Monday, January 31, 2022

The Coldest Day of the Year

If you live in Pittsburgh then you might want to put on your winter woollies. Based on the average temperatures of the last 30 years today is likely to be the coldest day of the year in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

You can find out when your coldest day of the year occurs on average on NOAA's interactive map Coldest Day of the Year on Average. On this map weather stations across the United States are colored to show when on average in the year they have experienced their coldest day. These dates are calculated using data from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). The specific data used is the average low temperature for every day from 1991-2020. You can also click on individual weather stations on the map to view the exact date for the coldest day of the year on average at that location.

Just from looking at the screenshot of the map above you can see that the coldest day of the year normally occurs later in the season in the East than it does in the West of the country. This is partly due to when cold air from snow-covered areas of Canada is blown down into the East. In the Western half of the United States the coldest day usually occurs in December. In the Eastern half of the country the coldest day usually arrives in January or February.

If you want to know when the first snow of the year is most likely to fall then you can refer to NOAA's handy interactive First Snow Map. This map provides a nationwide guide as to when you can expect to get the first snow of the winter. The map shows the date at your location when the chance of snow is at least 50%, based on historical weather records (1981-2010).  

Your latitude and altitude play the biggest role in determining when you are most likely to experience snow. On average the more northerly you are and the higher your altitude then the earlier you are likely to see snow.

If all this talk of snow and low temperatures leaves you feeling cold then you might want to look forward to when you can expect your hottest day of the year. NOAA's Warmest Day of the Year map shows the warmest day of the year on average across the United States based on temperature data from 1991-2020. In most of the country the hottest day normally occurs between mid-July and mid-August.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

How Africa Pays for Climate Change

Over the last year I've been noticing a trend in the focus of climate change visualizations. Instead of concentrating on how the climate is likely to change in the coming decades climate scientists have begun to focus more on how climate change is already impacting the Earth.Of course these impacts are being felt more keenly in many parts of the developing in world. In other words it is the countries who have historically been least responsible for contributing towards climate change who are now beginning to be adversely effected by global heating.

In Who Damages the Climate the Most and Who Bears the Consequences the German newspaper Tagesspiegel looks at the effects that climate change is already having on many African countries. The newspaper uses an interactive 3D globe to highlight some of the impacts of global heating already been seen in many countries, particularly in Africa.

Ten of the countries who will be worst hit by drought are in Africa. For example, right now in Kenya 2.4 million people are at risk of starvation as a result of a severe drought. When rain does come it often now comes all at once. For example while Kenya s experiencing extreme drought neighboring South Sudan has seen some of its worst flooding in the last 20 years. 

As you scroll through the Tagesspiegel article choropleth layers are added to the interactive globe to show the global risks from drought and from flooding. These choropleth layers clearly show the increased risks being faced by African countries compared to many countries in the so-called developed world. 

As you progress through the article the interactive globe is also used to show the CO2 consumption of individual countries. This helps to reveal that while Africa is beginning to see the worst effects of climate change it is is probably the continent which is contributing the least to its acceleration. For example a person in South Sudan on average causes 0.1 tons of CO2 emissions per year. In comparison the average American causes 14.2 tons of CO2 emissions each year. Once you look at the historical consumption of CO2 this inequality in the causation of climate change becomes even more glaringly obvious.

However despite being less responsible for climate change Africa will pay. According to the IPCC temperatures in many African countries will rise faster than the global average. Because the economies of many African countries rely on agriculture and tourism climate change is also likely to have a very severe impact on the economy of Africa. So not only is Africa beginning to be severely impacted by climate change it is also now being made even poorer by a crisis largely caused by the developed world.

Friday, January 28, 2022

The Map of All Human Knowledge

Open Syllabus Galaxy is an interactive map which allows you to search the 1,138,841 most frequently assigned texts in University syllabi. On the map university and college text books are organized spatially based on which books and articles are assigned together in the same courses. 

Open Syllabus is is a non-profit research organization that researches the syllabi of University and College subjects. As part of this analysis Open Syllabus uses machine learning and other techniques to collect the titles of texts and articles cited on reading lists in course syllabi.

Open Syllabus Galaxy maps over 1 million assigned college tests based on 'co-assignment patterns' (i.e. which tests are listed in the same syllabi). The interactive map plots over 1 million of the most frequently assigned texts in higher education. Individual texts are shown on the map using scaled colored circles. The colors of the circles relate to college subjects (which subject a text is most assigned in). Texts colored grey are interdisciplinary texts (these texts have <50% of assignments in any single subject). The scale of the circle markers are determined by the number of syllabi a text is listed in. Therefore the biggest circles show the texts which are on the most subject reading lists. 


The HathiTrust Digital Map is a similar interactive map which allows you to browse and explore the 14 million volumes in the HaithTrust's repository of digitized texts. The HathiTrust is a partnership of academic and research institutions which offers a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world.The HathiTrust Digital Map provides a visual interface with which you can navigate the books in the HaithiTrust digital library.

