Friday, July 23, 2021

The World's Biggest Cities

Urban Agglomerations Worldwide is an interactive map which shows the population size of the world's largest cities. The map uses data from the United Nations to show the size of all the urban agglomerations around the world with a population over 300,000. 

On the map the size and color of the markers show the population size of the city. You can also hover over the circles on the map to discover the actual city population. According to the United Nations data (from 2018) the largest 'urban agglomeration' in the world is Tokyo, with a population of over 37 million.The next largest city is Delhi, with a population over 30 million, closely followed by Shanghai with a population of over 27 million.

For the purposes of the United Nations data set an 'urban agglomeration' is defined as a 'contiguous urban area or built-up area that delimits the city’s boundaries'. Obviously the size of a city's population is partly defined by where you draw its boundaries. For example the top 5 megacities with the largest populations according to Wikipedia are:

  1. Tokyo (38,140,000)
  2. Shanghai (34,000,000)
  3. Jakarta (31,500,000)
  4. Delhi (27,200,000)
  5. Seoul (25,600,000)

Jakarta (3rd on Wikipedia) is ranked on this map as only the 31st largest city by population. Seoul (5th on Wikipedia) is 35th.

Maps (or lists) which rank cites by population therefore often turn into discussions about how you define the boundaries of the ranked cities.Which is why I think it usually makes more sense to map the density of the world's population by area.

You can view a very granular visualization of global population density on The Pudding's Human Terrain map. This interactive visualization shows population density across the globe using 3D population pyramids. 

The taller a pyramid block on The Pudding map then the more people live there.The Pudding has also used its own map to explore in more detail the pattern of population density around the world. In Population Mountains The Pudding examines how unevenly the world is populated and how and why population density can take different forms in different parts of the world.


  • The Urban Agglomerations Map uses United Nations data - (File 12  under the Urban Agglomerations tab)
  • The European Commission's Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL) also provides spatial information on the physical size of human settlements and on the population sizes of those settlements.

Driving Times from Paris

Time Distance to Paris by Road 2021 in an interactive isochrone map which shows how long it takes to travel by car from Paris to any other location in France. 

An isochrone map uses lines on a map to connect points which can be reached in the same travel time. On Nicholas Lambert's Time Distance to Paris by Road 2021 different colors are also used to visualize areas which can be reached in the same time steps.Because this is an interactive isochrone map you can also select a time period on the map key to view all the areas in France which can be driven to in that time highlighted on the map. For example if you select 60 minutes on the map key then you can see all the areas that you could to travel to in an hour highlighted in blue.

Because Time Distance to Paris by Road 2021 is an Observable notebook it can be forked to work with other locations. For example, Laurent Jégou has forked the map to create his own isochrone map visualizing the Time Distance to Toulouse 2021. Tristram Gräbener has also forked Nicholas Lambert's original map to create a Time Distance to Paris by Train isochrone map.

You can view other examples of interactive travel time maps using the Maps Mania iscohrone tag.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Canada's Interactive Energy Map

About 67% of Canada’s electricity comes from renewable sources. The vast majority of that (61%) comes form hydroelectricity. Canada is the third largest hydroelectricity provider in the world.The next largest source of electricity in the country is nuclear, which contributes around 15% of Canada's electricity production. 

You can learn more about the different types of electricity source in Canada, including where they are generated and how they are transmitted around the country on Canadian Geographic Education's Interactive Energy Map. The map plots the locations of Canada's significant energy production sites, the major fuel pipe & electricity transmission lines, and Canada's energy processing facilities. The interactive map includes filter controls which allow you to explore each energy sector individually, which allows you to see where the different energy sources in Canada are located in the country.

The Interactive Energy Map paints a rather rosy picture about Canada's contribution to fossil fuel consumption. Although 67% of Canada's own electricity use comes from renewable sources the map doesn't reflect that Canada is also a huge exporter of oil and gas. The Government of Canada for example says that hydroelectricity actually only contributes around 4.5% of Canada's primary energy production. Oil and gas on the other hand make up 57% of the country's primary energy production.


You can explore how America generates power 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.


Esri's Atlas of Electricity is another great way to explore where the USA gets its electricity from and how it distributes this power across the country. At the heart of an Atlas of Electricity is an interactive map plotting the location and size of the grid's power plants and transmission cables. This map allows you to explore the location and capacity of the country's electricity producing power plants and how they connect to the national grid.

