Thursday, June 17, 2021

Mapping America's Digital Divide

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has released a new interactive map that displays key indicators of broadband needs across the country. The map uses data from a number of different sources to show broadband availability and speeds at the county level in the United States.

If you click on a county on the The Indicators of Broadband Need digital map you can view details on the percentage of the local population without Internet access, the median broadband speed available, and the percentage of downloads completed over 25 Mbps. 

The map reveals that large areas of the country have broadband access which is below the Federal Communications Commission's recommended benchmark of 25 Mbps download / 3 Mbps upload. The map also includes a number of other economic data layers which allow you to view and compare poverty data with broadband access data. NTIA's map is therefore a really useful tool for discovering where Americans don't currently have the internet access necessary for success in the digital age and where communities and individuals don't have access to high-speed Internet services.

Verge has also been busy mapping mapping broadband speeds in the United States.Unfortunately not everyone in the USA has access to what are now seen as adequate broadband internet speeds. In This is a Map of America's Broadband Gap Verge has mapped counties where less than 15 percent of households have a broadband speed of 25Mbps or above.

All the counties colored blue on Verge's map have less than 15 percent of households with acceptable internet speeds. You can hover over any county on the map to view the percentage of households that have adequate broadband speeds. Verge's map uses data from Microsoft. This data reveals that there are many counties where a large majority of the population don't have adequate broadband speeds. For example in Lincoln County, Washington only five percent of households can access the internet at 25Mbps or above.

Mapping Crops from Space

In Germany the Earth Observation Lab at Humboldt-Universit├Ąt zu Berlin has used satellite data to create the first time-series map of agricultural land use in Germany. The Map of German Agricultural Land Use shows which crops were grown where in Germany for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019.

To create the map the Earth Observation Lab used machine learning processes with satellite imagery from the US Landsat 8 satellite mission and the Copernicus program of the European Space Agency (ESA). The lab also used already available information on previous land use by farmers. 

The map itself uses different colors to show the dominant types of crops and the main types of arable land use, i.e. all the main types of grain, root crops, vegetables, permanent crops and legumes. In addition the map features a date control which allows you to select which year's crops you wish to see visualized on the map.

In Scotland the Rural & Environmental Science and Analytical Services (RESAS) and the University of Edinburgh have created the Scottish Crop Map 2019, to show which crops are grown where in Scotland. The Scottish map uses satellite data from ESA to show which crops were growing in nearly 400,000 fields in Scotland during 2019.

The Scottish map shows four main crop types (Spring Oats, Winter Barley, Winter Wheat & Spring Barley), and grassland. As well as mapping where these four types of crop and grassland are grown the Scottish Crop Map includes a bar graph view which shows the area of land devoted to each crop. Grassland is by far the biggest use of land on the map, while Spring Barley is the crop which is grown on the largest area of land. 

If you are interested in what types of crop are grown in the United States and elsewhere in Europe 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 60 million fields in the EU and the US over the last five 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 five years. This enables you to see how crop distributions have changed over these 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. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Tower of Pisa in 3D

The Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia has published a really interesting article which explains how the Leaning Tower of Pisa has been stabilized and protected from further subsidence and collapse. This interesting article has been made even more gripping by being illustrated with some fantastic 3D modeling of the Tower and its environs.

This is How the Tower of Pisa was Prevented from Falling explains how the Tower of Pisa was constructed in the 12th Century and how the tower began to lean during its early construction.Even during the construction of the first four floors the tower began to lean towards the north.During the construction of the higher floors measures were taken to try to keep the tower's central axis vertical. Then, ever since the tower was completed, numerous efforts have been made to prevent further inclination. 

Using a 3D model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa La Vanguardia illustrates the engineering behind some of the attempts that have been made to halt the Tower from leaning even further to the north. In particular the newspaper explains some of the measures undertaken during the closure of the Tower of Pisa, between 1990 and 2008. These stabilization efforts are said to have made the tower safe for at least another 200 years. 

Your Plastic's Journey to the Sea

Yesterday Ocean Cleanup released a new interactive map which allows you to track the journey that your plastic waste is likely to take from your hand to the ocean. Enter your location into the Plastic Tracker map and it will calculate the chances of a piece of plastic abandoned to the environment at that address reaching the ocean and also map the journey that the plastic would likely take.

The Plastic Tracker map plots the journey that a single piece of plastic is likely to take from the moment it is discarded. It shows the possible route that the plastic would take to reach the sea based on data such as river flow, river mouth emissions and ocean currents. 

The Plastic Tracker is just one of a series of interactive mapping tools developed by Ocean Cleanup in order to help raise awareness of the problems of plastic waste and to help clean up the plastic in our oceans.

The Price Tag of Plastic Pollution is another of Ocean Cleanup's interactive mapping tools. This map shows the economic costs of all the plastic pollution which we are currently spilling into the world's oceans. It shows the need for governments & individuals to address plastic pollution by highlighting the economic costs of plastic pollution on industries such as fishing and tourism.