The Library of Congress Classification system categorizes books into different broad subjects and then by sub-classes within each of these subjects. The HathiTrust Digital Map uses an entirely different method of classification. On this interactive maps texts are organized by the similarity in the vocabulary of individual texts.

The interactive map has two distinct modes: 'Read' and 'Interact'. If you select 'Interact' you can zoom in and pan around the map. If you then select an individual dot on the map you can actually open the selected text on the HathiTrust Digital Library website. However if you select 'Read' you can learn more about the vocabulary similarity classification system used by the digital map.

An Ocean of Books is an interactive map of over 100,000 authors and 145,162 books. On this map every island is an author and every city is a book. If you search the interactive map for your favorite writers you can find other writers that you may enjoy based on how near they appear on the map to your favorites.

The size of an author's island on An Ocean of Books is determined by the amount written about them on the internet. The more times they are mentioned on the World Wide Web then the bigger their island on the map. The position of the islands and the proximity of authors to each other is determined by the number of connections between them on the internet. If two authors are mentioned in lots of the same web pages then the closer they will be on An Ocean of Books.

The connections between authors and therefore their proximity on the map is determined by a machine learning algorithm. If you select an author's name on the map then you can read a short biography. If you zoom in on an author's island then all the writer's books will appear as cities on the map. Click on a book's title and you can read a short introduction to the selected book.


TheLibraryMap uses the idea of fictional genres as its organizing principle in mapping books. TheLibraryMap is an interactive map of over 100,000 books which are organized based on 'the genre and topics of each book'. On the map individual books are colored by 'genre and topics'. 

Individual book markers on the TheLibraryMap are also sized differently. The size of a book marker is related to the number of 'user reviews' (TheLibraryMap is a participant in the affiliate program so I assume this relates to user reviews on

Thursday, January 27, 2022

All the Maps at Once

The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection is one of the largest online collections of digitized vintage and historical maps. The collection includes over 100,000 digitized maps. Most of which you can explore as fully geo-referenced interactive maps.

This week, in a blog post entitled More Than Digital Copies: Maps That Interpret Maps, the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection is highlighting some of the amazing composite maps that it has created over the years. The David Rumsey Collection includes many atlases and map sheet collections in which large geographical areas have been mapped and then printed over many separate map pages. By geo-referencing all the separate map sheets in a collection and then overlaying them on an interactive map the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection is able to create one complete composite map from all the maps in a single collection.

Among my personal favorite composite maps highlighted in this week's blog post is an amazing interactive 3D globe of the moon. This interactive globe was created by making a composite map from 44 separate United States Air Force and NASA maps of the moon created in the 1960s from telescope observations and photographs of the moon.

The David Runsey blog post also links to a composite map of Urbano Monte's Planisphere. The David Rumsey Map Collection obtained one of only two manuscript copies of Urbano Monte's Planisphere in 2017. Monte's huge map is one of the earliest large complete maps of the world. 

The original manuscript map is in the form of a 60 sheet atlas. Urbano Monte intended for the sheets to be joined together to create one very large 10 foot map. The David Rumsey Map Collection has achieved this goal by digitizing all 60 sheets and creating a digital interactive map of Urbano Monte's Planisphere. Monte himself suggested that a central pivot be added to the center of the map so that users could rotate the map while exploring the atlas. The digital interactive version of the map does include a rotation button, which means you can now spin the map around its central pivot, just as Urbano Monte intended. 

The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection composite maps blog post also includes links to a composite map of Baron Haussmann's 1868 maps of Paris (showing how he planned to transform the French capital), a 360 degree view of Santiago, Chile (drawn in 1823) and a number of other amazing composite maps.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Lighting Up the World

Lights at Sea is a flashy interactive map which uses OpenStreetMap data to show the locations of lighthouses around the world. The map not only shows the locations of individual lighthouses but also shows the unique flash patterns and light colors which lighthouses use so that mariners can identify them and tell them apart from other lighthouses.

Most lighthouses have a unique 'daymark'. Each one is painted with a unique pattern which enable mariners to identify individual lighthouses during the day. These daymarks often consist of large colored painted stripes, diamonds or other patterns.At night these daymarks can't be seen, therefore lighthouses have unique light characteristics which enable ships to distinguish between different lighthouses in the same coastal areas. 

The Lights at Sea interactive map doesn't just show the location of individual lighthouses. Each lighthouse is also shown on the map using the real light color and flash pattern used by that lighthouse. The size of the lighthouse markers are even scaled to show the distance that each light is visible.The range of light emitted by a lighthouse is measured by how many nautical miles away it can be seen. In OSM the range of a lighthouse can be assigned using the tag 'seamark:light:range'. Lights at Sea uses this 'seamark:light:range' data to determine the size of each lighthouse's marker.

You could use just the lighthouse data from Lights at Sea to create a rough coastline map of Europe. However there appear to be less lighthouses or less lighthouses mapped in the rest of the world. It could be interesting to compare lighthouse density with global shipping traffic.

