Friday, March 31, 2023

Going Postal

The Topic & Sentiment Map of #royalmail Tweets interactive map analyzes Twitter messages to show where people in the UK are happy or disappointed in their postal services. By carrying out a sentiment analysis of Tweets containing the hashtag '#royalmail' the map is able to show where people are posting positive and negative messages about their mail delivery. 

Emoji markers are used on the map to show the type of sentiment expressed towards the Royal Mail in Twitter messages. You can click on the individual markers to read the Tweet yourself. Negative messages towards the postal service outweigh the positive messages on the map. This may well be a common problem with this type of sentiment analysis - as I think it is more likely that people will take to Twitter to vent their dissatisfaction with the postal service than they are to write a favorable Tweet about their local postie. 

However that doesn't mean that this type of sentiment analysis mapping of social media messages can't be extremely useful. It would appear to have great potential for identifying in near real-time emerging problems in a network, or at the very least identify locations where there is a large level of customer dissatisfaction. 

If you are interested in how machine learning was used to determine the sentiment of #royalmail Tweets then you should read An AI-Powered Analysis of our Postal Service Through Tweets, which does a great job of explaining how a machine learning model was trained to analyze the sentiments expressed in Twitter messages towards the Royal Mail. It also includes a link to the GitHub repo of the project.

You can read about previous examples of setiment mapping based on Twitter messages in the post Sentiment Mapping. This post links to three previous mapping projects which attempted to map sentiments expressed in Twitter messages (unfortunately all three projects are now dead links).

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Can AI Models Make Maps?

I asked Google's artificial intelligence large language model (LLM) chatbot Bard: 

How can Artificial Intelligence be used to create interactive maps for the internet?

Bard replied that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used to:

  • Automatically generate maps from satellite imagery. AI can be used to identify and classify objects in satellite imagery, such as buildings, roads, and trees. This information can then be used to automatically generate maps of a given area. 
  • Predict the location of points of interest. AI can be used to predict the location of points of interest, such as restaurants, gas stations, and tourist attractions. This information can then be used to create interactive maps that show the location of these points of interest. 
  • Detect and track changes in the environment. AI can be used to detect and track changes in the environment, such as deforestation, flooding, and erosion. This information can then be used to create interactive maps that show the changes that are taking place. 
  • Provide real-time traffic updates. AI can be used to provide real-time traffic updates, such as the location of accidents and the speed of traffic. This information can then be used to create interactive maps that show the current traffic conditions. 
  • Personalize maps for individual users. AI can be used to personalize maps for individual users by taking into account their interests and preferences. For example, AI can be used to show users only the points of interest that are relevant to them. 

Bard's response to my query provides an interesting overview of how image identification models are being trained to search for patterns in satellite imagery and to detect changes in satellite imagery over time. However I actually wanted to know how I might use ChatGPT or Bard to save me hours of work by making interactive maps for me (which shows how important it is to carefuuly phrase your interactions with LLMs).

Over the last few weeks I've been reading with interest on Twitter how developers have been using AI models (mainly ChatGPT) to create Overpass Turbo queries, to display requested OSM features on an interactive map, and how to make ChatGPT Generated Web Maps. My own personal attempts to get Google's Bard to create Overpass Turbo queries or valid GeoJSON have failed miserably. I think that at least fot the moment it that ChatGPT is a much better GIS practitioner than Bard.

If you don;t have access to ChatGPT or Bard don't worry. There are already two neat services which use AI models to help you easily create maps simply by typing a request or question:

Enter a question or some text into Texttomap and it will attempt to answer your question and show you the results on a map. For example the map at the top of this page was created by asking Texttomap "Which are the four longest rivers in the United States?" Other suggested prompts (by Texttomap) are "Which countries took part in WW2?" or "What should I see when visiting Paris?"

Once you have created a map with Textomap you can share a link (such as this map of 'What should I see in San Francisco?'). With a paid pro account you can also embed any created maps in your own website or blog.

mapsgpt can also be used to create interactive web maps simply by entering a few text inputs. For example here is a map built from the input Show me restaurants near Spitalfield, London. mapsgpt will send you a link to any created map if you tell it your e-mail address.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Mass Shooting Database

I tend not to review many crime maps on Maps Mania. Mainly because I have serious concerns about how accurate they are and the possibility that some crime maps paint a distorted picture of the real levels and locations of crimes.