Ocean Cleanup worked with the auditing company Deloitte to assess the costs of plastic pollution to countries around the world. According to this study the total global yearly economic costs from marine plastic are between $6-19bn. These costs accrue from the impact of pollution on tourism & on the fishing industry and from efforts to clean and clear plastic pollution. 

If you click on a country on the Plastic Pollution world map you can view the costs to the government and to the fishing and tourism industries in the selected country. One of the main purposes of the Price Tag of Plastic Pollution map is to demonstrate that it is far cheaper not to pollute our oceans with plastic in the first place than it is to clean them after they have been polluted. 

Around 8 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the world's oceans every single year. This plastic is dangerous to marine life and, once it enters the food chain, ultimately dangerous to the health of the human race.

The Ocean Cleanup organization believes that between 1.15 and 2.41 million metric tons of the plastic in the oceans originates from the world's river systems. Two thirds of it from the rivers of Asia. The River Plastic Emissions to the World’s Oceans interactive map helps to visualize how and where that plastic ends up in the world's oceans.

The map shows river systems around the globe. The predicted input from each river system is shown at the coast using scaled circular markers. These predicted inputs are based on a model which looks at population density, waste management, topography, hydrography, the locations of dams and the reported concentration of plastic in rivers around the world.

You might also be interested in the Maps Mania post Seas of Plastic Debris.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Toll from Coal

Coal-fired power plants are America's greatest air polluters. They are also the most dangerous. The pollution from coal-fired power plants cause global warming, acid rain, and fine particle pollution. There are around 500 coal-fired power plants in the United States. You can view how dangerous each of these coal-fired power plants are on the Toll For Coal interactive map.

The Toll for Coal interactive map allows you to explore the sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions expelled by coal-fired power plants across America.If you click on a state on the map you can view a list of all the coal-fired power plants in the state. If you click on an individual power plant you can view details on the size of the plant, the tons of pollutants it emits every year and the health impact of those pollutants.

The health impacts for each power plant include the number of deaths caused, the number of hospital admissions, asthma ER visits and the number of acute bronchitis cases. Around each power plant are circles showing the 3 mile and 12 mile distances from the plant. When you select a plant on the map you can view details about the population demographics who live within these 3 mile and 12 mile areas of the power plant. This includes the number of children living close to the plant. 

Coal is still the main source of energy for the USA. You can explore America's power supply on the U.S. Power Plants map. U.S. Power Plants is an interactive map showing the locations, size and type of America's electric power plants. The map is a great way to see where different types of power plant are located, how much each type of energy source contributes to the country's power supply and how much each source contributes to CO2 emissions.

The number of map filters on U.S. Power Plants means that the map can provide lots of different insights into American power supply. For example the individual fuel filters allow you to see where different power sources are concentrated in America. Select hydro power and you can see that hydro power plants are concentrated in the north-west and north-east of the country. While solar power plants are mainly located in California.

If you click on an electricity power plant marker on the map you can view details on the plant's capacity, net generation and CO2 output. The drop-down menu also allows you to re-scale the map markers by the the amount of CO2 produced by each power plant.

Indigenous Language Maps

The Tlingit are one of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. In the native Tlingit language 'Tlingit' means 'people of the tides'. There are now only around 400-500 native speakers of Tlingit. However concerted efforts are being made to revive and preserve the Tlingit language.

If the Tlingit language disappears then the historical indigenous place-names of the northwest coast of North America could become lost for ever. Lingit Aani is an interactive map which features place-name labels showing the original Tlingit place-names. The map currently mainly shows Tlingit place-names around Sheet’ka (Baranof Island).

Most of the Tlingit place-names shown on the map come from the book Our Grandparents' Names on the Land. If you zoom in very close on the map then English translations will appear under the original Tlingit place-names.


Traveling some distance south along the northwest coast of North America from the traditional territory of the Tlingit you come to the territory of the Squamish. The indigenous Squamish people live in a large area around Squamish in British Columbia.

Oh The Places You Should Know is an interactive map in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language. The map was created by the non-profit Kwi Awt Stelmexw. On the map all the map labels are in Sḵwx̱wú7mesh. The mountains and waterways are in Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, the islands and villages are all in Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and the landmarks are in Sḵwx̱wú7mesh.

If you don't speak Sḵwx̱wú7mesh you can click on the place-name markers on the map to find out how to pronounce the name and to learn what it means in English. Many of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh names and markers on the map even have audio files attached which allow you to hear how the word should be pronounced. Some of the locations featured on the map also include additional information, such as video, photos, stories, and external links. 

There are 203 First Nations communities in British Colombia and an amazing diversity of indigenous languages. You can learn more about B.C.'s First Nations communities and languages on the First People's Map of B.C..