You can see on Lights at Sea that not all coastlines have lighthouses marked on OpenStreetMap. Many of these coastlines do have very busy shipping traffic. You can view most of the busiest shipping lanes around the world on is an outstanding animated map that visualizes the movements of the global merchant shipping fleet over the course of one year.

If you compare the two maps it appears that Africa and the western coastline of South America are two areas with heavy marine traffic but less lighthouses. I'm not sure if this is due to a lack of data on OSM in these regions or if there hasn't been the same tradition of building lighthouses in these areas of the world.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Visualizing the Tonga Volcanic Eruption

Reuters has created a very impressive visualization showing the scale of the huge eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano.In How Big Was the Tonga Eruption? Reuters has overlaid satellite imagery of the eruption over a number of global locations so that the news agency's readers have a comparative scale by which to judge the sheer size of the eruption which has devastated the nearby island of Tonga. 

One hour after the eruption of the volcano the umbrella cloud measured around 640 km wide. Most of us are very poor at conceiving the scale of large numbers and find a distance such as 640 km hard to gauge. In order to provide a true sense of the scale of the eruption Reuters has created a number of visualizations showing the volcanic umbrella cloud on top of a number of well-known landmasses, including Florida, California, the UK, Spain and Israel.

The animated image of the eruption used by Reuters was created using imagery captured by the NOAA GOES-West satellite. If you want to create your own animations from satellite imagery there are a number of applications which can help you. For example the RAMMB/CIRA Slider allows you to view (and create animations from) satellite imagery from a number of different satellites in geostationary orbit above different locations around the world. 

You can also use Streamlit for Geospatial Applications to create timelapse animations from satellite imagery. Streamlit uses a simple interface which allows you to create animations for any location around the globe from Landsat & GOES satellite imagery.

Monday, January 24, 2022

The Sexist Streets of the World

189 roads in Zurich are named after famous individuals. Of the 189 roads in the city named after people 134 (or over 70%) are named for men. Only 55 streets in Zurich are named for women. You can explore for yourself all the streets named for people in Zurich on the EqualStreetNames.Zurich interactive map. 

Zurich is of course not the only city which likes to ignore women when giving names to roads. The EqualStreetNames project has now analyzed the inequality in street names in 41 cities around the world. This list includes San Francisco, Madrid, Brussels, and Berlin. If your city is not yet on the list you can remedy this by creating your own street name map using the EqualStreetNames City Template.

The Geochicas project has also 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, Italy, Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Cuba, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. 

Streetonomics has also created a series of interactive maps 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 street on a city 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, from different occupations, and by country of origin.

A number of other interactive mapping projects have also 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 
Recognizing Women with Canadian Place Names
shows 500 locations in Canada named for women
Mapping Diversity mapping the male and female street names of Italy 

Saturday, January 22, 2022

The Global Rewilding Map

Last year the Haas Business School, with the help of 100k Trees 4 Humanity, planted 150 mature redwood trees on its Materials Recovery Facility in Richmond. The trees were planted in order to offset the 400 million pages of paper the school prints each year. The Haas Business School has decided to work on both reducing its overall printing total and to plant redwood trees in order to help sequester carbon and encourage biodiversity.

The Haas Redwood Tree Planting Project is just one of over 70,000 restoration projects featured on the Restor interactive map. Restor is an interactive map which tracks and maps projects around the world where communities are attempting to restore or conserve natural ecosystems. Conserving and restoring ecosystems is a crucial part of protecting and preserving biodiversity and can help in preventing further climate change. 

Using the interactive map you can discover what restoration projects are happening both near you and elsewhere around the world. As you explore on the interactive map the map sidebar automatically updates to show restoration projects taking place in the current map view. You can then click on these individual projects to learn more about the nature restoration being undertaken and to click through to visit the project's website (where available). 

The Restor interactive map also includes a 'global predictions' tool. If you use the 'draw an area' tool you can select an area of interest on the map. After drawing a polygon on the map and pressing the 'analyze area' button you can view an estimate of the amount of organic carbon which currently exists in the soil in this area and an estimate of how much could exist if the land is restored. You can also view breakdowns of the area's current biodiversity, types of environment and types of biodiversity.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Mapping the World's Infrastructure

The Open Infrastructure Map is an interactive map of the world's power, telecoms, gas, and oil infrastructure. The map uses data from OpenStreetMap to plot electricity power plants & power lines, oil, gas & petroleum pipelines, water pipelines, and telecom cables.

The Open Infrastructure Map includes five different layers. These layers allow you to turn on or off map data relating to 'Power', 'Solar Generation', 'Telecoms', 'Oil & Gas' and 'Water'. The electricity power lines shown are also color coded to show their levels of voltage. 

As you zoom in on the Open Infrastructure Map more detail is added to the map to show the locations of individual power stations. Different map symbols are used to indicate the different types of power plant (nuclear, oil, coal, gas, wind, solar etc). 

The Open Infrastructure Map also includes an interesting statistics facility. This allows you to view the amount of infrastructure mapped in different countries. For example Open Infrastructure Map has mapped 6,230 different power plants in the United States. Of these 763 are gas powered, 247 are coal powered and there are 62 nuclear power plants. The statistics given reflect only the infrastructure which has been mapped on OpenStreetMap. This data may be incomplete and the accuracy is only as good as the mapped data.

