Saturday, October 30, 2021

MapBusters - the Game

MapBusters is a fun online game which involves trying to travel the length of Great Britain from Land's End to John O'Groats on an interactive hexmap. 

The MapBusters game board consists of a map of British local authorities. The game itself is simply a series of 'higher or lower' questions. You start at the bottom of Great Britain in the county of Cornwall. In your first move you can travel to Cornwall's only neighboring local authority - Plymouth. To successfully move to the Plymouth hexagon you have to guess correctly whether the local authority of Plymouth has a higher or lower population than Cornwall. 

Guess right and you move onto the Plymouth Hexagon. You now have the choice to move to any of the neighboring hexagons of Torridge, Torbay or South Hams. To move forward you again have to choose whether the local authority you wish to move to has a higher or lower population than the local authority that you are sitting on.

If you get a question wrong you stay where you are and the local authority you wish to move to becomes blocked. Get too many questions wrong and you may block off any possible path to John O'Groats. If you block off all possible routes to your destination then the game is over and you have lost. To win the game you just have to successfully navigate the length of Britain and reach the local authority of Highland.

Friday, October 29, 2021

The Diary of a Plantation Overseer

The National Library of Scotland has released an interactive story map which allows you to learn about life on a Jamaican sugar plantation in the 19th Century. Alexander Innes - Jamaica journal, 1823-1824 maps the diary entries of a decommissioned Scottish soldier who traveled to Jamaica in 1823 hoping to find work on one of the island's many sugar plantations.

In order to learn the role of an overseer Innes travels around the island visiting a number of Jamaica's sugar plantations. In his journal he recounts details about the island's climate, flora & fauna, and what he has learnt about the process of 'sugar making'. His journals also includes his observations about the nature of the slaves forced to work on the plantations and about their inhumane treatment by some of the plantation owners. 

Although Innes himself has a shockingly patronizing view of the plantation slaves he is still sometimes upset by how individuals are treated on the plantations, 

"I was shocked to day beyond measure at the inhuman, cruel manner Mr Spenser directed a poor old Female Slave to be punished who is large in the Family way".
Innes writes more than once in disapproving terms about the treatment of the slaves, in particular by an overseer called Mr Simpson. However as the National Library of Scotland notes in its brief biography of Alexander Innes that while his journal makes no mention of his own harsh treatment of the slaves it is "likely that Innes made a deliberate decision to leave out his own actions from his journal."


Only sixty three years before Alexander Innes' arrival on Jamaica there had been a slave revolt. Tacky's Rebellion, was an uprising of black African slaves that occurred in Jamaica in May, June and July 1760. The Jamaican Slave Revolt Map tells the story of this revolt, and its brutal suppression by the British Army.

Using contemporary accounts the map animates through the important events and locations in the rebellion and its subsequent suppression. A number of eighteenth-century maps were used to create the terrain map and the places map, which form the base maps for this account of the rebellion. The Jamaican Slave Revolt map was created by Vincent Brown, Professor of History and African and African-American Studies at Harvard University.

Based on the treatment of the slaves recounted in Innes' journals it is no surprise that just seven years after Innes left Jamaica there was another large slave revolt. In 1831 60,000 slaves on Jamaica went on strike. This uprising was led by a black Baptist deacon, Samuel Sharpe and subsequently was dubbed the Baptist War. During the suppression of this slave revolt British forces killed over 200 slaves. After the revolt more than 300 more slaves were killed by 'judicial execution'.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Dot Map of 19th Century New York

Mapping Historical New York is a fascinating new interactive map which draws on historical census data to visualize the transformation of New York City during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries The map is a joint project developed by Columbia University’s Department of History and the Center for Spatial Research at the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation. 

With Mapping Historical New York you can explore demographic data from the 1850, 1880, and 1910 censuses. Each person counted in these censuses has been mapped to their home address and the map allows you to explore the residential geographies of all New Yorkers and Brooklynites during these years by their race, gender, place of birth, and occupation.

Mapping Historical New York includes a number of case studies which help to show the user how this demographic data can be visualized to explore different aspects of New York's history. For example the 'German Enclaves' case study uses the birthplace data from the 1850, 1880, and 1910 censuses to show where German speaking immigrants lived in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century New York. This included Kleindeutschland in the Lower East Side. In fact the census data shows that in 1880, "migrants from German-speaking lands in New York City comprised approximately one quarter of the city's total population". 

Mapping Historical New York includes a number of vintage map overlays

The 'Working Waterfronts' case study uses occupational data from the censuses to visualize the huge numbers of New Yorkers working in New York's ports during this period. Neighborhoods adjacent to New York's ports housed large numbers of men working as longshoremen, stevedores and cartmen. In fact this shipping economy created a gendered landscape along New York's coast, with many of the boarding houses in port neighborhoods populated almost exclusively by men.    