The new First People's Map of B.C. provides information about the indigenous languages, cultures and places of British Columbia. The interactive map visualizes the regions where different First Nations languages are spoken. It also allows you to view First Nations place-names and important landmarks.

If you select a language family from the map sidebar you can view where the individual First Nations languages in that family are spoken. You can also listen to recordings of each of the indigenous languages being spoken by native speakers. In addition the First People's Map of B.C. provides information on community landmarks, cultural sites and art spaces.

You can view more interactive maps featuring indigenous place-name labels in other locations around the world under the Maps Mania languages tag.

Monday, June 14, 2021

The California Wildfire Map

The California Forest Observatory uses AI and satellite imagery to map tree extent and canopy density in California. The map is designed to provide up-to-date and accurate forest information to help predict where and how fast wildfires might spread in the state and in what direction. The map can also be used as a forest management tool, in order to plan and implement fire prevention measures.

Last week the New York Times published a number of maps and other data to visualize The Severe Drought Gripping California and the West. One result of this severe drought is the increased risk of wildfire in California. The California Forest Observatory map uses high-resolution NASA satellite imagery and LIDAR data to provide highly detailed data on the location and height of trees in California. 

The map includes a number of different layers, which can be used to view the density & height of tree canopies and the density of surface fuels in California's forests. The map also comes with a real-time animated wind layer, which shows the intensity and direction of current wind in the state. An additional Fire Hot Spots layer visualizes current wildfire hot-spots using data from VIIRS.

Also See

The LA Times' California Wildfires Map
The University of California's Fire Activity interactive map
The ALERTWildfire interactive map (wildfire detection from live cameras)

Gerrymandering in London

The Boundary Commission for England recently released its 2023 Review of Parliamentary Constituencies. This review includes its proposals for how parliamentary constituencies in England (Scotland and Wales have their own boundary commissions). The Boundary Commission's Find Your Constituency tool allows you to view the new recommended constituency boundaries on an interactive map and compare the new boundaries with the existing constituency boundaries.

If you live in England you can use this new tool to view if and how your local constituency boundary (which is represented by your local Member of Parliament) would change under the commission's recommendations. You can also use the map during the consultation process to submit your response to these proposals. 

As you can see from the image above my new constituency of West Ham & Beckton is a very odd shape.Being something of a map nerd I decided to explore how the proposed changes to my local constituency scores on the Polsby-Popper test. 

The Polsby-Popper test is a mathematical formula for calculating how compact an electoral district is in order to detect for possible gerrymandering. The general assumption is that the more an electoral district veers from being compact then the more likely it is to have been gerrymandered.

Explained simply a Polsby-Popper score is the ratio of the area of an electoral district to the area of a circle whose circumference is equal to the perimeter of the district. The proposed new constituency boundaries for London are available for download here. I was therefore able to download the new London boundary geographies as a KML file. I then used the MyGeoData Convertor to convert the data into the GeoJSON format.

The data from the Boundary Commission for England includes the area of each new electoral district. To work out the perimeter of the district I used turf.js with my GeoJSON data. With both the area and perimeter length we can then work out the Polsby-Popper Score.

The West Ham & Becton Polsby-Popper score is: 0.40940602755

A Polsby-Popper score always falls within the range of 0-1, where 0 is least compact and 1 is most compact. A score of 0.40940602755 is closer to 0 than to 1 so this suggests that the new proposed constituency boundary for West Ham & Becton is not very compact.

Despite its very odd shape and the fact that it is not very compact I don't believe that the new proposed boundary for my constituency has been gerrymandered. The Boundary Commission for England is an independent body and I really don't believe that they have any interest in gerrymandering electoral districts in favor of any of the UK political parties. However West Ham and Becton's Polsby-Popper score does suggest that at least in East London the commission has struggled to create logical new constituency boundaries. 

The existing constituencies. Under the new proposals a large area of East Ham will become part of West Ham & Becton

One of the main requirements for the new boundaries is that a constituency must have a population between 69,724 and 77,062. However the commission also considers 'local ties, geographic factors, local government boundaries ..., ), existing constituencies, and minimising disruption caused by proposed change'. In West Ham & Beckton it seems that the struggle to create a constituency with the correct population means that other factors have been to some extent overlooked.The result is that a large area which has been historically represented by the East Ham Member of Parliament will now be represented by the West Ham & Becton MP.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Images of Roadside America

In the 1970's John Margolies began to take photographs on his road-trips around America. He took a particular interest in the novelty architecture and roadside attractions which can be found along the byways and highways of the United States. In 2016 the Library of Congress established the John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive, which consists of 11,710 images captured by Margolies since the 1970's.

The Library of Congress has released the Roadside America story map. This map allows you to explore the wonderful photographs captured by John Margolies during his travels. It also allows you to view where Margolies most traveled, through the density of the photo markers on the map. 