Gridfinder is an interactive map which visualizes the global electricity grid network based on night-light satellite imagery. The map predicts the existence of electricity network lines using evidence from night-time views of the Earth from space.

10% of the world's population does not have access to a reliable electricity supply. It is hoped that Gridfinder can be used to identify populations with poor access to electricity networks in order to help improve essential infrastructure and provide affordable and reliable energy.

The Gridfinder map shows the locations of known electricity lines using data from OpenStreetMap. The map also shows predicted electricity supply lines based on where lights can be seen at night from orbiting satellites. To predict the existence of these previously unmapped electricity supply lines the level of night-time light in satellite imagery is used to see where locations are most likely to be producing light from electricity. Where there is enough light to have been produced by an electricity network the map connects this to known electricity networks using an algorithm which follows roads and already known distribution lines.

You can read more about how night-time satellite imagery has been used to predict the world's electricity network on the research paper Predictive mapping of the global power system using open data.  

Every year Telegeography releases a map of the huge global network of undersea telecommunication cables which carry all our data around the world. 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.

The 2021 Submarine Cable Map from Telegeography 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).

Thursday, January 20, 2022

The Cycling Stress Map

Earlier this month I reviewed the City of Boston's Bicycle Level of Traffic Stress interactive map. A map which rates every road in the American city based on the stress caused to cyclists from road traffic, the lack of bike lanes and other conflict factors. The Bici Stressat ed al Traffico interactive map is a little more ambitious, in that it has mapped the cycling stress levels on every single road in Italy.

The Bici Stressat ed al Traffico is an interactive map which rates and colors every Italian road based on the stress caused to cyclists from other road traffic and from the availability of cycling infrastructure. Every road on the map is given one of four ratings: 'Safe for Children', 'Low Stress', 'Moderate Stress' or 'High Stress'. Cyclists can use the interactive map legend to turn on or off the roads of different stress levels. So, for example, if you wanted to plan a pleasant bike ride you could just select to view all the roads rated Safe for Children or Low Stress.

The four different cycling stress ratings given to individual roads are based on both the levels of road traffic and the presence / absence of separated bike lanes. You can learn more about how each of the four ratings are defined on the BikeItaly GitHub page (in Italian). These ratings are apparently based on ratings defined by Bike Ottawa.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

A Brief Atlas of Time

Nations and country borders are just as much historical entities as they are geographical. They exist in both time and space and can therefore be defined by both by their geography and by their chronology. In a couple of recent posts1 on Maps Mania I've reviewed a number of interactive maps which show how geography changes through history by plotting historical borders and movements by date. These interactive historical maps visualize how countries and borders change over time.

Open History Map is another example of an impressive interactive mapping platform which visualizes global spatial historical (and archaeological) data. The goal of Open History Map is to create an open interactive map of the past. One of the main differences between Open History Map and some of the other historical mapping platforms I've reviewed recently is that Open History Map isn't built so much on crowdsourced data, as on academic data and information.

The screenshot at the top of this post shows the Open History Map map view of Europe in the year 1001 CE. This map view includes an interactive timeline control which allows you to view the map for other dates in world history. The small black dots on the map represent historical place-names, which appear as you zoom in on the map. 

Because Open History Map relies on academic data it relies on lots of different historical datasets. You can view and access all these datasets on the Open History Map Data Index. This allows you to view an index of the datasets used in Open History Map, a list of the sources for these datasets and the individual datasets (with links to the original sources).

If you like the Open History Map then you might also enjoy:

1 A Map of the World Through Time and Mapping History

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A 3D Tour of Clarion Alley

The Clarion Alley Mural Project is an artists' collective which was created to transform Clarion Alley in the Mission District into a graffiti and mural canvas. You can observe the success of the project on the Clarion Alley 3D Tour.

The Clarion Alley Tour is an experimental 3D tour of the street murals in Clarion Alley in San Francisco made by Kieran Farr of the 3DStreet team.As you scroll through the Clarion Alley Tour you are taken on an impressive 3D journey along Clarion Alley. While you progress through the tour you can view the actual street murals in context, almost as if you were in the Alley yourself. 

I've been writing a lot recently about the growing trend of interactive 3D models in data journalism. These 3D immersive tours usually require a small team of programmers and a lot of work hours. The 3DStreet team's Clarion Alley Tour is a demo tour which shows how an immersive tour can be created using a number of existing JavaScript libraries. The tour was created using the Polycam LiDAR 3D scanner (for capturing the imagery), A-frame, the New York Times R&D's 3D tiles component, and the Cesium mapping platform. 

At the moment the Clarion Alley Tour is desktop only and won't work on mobile devices. You can clone the project and take a closer look at the code behind the Clarion Alley Tour on its Glitch site. 