As well as mapping the physical infrastructure of the electricity grid this story map examines the primary energy sources used to generate electricity in the USA. It maps the size and capacity of coal-fired power plants, natural gas power plants and petroleum power plants. Alongside these fossil-fuel sources of power An Atlas of Electricity plots the size and capacity of the U.S.'s nuclear power plants, hydroelectric power plants and solar & wind power plants.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Smoke Forecast Map

The devastating wildfires burning in Canada and the USA are contributing to poor air quality conditions, sparking air quality advisories in large areas of both countries.  The Smoke Forecast map allows you to view a forecast of where in Canada smoke pollution is likely to occur over the next two days.

On the interactive Smoke Forecast map the areas colored brown are forecast to experience high levels of smoke. The darker the color on the map then the higher the ground level concentration of particulate matter is expected to be. The map includes an animation control which allows you to view the smoke forecast for the next 48 hours animated on the map or to select a specific hour to view its smoke forecast.

You can also view the extent of the smoke across north America on NOAA's Smoke Forecast map. NOAA's High-Resolution Rapid Refresh Smoke Interactive map identifies locations with intense fires and forecasts how smoke is likely to disperse based on the latest weather forecasts. The smoke forecast map is experimental. It is prone to errors from cloud cover preventing satellite detection of wildfires and to errors in weather forecasts.

360 Degree Panoramic Maps

The Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library has created some interesting interactive maps from panoramic images in their collection. In Maps that will make your head spin you can view three different historical panoramic sketches as 360 degree panoramic images. 

The panoramic images in this little virtual reality collection include an 1860 360 degree drawing of the Battle of Gettysburg, an 1850's engraving of Boston as seen from Bunker Hill, and the view from Mount Washington as drawn in the early 20th Century.

This isn't the first time I've seen an interesting presentation of the panoramic view from Mount Washington. John Nelson and Jinnan Zhang created an interesting Rotating Bird's Eye View From Mount Washington. In John and Jinnan's interactive version of the Boston and Maine Railroad's map you can rotate the map using your mouse's scroll-wheel. As you scroll on the page the map rotates around its center.

The Birds-eye view from summit of Mt. Washington; White Mountains, New Hampshire was created in 1902 by the Boston and Maine Railroad company. The map shows the view from Mount Washington in New Hampshire. The map numbers all the mountains surrounding Mount Washington and identifies each of them in corresponding lists in each of the map's four corners. What is most interesting about the map is its 360-degree panoramic perspective. The mountain summit and the railroad station are positioned at the center of the map. The surrounding topography is then distorted and wrapped around this central view. 

If you held the map in your hands at the top of Mount Washington and rotated the map to reflect your direction of view you could easily identify each of the mountains in your current vista.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

100 Years of Plane Crashes

The first fatality in a powered aircraft occurred over a century ago in 1908. The pilot was Orville Wright, the co-inventor of the first ever motorized aircraft. The crash of the plane piloted by Wright resulted in the death of his passenger, Signal Corps Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge.

The ASN Aviation Safety Database records around 22 thousand airplane crashes since August 2nd, 1919. In One Century of Plane Crashes Buğra Fırat explores and visualizes the 22 thousand plane crashes which have occurred over the last 100 years.

Buğra's visualizations of the data includes an interactive heat map which shows where these crashes have occurred around the world. When exploring this map it is important to consider that locations with a lot of air traffic (for example major airports) are statistically more likely to have witnessed the most crashes. To me some of Buğra's other visualizations of the plane crash data are more interesting. For example his timeline of all the crashes from 1919 to 2019 shows how World War II and the Vietnam War were both periods with a higher than normal number of crashes. 

Those of you who obsess over aircraft safety might also be interested in Buğra's visualizations of the number of crashes by plane manufacturer and by the age of the aircraft. However, if you are scared of flying, then you might want to give One Century of Plane Crashes a complete miss.

The Magic Mushroom Map

The Liberty Cap mushroom (Psilocybe semilanceata) usually appears around late summer and early Autumn. I've already seen a few sprouting up on my walks around East London (probably because we have had a wet summer). Which may be why over the last couple of days I've seen a lot of people linking to the Magic Mushroom Map on social media.

The Magic Mushroom Map shows when and where magic mushrooms are likely to be in season. The map was created by matching the dates and locations of historical Liberty Cap growth records with information on habitat and weather. Using this data it is then possible to model when and where Liberty Cap mushrooms are likely to be in season.

The areas shaded red on the interactive Magic Mushroom Map are where the Liberty Cap is likely to be currently in season. If you buy a 'season pass' you can use the map timeline to discover when magic mushrooms are most likely to be in season at your location.

Warning: Magic Mushrooms are listed as a Class A or Schedule I drug in most countries.

