country borders etc), which is perfect for creating otherwise blank railway network maps. If you don't want to create your own map then you can also just turn off the underlying map on OpenRailwayMap, which will leave you with an otherwise blank map of the world's rail networks.

Now - can you name the nine countries in the image above which shows just the rail networks in these nine different countries?

Answers (select text below to reveal)

Great Britain, North America (Canada, USA and Mexico), Italy

India, Spain & Portugal, Japan

Australia, France, Denmark & Norway and Sweden.

How Well Do You Know Your Battles?

Do you know where the Battle of Hastings took place? The clue is in the question.

Geoquiz - History Edition is a fun interactive map quiz which tests your knowledge of famous battles and famous heritage sites around the world. At the start of the quiz you are asked if you want to answer questions on battles or heritage sites. You are then asked a series of ten questions on your chosen subject. All you have to do is point to the location of each question (battle or heritage site) on the interactive map.

After you have submitted your answer you are shown the real location and told how near (in kilometers) you were to that location. Once you have completed all ten question you will be shown your overall score. This score is the total number of kilometers you guessed wrong over all ten questions. The results page also links to the Wikipedia pages of all ten battles or heritage sites mentioned in the questions, which is very useful if you want to learn more about any of the battles or the heritage sites used in your quiz.

If you want to create your own geography map games then you might want to explore the code for Geoquiz on its GitHub page. You can find many more map based games to play under the Maps Mania games tag.

BTW - the Battle of Hastings didn't take place in Hastings. However the clue was in the question. The Battle of Hastings took place in the town of Battle.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Risk Assessment for Attending Events

I suspect that at the moment most of us are blindly trying to assess the risks of every trip we make outside the safety of our homes. One thing I definitely won't be doing any time soon is attending any events with crowds. However if you do intend to visit an event in the United States then you should consult the Covid-19 Risk Assessment Planning Tool.

This interactive map, developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology, can provide you with an estimation of how likely you are to catch Covid-19 at an event, given the size of the event and where it is taking place. The map includes an easy to use slide control which allows you to adjust the predicted size of an event. Input the event size using this control and counties on the map will be colored to show the current risk level of attending an event in that county. The risk level shows the estimated chance that at least one COVID-19 positive individual will be present at the event given the size of the event and the rate of Covid-19 in that county.

Obviously if you live in the United States you shouldn't be considering attending events of any size in any county at the present time. If you do use the Covid-19 Risk Assessment Planning Tool then hopefully you will agree.

Another way that you can assess your personal risk from Covid-19 is to consult the Harvard Global Health Institute's COVID Risk Level map which shows the severity of the Covid-19 outbreak at county level across the United States. The map reveals which counties have a green, yellow, orange or red risk level, based on the local number of new daily cases.

On the map counties that have fewer than one daily new case of Covid-19 per 100,000 people are colored green. Counties with one to nine daily new cases are colored yellow. Counties with between 10 and 24 new cases are colored orange and counties with 25 new cases per day are shown in red. The map also allows you to view the Covid-19 risk levels at state level. This view shows that both Florida and Arizona are currently at a red risk level, both states having more than 30 new daily cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people.

Alongside the map the Harvard Global Health Institute has released recommendations and guidance about how counties should respond to the Covid-19 outbreak risk levels. If a county is shown as red on the map then stay-at-home orders are absolutely necessary. Counties shown as orange are advised to have stay-at-home orders and test and trace programs. If a county currently has a yellow risk level then a rigorous test and trace program is advised. Counties which are shown as green should continue to monitor with testing and contact tracing.

Mapping This Year's Cleaner Air

There have been a number of mapped visualizations this year showing how air pollution has decreased in many locations around the world as a result of the lock-downs put in place to try to halt the spread of Covid-19. As a result of the reduction of road traffic and industrial activity many places have witnessed a reduction in NO2 compared to normal levels.

Hiroya Kato has used Japanese NO2 levels downloaded from Google Earth Engine to compare NO2 levels in Japan for this year with the NO2 levels for the same period in 2019. His Covid-19 Impacts map allows you to view 2019 NO2 levels, the 2020 NO2 levels and the difference between the two. This final view shows that this year across nearly the whole of Japan on average NO2 levels have been much lower than in 2019.