Here are links to some other great examples of immersive 3D tours:

Monday, January 17, 2022

500 Years in Rio

The city of Rio de Janeriro is fast approaching 500 years of history. The city itself wasn't founded until 1565 but the site of the city was first reached by Portuguese explorers in January 1502 (hence the name Rio de Janeiro - 'January River'). 

You can explore the evolution of Rio over the last half a millennium on the new digital atlas imagineRio. At the heart of this new digital atlas, developed at Rice University, is an interactive map which visualizes the changes in Rio's landscape and topography over time. Using the map's timeline control you can view a map of the city during any point in the last five centuries. As you move the timeline the interactive map automatically updates to display a map of the city as it looked at that point in its history.

imagineRio also allows you to search and view thousands of historical photos, architectural plans, vintage maps, and drawings & paintings of the city. These vintage maps, photos and paintings of Rio de Janerio are displayed in the map sidebar and can be filtered using the map's timeline control. You can also filter the images by location by clicking on the 'search as map moves' option. 

imagineRio is just one of the recipients of a Getty Foundation's Digital Art History grant. Other digital mapping projects which have received grants and which are currently in development include a GIS web application exploring the archaeological excavations at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey, a 3D map of Florence through time, and the Pompeii Artistic Landscape Project.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Taking a Sunday Street View Drive

This morning I have been taking a virtual stroll along New Orlean's famous Bourbon Street. In fact using Map Channels' Street View Driver application I've been taking a virtual drive around a number of different global cities.

I first wrote about Street View Driver back in 2012. I'm pleased to say that nine years later the application is still going strong. To take your own animated Street View drive just select a city from the application's drop-down menu. You can then drag and drop the yellow Pegman figure on the Google Map to select the starting point of your virtual drive.

Street View Driver includes four controls. Press the 'Accel' button and your drive will begin. Pegman will start walking down the street in the direction that he is looking and the Street View window will start animating through the Google Maps Street View imagery of your virtual drive. Press the 'left' and 'right' buttons and you can look around during your virtual drive. You can also use the 'left' and 'right' buttons to change direction. For example, if you look 90 degrees to the right not only will you see the view to your right you will also turn right at the next street intersection. 

The Street Drive drop-down menu only includes American cities, however you can use the application anywhere in the word that has Street View imagery on Google Maps. To move to another country just zoom-out on the map and drag and drop the yellow Pegman icon to the location which you wish to explore.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Looking for Life on Europa

In 2024 NASA plans to launch the Europa Clipper mission in order to help determine if Europa harbors conditions which are suitable for life. Jupiter's moon Europa has a water-ice crust and the chemistry and energy which are essential for life to exist. The Europa Clipper, while orbiting around Jupiter, will investigate Europa, searching for habitability and also looking for possible landing sites for a future Europa Lander mission.

You can explore Europa for yourself on NASA's Europa in Depth website. Here you will find a 3D map of the moon. This interactive map features a number of place-name labels which you can select to learn more about a number of locations on this fascinating ocean world.

If you click on the 'Interior' button on the map you can view a segmented view of Europa. This segmented view shows the moon's icy crust, the water ocean which lies beneath, and the moon's iron metallic core. You can even select any of the moon's segmented layers to learn more about their geology. For example, if you click on the ocean layer you can discover that scientists believe that Europa's ocean is up to 100 miles deep. 

Friday, January 14, 2022

Wordle - Placenames Edition

Update: I found the Worle (wordle game clone) that I created a little too difficult to play. I've therefore created a second version of the game called Worlde. I'm hoping that this game will be easier to play as I've restricted the place-names that you have to guess to five letter long countries and global cities (most of which I hope you have heard of). 

To make the game even easier I have also added a 'cheat sheet' button. Press the 'cheat sheet' button and you can view a list of all the possible countries and cities. This game requires you to guess the name of countries and global cities (obviously you should try to guess the place-name without referring to the cheat sheet).

Worle is a very difficult Wordle clone, in which you have to guess the name of a UK town in 6 goes or less.

Wordle (for those of you living under a rock) is a viral word game. Your goal is to guess the hidden word in six attempts. When you enter a five letter word any letters in the correct space are shown in green. Letters that are in the word but in the wrong spot are shown in yellow. Letters shown in grey aren't anywhere in the answer.

My Worle version of the game uses UK town names instead of words from the dictionary. This makes the game very difficult to play - because there are lots of weird UK place-names that you have probably never heard of. 

When testing the game I found it very useful to refer to the list of five letter UK place-names that the game uses. You might think this is cheating and want to play the game without referring to the list, however I have found the game almost impossible to play myself without using the list at least once in each game.

My version of Wordle is a clone of Worble, made by Potch, which s/he made with Glitch.If you want to adapt Worle you can clone the game on Glitch. To adapt the game you only really need to change the list of words in the dictionary.txt file. For example you could change the list of place-names to U.S. town names instead of UK towns.

The Witcher Interactive Maps

If you have been watching series 2 of the Witcher on Netflix then you might be interested in browsing these Witcher interactive maps. The Witcher novels and television series take place on the fictional land of Continent, mostly in the Northern Kingdoms region. 