There are many reasons why a crime map, purportedly showing the locations of recorded crimes in a city, may not be a true reflection of the true crime levels in that city. For example not all crimes are reported to the police. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as victims not feeling comfortable reporting the crime, not believing that the police will actually respond to a report of the crime, or believing that police will be unable to solve the crime. 

Even when crimes are reported, they may not be recorded accurately. For example, on this San Francisco bike theft map a major hot-spot of crime appears to be a local police station (possibly because the address of the police station was used when no theft site could be identified).

These concerns don't really apply to maps of mass killings. This is because mass killings are unlikely to go unreported to the police and their impact tends to ensure that they are largely recorded to the correct crime location. The impact and importance of mass killings also means that the data is likely to be more closely scrutinised and audited. For example the Mass Killing Database, a collaboration between Northeastern University and the Associated Press, tracks all multiple homicides in the United States from 2006 with four or more victims.

Mapping the mass killings in the Mass Killing Database reveals that multiple homicides occur in all kinds of towns and cities in the United States. However, according to USA Today, "Homicides with fewer than four victims are more common in larger cities, but mass killings with higher death tolls often take place in smaller towns or rural settings."
The Gun Violence Archive also collects data on gun-related violence in the USA (the Mass Killing Database isn't limited to mass killings involving only guns). The Gun Violence Archive reports that there have already been 130 mass shootings in the USA so far this year. To date 61 children have been killed by guns in 2023 and 132 children have been injured by guns.

Mother Jones has also been collecting data on mass shootings in the USA since 1982. According to their 'Guide to Mass Shootings' in over three quarters of mass shooting incidents in the USA the guns involved were acquired legally. 

The Mass Killing Database and the Mother Jones Guide to Mass Shootings use different criteria in defining what constitutes a mass killing. The Mass Killing Database isn't limited to gun crimes and Mother Jones only records indiscriminate killings in public places. There are therefore major differences in the number of mass killings between the two different databases. Despite these differences one thing is clear in both databases - the perpetrators of mass killings and mass shootings are overwhelmingly male.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The Real-Time Wind Power Map

Right now around a third of the UK's current electricity is being generated by offshore wind power. In fact more than 20% of global offshore wind capacity is generated in the UK.

You can explore for yourself the current operating status of UK wind farms on the UK Renewables Map. This map shows the live generating output of all the major wind farms in Great Britain, revealing the amount of power currently being generated by each farm and where that generation is happening.

The current MW output of each wind farm is represented on the map by scaled yellow circles. If you click on these circles you view the selected farm's name and graphs showing the historical generating output of the farm. The UK Renewables Map also includes a real-time animated wind layer which shows the current wind conditions around the UK.

The UK Renewables Map is a personal project of Robin Hawkes. The wind data for the map is from Elexon BSC and the animated wind layer is from WeatherLayers.

You can also view the estimated amount of electricity being generated by offshore wind sites across the UK on the Crown Estate's Offshore Wind Electricity Map. On this map each wind farm is represented by a scaled animated wind turbine marker. The size of each marker represents the scale of its current output. If you select one of these markers you can view the name of the wind farm and its current output in megawatts.

The map sidebar shows a dashboard reading of the share of the UK's electricity currently being generated by offshore wind. If you select a marker on the map the dashboard updates to show the name of the selected wind farm and its current output in MW.

Monday, March 27, 2023

The Electric Vehicle Driving Test

Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular, as people look for ways to reduce their environmental impact. But what are the pros and cons of electric vehicles compared to gas cars? And are all electric vehicles created equal?

The San Franicisco Chronicle has created an interesting route planning tool which can help drivers compare the likely travel time and cost of taking any car journey in the USA. If you click on your starting point and destination on the interactive map in How Teslas and other major EVs perform you can discover how long the journey woild take in both a gas powered car and an electric vehicle. You can also find out how much the journey would cost in terms of gas or electric charging costs. 