If you are interested in foraging for non-psychedelic edibles then you can use the Falling Fruit or Mundraub interactive maps, which show you where you can find fruit trees and other edible plants.  

Monday, July 19, 2021

Street Names & Naming Cultures

Back in 2013 Noah Veltman released his inspired interactive map, the History of San Francisco Place Names.Noah's map provides a fascinating insight into the history of San Francisco street names (click on any of the streets on this map and you can discover how it got its name and who or what it was named for). 

The History of San Francisco Place Names includes an option which allows you to filter the map to view street names in various categories. For example, if you select 'military' you can view all the streets in the city named after soldiers or battles highlighted on the map. 

Noah's map inspired me to create my own Streets of London interactive map, which takes a look at the etymological history of road names in the City of London. This map was also partly inspired by my favorite quiz question 'How many roads are there in London?'. The answer being that there are no roads in the City of London.

There are however a lot of streets, alleys and lanes. The reason that there are no roads in the City of London is that most of the city's streets pre-date our modern use of the word 'road'. The meaning of the word 'road' to indicate a byway did not emerge until the late 16th Century - a long time after most of the roads in the City of London were established and were already named. 

Thanks to Noah I now have a fascinating interest in toponyms. In how places and streets are named, where those names come from and what those names mean. In recent years this interest has been piqued most often by the work of geochicas (and others) to explore how the naming of streets in cities around the world nearly always favors men over women.

The creators of Streetonomics obviously share my interest in toponyms. Streetonomics is a new interactive mapping website which "studies human behavior and cultural trends through the quantitative analysis of street names". 

In simpler terms Streetonomics has created a series of interactive map which allow you to explore and discover more about the people who have streets named after them in New York, Paris, Vienna and London. On these four interactive city maps all the streets which have been named for individuals are shown using different colors. You can click on any of streets on the map to view who the street was named for and learn more about who that person was.

The Streetonomics individual maps for each city include a number of filters which allow you to explore which streets in the city have been named for men and which have been named for women. You can also explore which streets have been named for people from different periods in history, frrm different occupations, and from their country of origin.

If I have piqued your interest in the names of streets and places then you might want to explore the maps posted under the toponym tag on Maps Mania.

The Future Risk of Flooding

The recent devastating floods in central Europe, in parts of America and in New Zealand have obviously led many people to wonder about how susceptible their homes are to flooding. One consequence of global heating and rising sea levels are that flood risks are increasing across the world and the kind of lethal floods seen in Belgium and Germany over the last week are going to become much more common.

Climate Risk's Coastal Risk Map allows you to view your risk from projected sea level rise and coastal flooding by year, water level, and by elevation.Share your location with the Coastal Risk Map and you can view the potential flood risk for different years and for different levels of sea level rise. Climate Central's Risk Zone Map provides additional data for the United States and most Caribbean nations on which populations, infrastructure, and land are most in danger from sea level rise and coastal flooding.

If you don't live by the coast then you can explore your flood risks on the Flood Factor interactive map. Last year the First Street Foundation published their study into flooding risk in the United States. The nonprofit organization also released an online tool that can tell you the current flood risk for your home and how that risk may increase due to environmental and climate change.

If you enter your address or zip-code into Flood Factor you can view a detailed report into whether your area has flooded in the past, the current local flooding conditions and the future risk of flooding. Interactive maps are used by Flood Factor to show the local areas most at risk of flooding and the severity of that risk.

In many countries around the world government agencies provide flood risk maps. The UK government's Long Term Flood Risk Map for England, for example, provides an overview of the chances that any location in England will flood in any year. It shows the chances of flooding from either surface water, groundwater or from rivers or the sea. 

In the USA FEMA's Flood Map Service allows you to view a flood risk map for any address in the country. Enter your address into the Flood Map Service and it will automatically generate a flood risk map, showing you where there are current and future flood risks in the area. The map also provides an overall assessment of the level of flood risk in the area.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Sexist Streets of Italy

There are roughly 16,500 streets and squares in Rome. 7,892 of those streets and squares have been named for people. The vast majority of the streets and squares which have been named for people have been named after men. 7,364 of the 7,892 streets in Rome named for people are named after men and only 528 streets have been name for women. This inequality in street naming is repeated in every one of Italy's major cities. 

Mapping Diversity is a fascinating analysis and visualization of the street names of Italy. Using Mapping Diversity you can discover how many streets in Italy's major cities are named for women compared to how many streets have been named after men. The visualization analyzes more than 40,000 streets in the main city in each of Italy’s regions. 