Mapping Historical New York also allows you to view and explore this historical demographic data on top of vintage maps of New York. If you select the 'Historical Maps' button you can choose to overlay individual vintage maps of the city dating from 1852-1916.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Turning the Heat on Politicians

Last month Probable Futures released interactive maps which show how different climate change scenarios could effect future weather conditions around the world. This release included a map which visualizes the number of extreme heat days you can expect at locations around the world. 

Azavea has now combined this data on the number of extreme heat days that locations across the United States can expect as a result of global warming with its own database of elected officials to create a map called The 50 Hottest Places in US Politics. Using Azavea's map you can quickly find the legislator who represents the most populated municipality in the county in each state (excluding Hawaii) with the most predicted extreme heat days after global warming. 

If you select one of the politician icons on the map (representing the hottest county in each state) you can view a list of all the politicians who represent that municipality - including both national and state officials. This list includes the full contact details of each politician. It also includes some advice on suggestions you could make to your elected representatives for combating extreme heat, such as fighting to reduce emissions, increasing green space and providing local cooling locations. 

Don't worry if your elected officials aren't displayed on the map. You can enter any location into the map to discover the  number of days of extreme heat you can expect under different global warming scenarios and a full list of all your elected representatives.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Your Town's Future Climate

If you live in or near Paris then you might like to know that by the end of this century you will be experiencing a climate similar to the climate which Astara, Azerbijan experiences today. If global heating causes a temperature of 4 degrees centigrade then Paris can expect 42 days more a year of very warm days and 118 more days of extreme wildfire danger. 

You can discover your town's future climate twin using the Analog Atlas interactive map. If you type in an address into Analog Atlas it can show you a town which currently experiences a climate similar to the one you can expect in the future due to global heating. The map can show you your climate twin for a world which has warmed by 2 degrees centigrade or by 4 degrees centigrade.


National Geographic also has a clever interactive map which explains what you can expect from global heating. It does this by also showing you a city which currently experiences average temperatures that your home town can expect to see in the year 2070.

If carbon emissions continue to rise at the current rate then by 2070 the world will experience devastating climate change. For example Boston, Massachusetts will experiences temperatures 5 degrees centigrade hotter than today and 49mm more rain will fall. This is similar to the climate that Bardwell, Kentucky has today. London will experience a climate similar to the current climate in northern Italy.

In Your Climate, Changed the National Geographic uses an interactive map to show the future climate analogs of 2,500 cities around the world. These analogs are based on worst-case climate change scenario assumptions. The map automatically detects your location to show you your nearest future global heating twin. The map also explains what kind of climate zone your city currently experiences and compares that to the likely climate it will have in 2070.


National Geographic and the Analog Atlas are not the first maps to use future climate analogs as a way to explain the effects of climate change. 23 Degrees has also released a clever interactive map which allows you to find your climate analog for the year 2080. Using this climate change model Frankfurt in Germany will be as hot as Malawi is today and living in Berlin will be like living in Lesotho in southern Africa.

You can find your 2080 climate twin using The Summer of 2080 Will Be This Warm interactive map. If you enter your location or click on your location on the map you can view the town or city in the world which has a climate today which is similar to the climate you can expect in your location in the year 2080. The map uses two different climate models. This allows you to find your climate twin for a global heating scenario of 4.2 degrees or 1.8 degrees.

Monday, October 25, 2021

View Your House Under Water

The picture above shows how the Louvre art gallery might appear after global sea level rises have flooded Paris. I created this imagined view of the Louvre using ThisClimateDoesNotExit.  

ThisClimateDoesNotExist is a clever Google Street View based application which allows you to see how your house might look after your street has flooded. To create an imagined view of your flooded house you just need to type your address into ThisClimateDoesNotExist's Google Map. If Google Street View imagery is available at this address you can then view an 'AI' generated image of your home under a few feet of water. 

ThisClimateDoesNotExist claims to be "an AI-driven experience based on empathy". What this means is that the application does not use any real rising sea level predictions to picture your house under water. It just portrays an imagined scenario. As long as the user is clear that the enhanced Street View image isn't based on any real climate change science then the generated picture of an address can have a strong emotional impact. Nobody wants to really see their home flooded by rising waters. 

I suspect that ThisClimateDoesNotExist may use the GSVPanoDepth Street View depth library to create such realistic looking imagined scenes.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Gerrymandering in Texas

On Monday the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a lawsuit against the redistricting plans of the Texas Legislature. One of the main reasons for the lawsuit is that the new maps are a clear attempt by the Republican Party to dilute the voting rights of Latinos in Texas. 