The Chronicle talks about the map being used to plan California road trips but the map actually works for any road trip in the USA or Canada. If you do use the map outside of California just be aware that the gas and electricity costs of a journey are calculated based on the average gas & electric charging prices in California on March 1 2023.

The Chronicle map can be used to compare the performance of four different models of electric vehicles (the Tesla Model Y, the Polestar 2, the Ford F-150 Lightning truck and the Chevy Bolt). Select one of these electric vehicles (using the buttons at the top of the map) and you can discover the estimated journey time for that vehicle, the number of potential charge stops and the estimated cost of the journey.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Toponym Homonyms

In January a New Yorker called Kingsley Burnett landed in Sidney, Montana. As Kingsley emerged from the plane he was upset to discover that the temperature was 22°F and not in the 80s. You see when Kingley Burnett booked his plane ticket he thought he was embarking on a dream holiday to Sydney, Australia, not to the sleepy Montanan city.

Kingley is not the first person to book a holiday to the wrong Sydney. Back in 2017 a Dutch student, Milan Schipper, arrived in Sydney, Canada. Unfortunately when Milan bought his plane ticket he also thought he was heading to a sunny vacation in Sydney, Australia.

It is very easy to book travel tickets to the wrong location. Especially when so many locations share the exact same name. For example in the United States there are 34 different towns and cities called Springfield, 31 cities called Franklin and 29 called Clinton

If a friend asks you to meet them in Springfield on Sunday which Springfield will you travel to? Obviously you should ask them which Springfield they are talking about. However if for some reason you can't confirm the correct Springfield then you could try using The Pudding's Most Likely Town map instead.

The Pudding's Map of Places in the US with the Same Name calculates "what place someone is most likely referring to, depending on where they are". For example if you enter 'Sprinfield' into the map it shows you the location of all the towns called Springfield in the states and colors the map to show you which Springfield would be most likely the town being referred to depending on your location in the United States. 

This is determined by giving a score for each town "based on a combination of proximity, population, and Wikipedia article length, then normalized by share". For example if you are in Bent County, Colorado then the Springfield being discussed is most likely to be Springfield, Colorado.

You can enter any town name into The Pudding's map. For example if you enter 'New York' into the map you will discover that there is a New York in Texas. Therefore if you live in Anderson County in Texas and someone says lets go to 'New York' they are probably referring to the 'Little Apple' (at least that's what I hope the citizens of New York, Texas call their tiny town).

The Pudding's map also seems to cope well with international city homonyms. For example if you enter 'Paris' or 'London' into the map it reveals in most counties in the United States 'Paris' or 'London' usually refers to the French and UK capitals respectively. Only if you live in a county near the handful of US places called Paris or London are you likely being referred to a US location.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Is Your Town a Parking Lot?

The Parking Reform Network has ranked U.S. towns based on how much land is dedicated to parking cars. Their Parking Lot Map allows you to see at a glance the percentage of the land surface area of a town or city that is taken up by parking lots and discover each city's PRN Parking Score.

PRN analyzed the amount of land taken up by parking lots in over 50 cities. It then gave each city a score based on how it compares to other cities of a similar size. A city that has a high Parking Score has a high percentage of city land devoted to parking cars. A low Parking Score means that less land is taken up by parked cars.

Arlington, Texas tops the rankings with a Parking Score of 100. 42% of the central area of Arlington is taken up by parking lots. At the other end of the scale is San Francisco, with a Parking Score of 4. Only 4% of central San Francisco is dedicated to parking automobiles. 

If you don't live in the U.S., or your map isn't one of the 50 cities analyzed by PRN, you can see how much of your own neighborhood is dedicated to parking cars using this Overpass Turbo query. Just center the map on the location you wish to analyze and press the 'run' button. Overpass Turbo will then highlight in red all the parking lots at that location.

You can also use the Parkulator map to see how much of your town is dedicated to cars. Parkulator is an interactive mapping tool which allows you to discover how much of your town is dedicated to parking lots, golf courses, brownfield sites, solar generators or parks. 

If you draw an area on the Parkulator map you can choose to find out how much of that area's real-estate is claimed by parking lots. Parkulator will also tell you how much housing or how many parks could be built instead on that area of land. In addition the Parkulator map can show you how many railway stations, light-rail stops, subway stops of tram stops are in that same area.

