Friday, November 11, 2022

Top 5 Moving Maps

Day 23 of the #30DayMapChallenge calls for participants to create a map around the theme of movement. This year the vast majority of the maps I've seen posted on social media in response to the #30DayMapChallenge have been static maps. I'm hoping that the theme of 'movement' might inspire a few more participants to venture into creating interactive maps on the 23rd. 

Static maps can certainly visualize movement, for example through the use of arrows in flow maps, or the use of lines in ischrone maps. However interactive maps can physically and visually represent movement through the use of actual moving parts, by animating lines, markers and polygons on top of map tiles. So, if you want to participate in day 23 of the #30DayMapChallenge you can get some inspiration from the:

Top 5 Moving Maps

1. Earth NullSchool

Earth Nullschool is a fantastic interactive map that animates the current (and past) weather conditions being experienced around the world in real-time. The map uses weather data from the Global Forecast System to create real-time animated maps of global wind conditions. Zoom in on any location in the world and animated colored isobars visualize in real-time the strength and direction of the local wind conditions.

You can also view global weather conditions being animated in real-time on the Windy map. You can even add animated wind isobars to your own interactive maps using the Web-GL Wind plug-in for Mapbox.    

2. RiverRunner

Sam Learner's incredible River Runner allows you to click anywhere on a map of the United States to view the path that a drop of rain would take downstream from that location 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 ocean.

River Runner doesn't actually use any animated features on the map but creates a sense of movement by simply automatically panning an interactive map to show the entire journey you could take by river from a chosen location to the sea. 

If you live outside the United States you can join in the fun by using Sam's River Runner Global map.

3. Mini Tokyo 3D

Mini Tokyo 3D is a live real-time map of Tokyo's public transit system. The map shows the live position of Tokyo's trains in 3D as they move around Japan's biggest transit network.

Obviously there are lots of examples of interactive transit maps which show the positions of moving trains on a map by using animated markers. What makes Mini Tokyo 3D stand out is the use of 3D blocks for the trains and the use of 3D buildings. These three dimensional elements really help to create a vivid real-time simulation of the whole Tokyo transit network. A simulation where the trains can actually be seen (virtually) moving around the city in real-time. 

4. FlightRadar24

FlightRadar24 is an incredible interactive map which shows the locations of planes around the world in real-time. Zoom in on any location on FlightRadar24 and you can watch thousands of plane markers moving around the map, showing the position of planes in real-time. 

The map uses ADS-B data in order to be able to show the live positions of the world's planes. Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS-B) uses satellites to track the locations of aeroplanes as they travel around the globe

If you like watching thousands of planes moving around the world in real-time then you might also like watching ships moving in real-time on a global map. MarineTraffic is to the world's shipping traffic what FlightRadar24 is to aeroplanes. This interactive map uses AIS data (which is used on ships to automatically track their locations) to provide real-time information on the locations of ships as they ferry goods and people around the globe. 

5. Data Spiders

In the summer William B. Davis released his Hub and Spoke map. William's map shows the eight closest airports when you click on any location on Earth on the map. Obviously this map will be invaluable to anybody who is desperate to know where their nearest airports are located. However, to be honest, what is more interesting about this map is how the data being visualized is able to crawl as you pan around the map. 

This is because as you move the Hub and Spoke map the eight-legged airport finder crawls across the map to your new location. As it moves it continues to update to show the eight nearest locations to each changed location. The result is (as you can see in the animated screenshot above) like being in control of a massive data spider!

The Data Spider technique developed by William B.Davis inspired lots of cartographers to release their own hub & spoke based maps. These include Massachusetts Libraries Spoke Map, Runways, Trails of WindSpoke Spider and the Closest Hill Map.

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