The huge number of photos in the John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive capture a period of American history which is now beginning to disappear. It reveals a culture in which the automobile and the ease of travel it provides is celebrated in the idiosyncratic architecture, advertising and attractions which could be found along its major highways. One of the reasons that Margolies began photographing these sights is that he was worried that they were beginning to disappear and were being replaced with a more anodyne, uniform modernist architecture.


At the beginning of the 20th Century Frenchman Albert Kahn also decided that he could use photography to document cultures and ways of life that were beginning to disappear. Khan decided that he would send a group of photographers around the world to capture and record every day ways of living that Khan believed were in danger of disappearing for ever. Between 1909 and 1931 Khan's photographers collected 72,000 color photographs and 183,000 meters of film. This imagery provides an amazing historical record of the world at the beginning of the 20th Century. His collection is known as The Archives of the Planet. 

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

Friday, June 11, 2021

Life on Mars

Mars 2020 Mission is a 3D interactive map of Mars, developed by the Spatial Studies Lab at Rice University, which is being used to track the Perseverance Rover on Mars. Using this 3D map you can follow the progress of the Perseverance Rover on Mars and view all the latest images captured by the rover and the Perseverance drone.

NASA's 2020 Mars mission is examining the geology of Mars looking for the biosignatures of past microbial life on the red planet. In order to carry out this mission the Perseverance Rover is equipped with the Ingenuity helicopter drone. The Ingenuity drone is being used to help scout for points of interest for the Perseverance rover to investigate and study during its exploration of Mars.

The date control at the top of the Mars 2020 Mission map allows you to view the movements of the Perseverance Rover and the Ingenuity drone over the course of the mission's duration. If you select a date on this control the markers on the 3D map of Mars will show where Perseverance and Ingenuity were located on that day. When you select a day from the date control the image gallery also updates to display the images captured by the drone and rover on the selected day.

You can select an image from the sidebar gallery to view it in a larger window. This larger window will also provide information about which camera captured the image and the time and date of when it was captured. One of my favorite features of the map is the 360 degree option. Click on the 360 degree button and you can view an interactive panoramic 'Street View' image of Mars. I think there may be only one 360 degree image available as changing the date on the main map doesn't seem to change the panoramic image shown.

You can also follow the progress of the Perseverance rover on Mars using NASA's Perseverance's Location interactive map. This map also shows Perseverance and Ingenuity's current location and the track of the Perseverance's movements during the mission. If you open the layer's menu you can also select to view the Ingenuity helicopter's flight paths on Mars.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Point Up for North

Handsfree Webmapping is an interesting experiment which allows you to pan an interactive map with finger gestures. At the moment the map only recognizes two gestures. You can point up with your finger to move north and point down if you want the map to pan south (if you want to pan east or west then you can always use your mouse).

I have to admit that I couldn't get the map to move north and south at all. I assume that this is because my finger gesturing is woefully inadequate. The GIF above suggests that it is actually possible to move the map by gesture. 

Looking under the hood of the map reveals that it uses the Handsfree.js JavaScript library for face, hand, and pose webcam tracking.

If you get tired of waving your finger around then you might want to try talking to a map instead.

Alex is a talking map which can understand a number of different spoken commands. You can ask Alex to zoom in and out on the map or to switch between aerial and topographical map layers. You can even tell Alex a location and it will center the map on that area. Alex's best feature, however, is its ability to tell Dad jokes. Ask Alex to tell you a joke and you can hear a really bad cartographically themed joke. 

(When I first used Alex back in 2019 it worked. Today, like Handsfree Webmapping, Alex ignores me completely. Alex may just be ignoring me - or Alex may have gone deaf entirely.)

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Mosaic Mapping

The Luminaries is an interactive multimedia mosaic map which was created for the G7 Vaccine Summit. The G7 Global Vaccine Confidence Summit was a two day meeting held in Oxford, England last week. At the summit health ministers from the G7 countries met to discuss how they could broaden access to COVID-19 vaccines across the world.

The Luminaries map features hundreds of photographs and videos featuring scientists and doctors around the world who have been working on developing and deploying vaccines for Coivd-19. The photographs of the luminaries have been arranged to create a map of the world. On this map the yellow markers show where there are videos available. Click on one of these yellow markers and you can watch and listen as a 'luminary' talks about their work on the vaccine.

At the moment The Luminaries interactive map is a little light on content. Unfortunately it doesn't yet include enough global content to be a really effective tool for the promotion of the vaccine. It is planned that more videos will be added to the map over the next year.Hopefully with more videos from all corners of the world the map will eventually become the powerful tool for promoting Covid-19 vaccines that the developers want it to be.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Cities & Street Patterns

Similar Cities is an interesting project which organizes the world's cities based on the similarities in their road networks. It is in effect an interactive network graph in which cities are connected to other cities that share a similar looking street network.