If you want to create a similar air pollution comparison map for your own country then Hiroya has written a tutorial on How to Visualize a comparison of NO2 levels using Google Earth Engine data.

Water quality in the Venice Lagoon has improved during the Covid-19 outbreak

The Covid-19 Earth Observing Dashboard uses remote sensing data from ESA, JAXA and NASA to investigate and show how Covid-19 lock-downs have affected Earth’s air, land, and water quality. For example all three space agencies monitor water quality by measuring Chlorophyll-a (Chl) concentrations using satellite optical sensors. These sensors show that in many locations around the world water quality has improved during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Venice Lagoon in the North Adriatic is usually subject to heavy cruise ship activity. The water quality in the lagoon is also heavily effected by run-off from the Po River, which runs through many different industrialized areas. The decrease in maritime tourism in the lagoon and industrial activity along the Po River during the outbreak has seen unusually low levels of Chl concentration in the Venice Lagoon.

Air quality has improved in many areas of the United States

Air Quality has also improved in many locations around the world. The Covid-19 Earth Observing Dashboard shows that the Northeast United States has seen a 30% drop in NO2 levels compared to the average levels in the previous 5 years. Similar reductions have been seen in Europe, China and India during Covid-19 lock-downs.

You can use the Covid-19 Earth Observing Dashboard to explore the environmental impacts of Covid-19 lock-downs for yourself. The map allows you to search for examples geographically. You can also use the 'indicators' menu to search for examples by environmental, agricultural and economic impacts.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The History of the World in Four Maps

The animated map above shows the changing borders of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa during the Twentieth Century. It is a a pretty good illustration of how geo-political developments demand frequently updated maps.

I created this animated map using Mundipedia. Munipedia is an interactive map which shows country borders for different dates in history. Enter a date into Munipedia and you can view how the world looked in that year. For example enter the year 1984 and you will see a divided Germany, split into East and West Germany. Skip forward a few years and in 1990 the map shows just the one Germany.

Not every single year is covered by the map. The legend above the map tells you the date currently being shown. The map also only covers modern history, starting as it does in the year 1899. History also seems to have come to a halt in 2015 and shows no changes to borders beyond this date.

Running Reality is another interactive map which is trying to build a map of the world over time. Using Running Reality you can view a map of any location in the world at any time during its history. In this way you can see how towns and cities have grown and fallen over time. You can also learn more about the people who lived there and the buildings in which they lived and worked.

To see how Running Reality works you can zoom-in on an individual city and then use the timeline to see how the city has changed over time. For example if you zoom in on New York and set the timeline to 1600 you will see no roads or buildings. Adjust the timeline to 1700 and a few roads and buildings can be seen in Manhattan. Advance another 100 years (to 1800) and the city has spread north as far as Greenwich Village and small developments have appeared in Brooklyn.

The map doesn't just show roads and physical topography. related to the date selected. It also shows buildings and people related to the visualized date. These buildings, places and people are interactive. Click on a person or buildings marker on the map and you can learn more about the person or building. So for example, if you click on a person, you might be able to learn when they were born and died. Click on a building and you might discover when it was first constructed.

Chronas is yet another interactive map which aims to provide a view of historical events across the globe and through time. This interactive map visualizes Wikipedia entries by date and by location and also shows country borders for different dates in history.

Chronas not only maps historical events but also provides a mapped overview of country boundaries for any given date. If you select a year from the time slider (running along the bottom of the map) the map will update to show how the world's borders existed at the chosen time. If you then click on a country or geographical area on the map a Wikipedia article on the selected historical region will open in the map sidebar. For example, if you select the year 573 AD from the time slider, you can select the Visigoths region on the map to learn more about these nomadic tribes during the first millennium.

The Ancient History Encyclopedia's Map of the Ancient World is an interactive map of the world from around 6,000 BCE to 270 BCE. The map plots historical civilizations and places by date. Change the date and the map changes to show the rough borders of the civilizations and people's of your selected time

The map carries a disclaimer that it is "only complete in the Mediterranean until around 270 BCE". However the map isn't limited to this period and location. If you only use the back and forward arrows to navigate the map then you might not realize that the map actually does include data for the rest of the world. You can also move forward in time beyond 270 BCE (although the map doesn't yet continue past the Roman Empire).