In the United States it is also possible to explore the amount of land dedicated to parking lots on the USA Parking Lots interactive map. USA Parking Lots is an interactive map of the United States which blacks out every single parking lot in the country. 

Because this is America if you zoom in on a major city the map usually displays a lot of black polygons. Using USA Parking Lots you can quickly see which areas of your town or city have a high concentration of parking lots. You can then observe this same area on the Parkulator map to find out how many homes you could build in this area or how much parkland you could have if your city had better public transportation and dedicated bike lanes.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Locals vs Tourists 2023

Erica Fisher's Locals & Tourists interactive map, released in 2013, is rightly considered a classic of digital data visualization. His interactive map identifies areas of cities that are popular with tourists and those areas which only seem to be known to locals. The map was made using the locations of Tweets sent by locals (those who post in one city for one consecutive month) and tourists (whose tweets are centered in another city). 

The Locals & Tourists map of Twitter users was inspired by Erica's own 2010 Locals and Tourist maps posted on Flickr. These maps show where (in a number of different global cities) photographs have been submitted to Flickr by tourists and where they have been submitted by tourists, based on how far the user's profile location was from a photo's location.

Now Logan Williams has released a new interactive map called "Locals" and "Tourists" on iNaturalist. This 2023 riff on Erica's methodology uses data from iNaturalist to map out where nature lovers are posting nature photos as tourists and where iNaturalist observations have been posted by locals. On this interactive map the locations of iNaturalist postings are shown as either blue or orange dots. The blues dots show observations made by locals (defined as <= 90 days of local activity). The orange dots show observations made by tourists (> 90 days of local activity).

Like Erica's original maps Logan's map provides a fascinating insight into the areas of our towns and cities which are frequented by tourists and those areas which seem to remain only visited by locals. In the screenshot at the top of this post you can see how in San Francisco, in the Embarcadero and Fisherman's Wharf iNaturalist receives lots of entries from tourists. On the otherhand the trails around Mt. Tamalpais feature observations mainly submitted by locals.

In London we can see that a lot of tourists have submitted photos to iNaturalist from around Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. However not many tourists travel further east and visit Shadwell Basin or Swedenborg Gardens, where all the observations (bar one) appear to have been made by locals. 

You can read more about Logan's Locals and Tourists map on his blog post iNaturalist observations: "locals" and "tourists". This post explains a little more about the inspiration behind the map, some of the limitations of its methodology and how the data was downloaded from iNaturalist.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Spying on a Chinese Spy Balloon

Thanks to some impressive detective work the New York Times has worked out the provenance of the notorious Chinese spy balloon which enraged many Americans back in February. In Tracking the Chinese Spy Balloon From Space you can follow the path the balloon took on an interactive map, as it journeyed from China, across the Pacific Ocean and across the United States during January and February of this year. 

In order to discover the path taken by the Chinese balloon the NYT used satellite imagery of the balloon discovered by the imagery analysis platform RAIC. RAIC used image recognition software to find pictures of the balloon in millions of individual satellite images taken by Planet. The NYT were then able to create an interactive map which shows the path taken by the balloon over time. According to the NYT the balloon was launched from (or near) Hainan Island on January 15th.

Beneath the NYT's map of the balloon's track from China to the Atlantic is a very interesting explanation of how RAIC were able to discover the balloon's path from an analysis of satellite imagery. It also explains how the balloon's varying altitude was also able to be detected from the same satellite imagery. 

Fans of dirigible espionage can launch their own virtual spy balloon using the Spy Balloon Simulator interactive map. The Spy Balloon Simulator allows you to launch an imaginary spy balloon anywhere in the world and view its possible flight path over a 20 day period. The balloon's simulated flight path is calculated using atmospheric data from ERA5, produced by the Copernicus Climate Change Service. At the bottom of the map are some time controls which allow you to see the simulated balloon's position along its calculated flight path for any hour during the 20 day period.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Animated Street View Routes

When I'm visiting somewhere new, some place that I've never been before, I often like to preview the location using Google Maps Street View. For example, last week I had to attend a meeting at a venue in a neighborhood of London that I am unfamiliar with. While checking out the location of the venue on Google Maps I also previewed the route from the nearest Underground Station to the venue on Street View. This helped to ensure that I actually didn't get lost on the way to my meeting.