Netflix's The Witcher: Welcome to the Continent is probably the most atmospheric interactive map that I have seen of the Continent. It is covered in an animated fog and other special effects. The map also includes a timeline which means that this map allows you to explore the Witcher world both by location and by chronology. 

Using the interactive map you can select individual locations in the Continent to learn more about the role that they play in the Witcher story. The timeline at the bottom of the map can be used to learn more about important events in the unfolding story of the Continent, beginning with the Conjunction of the Spheres, the mysterious event that led to the arrival of humans and monsters on the Continent.

The Witcher website also features a lovingly crafted interactive map of the medieval fantasy world created by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. 

Zoom-in on Novigrad on this map and you can actually watch the smoke rising from rooftop chimneys. Zoom-in on Kaer Morhen and you can see the waves rippling on the lake. Elsewhere on the map you can find birds flapping their wings, moving windmills and even animated sea monsters.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Great Enclosure

Great Zimbabwe was a medieval city located in the south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe. Construction of the city is believed to have begun in the 9th century. The stone remains of the city, also known as the Great Enclosure, still stand and are recognized as a World Heritage Site. 

You can now pay a virtual visit to the Great Enclosure thanks to an amazing photogrammetry 3D model of the city created by The Economist. In Unearthing the Truth The Economist takes you on a guided tour of this amazing 250 meter long stone enclosure. This tour takes a detailed look at the decorated outer wall, the city's drainage system and the city's 5.5 meter tall conical tower. 

The Economist's amazing 3D tour of the Great Enclosure was made possible thanks to a 3D model of the city created by the University of Cape Town. The Economist was able to use Three.js and some clever compression tricks to turn this model into an amazing scrollytelling 3D tour that works seamlessly even in the browser of a mobile phone. You can learn more about how Unearthing the Truth was created in the Economist Data Team's blog post, How we created a 3D graphic of Great Zimbabwe.

The use of interactive 3D models is a growing trend in data journalism. Here are links to some other great examples of news organizations using 3D models to illustrate and explain major news events:

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Direct Train Map

Direct Train Connections is a very useful map which can show you all the locations you can reach by direct train from any station in Europe. Select a train station on this interactive map and you can view all the other stations in Europe which you can reach from there without having to change trains.

This weekend I fancy getting out of London for a nice day out. By selecting Stratford Station on Direct Train Connections I can see all the stations that I can reach by direct train from East London. These include a number of possible seaside destinations on the Kent and Essex coast. There is also a direct train to the Norfolk city of Norwich, which appears to be the longest journey I can take from Stratford without having to change trains. 

If you hover over any of the listed stations on the map a small pop-up will display the journey time from your home station to the selected destination. If you want you can also click through to actually buy a ticket for the selected journey via VB Fernverkehr (although this site doesn't work for UK train tickets).

A number of interactive maps now allow you to watch the train networks of entire countries in real-time. These incredible maps show the actual locations of trains on a country's rail network as they travel from station to station. I've listed a number of these live train tracking maps on The World's Trains in Real-Time

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Gerrymander Open

The Washington Post has devised an informative and fun way to teach its readers about gerrymandering. Across the United States politicians are currently attempting to redraw congressional district boundaries in order to give their parties an advantage in this year's elections for the House of Representatives. This redrawing of districts often involves clear attempts to make districts easier to win for one party or another.

In the Post's Gerrymandering Mini Golf game you get to play one hole of golf on each of nine different congressional district boundaries.Irregular shaped borders are one of the key indicators of a gerrymandered electoral district. It also makes an electoral district hard to play in a round of Gerrymandering Mini Golf.

Take Ohio's 1st Congressional District. This electoral district has been so gerrymandered by the Republican Party that its boundary has been contorted into an extremely irregular shape. This means that it is a very difficult hole to play in the Post's Gerrymandering Mini Golf. The Post has given this hole a par 5, which is a strong indication of how gerrymandered the district now is.

As well as giving each congressional district a par score the Post has given each district a compactness score. As you progress through your round of Gerrymandering Mini Golf the Post's notes on each district do a good job of explaining the pros and cons of using compactness as a guide for determining how gerrymandered an electoral district has been.

You can explore how the compactness of a district's boundary can be a strong indicator of gerrymandering on Antimander. Antimander is an open-source interactive application which is designed to detect gerrymandering within congressional districts. Using Antimander you can explore thousands of alternative congressional district maps to view how different electoral districts can radically alter the electoral results in different states.

Using the Antimander interactive map tool you can explore how Wisconsin's eight different districts can be redrawn to provide different electoral outcomes. In the last U.S. election the votes were fairly evenly split between the Republicans and Democrats (Trump narrowly won the popular vote) however the Republicans won 5 out of the 8 electoral districts. In other words the current electoral map in Wisconsin gives the Republican party an unfair advantage.

Antimander allows you to adjust three different metrics and immediately see how these would effect the electoral outcomes in Wisconsin. The metrics you can adjust are compactness (more complex district boundaries are a good indicator of gerrymandering), competitive elections (close races in each district) and fairness (the number of elected representatives corresponding as closely as possible to the percent of voters for each party).