The map above shows the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature's proposal for TX-33, a congressional district in the city of Dallas.In Explaining the Most Bizarrely Shaped Districts in Texas’s Proposed Congressional Map the Texas Monthly explains the incredibly gerrymandered proposal for TX-33 very simply as an attempt to "pack non-Anglo voters into one district". The bizarre shape of TX-33 is a blatant attempt to pack possible Democrat voters all into the one district, in the process making marginal neighboring Republican districts much less marginal.It is an attempt at vote packing which can be seen all over Texas' proposed new political map.

One way to detect where the Texas Legislature is attempting to gerrymander a congressional district might be to compare the percentage change in the area of a new proposed congressional district map with the district's current boundaries. This is just one of the comparisons you can make with Mike Freeman's interactive map visualization in Texas Congressional Redistricting Is More Extensive Than Most Maps Reveal.

Mike's small multiples map visualization overlays each proposed congressional district's map on top its current existing map. This allows the user to make a direct visual comparison of how much the Texas Legislature is attempting to change a district's boundaries. It is possible to order the districts in the visualization by the area percentage change and by the percentage growth in area to quickly see which congressional districts' maps are being changed by the greatest extent (and most possibly being gerrymandered to reduce the voting rights of likely Democrat voters). 

In How Texas Plans to Make its House Districts Even Redder the New York Times has published an interactive map which shows the boundaries of all the proposed congressional districts in Texas and also visualizes the 2020 Presidential vote margin in each precinct. By overlaying the vote margin on top of the proposed new electoral districts the NYT clearly shows how the Republican Party is trying to pack Democrat voters into as few districts as it possibly can. 

The result is a political map which will contain some of the most bizarrely shaped electoral districts that Texas has ever seen.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Spotting Methane Polluters from Space

In June the European Space Agency's Copernicus Sentinel-5Pdetected large amounts of methane being emitted in Russia. The ESA satellite orbits the Earth 14 times a day detecting different types of gas emissions around the world. On June 4th it spotted a methane leak in a Gazprom gas pipeline near Kazan in southwest Russia.

In recent years there has been a large increase in the amount of methane detected in the Earth's atmosphere. Methane is one of the major contributors to global heating so it is vital that we lower methane emissions. Methane is the chief component of natural gas. It is therefore thought that gas leaks, such as the one detected in Russia, may be one of the main causes of the rising levels of methane in the atmosphere. 

In Russia Allows Methane Leaks at Planet's Peril the Washington Post  has published an impressive animated globe which explains how ESA's Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite detected methane emissions from the Gazprom pipeline. The Post's article, accompanying the globe visualization, explains how Russia and other countries have been misreporting the levels of their methane emissions and how satellites dedicated to locating greenhouse gases are making it much harder for countries to hide their true levels of polluting.

The Post article goes on show how methane emissions in Russia have risen sharply in recent years, while at the same time the Russian government has tried to claim a reduction in their annual output of methane. Based on an analysis of satellite detected emissions The Post believes that the true levels of Russia's methane emissions per year are at least twice as high as Russia's self-reported levels.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The New Global Land Cover Map

Over half of the land in the UK is covered in grass. 17.34% of the UK is used for growing crops and  17.16% of the country is covered in trees. These land cover statistics for the UK come from a new European Space Agency (ESA) interactive map.

The ESA WorldCover Viewer map provides data on land cover at 10 m resolution across the whole world. The map uses different colors to show the type of land cover which can be found at any location on Earth. This includes 11 different classes of land cover, including tree cover, grassland, cropland and built-up land. The Statistics tab in the map menu allows you to explore the percentages of these different land cover types within individual countries (or in the case of the United States in individual states). For example in Texas only 11.99% of land is used for growing crops. In contrast 71.25% of Iowa is used as cropland.

ESA's global land cover data was derived from both Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellite imagery. This enables ESA not only to provide data at 10 m resolution but will also allow the map to be updated in the future in nearly real-time. This data is also open and free to use. You can download ESA's global land cover data on the ESA WorldCover Data page.


If you are interested in exploring land cover and land use further, particularly in urban settings, then you can also use the OSM Landuse Landcover interactive map. This map, developed by the GIScience Research Group of Heidelberg University, can also show you land use and land cover information for any location in the world. However this map uses OpenStreetMap data to map land use and show the percentage of different types of land use around the globe.

The OSM Landuse Landcover map uses contrasting colors to show how areas have been tagged in OpenStreetMap for land use and land cover. If you zoom in on a location on the map you can see how different areas have been tagged for land use and land cover. A dynamic pie chart also provides an overview of the percentages of different types of land-use in the current map view. Obviously the data on this map is only as accurate and complete as the data submitted to OpenStreetMap.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Your Halloween Frightgeist

If you want to be seen wearing the most fashionable costume this Halloween then you need to dress in your best wicked witch outfit. According to the number of searches for different Halloween costumes made by Google users in the United States then you should see more witches trick or treating this year than any other type of diabolical apparition. The second most popular costume search being made on Google this year is for rabbit costumes. 