If you also like to familiarize yourself with a route before taking a journey then you might like Map Channels' Animated Route Maps. Animated Route Maps allow you to request a travel route (driving, walking, cycling or public transit) and then view an animated Street View tour of the actual route. Animated Route Maps aren't just for neurotic mazeophobics like myself, it is also a fun tool for virtually exploring the world.

Scroll down on the Animated Route Maps landing page to the 'Examples' section and you can find some predefined animated Street View tours. The examples include a scenic animated Street View drive along the Amalfi Coast in Italy, a climb up Chapman's Peak in South Africa and a drive along Norway's breathtaking Lysebotn Road.

Monday, March 20, 2023

The Earth Shakes

And the Earth Shakes is an interactive storymap which explores the location and magnitude of earthquakes around the world since 1900. The map and data visualizations were created by the atlo data journalism team using data from the United States Geological Survey. 

The first part of And the World Shakes uses an interactive globe to show the locations of around 37,000 earthquakes which have occurred since 1900. As you scroll through the article the globe takes you on a tour of some of the most impactful earthquakes of the last 123 years. These include the recent earthquake to hit Turkey and Syria, the largest recorded earthquake (May 22 1960 in Chile), the 9.2 magnitude earthquake which hit Alaska on March 28 1964, and the San Francisco earthquake of April 18, 1906.

You can explore all post-1900 earthquakes greater than magnitude 5.5 on the interactive map yourself by using the filter controls which appear when you reach the end of the map presentation. These controls allow you to filter the earthquakes shown on the globe by year, strength and tectonic plate.

The second half of And the World Shakes explores the strength and depth of post-1900 earthquakes. The article also takes time to explain what causes earthquakes to occur and the nature and effect of their shockwaves.

And the Earth Shakes is in Hungarian. However the data visualizations in the article are fairly self-explanatory and the whole site can be read in English using the 'translate' option in the Chrome browser.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

The Climatological Map of the World's Oceans

The European Union's research project 'Climatological Database for the World's Oceans, 1750-1850' extracted weather data from over 280,000 sailing ship logbooks written between 1750 and 1850. The resulting database, containing comprehensive weather observations and voyage details, is an invaluable resource for the study of climate and maritime history.

The Library of Congress has used the resulting database to create an interactive map. The Climatological Database for the World's Oceans, 1750-1850 allows you to explore the logbook information of Spanish, Dutch, French and English sailing ships as they navigated the globe in the 18th and 19th Centuries. If you zoom in on the map you can view the tracks of individual voyages on the map from the trail of individual marked entries over time. Click on a marker on the map and you can view the name of the plotted sailing ship, the date of the log entry and read any entry record related to the day's climate.

The ship markers on the map can be filtered by country. This means that you can get a good overview of where in the world France, Spain, the Netherlands and Britain were trading and colonizing during the period 1750-1850. For example if you filter the map to show only the entries from French and Spanish ships you can see that sailing ships from these countries made relatively few trips to the Indian Ocean. On the other hand many British and Dutch ships in this period were making journeys through the Indian Ocean to India and the East Indies. 
There are more filter controls on the Wooden Ships interactive map, which also allows you to explore European maritime activity from 1750 to 1850. Like the Library of Congress map Wooden Ships is based on the digitized shipping logs from the Climatological Database for the World's Oceans 1750-1850. 

On this map you can also filter the ship positions shown on the map by country of origin. In addition you can use the time-line at the bottom of the map to filter the map by any range of years from 1750 to 1850. This map also allows you to filter the data by wind speed patterns and by other weather and climatic conditions. If you click on a hexbin on the map you can also read entries from the ship logbooks yourself.

Friday, March 17, 2023

What do you call an American with a Brain?

Q: What do you call a person from Maine with a brain?

A: A Maineiac.

Q: What do you call a person from California with a brain?

A: Lost!

Q: What do you call a person from Arkansas with a brain?