UK Population Age

The Office for National Statistics has published a new interactive map which reveals the average age in areas across the UK. The Subnational Ageing Tool allows you to see the average age in every UK local authority and visualize the regions of the country with the oldest and youngest populations.

In general the interactive map reveals that cities tend to have a younger median age than rural areas. Rural and coastal areas in the UK are more likely to have an older median age than cities. This suggests that cities attract younger people and that people tend to migrate away from cities to the coast and country as they get older. Overall the south and east coasts of England tend to have the oldest populations. On the other hand areas in London and Manchester have some of the lowest median ages.

Knowing the media age of regions is important for local authorities. For example at the moment authorities may wish to know where older populations more at risk from Covid-19 are living, in order to direct health resources. Conversely a more youthful population will show a higher level of demand for schools and other educational resources.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Microscopic Mapping

Interactive mapping libraries are most often used to map very large entities, such as continents, countries and cities. However they can also be used to map the very small. In fact they can be used to map things which are so small that they can normally only be seen with the help of a microscope. Here are a few microscopic finds which can be viewed online thanks to the Leaflet interactive mapping library.

The Cell Image Library is a database of cell images from a wide variety of organisms. The images in the library are used to help demonstrate cellular architecture and their functions and to help advance research on cellular activity.

Each of the cell images in the Cell Image Library database can be viewed in microscopic detail on its own interactive map. If you click on the 'Open detailed viewer' link on a cell's individual entry in the database you can then explore the cell in more detail using a Leaflet map. This map allows you to zoom in and out of the cell image and pan around, just as you can with an online interactive map. The Leaflet powered cell viewer also allows you to adjust the contrast and brightness of the image and add annotations to parts of the cell.

More microscopic images can be explored at Microsculpture. British photographer Levon Biss has used the Leaflet mapping library to present close-up photographs of insects. His Microsculpture website allows you to view high resolution photos of insect specimens from Oxford University Museum of Natural History in exquisitely fine detail using the Leaflet zooming and panning tools.

Each insect's completed image map consists of around 8,000 individual photographs (the large scale photographic prints are up to 3m high), captured using optical microscopes. The Leaflet mapping library really allows the user to fully explore these high resolution photos by zooming in close on the insects. The map scale in the top right-hand corner of the map provides a useful guide to the size of the insects as you zoom in & out on the images.

Last year Ariel Waldman led an expedition to Antarctica to film the extremophile microbes living under the Antarctic ice. The expedition found microbes living in glaciers, under the sea ice, next to frozen lakes, and in subglacial ponds.

You can explore some of the microbes found in Antarctica on Life Under the Ice. Life Under the Ice uses the Leaflet mapping platform to present microscopic videos of the microbes discovered in Antarctica. If you click on the 'What's this' button you can discover more about the microbe in the current map view, including where the microbe was discovered, its size and its level of magnification on the map.

If you enjoy viewing microscopic images in Leaflet then you should also have a look at Pathobin. Pathobin is an on-line repository where pathologists can publish and share their pathology images. Pathology images uploaded to Pathobin can be viewed by anyone using the provided interactive maps.

You can browse for pathology images on Pathobin using the 'Recent Images' gallery on the site's homepage or from the site index. When you select an image to view on Pathobin a Leaflet map of the pathogen opens. Using the usual Leaflet navigation controls you can pan and zoom the map to view the image in close-up detail.

A Virtual Expedition to the South Pole

The Fram is the polar exploration ship which Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen used to reach Antarctica on the first ever expedition to reach the geographic South Pole. The ship was originally designed and built in 1891–93 specifically to withstand prolonged exposure to the harshest of Arctic conditions. Before being used by Amundsen to reach the South Pole the Fram had also been used to transport expeditions to the Arctic and to the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

It is hard to imagine what life was like spending months on board the Fram traveling to Antarctica. However thanks to the Fram Museum we can explore inside the Fram and witness at first hand the cabins, galleys and decks of the ship used by those intrepid Antarctic explorers. The Fram is on permanent exhibition at the the Fram Museum and the museum has created a fantastic interactive Street View tour of the ship. Using this virtual tour you can actually walk above and below decks of the Fram and explore the ship for yourself.