Using the Similar Cities' drop-down menu it is possible to search for individual cities to view a snapshot of the city's road network and the road networks of the cities who most closely resemble the selected city. On this graph you would expect to find planned U.S. cities with strict grid plans (such as New York and Chicago) connected to each other. However it is worth remembering that grid plans are not new and that the 'Hippodamian Plan' (grid plan) originally got its name from the ancient Greek city planner Hippodamus of Miletus.

According to Similar Cities the city with the closest street pattern to New York is Lima, Peru. The street grid of Lima is commonly known as the 'damero de Pizarro' (Pizarro’s draftboard). Francisco Pizarro founded Lima in 1535 and laid out the city in a regular street grid in order to divide the land into regular sized plots which could be given to new settlers. Strict street grids were commonly used by the Spanish in South America partly as an agent of control and to ensure that a city could be expanded quickly and effectively. 

New York's street plan dates back to 1807, when the state legislature appointed Gouverneur Morris, John Rutherfurd, and Simeon De Witt to devise an orderly street plan for Manhattan.Part of the purpose of the new map of New York, as the New York City Council stated, was "laying out Streets... in such a manner as to unite regularity and order". That is how New York became the orderly and restrained city that we love today.

If you want to explore a city's street pattern in more detail then you can use City Roads. City Roads (by the same developer as Similar Cities) is a fantastic online tool which you can use to create your very own road map for any city in the world. Enter a city name into City Roads and it will generate a map of the city showing only the city's road network using data taken from OpenStreetMap.

City Road really is very easy to use. All you have to do is enter a location and City Roads will create your road map. Once finished you can customize the map a little by changing the background color and the color of the roads. You can even download the map as a PNG image or order it printed on a mug.

Monday, June 07, 2021

Videoed Lecture Maps

In the early years of the Google Maps API there were quite a few experiments where developers synchronized a video to a map. These early video maps usually consisted of a video of a trip or journey (for example a train journey) which was synchronized to a map - so that the exact location depicted in the video is always being shown on the accompanying map. 

For example in 2010 created a video map of the Trans Siberian Express. In this video map (which no longer seems to exist) a video presented a view of Russia, shot from on board the Trans Siberian Express. As the video played the location being shown was automatically updated on the accompanying Google Map in real time. 

These video maps of journeys were a little gimmicky and never really became popular. I guess if you are watching a video of the Trans Siberian Express it is enough to know that it was shot in Russia. You don't really  need to know at all times the exact location being shown in the video. 

The Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library has now devised a valid and appropriate use case for synchronized video maps.The library's new MovieMaps tool synchronizes a video discussion about one of the vintage maps in the library's collection with an interactive version of the actual map. The result is a videoed lecture about an historical map which is accompanied by an interactive version of the map itself. A map which pans and zooms to illustrate the points being made in the video.

You can view MovieMaps in action on City and Country in the Trolley Decades. This introductory MoveMap features Garrett Dash Nelson talking about a 1905 trolley wayfinding map. In the video Garrett talks about how the map provides an insight into the early 20th Century infrastructure of Boston. As he talks the interactive map pans and zooms to illustrate the videoed lecture. Of course, because the map is interactive, you can pause the video at any time and explore the map in detail for yourself. 

As a huge fan of old maps I think that MovieMaps should prove to be a fantastic tool for learning more about vintage historical maps. I'm now waiting with bated breath for the Leventhal Map & Education Center to post their next lecture on a vintage map from the library's collection.

The Shadows of the World

I don't know about you but at the moment I'm trying to live most of my social life outdoors. I have therefore been thinking a lot about which bars and restaurants have outdoor seating. In choosing where to eat & drink outside I have also been thinking about which bars and restaurants have seating in the evening sun and where you can sit in the shade during the daytime to avoid the glare of the midday sun.

Shadowmap is an interactive 3D map which allows you to view the location of building shadows around the world for any time of day and on any day of the year. If you want to know what kind of shade you will have (if any) at a certain time and place then you can just look up the location on Shadowmap, enter the date and time of day, and Shadowmap will show you the shadows that will be cast by nearby buildings at that precise moment.

Shadowmap uses OpenStreetMap data with a global 3D building overlay. The map includes a simple to use slide control which allows you to view the shadows cast by the buildings for any time of day. If you slide this control back and forth you can watch as the shadows cast by the buildings move back around on the map. If you subscribe to Shadowmap Pro you also get access to the date control which allows you to change the date so that you can view the shadow positions for a specific day.

If you live in New York then you can also use the New York Times' Mapping the Shadows of New York City interactive map to visualize the shadows cast by the city's famous skyscrapers (and all of its other buildings as well) during the different seasons. 

In Denmark you can use Septima Skyggekort, an interactive map which visualizes the shadows cast by Denmark's buildings at any hour of the day and for any day of the year. This map was created using the OpenLayers mapping library using height data from Styrelsen for DataForsyning og Effektivisering, the public data agency of the Danish government.