In Mapping Diversity's analysis of Italy's major cities only 6.6% of streets named after people have been dedicated to women. 1,626 streets in total have been named for women in all of Italy's major cities. If you exclude the streets named after female saints then the number is only 959. Of Italy's major cities Bolzano has the highest percentage of streets named for women. However even in Bolzano only 13% of streets named after people are named for women.

Using Mapping Diversity you can view dedicated maps of each main city in each of Italy's regions. On these maps you can view all the streets named for people. You can see how many of these streets named for people in each city have been named for men and how many have been after women. 

You can learn more about the methodology behind Mapping Diversity's analysis and how the maps were created on Finding gendered street names. A step-by-step walkthrough with R

Geochicas has been at the forefront of efforts around the world to reveal the under-representation of women in place-names. Their Las Calles de las Mujeres is an interactive map which reveals all the streets named for men and women in a number of cities in Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Cuba, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. 

A number of other interactive mapping projects have explored the sexist culture of naming streets in cities around the world: 

Street Names in Vienna visualizes all the streets named for men and women in the Austrian capital.
From Pythagoras to Amalia analyzes 5,400 Amsterdam street names - including exploring how many are named for women compared to the number named after men.
Recognizing Women with Canadian Place Names shows 500 locations in Canada which have been named for women from lots of different backgrounds. 

In Europe EqualStreetNames has carried out an analysis of the diversity of street names in a number of European cities:  

Friday, July 16, 2021

European Flood Maps

Over recent days high levels of precipitation across parts of Central and Northern Europe have led to devastating levels of flooding. This has resulted in a number of deaths in Germany and Belgium, while parts of Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland have also been effected by dangerous floods. Since Monday a persistent area of low pressure has caused heavy rainfall across Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands. This has caused many rivers to burst their banks and dozens of people have been killed in the floods.

Germany's Flood Portal shows the current state of flooding in the entire country. The site includes a national river gauge map which visualizes river levels across the country. This map currently shows high water levels in western parts of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Flood Portal website also provides links to the German Weather Service's weather warning maps and to a German Flood risk map.

Switzerland's national mapping service includes a flood alert map layer which allows you to see where lakes and rivers in the country currently have a flood alert. This layer colors rivers and lakes to show the current flood hazard. There are currently flood alerts on many lakes and rivers in Switzerland, including Lake Geneva and Lake Neuchatel. 

In Belgium the government's flood service Waterinfo Belge includes a current situation map. This map shows the current measurements for river gauges and a short term and longer term forecast of flood levels. If you navigate to the home page of Waterinfo you can view all the latest flood warnings for the country, as well as the current warning levels for tides and rainfall.Water levels in South-Eastern Belgium remain dangerously high.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

California Wildfires Maps


California had its worst ever fire season last year. This year's fire season will probably end up being even worse.If you want news on the latest wildfires currently active in the state then you can refer to these California wildfire maps:

Fire Activity

The University of California's Fire Activity interactive map provides information on the latest wildfire activity in the state of California. The map uses satellite detection systems to detect the latest wildfire hotspots. It also provides fire perimeter information from on-the-ground information and from aerial sensors.

LA Times' California Wildfires Map

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


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

Open Map

Clarity Movement, an environmental startup who specialize in air pollution, have released an interactive map which shows information on both the location of wildfires in California and on the latest air pollution data. Open Map uses data from NASA's Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) to show the latest information on active wildfires. Air quality is shown using data from AirNow (which monitors data from local air quality agencies across the country). 

The California Forest Observatory

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.  The map includes 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.

The Building Heights of the Netherlands

Bert Spaan's Netherland's Building Age Map, created for the Waag website, is one of my favorite interactive maps. This map visualizes the age of a staggering 9,866,539 buildings in the Netherlands. The amount of data visualized on this map is very impressive in itself but its use of distinct colors for buildings of different construction ages means that the map also has a very striking visual impact.  

The Netherlands Building Height map is a similarly impressive interactive map. On this interactive map all Dutch buildings are colored, not to show their year of construction but to visualize their height. All the buildings are also displayed in 3D, which gives an additional visual clue to their relative heights. If you want to find out a building's exact height you can also click on its 3D model on the map.

The Netherlands Building Height map uses data and 3D building outlines from TU Delft's 3D BAG. This is an open 3D building data set which covers the whole of the Netherlands.This data was also used to create Parallel's Netherlands Building Ages interactive map.