The Fram Museum is also home to the Gjøa, which was the first vessel to transit the Northwest Passage. The Fram Museum virtual tour also allows you to explore and walk around on the Gjøa.

Roald Admundsen and his team reached the South Pole on 14 December 1911, beating a British expedition led by Robert Falcon Scott by five weeks. Scott's entire team died on the return journey from the pole.

The Terra Nova Expedition, led by Scott, spent the winter months in the Cape Evans hut, before they embarked on their final trek to the pole. The Cape Evans hut was a prefabricated wooden structure measuring 50 by 25 feet. Again it is impossible to imagine what it would be like living for months in a wooden hut in a freezingly cold Antarctic winter. Google Maps however can give you some insight into life inside the Cape Evans hut. Astonishingly you can actually explore Scott's Hut using Google Maps Street View. Google Maps has interactive panoramic Street View imagery of Cape Evans, which allows you to walk around the outside of Scott's hut and actually go inside and explore the hut for yourself.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Where Americans are Wearing Masks

The New York Times has created an interactive map which shows where Americans are wearing face masks down to the zip-code level. If you hover over a zip-code area on the map you can see the percentage of the local population which always wear a mask and the proportion who say they never wear a mask.

The data for the Detailed Map of Who Is Wearing Masks in the U.S. comes from a NYT commissioned survey. As everybody knows polls can sometimes produce misleading results, especially when respondents are answering questions which they feel they may be judged on. However the NYT survey has a very large sample size of 250,000, which should help to alleviate any sampling errors.

The social media responses to the NYT map that I have seen have mostly remarked on its resemblance to a map of where people vote for the Democratic and Republican parties. This could obviously be related to the rural-urban split in Democratic and Republican votes. One argument for the regional variation in the number of people wearing masks could be population density. It seems likely that mask use will naturally be higher among densely populated areas than less populated areas. However the NYT says that a number of studies show that Republican voters are less likely to wear masks than Democrat voters.

As Shana Gadarian of Syracuse University says "partisanship is the big determinant" of mask behavior. This doesn't come as much of a shock, especially when you consider that elements of the Republican party have been dismissing Covid-19 as a hoax and that the wearing of face masks is some kind of attack on their personal freedom.

Train Tracking Live

Zugverfolgung is a live real-time train tracking website which allows you to view trains moving in real-time in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Select a country on Zugverfolgung and you can view an interactive map of the chosen country's train network, on which all the trains currently in service can be actually seen moving live on the map. If you then click on one of the moving trains on the map you can view the train's scheduled timetable. You can also click on individual stations on the map to view that station's current departure boards.

Zugverfolgung includes a search option which allows you to enter an individual train number or station name to zoom straight to that train or station on the map.

If you are a fan of live real-time maps of train networks then you might also like:

Train Map - a live map of the Belgium rail network
Réseau SNCF en Temps Réel - the live position of all SNCF's trains throughout France
Swiss Railways Network - the original real-time map of Swiss trains
Trafimage - the entire public transit network of Switzerland in real-time
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 (in 3D)
UK Train Times - a real-time map of the whole UK rail network

Friday, July 17, 2020

The Long View of London

Panoramic maps are a wonderful hybrid of landscape painting and city map. The panoramic bird's eye views of cities we see in panoramic maps provide a wonderful historical snapshot of a city at a particular moment in time.

London is lucky in that over the centuries a number of beautiful panoramic maps of the city have been lovingly created by some wonderful artists. Interestingly these panoramas have almost always been drawn from a similar point of view - looking north from south of the River Thames. Viewed in sequence they provide an invaluable insight into the development of London through time.

The Wyngaerde Panorama depicts London in 1543, in the last years of the reign of Henry VIII. The map was drawn by the prolific Flemish topographical artist Anton van den Wyngaerde.

The panorama shows London (as seen from south of the river looking north) from the Palace of Westminster in the west to a very rural looking Greenwich in the east. The Palace of Westminster had become the home of parliament only in 1512. A fire in that year destroyed the royal residential (privy) area of the palace and Henry VIII moved his court to the Palace of Whitehall. The Palace of Westminster then became solely the home of the two Houses of Parliament and various royal law courts. The Old Palace of Westminster seen in this panorama burnt down in 1834.