If you want to know how gerrymandered your state's districts are then you can refer to Planscore. PlanScore has mapped the level of gerrymandering in all 50 states in the USA. PlanScore includes a comprehensive historical dataset of partisan gerrymandering, so you can examine the history of gerrymandering in each state and which political parties the districts have been gerrymandered to support.

The PlanScore choropleth map shows the level of gerrymandering in each state for both the House and State House elections. The darker the red or blue colors on the map then the more skewed the districts are towards the represented political party. If you select a state on the map you can view a more detailed report on the partisan bias in that state and how that compares to the level of gerrymandering in other states.

PlanScore has also developed a scoring service which allows you to test how fair or gerrymandered new district plans are. To use this service you just need to upload a shapefile or GeoJSON file of a district plan. PlanScore will then reveal the levels of the plan’s underlying partisan skew, showing how much the plan has been gerrymandered.

 Also See

What's Your Vote Worth - an interactive story map which explores the history of America's voting system, the right to vote and how voter representation is skewed under the present system and map. The story map includes a choropleth view of how much one vote is worth in each state.

The Gerrymandering Project - FiveThirtyEight has had a go at redrawing America's voting districts for themselves. In the Atlas of Redistricting FiveThirtyEight has created a number of new congressional maps, each designed to show how districts can be redrawn to favor different political parties.

How Gerrymandered is your Congressional District? - this 2014 map from the Washington Post colors each congressional district based on its gerrymandered score (determined by the Post's analysis).

Monday, January 10, 2022

A Map of the World through Time

Two weeks ago I wrote a small round-up of interactive maps which attempt to plot historical borders and places by date. All the maps listed in this Mapping History post allow you to view maps which show the world at different times in its history.

Unfortunately I forgot to mention OpenHistoricalMap in my Mapping History roundup. OpenHistoricalMap is another interactive mapping project which allows you to find and explore maps of places around the world as they were drawn at specific dates in history. Changing the date on OpenHistoricalMap and you can view a map of the world as it looked at that time. OpenHistoricalMap is therefore another great way to explore how locations have changed over the centuries (for example the animated map above shows the USA's changing state borders from 1800 to 1960).

Where OpenHistoricalMap differs from the other maps linked to in my Mapping History post is that it is an open source and crowdsourced project. This means that anyone can contribute to OpenHistoricalMap. If you are disappointed that OpenHistoricalMap appears to lack detailed data for a particular location at a specific point in history you can actually add the mapping data to the project yourself. Also because OpenHistoricalMap is built on open data you are free to download the data and reuse it in your own historical mapping projects.

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Natural Language Mapping

The UK Flood Impact Map is a new interactive map which links locations in the UK which have experienced flooding to newspaper articles which describe the impact of these individual flooding events. Many areas of the UK are particularly susceptible to the increased risk of flooding arising from climate change. It is hoped that the UK Flood Impact Map can help in developing an understanding about how flooding is affecting or could affect key public services and critical infrastructure in the UK.

At the heart of the UK Flood Impact Map is a Natural Language Processing (NLP) technique which uses named entity recognition to identify places and assets in newspaper articles related to flooding. Using NLP over 7,000 local, regional and national newspaper articles were examined to identify news stories about UK flood events. These flood events were then linked to geocoded locations and to specific events, sectors and themes. 

The linking of the flood events to locations allows users of the UK Flood Impact Map to search for news articles about flooding events by actual UK locations. The linking of the individual articles to specific events and themes means that users can also search the map by events (e.g. searching for flooding events linked to individual named storms) and by themes (e.g. coastal erosion, flash flooding, drainage). 

The UK Flood Impact Map has been released in conjunction with a report published by think tank Bright Blue. In Deep Water? Mapping the Impacts of Flooding in the UK since 2007 (PDF) explores how flooding events (revealed by the NLP of 7,000 news articles) have impacted on key public services, critical infrastructure, and businesses in the UK since 2007.

Friday, January 07, 2022

Mapping the American Power Grid

Last month Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy released a new interactive map which provides America's energy infrastructure. The Energy, Environment and Policy map shows the locations of the country's critical energy facilities.

The 'Infrastructure and Points of Interest' menu on the map allows users to add or remove different types of energy infrastructure from the map. These map layers include gas pipelines, and the different types of power plants used to power America. A second menu, 'Census Data and Raster Layers' allows you to add demographic and election data to the map. This menu includes layers which visualize population density, household income and the results of the 2020 election. Under this menu you can also find a map layer which shows the location of all active oil and gas wells.

You can also 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. 

Thursday, January 06, 2022

The Collapse of Chaplain South

In my round-up of the 50 Best Maps of 2021 I commented on the number of impressive animated 3D maps / models which were created by online news websites during the last twelve months in order to illustrate news stories. It appears that the graphic teams of many large news organizations are now capable of creating very sophisticated 3D graphics which can be combined with web scrollytelling to provide intricate modeled illustrations of major news events.