A: A Yo'all

I asked the Stanford Alpaca AI what you would call a resident of each US 'with a brain'. I was hoping for some good 'dad joke' type answers. 

For example I asked Alpaca 

"What do you call a Texan with a brain?" 

and it answered:

"A Yankee".

You can find the results for each of the 50 US states on my interactive map US State Brainiacs. If you hover over a state on the map you can see the entire joke in question and answer form displayed at the top of the map.

Unfortunately most of the answers don't really qualify as dad jokes. Before you start complaining that Alpaca gave you a different answer for your state you might want to note that I've discovered that Alpaca is inclined to often give different answers when asked the same question more than once.

Another problem with my map (apart from the poor jokes) is that the GeoJSON source I used for the state centroids doesn't appear very accurate. I did ask Aplaca to give me the coordinates for each US State. It did return a well formatted response, giving a latitude and longitude for each state. Unfortunately only about 5% of the coordinates returned by Alpaca could be considered anywhere near accurate and many weren't even located within the actual correct state.

BTW the answer to:

'What do you call an American with a brain?"


'A brain transplant patient'
(although I'd always thought the answer was 'A Canadian')

Thursday, March 16, 2023

The Civic Freedom Index

Civc Freedoms are now in danger around the world. According to Civicus Monitor, which tracks civic and democratic health in countries around the world, civic freedom has narrowed in the USA, France & Spain, and is being obstructed in the United Kingdom. 

The Civicus Monitor annual report ranks 197 countries based on local threats to civil society. In the latest report it finds that 'civil society is under severe attack in 117 of 197 countries and territories'. Countries are ranked based on the 'state of freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression' and then rated as either 'closed', 'repressed', obstucted', 'narrowed' or 'open'.

The Civicus Monitor interactive map colors every country in the world based on its latest ranking. If you hover over a country on the map you can view its civic health score (out of 100) and its current rating. If you click on a country you can view links to the latest stories about the selected country's civic and democratic freedoms. 

In the latest Civicus Monitor report the United States is listed as seeing 'marginal improvements' to its civic and democratic health. However it remains ranked as 'narrowed'. The 'narrowed' rating is given to countries where "the state allows individuals and civil society organisations to exercise their rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression" but where "violations of these rights also take place". The United Kingdom has been downgraded to 'obstructed'. Civicus Monitor reports that civic space in the UK is in 'decline' with "restrictions on protests, attacks on migrant rights, & protesters behind bars".

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The Sky at Night

The Globe at Night is a citizen-science project which is collecting global data on night sky brightness by asking people across the world to report on their local light pollution conditions. So far this year the project has managed to collect 277,423 observations from people around the globe.

To enter an observation you need to share your location with the Globe at Night and enter the date of your observation. You then need to observe a constellation and choose from a list of magnitude charts the representation of the number of visible stars that most closely resembles what you can see in the night sky. 

You can explore the observations already submitted to the Globe at Night on this interactive map. The map uses colored dots to show the Limiting Magnitude scores recorded at each location. If you click on a dot you can learn the date of the observation and any comments given on the cloud and street lighting conditions. The darker the color of dot then the more stars were seen during the observation.

You can also explore the Light Pollution Map to find out more about light pollution in your country. This interactive map allows you to explore light pollution levels around the world night using VIIRS (infrared imaging) data collected by satellites.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

AI States

I asked an AI to describe every US state in one word. This AI States map shows the results.

I used Stanford Alpaca to get a one word description of each of the 50 states. Alpaca is Stanford University's instruction-following language model. I asked Alpaca questions in the form:

"Describe Texas in one word"

to see how it would describe each state. 

As you can see from the map a lot of the one word descriptions given by Alpaca to describe states are topographical. For example Colorado, North Carolina & New Hampshire are described as 'mountainous'; Arizona is described as 'arid'; Kansas is described as 'flat; and Georgia is described as 'hilly'. 

A few states appear to be described by their demographic or cultural compositions. For example California, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Ohio are described as 'diverse' and New York is described as 'vibrant' (although I suspect that Alpaca may have been thinking about the city more than the state). 