You can explore for yourself where people are searching the most for different types of Halloween costume on Google Frightgeist.This spooky Google Trends visualization allows you to see the most searched for costumes in different American cities and see where the most popular costumes are being searched across the USA.

Witch's costumes are being searched for the most in Austin TX, Columbia SC and Biloxi-Gulfport MS. Clown costumes are being searched for most in Waco-Temple-Bryan TX, Columbia SC and Lexington KY. Vampire costumes (only the 15th most popular costume this year across the whole country) are being searched for most in Waco-Temple-Bryan TX, Los Angeles CA, and New York NY. 


If you want to know what places to avoid this Halloween then you need the Fantastic Folklore and Magical Myths interactive map. The world is full of frightening ghosts, monsters and mythical creatures. For example Russians are haunted by the skeletal form of Koschei the Deathless, the legendary kidnapper of young women. In Guatemala you need to keep a wary eye out for Jaguar, the God of Fire, with his pointy fangs and catlike ears. In Denmark you don't want to accidentally bump into the Huldufolk, a race of elves who are responsible for local landslides and crop failures.

You can find all these monsters of the world and many more on the Fantastic Folklore and Magical Myths map. Just click on all the monster shaped map markers on this map to learn more about the different fantastical creatures of the world. 

If you are actually looking for a spooky sounding location to spend this Halloween then you should consult the 13 Spooky Halloween Haunts interactive map. This map plots the locations of some of America's most frightening place-names. It also explains how these scary places earned their spooky names.

For example there is a Dead Women Crossing in Oklahoma, which was named for the headless corpse of a young schoolteacher who was found there in 1904. If that isn't scary enough for you then why not spend the night at Murder Creek, Alabama, named for the party of loyalists robbed and murdered here during the Revolutionary War.

Don't worry if you don't live anywhere near any of these 13 spooky Halloween haunts. These aren't the only locations with scary place names in the USA. Batchgeo has created an interactive map featuring many more. The Scary Place Names for Halloween map shows the locations of places throughout the country which feature the words 'Ghost', 'Jack-o-lantern', 'Witch', 'Dracula', 'Murderer' or 'Demon' somewhere in their name.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

San Francisco Before Colonization

Hidden San Francisco is an interactive map which reveals how San Francisco looked before it was colonized by Spanish missionaries in the late 18th century. The map displays the city's historical creeks and natural habitats which have long been destroyed or hidden by the development of one of America's most densely built urban environments.

In order to determine the location of San Francisco's historical creeks and natural habitats Hidden San Francisco used a number of different sources. This historical and ecological detective work included scouring the city's earliest surveys and oldest geological maps. Early written descriptions made by the Spanish missionaries who arrived in the area in the 18th Century were also consulted for their accounts of the natural landscape. Early photographs also proved useful in revealing details about the vegetation and natural habitats which existed in parts of the city before its urban development. 

Hidden San Francisco reminds me a lot of the Welikia Project's Beyond Manhatta map. This interactive map displays Manhattan Island and its native wildlife, as it would have looked in 1609. The map allows you to explore New York's original natural landscape of hills, valleys, forests, wetlands, salt marshes, beaches, springs, ponds and streams.

Like the Hidden San Francisco map Beyond Manhatta was developed by consulting the earliest historical maps which described the original features of Manhattan Island. Historical environmental conditions were also determined by taking soil surveys and examining tree rings. These surveys were reinforced by early historical accounts of New York, that were consulted for descriptions of the natural environment which existed before the city's development.

Unfortunately the Beyond Manhatta map is another project which has fallen foul of the increase in Google Maps API charges and the interactive map is now peppered with and partly obscured by ugly 'For Development Purposes Only' labels.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Why the Street Has That Name

Over the last few years I have become more and more interested in toponymy, in the history of the names given to geographical localities. In particular I have been fascinated by the many interactive maps which have now been released to explore and explain the etymology of street names.

Back in 2013 Noah Veltman released the History of San Francisco Place Names, an interactive map which explains the meaning behind then names given to streets in San Francisco. I was so inspired by Noah's map that I ended up creating my own Streets of London interactive map, which takes a look at the etymological history of road names in the City of London.

Over the last few years Geochicas has developed this etymological interest to explore and reveal the under-representation of women in street names. Their Las Calles de las Mujeres is an interactive map which reveals all the streets named for men and women in a large number of cities in Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Cuba, Paraguay, Peru, Italy and Uruguay. The inequality in the number of streets named for women compared to men has also been mapped in many cities around the world by the EqualStreetNames project. 

If you are interested in knowing the meanings behind the street names in your town or city then you could start by exploring the Open Etymology Map. The Open Etymology Map explains the origins of individual street names based on information taken from OpenStreetMap and Wikidata.