Inspired by Bert Spaan's building age map Parallel used the 3D BAG data to create the Netherlands Building Ages interactive map which shows both the age of 10 million buildings in the Netherlands but the height of those buildings as well. This map makes use of Mapbox's GL extrude property to visualize the height of all the buildings in the Netherlands in 3D. The colors of the buildings on this map however indicate their age. You can also hover individual buildings to learn a its exact year of construction.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Building Age Map of Manhattan

Building age maps provide a useful guide to how cities have developed over time. One of the most interesting cities in the world is New York and the Manhattan Building Age map provides a fascinating insight into the history of construction in one of the most densely packed urban centers in the world. 

There are over 1 million buildings in New York City. Some of the city's oldest buildings date back as far as the early 1700's, while some of the city's most famous buildings, including the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, originate in the building boom of the early 20th Century.

The Manhattan Building Age map includes a filter control which allows you to view only buildings constructed during specific dates. This colorful mapped visualization also includes a timeline graph showing how many buildings were built in each decade. This timeline reveals that the first 30 years of the 20th Century were the city's busiest period of construction.


You can also explore the age of New York's buildings on the New York Construction interactive map. This animated map shows the major periods of construction in New York since 1880.

New York Construction provides a great insight into which areas of New York were developed in each decade of the Twentieth Century. The map allows you to select any year since 1880 and view all the buildings in New York which were built in the 50 years immediately before your chosen date. Press the play button and you can view an animation showing all the buildings constructed in the previous 50 years of the current date on the map. In this way the map shows the major areas of construction in New York over the last 50 years from the date selected. The buildings are color-coded on the map to show how near to the selected date that they were constructed.

You can also view the age of all of New York's current buildings on NYC's Pluto Data Map. This map color-codes all the buildings by their year of construction. You can therefore use this map to see which neighborhoods have the oldest buildings in New York and which neighborhoods are made up of predominantly newer buildings. 


You can find many other interactive building age maps for other major cities around the world under the Maps Mania building age tag.

A Tour of the Irish Border

We need to talk about the border is an interactive story map which takes you on a multi-media tour of the Irish border. Since the Good Friday Agreement in 1988 there has been only a soft border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. 

The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is the only land border between the UK and the EU. Now that the United Kingdom has left the European Union the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland has by default become an external EU border. In theory it could once more become a hard border to support the infrastructure necessary to maintain custom checks for goods and people entering and leaving the EU. 

Elisabeth Blanchet & Laurent Gontier have traveled around the Irish border taking photographs and interviewing the people they met on the journey. 'We need to talk about the border' is an interactive story map which takes you on a photo-tour of the border. Overall the interviews with local people living along the border leaves you with a sense that there is an overwhelming sense of anger with the UK government for endangering the peace stemming from the Good Friday Agreement. 


In 2019 The Guardian created an animated map to show how much traffic passes across the Irish border every day. The Guardian's animated map visualizes the traffic crossing the border at 10 different locations during one hour on Monday 2nd, September 2019. A Typical Hour in the Life of the Irish Border uses data from under-wheel sensors at ten different locations on the border. The animated map helps to visualize the amount of activity on the Irish border. Traffic and trade which is likely to be seriously disrupted and slowed if a hard border is reintroduced between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. 


The 1998 Belfast Agreement played an integral part in ending the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The worry is that a return to a hard border would destabilize the Belfast Agreement and could even reignite anger and violence. If anyone is in any doubt about the level of violence experienced along the old hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland they should check out the Irish Times' Explore the Border interactive map.

Explore the Border maps a sample of just some of the border incidents experienced during the Troubles. Click on a marker on the map and you are taken to one of the old crossings along the border. The map sidebar reports on any major violent incidents which occurred at this crossing. The number of bombings, shootings and arson attacks are also listed.

Explore the Border also uses Google Street View images of each mapped crossing on the border. This allows you to explore the border for yourself and highlights how a hard border would not only be difficult to implement but would be an ugly scar on a very beautiful country. 


Keith O’Faoláin has created an animated movie of the Irish border, Oh Border Where Art Thou. The movie uses satellite imagery to explore the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.Watching the movie it is very apparent that the current border is very 'soft'. There are very few hard geographical barriers between the Republic and Northern Ireland. Mostly the border just follows roads and fields.

The European Union and the United Kingdom have signed up to the Northern Ireland Protocol. An agreement that there will be no new checks on goods crossing the Irish border. Unionist and pro-Brexit politicians in Northern Ireland have tried to overturn the Northern Ireland Protocol, including trying to persuade the High Court of Northern Ireland to declare the Protocol unlawful.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Most Beautiful Views in the World

This is the most beautiful view in the world. And that isn't just my personal opinion but has been scientifically proven using computer algorithms and machine learning.