Cool Walks is a really useful route-planning tool which can help you find walking routes across Barcelona which prioritize shady sidewalks and the locations of drinking fountains. Enter your starting point and destination into Cool Walks and it will show you a route which avoids direct sunlight as much as possible. The map includes a shadows layer which allows you to see for yourself where building shadows will be cast at different times of the day.

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Who Owns the World?

Gina Rinehart, a mining magnate, effectively 'owns' 1.2% of Australia. The Australian Agricultural Company is the biggest corporate landholder in Australia. The Australian government says that 17% of Australia is owned by indigenous communities. Although, when you take in other types of land ownership, the percentage of land owned by indigenous communities is probably much larger.

The main problem in deciding who owns Australia is that in Australia there is no consistent protocol for recording who owns land. There is isn't even a clearly established definition of what constitutes ownership or control of land.

The Guardian has therefore decided to try to uncover the truth of who really owns Australia. In Who Owns Australia? the newspaper has mapped out different types of land ownership. The newspaper reports that 44% of Australia has a pastoral lease. Pastoral leases are crown lands which are leased for the limited purpose of "grazing of stock and associated activities". The Guardian's map shows where land is privately owned, is under one of these pastoral leases, is publicly owned or belongs to indigenous communities. 

The newspaper has also mapped out the largest parcels of pastoral land and who these leases are owned by.

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

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

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

Who Owns England? has set itself the task of mapping who owns land in England. The Who Owns England? website includes an interactive map which plots the land that it has so far discovered the ownership of. On this interactive map land parcels are colored by type of land owner. 

Back in 2018 the BBC reported that 97,000 properties in England and Wales are owned by overseas companies. In Firms on Caribbean island chain own 23,000 UK properties the BBC mapped all the properties in England & Wales which are owned by these overseas companies.

The map reveals that in central London a huge percentage of properties are now owned by overseas firms. For example in Kensington and Chelsea more than 6,000 properties are owned by overseas companies. If you want to know who owns a property you can click on the map marker to reveal the name of the company and the country of the owner.

Saturday, June 05, 2021

Fogging the Terrain

Mapbox GL has a new fog effect which makes their 3D terrain map look even more impressive. This new distance fog effect helps to give 3D terrain a much better sense of depth. Having the terrain faded with distance provides an important visual clue to the perception of distance.

The new fog effect is very easy to implement in your Mapbox GL maps. It is added with a simple call map.setFog(..). The fog has three style properties which you can adjust: color, range - (adjusting the visual distance where fog is active and dissipates), and horizon-blend (controlling how it blends at the horizon line).

Some Mapbox GL JS users have already begun experimenting with this new fog effect. Steve Attewell has created a 3D map with a camera lens effect. This map uses CSS with the new fog effect to create a neat tilt-shift effect on the map terrain. 

James Seppi's 3D Hillshade Playground is a handy map which you can use to play around with some of the properties which can be applied to 3D terrain in Mapbox GL, including the new fog distance effect. This 3D Hillshade Playground could be very useful as it allows you to experiment with the terrain settings to find the desired style of 3D terrain which you can then use with your own Mapbox GL maps. 

Using the controls in the 3D Hillshade Playground you can adjust the fog color and range (and turn the fog on and off). You can also use the controls to adjust the height of the terrain and the hillshade shadows.

Friday, June 04, 2021

Spy Cams on New York

According to Amnesty International the New York City Police Department has access to 15,280 surveillance cameras around the city, all of which feed into discriminatory facial recognition software. This 15,280 figure was arrived at by asking volunteers from around the world to tag surveillance cameras on Google Maps Street View images at intersections across Manhattan (3,590), Brooklyn (8,220) and the Bronx (3,470). Amnesty claims that this pervasive level of surveillance coupled with facial recognition software means that you are 'never anonymous' in NYC and your movements can be tracked across the city.

Amnesty International's Decode Surveillance NYC is an interactive map which reveals the locations of these 15,280 cameras across New York - although the map doesn't quite reveal the locations of individual surveillance cameras. The Amnesty map is obviously designed to give an overall impression of the number of cameras across the city rather than reveal precise locations. The map uses a heat map layer to show the density of cameras, with the result that the precise locations of individual cameras are blurred.

I can understand why Amnesty has made this choice in order to emphasize the level of police surveillance in NYC. However it does mean that the actual location data is somewhat obscured. This wouldn't matter if Amnesty International had open-sourced the data. Amnesty may well have open-sourced the data, however I can't find a link on the map, or on Amnesty's methodology explanation, which allows you to view the actual data behind the map.

Thursday, June 03, 2021

The Noise Map of America

The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Transportation Noise Map is an interactive map which visualizes noise pollution from aviation, road and rail across the whole United States. The map provides a picture of the potential exposure to aviation and highway noise for any location in the country.