On a few occasions Alpaca used more than one word when asked to describe a state in one word. On these occasions I shortened the answer to the most relevant (as determined by me) one or two words.

If you hover over a word on the map you can view the name of the state (shown in the top right-hand corner of the map). Before you start commenting that I've got Alpaca's answer wrong for your state you might want to note that I've discovered that Alpaca is inclined to often give different answers when asked the same question again. On the map I've used the first response that Alpaca gave to the request 'Describe (state) in one word'.

One major problem with my map is that the GeoJSON source I used for the state centroids doesn't appear to be very accurate. As a consequence some of the state labels aren't actually very central in the state that they describe. 

The Global Flight Time Map

I could have breakfast in London and be in New York in time for lunch. According to the Approximate Flight Time Map a plane journey from London to New York would take just under 8 hours. If I factor in the time difference then I could leave London at 8am and be in New York before midday (EDT). 

Conversely if I want to travel to Sydney then I won't arrive before dinner-time tomorrow evening. The flight to Sydney is 21 hours long and the 11 hour time difference means that if I leave London at 8am today I won't arrive before 7pm tomorrow (Australian Eastern Daylight Time).

The Approximate Flight Time Map can show you the estimated time it would take to fly from any location on Earth to anywhere else on the planet. Double-click on a location on the map and red isolines will show you the number of hours it would take to fly anywhere along each line. These isolines are roughly distanced about 1,660 km apart. This distance corresponds to approximately two hours of flight time in a commercial plane. 

The flight times suggested by the map seem to me to be a little shorter than the flight-times suggested by Google. Obviously the actual flight time would depend on a number of different factors, including the wind conditions, the speed of the plane and the flight path taken by the plane.

Monday, March 13, 2023

The 2023 Submarine Cable Globe

Every year the telecommunications company Telegeography releases a new, updated version of its Submarine Cable map. This map shows all the undersea telecommunication cables which carry data around the world.The 2023 Submarine Cable Map is now available. 

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. This includes all our telephone and Internet data.

This year's version of Telegeography's map plots 529 cable systems and 1,444 landing stations. The 2023 Submarine Cable map is available as a free download or you can purchase a wall map for $250. The landing site for the 2023 Submarine Cable Map features two interactive versions of the map. One of these is a Cesium powered 3D globe of the map. The other is a Mapbox story map which takes you on a guided tour of this edition's many inset maps. 

The 2023 version of the Submarine Cable Map includes a number of these inset maps which provide a close-up view of country landing stations and the cable systems which they serve around the world. The map also features a couple of Olaus Magnus inspired sea monsters and depictions of some of the cable laying and cable maintenance ships which service the global telecommunications network of undersea cables.

Each year's edition of the Telegeography Submarine Cable Map has a different design. You can explore Telegeography's Submarine Cable Maps for previous years just by changing the year in the map's URL. For example, one of my favorite Telegeography maps can be found at This 2015 map was inspired by medieval and renaissance cartography and features a vintage map style containing sea monsters, cartouches and border illustrations.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

The City of Women Subway Map

Barcelona, like New York and London, now has a reimagined subway map designed to celebrate and recognise the lives of some of the city's most remarkable women. The Barcelona City of Women subway map highlights the extraordinary contribution of women to the Catalan capital.

On the Ciutat de Dones map every station on Barcelona's metro network and all the stops on the city's railway network has been replaced with the name of a woman. The map is a joint project of Barcelona City Council and Haymarket Books. An advisory editorial board decided on which women to celebrate on the map with the help of a number of organizations and women groups based in Barcelona.

If you click on the name of a woman on the interactive version of the map you can learn more about her achievements and why she has been recognised by the Ciutat de Dones project. In total 153 women have been recognised on the map (limited by the number of stations). Among the women celebrated on the map are the opera singer Montserrat Caballe, philosopher Simone Weil, and director Carla Simón.

The City of Women London Tube Map is a reimagining of the iconic London Underground map, in which all the station names have been replaced with the names of notable women.For example Swiss Cottage station has been renamed for the poet Sylvia Plath and Hyde Park Corner has been renamed for Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the UK suffragette movement. 