In actual fact this view of Mount Paul from the Maligne Lake in Canada is 1 of 256 individual Street View images which have been chosen to showcase the work of Creatism, a deep-learning system designed to improve images of landscape views.Creatism uses a number of image enhancement techniques to improve existing images so that they are of a similar standard to images taken by professional photographers.

The 256 images on the Creatism website were chosen from 40,000 Google Maps Street View images. The Creatism machine learning algorithms were then used to improve these Google Street View images by applying cropping, enhancing colors & hues and by adding dramatic masks to the images.

The Creatism website is certainly full of many beautiful images derived from Google Street View. You should be able to click on any of the 256 images on the Creatism website to compare the AI enhance image with the original Google Maps Street View. However if you click on an image the original Street View image is obscured and carries the ugly message 'For development purposes only'. As is increasingly the case with maps created with the Google Maps API, the underlying maps are broken because the developer no longer wants to pay Google's expensive fees. 


In the early days of Google Maps Street View MIT and OpenPlans both devised methodologies for surveying people's responses to urban environments as seen on Google's interactive panoramic imagery. These surveys were designed to discover what aspects of the urban environment people find 'beautiful', 'safe' or 'unique' by rating Street View images. Unfortunately the websites for both the MIT and OpenPlans projects no longer seem to exist.

The River Basins of Central Europe

Central European River Basins is an interactive map which visualizes the major river systems of Central Europe using different colors. The map reveals which major watersheds all the streams, brooks and rivers of Central Europe flow into.

OpenStreetMap (OSM) data was used to create this interactive River Basin Map. On OSM all waterways are given a unique ID number. If two waterways are connected to each other, then they have a common node that can be clearly identified from their ID number. In this way Martin Kompf. the map's creator, was able to identify all the waterways on OSM associated with each major river system in Central Europe. 

If you are interested in exploring interactive visualizations of watersheds in other locations around the world then you might enjoy these maps:

The Watersheds Map allows you to visualize watershed regions throughout the USA. As you mouse-over the map it automatically updates to show upstream areas in red and downstream areas in blue. The map allows you to visualize over 100,000 watershed regions in the United States.

The Watershed Explorer interactive map allows you to click anywhere in the world to view all of its upstream areas and the downstream flow.When you click on this map a high-resolution digital elevation model is used to calculate the flow direction that water would take at every point on the surrounding land. The map then follows "these directions to calculate the region that contributes to a single outlet".

The USGS's Streamer map allows you to trace rivers or streams upstream to their source or downstream to their final destinations in the USA. The interactive map can create very dramatic visualizations of river watersheds, particularly when you trace a river upstream to show all of its tributaries.

Monday, July 12, 2021

The SubTel Cable Map

The SubTel Cable Map plots over 400 in-service and planned cable systems around the world. If you select an individual cable service on the map you can view details on its length, capacity, and ownership.The map also includes a number of filter controls which allow you to explore the world's cable infrastructure by region, system supplier, system installer or owner. 

The map is created by the SubTel Cables Forum and is continually updated by using data from the SubTel Forum and the feedback from its users.Subsea cables carry telecommunication signals under the oceans, communicating information between different countries and regions of the world. In the 19th Century the first submarine cables were laid to carry telegraphy traffic. In the 21st Century submarine cables carry digital data, which includes telephone and Internet data.

Every year Telegeography also releases an interactive map of the global network of undersea telecommunication cables which carries our data around the world.The 2021 Submarine Cable Map is this year's edition of the map.

The Telegeography interactive map shows 464 cables and 1,245 landing stations. The map also features lots of textual information, featuring both cable trivia and answers to FAQ's about cable suppliers, content providers, fiber etc. For example - did you know that there are now over 1.3 kilometers of underwater cables around the world (if they were laid end-to-end they could wrap around the world 30 times). 

Who Isn't Getting Vaccinated?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a bivariate map which visualizes both vaccination rates and the Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) at the county level. The COVID-19 Vaccination Equity map shows both the levels of vaccination coverage in each county and the levels of SVI.

The SVI uses data on poverty levels, housing, and vehicle access to estimate a community’s ability to respond to and recover from disasters or disease outbreaks. For example the index can be used to identify areas which are most likely to be adversely effected by epidemics such as Covid-19.

The reddest counties on the map are those with the highest SVI scores and the lowest vaccination coverage. For example much of the Black Belt in the American South appears red on the map. Black Belt counties have historically ranked toward the bottom of American regions for quality of life indicators such as poverty, income levels and mortality rates. These counties are now among those with the lowest vaccination rates.