The Wyngaerde Panorama is the only map on this page which shows the Old St. Paul's Cathedral with its spire intact. 18 years after this panorama was drawn, on 4 June 1561, the spire was hit by lightning and caught fire. The spire was never rebuilt.

In 1616 Claes Jansz Visscher created a beautiful engraving of medieval London's skyline as seen from the south bank of the River Thames. 400 years later, artist Robin Reynolds created a modern 6.6 ft panoramic drawing showing London today from exactly the same point of view.

In 2003 The Guardian created four interactive images which allow you to compare Visscher and Reynold's panoramic views of London in detail. Each of the images shows a close-up scene from Visscher's engraving with Reynolds' modern drawing of London superimposed on top. The screenshot above of Visscher's panorama shows the Old St. Paul's Cathedral without its spire (which was struck by lightning in 1561).

The London depicted in the Visscher panorama is very similar to the view portrayed in The Long View of London. The Long View of London from Bankside is a panorama of London, as seen from south of the River Thames, in 1647. The panorama was etched by Wenceslas Hollar based on drawings he made from a vantage point on top of the tower of St Saviour in Southwark (which is now Southwark Cathedral).

The panorama provides a fantastic glimpse into 17th Century London. This view includes the Old St. Paul's Cathedral (which was shortly to be destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666). The panorama also shows the Old London Bridge (which as you can see in the panorama included buildings along its span). The Old London Bridge was demolished in 1831 and replaced with a newer bridge (which itself has since been demolished and replaced).

The British Museum has created a number of close-up views of the panorama which allow you to explore all seven plates of the original image in detail.

Sheet 1 and 7

Sheet 2

Sheet 3

Sheet 4

Sheet 5

Sheet 6

A Riverside View of Georgian London provides a fantastic view of London, as seen from the Thames in 1829. This tourist guide to London, published in the early 19th Century, provided a hand-drawn view of both banks of the Thames from Westminster to Richmond upon Thames.

Luckily for us Panorama of the Thames has provided a great tool for viewing A Riverside View of Georgian London. Its Compare Panoramas tool allows you to travel along the river in 1829, comparing Georgian London to the same river views as can be seen in modern day London. Press play on the 1829 panorama & on the 2013 panorama and you will be taken on a simultaneous journey down the Thames with synchronized views of both Georgian and modern London.

In 1845 the Illustrated London News printed a panoramic view of London (again looking north from south of the river). You can explore this map in loving detail on the British Museum website.

The Panorama of the River Thames in 1845 shows London from Vauxhall Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge. The panorama includes the Houses of Parliament - rather prematurely - as construction of the new Palace of Westminster wasn't completed until the 1870's. At the far right of the panorama you can see the modern St. Paul's Cathedral. Compare the modern cathedral, with its dome, to the earlier depictions of the Old St Paul's Cathedral in the Wyngaerde, Visscher and Hollar panoramas.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

How To Reopen a Country of 1.3B People

As countries around the world try to emerge from lockdown it is becoming apparent that some countries are having a lot more success trying to prevent a second wave of Covid-19 cases than others. One country which faces a particular hard challenge is India.

Over 100 million people in India live in informal settlements. This means they live in conditions which are not conducive to social distancing and which provide challenges to healthy sanitation. Development Seed and Mapbox have collaborated on a story map which explores the difficulties of Reopening a Country of 1.38 Billion People.

Using data from a number of different sources the map shows how the Indian government's lockdown on March 24 was very effective in reducing movement in the country - but caused hardship to many migrant workers and huge damage to the Indian economy. At the beginning of May the government introduced zoning - placing each district in the country into one of three different zones with different levels of restrictions. Many of the severest containment zones are in informal settlements - placing the severest movement restrictions on the poorest people.

Development Seed's story map goes on to look at the dangers of reopening the country. It explores the experience of Bangalore where the numbers of Covid-19 cases quadrupled after the lockdown was eased. The city has therefore had to reimpose the local lockdown. It does appear that India in particluar is going to face many challenges while trying to emerge from lockdown.

For the very latest information and data on Covid-19 in India you should consult the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. This government website provides information on the total number of cases and deaths from Covid-19 in India. It provides a more detailed breakdown of the total number of active cases in each state and the numbers of Covid-19 fatalities in each state. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare also provides the latest travel advisory notices.