Using data from OpenStreetMap and Wikidata has both advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages in that Open Etymology Map has far more information about the origins of street names in some cities (e.g. San Francisco) than it does in other cities (e.g. London). The advantage is that you can improve the map in your town or city by adding etymological data to Wikidata. Open Etymology Map uses the OpenStreetMap tag "name:etymology:wikidata=*". This means that if you add etymological information for an individual street in Wikidata then I assume that information should then appear on Open Etymology Map.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Ships Waiting to Unload

Yesterday NASA released this satellite image of dozens of cargo ships stranded off the Californian coast, waiting to offload. High consumer demand and supply chain problems caused by Covid has led to record backlogs at the Port of Long Beach and at many other ports around the world.

Here is the same area of Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean on MarineTraffic early on the morning of the 16th October (1.20am). This map shows that most of the same container ships are still waiting to unload. Cargo vessels on this map are shown in green. The green circles are cargo ships which aren't moving. 

Californian ports are not the only ports to be struggling with large backlogs of cargo vessels unable to offload. For example in the UK last week cargo companies were having to reroute ships from Felixstowe to European ports, such as Rotterdam and Antwerp.

Cargo and tanker traffic near Hong Kong

However the problems being experienced at the Port of Long Beach and Felixstowe pale into insignificance beside those of Hong Kong and Shenzhen. The cargo ports of Hong Kong and Shenzhen currently have nearly 100 ships waiting to offload. This week the ports were forced to close for two days because of a typhoon. This only compounded the delays already being caused by Covid outbreaks. 

Ships waiting to offload

According to the Financial Times there are currently (as of yesterday) 584 container ships waiting to offload outside ports around the world. The FT explains that the current problems of cargo vessels being unable to offload has been caused by "Increased demand for consumer products, Covid-induced disruption to container ship schedules and a shortage of port workers and truck drivers".

Friday, October 15, 2021

The World's Carbon Center of Gravity

The Guardian has published an animated map which shows how the world's carbon 'Center of Gravity' has shifted over the last 200 years. The visualization reveals both how industrialization has been a disaster for the environment and how the major producer of carbon emissions has shifted from the UK in the 19th Century to the USA in the early half of the 20th Century and in the last 50-60 years towards China.

In How the world’s carbon ‘centre of gravity’ moved over 200 years The Guardian has calculated the carbon center for every year since 1800 by taking an average of each country’s latitude and longitude and by working out each country's annual carbon emissions. The countries which emit the most carbon in any year exert 'the strongest gravitational pull on the centre of emissions'.

The Guardian has included an explanatory note with its animated map pointing out that although China is now the world's largest emitter of CO2 there are still 36 other countries around the world that have per capita higher carbon emissions. 


The World Resources Institute has also created an animated map which visualizes carbon dioxide emissions around the world over the last 160 years. The Changing Global Emissions Map however doesn't show the carbon 'center of gravity' but instead uses scaled circular markers to show the total carbon emissions of each country around the world increasing over time.

If you use the timeline beneath the map you can view an animation of the growth of carbon dioxide emissions over time. The timeline shows that a few western countries have managed to stabilize and have actually managed to slightly reduce their emissions over the last few years. Unfortunately these reductions pale into insignificance compared to the huge growth in carbon emissions in the rest of the world.


The Historical Global Emissions Map is another mapped visualization of carbon dioxide emissions through history. This map shows a gridded view of CO2 emissions weighted by the human population over time. This timeline view of the world's CO2 emissions provides a fascinating glimpse into the spread of the industrial revolution around the world and the staggering impact it has had on the world's environment.

Using the map timeline you can see how industrial revolutions in countries around the world have contributed to the huge growth in global CO2 emissions. Starting in 1750 we can see that there were negligible amounts of carbon dioxide being emitted around the world. However by 1809 the United Kingdom was emitting 33 metric tonnes of CO2.

In 1806 the United Kingdom was responsible for 94% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. However other countries around the world were not too far behind. Using the map's timeline we can see that just 41 years later, in 1850 the UK's share of CO2 emissions had fallen to 62%, as the USA, France and Germany had begun their own industrial revolutions. 

It would take more than 50 years for the United States to overtake the United Kingdom in the amount of CO2 emitted per person. In 1906 the United States emitted 12 tCO2 per cap to the UK's 11. By this time the United States was now responsible for 41% of the world's CO2 emissions and the UK's share had fallen to 18%. 

If we fast forward a century the United States total share of the world's CO2 emissions has halved to 20% and China (22%) has become the world's largest CO2 polluter. Although in terms of per capita emissions the USA still leads the way, with 19 tonnes of CO2 being emitted per person - more than double the per capita emissions of nearly every other country in the world.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Real World Model Train Sets

Moving Hamburg is an impressive 3D animated public transport map for the city of Hamburg. The map was created using the latest WebGL features of the Google Maps API together with a little Three.js magic. 