The colors on the map visualize the number of decibels of transportation noise. These levels reflect the estimated average noise levels over a 24 hour period. The map includes filters which allow you to view noise levels from aviation, road and rail combined, or to view the noise level from each of these modes of transportation individually. 

A number of factors are used in estimating noise levels. For road traffic noise levels these factors include road types and average speed limits. You might like to compare these DoT estimations with the noise level estimations provided by the OSM Global Noise Pollution Map.

The OSM Global Noise Pollution Map uses OpenStreetMap data to map the levels of noise pollution across the world. At the heart of the OSM Global Noise Pollution Map is the very clever but simple idea of assigning noise pollution levels based on OpenStreetMap tags.

Map features in OpenStreetMap are assigned a tag to describe what has been mapped. These tags can also be assigned a value. For example all roads are tagged as a 'highway' but are also assigned a value such as 'motorway', 'secondary' or 'residential;.

The OSM Global Noise Pollution Map use these tags and values to assign a noise pollution level based on general assumptions. For example highway, trunk, primary and secondary roads are deemed to be noisier than normal street or service roads. The OSM Global Noise Pollution Map also assumes that railways and retail & industrial zones will also have a level of noise pollution related to them.

One in every four people in Europe live near a road which is responsible for noise levels in excess of 55 decibels. The NOISE Observation & Information Service for Europe map allows you to explore the levels of noise pollution across Europe. The interactive map provides an overview of the levels of noise pollution across the continent created by road traffic, railways, airports and industry.

The NOISE map allows you to explore noise pollution levels from four separate sources. Using the map sidebar you can navigate to explore noise levels across Europe from roads, rail, airports or industry. Each of these four separate noise pollution maps provide you with an overview of average noise levels for locations across Europe during the day or at night.  

If you click on a location on the NOISE map you can discover the number of people exposed to average noise levels of 55 dB or higher for the selected source of noise pollution. The map will also tell you how many people in the selected country are exposed to noise levels of 55db or above.

An Occupied State on Street View

The Opposite of Occupied Is Not Vacant is a collection of Street View images which were found on Google Maps in Jerusalem and Occupied Palestine. The images are presented without commentary and in their original context.Although there is no political commentary attached to the images each Street View has obviously been selected because it reflects somehow the sense of two communities divided and in many ways at war with each other.

Many of the Street View panoramas in this collection feature views of the Israel West Bank barrier. Many Israelis see this barrier as a necessary security barrier against terrorism. Most Palestinians see it as a tool of apartheid designed to restrict the movements of Palestinians. These images of border walls, check-points and patrolling soldiers obviously cannot convey the true horror of the conflict experienced by both Israeli and Palestinian civilians over recent weeks (and over the decades). However they do help to paint a picture of how this conflict has shaped the landscape of Israel and Palestine. 

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. The Palestine Open Maps project has created an interactive story map which tells the story of the eviction of the Palestinian people from their homeland.

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 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.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Psycho Historical Geography

This morning I found my old copy of the London A-Z, the once famous street atlas of London. My copy of the A-Z is 26 years old. In map terms that isn't very old and in most parts of London you can still use it to find your way around. However it isn't much use in London's Olympic Park. 

The site of the 2012 London Olympics was almost completely razed to build the Olympic Park. Which means that my copy of the A-Z presents a map of a landscape which has almost totally disappeared. It wouldn't help you much in navigating around the new Olympic Park. However it does provide a fascinating record of the landscape which existed before the Olympic Park was built.

This afternoon I decided to see if I could still use my copy of the A-Z to find my way around the Olympic Park. I wanted to see if I could work out where some of the landmarks on the old map existed before they were demolished for the Olympics.Luckily some of the geography and natural features from that time still exist. While I was in the Olympic Park the River Lee, the canals and railway lines which cut through the park provided me with a rough guide as to where I was on the old A-Z map.

This enabled my to find the location of the old Hackney Greyhound Stadium, where I vaguely remember watching dog racing 30 odd years ago. Now Here East (which was the London Olympics Media Centre) now stands on the site of what was the Greyhound Station. Appropriately where the Lee Valley Velo Park (pictured above) now stands my A-Z shows the Eastway Cycle Circuit once existed.

On returning home I decide to map some of the photos I took today on an old historical map of the East End. The map I chose was Essex LXXIII, from 1873. On this map I have overlaid photographs of the London Stadium, Here East, the VeloPark and the London Aquatic Centre. I hope I've placed each photo on the correct location. Again my main hints as to the proper locations are the river, canals and railway lines on the 1873 map.

The Essex LXXIII map comes from the marvelous National Library of Scotland collection of vintage maps. I was able to make my interactive version of this map using Jack Reed's fantastic Leaflet-IIIF plugin for Leaflet maps.