A very good example of this can be seen in the Miami Herald's investigation into the collapse of the Champlain Towers in Surfside Florida. On the night of June 24th 2021 the Chaplain Towers Condominium collapsed killing 98 people. In House of Cards the Miami Herald uses 3D modeling and building plans to show how poorly designed architectural plans and inadequate structural engineering resulted in the construction of a building which was to all intents and purposes structurally unsafe. 

The 3D models in the Miami Herald investigation are used to show how these initial design flaws became evident in the structural problems of the finished building. Problems that the condo association decided were too expensive to fix. As you progress through the Herald's story a 3D plan of the building is used to recount the movements of some of the building's occupants on the night of June 24th and to illustrate their testimony of the building's collapse. 

This illustrated recount of the building's collapse is reinforced with audio recordings of eye witness accounts and with video footage captured of the tower's collapse.The result is a very harrowing but superbly illustrated chronological retelling of the events of June 24th. 

Here are links to some other examples of news organizations using 3D models to illustrate and explain major news events:

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

The River Runner Global Edition



In December I named Sam Learner's incredible River Runner as my favorite interactive map of 2021.I am delighted to say that Sam (and team) has now released a global version of his amazing map.

River Runner was originally released in May of last year. This interactive map allows you to click anywhere in the United States to view the path that a drop of rain would take downstream to the sea. The US River Runner map uses Mapbox's elevation data and the USGS's national hydrology data to calculate and animate this incredible journey of a single drop of water from any location in the USA to the sea. 

River Runner Global allows you to virtually drop a raindrop anywhere in the world to visualize its journey to the sea. This means that you can now select any location in the world to watch an animated map journey that a raindrop would take from that location downstream to the sea. In order to work worldwide River Runner Global uses the MERIT-Basins global vector hydrography dataset. The map also uses Natural Earth data for the river name labels.

You can read more about the development of River Runner Global here.This 'about' page includes information on how to download the river name data and how to clone and deploy the River Runner API.The River Runner Global team has also compiled a list of some of their favorite raindrop paths. River Runner Global Paths includes links to over 20 animated journeys, showing how a drop of water would travel from locations around the world - downstream to the sea.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

The Cycling Stress Map

 heavy motor traffic + steep inclines + headwinds = cycling stress

I cycle a lot. However I am still a fair weather cyclist. I don't take my bike out in the rain. I avoid roads. And I try not to cycle anywhere that involves climbing steep hills. 

The City of Boston recognizes that a lot of other cyclists are discouraged from cycling by the stress caused from road traffic, the lack of bike lanes and other conflict factors. They have therefore decided to rate every street in Boston based on its Bicycle Level of Traffic Stress (BLTS). The resulting map provides a fantastic overview of where it is most and least stressful to cycle in Boston.

The City of Boston's new Bicycle Level of Traffic Stress interactive map colors every road based on its BLTS rating. The BLTS rating is based on a road segment's traffic speed, traffic volume, presence of bike lanes & parking lanes and other conflict factors (such as bus lanes and school zones).

The map can be used by cyclists to find routes around the city which are likely to be the least stressful to ride. It is also being used by the City of Boston to highlight gaps in the city's cycling infrastructure and to identify those road segments in the city with unacceptably high levels of cycling stress.

Monday, January 03, 2022

How to Run Every Street

If you need to run off those few extra pounds you gained over Christmas or your New Year's Resolution is to exercise a lot more then you might like the #everystreet challenge interactive map.

#everystreet is a running challenge for joggers which involves attempting to run every street in your neighborhood or town. The #everystreet challenge interactive map can help you achieve this goal by planning out the most optimal route around your home. A route which will take in every single street within a defined boundary.

Share your location with the #everystreet challenge interactive map and then use the map's drawing tool to select the area in which you wish to run. Then just press the 'generate route' button and the interactive map will create an optimal route which you can follow to run every single street in the most efficient way possible. As well as a map of the route #everystreet challenge will tell you the total length of the route, the total street length, and how efficient the calculated route is (e.g. how much doubling back on streets you will have to do).

Via: Weekly OSM

For most locations the #everystreet challenge interactive map will devise a route which involves you having to back-track on yourself a little. If you can find a route that involves no self-intersecting sections then you could enter the route into the Long Tiny Route challenge.

Long Tiny Loop is an international fitness challenge to find "the longest possible non-self-intersecting loop within the smallest possible region, without revisiting any streets or intersections". The explanation for Long Tiny Loop is a little complicated but I can assure you that once you explore the maps at the top of the competition leaderboard you will quickly understand the concept. Basically you need to create a long but compact route which doesn't require you having to travel over the same ground more than once.

Scores for Long Tiny Loop are based on the ratio of the length of a route to the total diameter of the area in which you traveled. To enter a route into the competition you will need a Strava account. However you can explore the interactive maps of the routes which other people have entered without an account. At the time of writing the leading route is a 107km route around the streets of Brooklyn. A route which has a 3.6km diameter and which doesn't once require a runner to travel over a path already used.