If you zoom in on the Moving Hamburg map and tilt the angle of view you can watch the trains actually moving around the city's rail network in glorious 3D. The result is a little like having your very own model train set of Hamburg - only on an interactive Google Map.

Moving Hamburg reminds me a lot of Mini Tokyo 3D, the live real-time map of Tokyo's public transit system. This fun map shows the live position of Tokyo's trains in 3D moving around the capital of Japan.

Mini Tokyo has two different map views. If you press the eye icon button you can switch between the 'underground' (pictured above) and 'overground' layers. The underground mode highlights the city's subway system with colored subway lines on top of a dark base map. In this mode the overground trains are shown faded out on the map. The overground mode shows all the city's buildings in 3D. In this mode all the subway trains are shown faded out as they move around under the city and all of Tokyo's overground trains are shown in full color. 

You can have even more locomotive fun with Mapbox with Trains. Mapbox with Trains is a very impressive interactive map which allows you to watch a 3D train moving around on top of a map of Oakland, California. This interactive virtual train set includes a number of user options which allow you to control the number of carriages on the train and the camera's point of view.

In essence Mapbox with Trains animates a 3D model of a train on top of a Mapbox map, following the Bart train tracks in Oakland. The map is presented as an Observable Notebook which means that if you want you can fork the project to create your own interactive train set for the town or city of your choice.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Historical Election Violence Map

Violence around democratic elections seems to be a growing problem in the 21st Century. To understand this problem and find possible solutions it might be a good idea to explore the violence which was prevalent around elections in Victorian England and how that pattern of violence was eventually eliminated.

The 20 general election in Britain between the Great Reform Act of 1832 and the Great War starting in 1914 were often accompanied by extreme violence. This violence often included major riots involving thousands of people, leading to the deaths of many people and large scale property damage. For example just on one day (17th November 1868), on the first day of polling in the 1868 General Election, there were at least 18 different riots across England & Wales. 

The Victorian Election Violence Map visualizes nearly 3,000 incidences of violence which occurred in England and Wales during the 20 General Elections held between 1832 and 1914. The map shows where violent election events took place, from minor incidents (such as the breaking of windows) to major political riots involving the deaths of many people.

For example a map marker placed over the Welsh town of Blaenavon recounts one of the 18 riots which occurred during the 1868 election. During this riot,

"property and businesses were vandalised and looted in the town, and the military arrived from Newport and cleared streets. 45 prisoners were marched to Pontypool and the soldiers returned to Newport. 1000 men from Blaenavon marched on Pontypool to rescue the prisoners"

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Segregation in America

According to the 'Roots of Structural Racism Report' Detroit is the most segregated city in America. Closely followed by Hialeah, FL and Newark, NJ. However these cities are not alone in having high levels of residential segregation. In fact residential segregation is becoming more common in the majority of U.S. cities.

The Roots of Structural Racism Report includes an interactive map, Mapping Race in America, which visualizes the levels of segregation in every neighborhood in the United States. The map uses data from the 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010 & 2020 censuses to show the level of segregation in every census block area and how these levels of segregation have changed over the last 40 years.

On the map the most segregated counties are shown in red, while the most integrated are shown in blue.Using the map sidebar you can change the map to show segregation at the city level or at the individual census tract level. The map sidebar also includes a 'Year Selector' filter which allows you to observe how levels of segregation have changed over the last 40 years.

81 percent of American cities are now more segregated than they were in 1990. Only 40 of the 209 regions in the U.S. have become less segregated. The Roots of Structural Racism Report also looked at differences in income & poverty levels, home values, life expectancy, and rent prices between those areas which have high levels of segregation and those which are more integrated. This analysis discovered that people of all races fared worse in all these indicies when they lived in segregated 'Black and Brown' neighborhoods.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Czech Election Maps

Andrej Babiš, the billionaire Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, has been beaten in the country's latest election. His Action for Dissatisfied Citizens 2011 (ANO) party finished second in the popular vote behind the center-right Spolu (Together) alliance. Neither party has won by a large enough margin to form a majority government. 

The Spolu party has declared that it will not form a coalition with Andrej Babiš. Despite losing the popular vote the ANO 2011 party actually won one more seat than Spolu. However ANO 2011 looks to have no way to power, with Spolu and the liberal-left faction, Piráti-STAN, expected to enter into a coalition government.

The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, had said before the election that he would ask the leader of the party with the most seats (which is ANO 2011) to form a government. However the president has become gravely ill and is now in intensive care. With the president incapacitated and no clear general election winner the country could be thrown into a constitutional crisis.