My Essex LXXIII interactive map isn't that exciting. However using old vintage maps to navigate the present is a really interesting exercise.Taking an old vintage map on a walk is a fascinating way to explore an area's history. The process of navigating by an out-of-date map almost forces you to imagine how the environment used to look in the past, helping to bring your local history back to life.

The Global Fishing Monitor

Global Fishing Watch has released a new interactive mapping portal which is designed to help protect and monitor marine protected areas. The Global Fishing Marine Manager uses near real-time ship AIS data to track commercial fishing activity and non-fishing vessel activity, particularly around marine protected areas.

Using the Global Fishing Marine Manager it is possible to visualize and monitor human activity at sea. It can be used to analyze fishing and shipping activity around protected areas and around exclusive economic zones. The manager includes filters and data which make it possible to explore the activity of individual fishing vessels and specific dates.

The screenshot above shows how the map and timeline is used to visualize fishing activity around the Galapagos Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. The Global Fishing Marine Manager not only shows where  fishing activity has taken place but shows that there was a significant increase in fishing activity in this area during 2020. You can even click on any of the fishing hotspots on the map to view a list of the vessels who were in the area and for how many hours that they were active around the Galapagos Islands.

Marine Protected Areas are extremely important in protecting marine habitats, species, and biodiversity in our oceans. Over-fishing is one of the biggest dangers faced by marine protected areas. This over-fishing also threatens the local communities, who often depend on these environments for their livelihoods. Hopefully the Global Fishing Marine Manager can play a role in revealing and monitoring some of the biggest threats to important marine protected areas.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Reopening New York

In New York City Reopening Splits Along Lines of Wealth and Race Bloomberg has analyzed the mobile phone location data of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to show how the city is gradually returning to normal after lock-down. Over the last year travel between New York neighborhoods has been much lower than usual as people have stayed close to home.

Using mobile phone location data Bloomberg has created a series of animated flow maps which visualize travel in New York. These animated flow maps clearly show how the coronavirus pandemic dramatically reduced the amount of travel between New York's different neighborhoods.For example the screenshot above shows a snapshot of travel in March 2019 compared to March 2020. Other flow maps, from later in 2020, show how travel began to pick-up as the city began to reopen.

Of course not everybody was able to work from home. Bloomberg has also used this phone location data and subway ridership data to show how low-income, Black and Hispanic communities were less able to stay at home during the pandemic. The data clearly shows that social distancing was a privilege that many sections of society could not afford.

In May of last year Gothamist also explored subway data to analyze how the pandemic was effecting travel in New York. The Gothamist came to very similar conclusions to those reached by Bloomberg on the sections of society which were least able to stop traveling during lock-down.

The interactive map in Which Parts Of NYC Are Relying On The Subway Most During Coronavirus uses scaled markers to show the total number of turnstile entries at each New York subway station. The color of the markers on this map visualize the number of turnstile entries as a percentage of the historical average. In other words the bluest stations saw the smallest drop in traffic compared to normal.

The map also includes a choropleth layer visualizing the levels of poverty and the numbers of residents working in healthcare in each New York borough. If you turn on the poverty rate layer you can see that there seems to be a correlation between the stations with the least reductions in traffic and the local poverty rate. The map also seems to show that the areas with the most healthcare workers are also the areas where subway use remains relatively high.

The Sounds of the Forest

In March and April community radios stations across the UK took part in the Your Forest project. Community Radio Stations near forests asked their listeners to venture out into their local wooded areas and record the sounds that they could hear.

These sounds have now been added to the Your Forest interactive map. Using this map you can listen to the sounds of the UK's urban forests, as captured and recorded by the communities who live near them. On the map the leaf shaped markers show the location of forest recordings, all of which you can listen to directly from the map. The radio mast markers provide links to the websites of the community radio stations who took part in the Your Forest project.

You can listen to forests elsewhere in the world on the Sounds of the Forest interactive map. Sounds of the Forest allows you to listen to sound recordings made in forests around the world. The map includes many different sound recordings from around the globe, including the calls of lemurs in the forests of Madagascar, the song of a Nightjar in Australia and the cascade of a waterfall in Chile.

The sound recordings featured on the Sounds of the Forest map were originally collected for the 2021 Timber Festival. The map still includes a 'contribute' link so it looks like you can still submit your own recordings of forest aural landscapes to the map.

From the insect chorus of the Borneo rain-forests to the crooning baritone song of an Atlantic humpback whale, the Nature Soundmap can also serenade you with the sounds of nature. Nature Soundmap is a map featuring the sounds of nature captured by professional nature sound recordists all around the world.

Maps have always been a fascinating way to explore the globe. Add in the sounds of the monsoon in Borneo or the soundscape of the Brazilian rain-forest and you can almost imagine that you really have been transported to the other side of the world.

If you want to explore more interactive maps featuring sound recordings made in different urban and rural landscapes then check out the Maps Mania Sound Maps label.