Covid-19 vaccinations are extremely important in preventing deaths from the highly transmissible variants of the disease now emerging. Last Thursday the director of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, announced that over the last few months 99.5% of deaths from Covid-19 in the United States were in unvaccinated people. Estimates from the CDC show that the highly transmissible Delta variant now makes up more than half of Covid cases in the US.

The New York Times' Covid-19 Vaccinations interactive map allows you to see the percentage of the population who are vaccinated in each county. On this map lighter hues show the counties with the lowest rates of vaccinations. 

Around 67% of Americans have now received at least one shot of the vaccine. Louisiana (49.6%) and Mississippi (47.2%) are the two states with the lowest percentage of adults having received at least one shot.

McKinsey & Company has a bivariate map which visualizes both the percentage of the population in every county who have received a Covid-19 vaccination and the number of active cases of Covid-19 in each county. This map reveals the clear link between low vaccination rates and active cases of Covid-19.

McKinsey's Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution map uses the color red to show the counties with the lowest percentage of the population vaccinated and with a high rate of coronavirus. The turquoise color on this map shows counties with high vaccination rates and low numbers of active Covid-19 cases.If a county was dark blue on this map it would indicate a high level of vaccination and a high number of Covid-19 cases. The absence of counties colored dark blue suggests that vaccinations are very effective in controlling the spread of Covid-19.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Interactive Maps of Indigenous Australia

The Map of Indigenous Australia is an interactive map showing the languages and / or the nation groups of Aboriginal Australia. It shows the general locations of the larger groupings of indigenous people. These may include clans, dialects or individual languages in a group.

The map was created by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. The borders on the map are purposefully blurred to reflect that the territories don't have defined boundaries. Some of the information on the map is also contested and may not represent the views of some of the indigenous groups represented on the map.

The languages of nation groups can be seen in place names across Australia.Both human settlements and natural landmarks, such as mountains and rivers, have been given names from over 200 different distinct indigenous languages.

The Land is a Map - Place Names of Indigenous Australian Origin is an interactive map which uses colored markers to show the typology of places with names of Indigenous Australian origin. If you select a marker on the map you can view the place name for the location and click through to learn more about the name's etymology from its Wikipedia entry.


You can learn more about the different languages of indigenous Australia on the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies' interactive map Austlang.This map provides a guide to indigenous languages and where they were spoken. 

The 50 Words Project is another indigenous language, map which allows you to listen to and learn words in more than 60 Australian Aboriginal languages. The map, created by the University of Melbourne's Research Unit for Indigenous Language, includes sound recordings of First Nations languages from across the Australian continent.

On the 50 Words Project interactive map the 60 First Nations languages for which the project has sound recordings have brown labels. Click on a brown labelled language and you can listen to actual sound recordings of 50 different words spoken in the selected language.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

The Traveling Tourist Problem

POI Path is an interactive route planning map which can help you plot an interesting walk around the city of Zurich, taking in some of the city's most famous landmarks. You just have to select the places that you want to visit in Zurich and POI Path will calculate a route between your selected points of information

The POI Path interactive map is populated with points of interest taken from the Open Data Catalog of the City of Zurich. These include locations such as historical buildings, monuments, churches, art objects in public spaces, and parks & gardens.If you select any of the mapped points of interest then an information window will open to provide information on the selected location.

To plan your walk around the city of Zurich you just have to select the attractions that you wish to visit. The map will then calculate the optimal route taking in all the sights of the city that you wish to see. The route chosen is also optimized to be the most attractive route for walkers or cyclists (using the City's own routing service). If you are happy with the calculated route then you can download it as a gpx file.


Calculating an optimal path taking in a number of different selected points of interest is essentially a Traveling Salesman Problem (in this case with the added constraint of choosing paths attractive for walkers & cyclists). You can get an idea about how to solve Traveling Salesman Problems on Shiny Salesman, which is a tool for solving a global Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP).

The Shiny Salesman tool allows you to choose a number of different locations around the world (or in the USA) to include in the TSP. You can then watch the map solve the traveling salesman problem using your own simulated annealing parameters. Shiny Salesman runs through iterations of possible routes searching for the optimal path. As it does this it also plots the distance of each calculated route so that you can see how many iterations it took to find the quickest possible route.