Czech newspaper Blesk has published an interactive map which shows which party won the most votes in each region of the country. If you zoom in on the map you can view the results in each election district. If you select an election district on the map you can view the exact number of votes and the percentage of votes won in the district by the biggest three parties. If you select the name of a political party from the map legend you can then view an interactive choropleth map showing how well that party performed in each electoral district in the country.

You can also view an interactive map of the 2021 Czech general election on the website of the newspaper Denik. The Denik map allows you to view the number and percentage of votes won by each party by selecting an electoral district. This map also allows you to see how each party has performed nationally by selecting a party name from the map legend. The Denik election results page also includes an interactive map showing the results of the 2017 general elections. It is therefore possible to view how each party has performed in this election compared to its performance in the last general election.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Mapping the La Palma Volcano Eruption

The ongoing volcanic eruptions of the Cumbre Vieja on La Palma is causing continuing disruption. Since the first eruption on September 19 more than 800 buildings have been destroyed and around 6,000 people have had to evacuate their homes on the island. 

Magma flow on OpenStreetMap

The magma flow from the eruption has forced the closure of many local roads. It has also led to a slight increase in the size of the island of La Palma. This means that all maps of the affected areas will need to be updated. A challenge which so far seems to be only being met by OpenStreetMap. OSM not only shows where roads have been closed by the volcanic eruption on La Palma, it also shows the extent of the magma flow from the eruptions and (where the magma has reached the sea) where La Palma has grown.

Google Maps

In contrast Google Maps has yet to update to show which local roads have been forced to close. Google Maps also has no indication of the location or the extent of the lava flow. Where Google Maps does win out is in showing the closure of local hotels, restaurants and other businesses. In the areas affected by the volcanic eruption and the magma flow Google Maps does indicate which businesses are 'temporarily closed'. 

HERE maps like Google has not updated its map of La Palma to show road closures or the location & extent of the lava flow. 

Apple Maps is a closed garden to which I do not have a key.

Friday, October 08, 2021

Aerial Archaeology

Historic England has released a new interactive map which identifies archaeological sites in England which have been identified, mapped and recorded using aerial photography. The map brings together and makes freely accessible over 30 years of aerial mapping projects.

When you are zoomed out on the Aerial Archaeology Mapping Explorer the map shows in red areas where aerial mapping exists. When you zoom in monument extents are shown on the map in grey. These grey areas show the extent of the archaeological features recorded at the site. If you click on one of these grey areas you can view the complete archaeological monument record for the site. 

From my brief exploration of the map this morning I think that the Aerial Archaeological Mapping Explorer has been designed not so much to give the public access to the actual aerial photography and LIDAR data captured by Historic England but to show where this aerial imagery has been used to reveal archaeological monuments. The map can therefore be used to discover where important archaeological sites can be found and to view each site's Historic Environment records and any available reports made about the recorded site.

If you are interested in viewing aerial imagery of what is probably England's most famous archaeological site then you might like Historic England's Stonehenge World Heritage Site Landscape Map. This interactive map allows you to view aerial imagery of 46 listed archaeological sites in and around Stonehenge, learn more about each site and download each site's report.

Historic England's 2002 National Mapping Project of Stonehenge discovered around 539 important archaeological sites around Stonehenge. About thirty percent of the newly discovered sites were prehistoric or Roman in date. These included ring ditches, field systems, round barrows and enclosures of various forms dating from prehistory.

46 of these new sites can be viewed on the Historic England map by clicking on the numbered markers on the map or by selecting them from the map sidebar. When you select a site from the sidebar or map, the map zooms to show the listed site and information for the site is displayed in the map side panel. A link to download the individual site's National Mapping Project report is also provided in the map side panel.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Mapping the Last Tati Department Store

Last week the last ever Tati clothing store closed in France, bringing to an end the company's 78 year history. The first Tati store was opened by Jules Ouaki in the Barbès-Rochechouart district in Paris in 1948. Over the next 78 years the company expanded its operations, until it had established stores in many French cities. Last week's closure of the Tati store on Boulevard Barbès ends Tati's presence on French streets, however the brand still exists as an online only store.

To mark the closure of one of Paris' most iconic stores Le Parisien has managed to retrieve the original plans of Jules Ouaki's original Paris store. In How Tati made her mark in Barbès Le Parisien uses these plans to create a 3D interactive tour. This 3D tour visualizes the original store and shows how it expanded over its 78 year history into a number of its neighboring buildings. The tour also includes vintage photographs of the store and the accompanying text explains how the store and the Tati brand managed to grow and expand during its 78 year history. 

Animated 3D tours are becoming a popular method of engaging readers in a story. For example last month The Straits Times released a very impressive scrollytelling map visualizing how the city-state plans to develop over the next decade.

As you scroll through Singapore 2030 an interactive 3D map flies over the island of Singapore taking you on a tour of some of the country's planned developments. A combination of this 3D map and artists' impressions of the planned projects provide the reader with a detailed view of how the planned developments will change the landscape of Singapore for ever.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Mapping Trees in 3D

Chee Aun was so impressed with Apple Maps' new 3D trees that he decided to replicate the feature using Mapbox GL. The result is ExploreTrees 3D, a 3D map of Singapore which (you guessed it) is replete with hundreds of thousands of 3D models of the country's trees.

Explore Trees uses data from, which is a map and database of over half a million trees in Singapore. The data on includes information on each tree's girth size, height, age, species and type. Chee Aun has used this height and girth data to help create a 3D model of each and every tree.

If you are on a mobile device then you might prefer the 2D layer of ExploreTrees. This map also allows you to explore half a million Singapore trees. If you hover over a tree on the 2D layer the map will reveal the species of tree, its girth, height and even its age. 

If you intrigued by ExploreTrees then you can read more about how the map was made on Chee's blog post Building ExploreTrees.SG.

Strava Art

Unless you've been living in a tree during the last two weeks then you have probably seen news stories about how Pete Stokes recreated Nirvana's famous Nevermind album cover with just a bicycle and a GPS tracker. Pete's baby picture is just one of the many works of glyph or GPS art that have been created by users of the popular Strava location tracking application. 

You can view more of these amazing GPS artworks on, a website dedicated to curating the best works of art created by the joggers, cyclists and hikers of Strava. To create a work of Strava Art you first need to meticulously plan a route whose GPS track will create a recognizable picture. Next you will actually have to run or cycle the route whilst using the Strava tracking application.

You don't have to be a potential Da Vinci or Van Gogh to have your GPS art featured on The website features GPS tracks of incredible detail but it is also home to some very basic stick-men type drawings.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Gerrymandering in Texas

This is a map of the Republican Party's proposal for TX-33, a congressional district in the city of Dallas. Last Monday the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature unveiled maps of how it plans to redraw Texas' political map. Under these proposals TX-33 will become probably the most gerrymandered electoral district in all of the USA, if not the world. It is a spectacular testament to the Republican Party's contempt for both democracy and the American people.

In Explaining the Most Bizarrely Shaped Districts in Texas’s Proposed Congressional Map the Texas Monthly explains the incredibly gerrymandered proposal for TX-33 very simply as an attempt to "pack non-Anglo voters into one district". The bizarre shape of TX-33 is a blatant attempt to pack possible Democrat voters all into the one district, in the process making marginal neighboring Republican districts much less marginal.It is an attempt at vote packing which can be seen all over Texas' proposed new political map.

In How Texas Plans to Make its House Districts Even Redder the New York Times has published an interactive map which shows the boundaries of all the proposed congressional districts in Texas and also visualizes the 2020 Presidential vote margin in each precinct. By overlaying the vote margin on top of the proposed new electoral districts the NYT clearly shows how the Republican Party is trying to pack Democrat voters into as few districts as it possibly can. 

The result is a political map which will contain some of the most bizarrely shaped electoral districts that Texas has ever seen. A map which is so gerrymandered and undemocratic that any politician supporting this map should by right be automatically barred from standing for office ever again.

Monday, October 04, 2021

Who Owns the Most Cars?

Trulia has mapped out where people in the United States own the most cars. On average there are 0.68 vehicles per person across the USA. However the number of cars owned by each household isn't equal across the country.

Trulia's People per Vehicle interactive map shows the average number of people per vehicle in each zip -code area in America's largest cities. If you hover over a neighborhood on this map you can view the average number of people per vehicle and the average number of vehicles per person in a zip-code area. The map also tells you the average income in the neighborhood and the number of people per square mile.

Trulia's interactive map reveals that there are two main factors affecting car ownership - population density & income levels. Areas with higher income levels tend to have higher levels of car ownership. However in city centers (especially in cities with good public transit) car ownership is often much lower than the U.S. average, even in relatively wealthy neighborhoods. In fact Trulia suggests that the cities with the fewest cars are often the ones with the most affluent households. 


A similar picture seems to exist in the UK. A map by CityMetric visualizes car ownership in towns and cities across England & Wales. This map also reveals that car ownership in the UK is also affected by population density.

When I explored the map back in 2016 I found that the lowest percentage of car ownership could be found in city neighborhoods across England & Wales. As you move out into city suburbs car ownership grows. And, once you get out into the countryside, then nearly every household owns a car.

Unfortunately the CityMetric map used Google Fusion Tables so it no longer actually exists. It is therefore not possible to check the map to see if car ownership in the UK is also affected by average incomes. I suspect it is and the band of low car ownership along the Thames east of London (on the screenshot above), where there are relatively low average incomes, suggests that income levels do affect car ownership levels.