Friday, July 09, 2021

The Global Poverty Map

The Data-Intensive Development Lab (DIDL) has developed a method of estimating micro-regional levels of poverty based on satellite imagery, and mobile phone and social network usage. The DIDL has then used this machine-learning derived data to create an interactive poverty map visualizing micro-regional poverty levels in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). The maps also use poverty and wealth data gathered from standardized and publicly-available Demographic and Health Surveys carried out in these LMICs.

To arrive at the micro-regional estimates of poverty levels the DIDL starts with the data derived from Demographic and Health Surveys. Then they analyze satellite imagery of the region, looking for indicators of local living conditions, such as the size of farm plots, the quality of roads and the quality of roofing materials. Night-time satellite imagery is also used to derive data on electricity use. Telecommunications infrastructure is derived from analyzing the density of mobile cellular towers, the number of WiFi access points and from the levels of customer use of mobile phone networks.

By combining the data from surveys with the machine learning derived data from satellite imagery and from telecommunications infrastructure DIDL are able to estimate wealth levels in every 2.4KM micro-region on Earth.

You can explore this data for yourself on the interactive Global Poverty Map, which shows these estimates of wealth and poverty in micro-regions around the world. The map visualizes population density using height and poverty levels are shown using color. The taller micro-regions have the highest population density and the brown colored squares have relatively higher wealth.

Thursday, July 08, 2021

The World of Music

It's time for you you to listen to somebody else's music and take a dance in someone else's shoes. The world resounds to the sound of music and it's time for you to sing along with some new songs.


We are going on a journey around the globe to discover some new sounds. And what better way to start our musical journey than with the wonderful Radioooo interactive map. Radiooooo is a fun global music map which allows you to listen to music from anywhere in the world and from any decade going back to 1900.

To start listening to music on Radiooooo you just need to click on a country on the map. You can then select a decade using the buttons at the bottom of the map. You will then be able to sit back and listen to a stream of music from any country & from any decade!


You can also explore music from all around the world on Radio Garden. From the Pacific sounds of Radio Guam to the Siberian tunes of Radio Sabir, this 3d map allows you to listen live to thousands of radio stations across the globe.

Radio Garden features radio broadcasts from hundreds of different countries all around the world. Just click on a marker on this interactive map and you can tune in to local radio stations which provide live internet radio streams. Radio Garden is a great way to explore the sounds of different cultures. It also provides an interesting insight into the broadcasting traditions of different countries.


In space everybody listens to Fetty Wap. So let's take our journey a little further and travel into outer space. is an amazing demonstration of the speed that radio waves travel in space. By taking you on a virtual journey into space also shows you how far your favorite songs have traveled out into the Universe.

Once you lift-off and begin your spaceflight away from Earth your wireless radio receiver begins to pick up the latest music being broadcast from your home planet The only problem is that the further you travel from Earth the older the music you have to listen to. Unfortunately those radio waves take a little time to reach you - so the further you travel from Earth then the older the tunes played on

What better way to explore the music of different cultures than by tuning into their local music radio stations. Drive & Listen allows you to virtually drive around different global cities while listening to the songs playing on a local radio station. 

Drive & Listen is a great way to randomly explore cities of the world. Just cruise those city streets while grooving to some local kicking tunes.

Choose a city from the many on offer (including Paris, New York, London, Berlin, Tokyo, & Los Angeles) and then sit back and watch a video of a car drive around the city. As you drive a local radio station will serenade you with some great songs. You even have the choice to turn on some local street noise.

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Equal Population Earth Slices

For centuries cartographers have been trying to peel the Earth like an orange. It turns out that all along they should have been slicing the Earth like an onion instead. 

The World's Population Sliced by Latitude is an interactive map which creates Earth slices with equal sized populations. In the animated GIF above you can see how the World's Population Sliced by Latitude creates a number of Earth slices. Each slice has the same number of people. Notice how the relatively under populated Southern Hemisphere has bigger slices than the Northern Hemisphere where the large majority of human Earthlings live. 

The interactive Earth slicer includes a control which allows you to choose the number of slices that you want to see the Earth chopped into. In the picture above - with the world sliced in two - the population divide between north and south is very clear. 

The World's Population Sliced by Latitude interactive map is a clever visualization of the density of the world's population living in the Northern Hemisphere compared to that living in the Southern Hemisphere. You can view a more granular visualization of global population density on The Pudding's Human Terrain map. This  interactive visualization shows population density across the globe using 3D population pyramids. 

The taller a pyramid block on The Pudding map then the more people live there.The Pudding has also used its own map to explore in more detail the pattern of population density around the world. In Population Mountains The Pudding examines how unevenly the world is populated and how and why population density can take different forms in different parts of the world.