The map, released for International Women's Day, is the culmination of a project led by the actress Emma Watson, the journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge and the writer Rebecca Solnit.The City of Women London Tube Map was inspired by a similar map created by Rebecca Solnit, Molly Roy and Lia Tjandra for New York. Their City of Women New York City Subway Wall Map replaces the names of all the stations on the New York Subway with the names of notable woman who have a New York connection. 

You can buy a copy of the City of Women New York City Subway Wall Map (20 x 20 Inches) from Haymarket Books.

The interactive version of the City of Women London Tube Map allows you to click on a station name to learn more about the woman celebrated at that station. Many of the women shown on the map have a personal connection with the area where they have been placed on the map. For example the singer Amy Winehouse replaces Camden Town on the map, because she lived and regularly performed in this north London neighborhood. You can also buy poster sized prints of the London map from or Waterstones.

One reason why the Barcelona, New York and London Subway maps have had to be reimagined to celebrate the achievements of women is because women are so rarely recognized by having squares, roads or stations named for them - unlike men. You can see this imbalance in the recognition of men and women in city road-names and place-names in the maps listed on the Maps Mania post The Sexist Streets of the World.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Earthquakes - Global Risk & Hazard Maps

The Global Earthquake Model Foundation is a non-profit organization working to assess and help manage the risk from earthquakes and seismic activity around the globe. Part of its mission is to is assess and share open data on earthquake risks and hazards.

The Global Earthquake Model Foundation has released two interactive maps, the Global Seismic Risk Map and the Global Seismic Hazard Map, which can be used to explore the risk from earthquakes at locations around the world. The estimated hazards are based on the foundation's own OpenQuake engine, an open-source seismic hazard and risk model.

I think the main difference between the two earthquake maps is that the hazard map visualizes earthquake hazards based on seismic faults around the world, while the risk map is based on likely damage and risk assessments. In other words the hazard map shows the estimated ground effect of an earthquake and the risk map shows the potential damage to buildings at that location from seismic activity.

Global earthquake hazards can also be seen on ResourceWatch's Global Earthquake Hazard Frequency and Distribution map. This interactive map visualizes all earthquake activity around the world, from 1976 to 2002, exceeding 4.5 on the Richter scale.

You can also explore historic earthquake data on the Seismic Explorer. The Seismic Explorer interactive map visualizes 40 years of earthquake activity on Earth, including information on the magnitude, depth, and location of each recorded quake. The map uses data about recent seismic activity from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and data from the Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program on historical seismic activity around the world.

Thursday, March 09, 2023

The Worst Air Pollution in America

Bakersfield in California has the worst air pollution in the United States. The second worst air pollution can be found in South Los Angeles. In South Los Angeles the dangerous levels of particulate matter 2.5 are caused by freeways and toxic factories. Bakersfield however is an agricultural community. The fine particulars in Bakersfield's air emanate instead from farming chemicals and truck fumes which are then trapped by the surrounding mountains.

You can find out how bad the air pollution is in your town on The Guardian's new Air Pollution Hotspot interactive map. Enter an address into The Guardian's map and you can view a choropleth map which visualizes the levels of particulate matter 2.5 at that location. 

The Guardian's map shows estimated modeled levels of air pollution across the United States. These estimations are based on the location of contributing air pollution factors such as roads, elevation levels & whether an area is urban or rural. The map also uses satellite-derived estimates of air pollution and, where available, actual air pollution measurements.

In an article which accompanies the map, US neighborhoods with more people of color suffer worse air pollution, The Guardian reveals that across the country "the underlying variable that is most predictive (of air pollution) is systemic racism". It has found that nearly every area with dangerously high levels of air pollution has higher than average percentages of Black families living in them. 

One reason for this is that black neighborhoods are often used as the sites for heavy polluting roads and industry. For example The Guardian shows how in Atlanta the map of air pollution looks remarkably similar to early-20th Century federal redlining maps. In the years that followed redlining "freeways and polluting facilities tended to be sited in those areas because the minority communities that lived there didn’t have the political or social clout to stop their construction".

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Stockholm is Twice as Sexist as Havana

It is a very sad fact that sexual inequality exists in just about every country of the world. The disparity in the number of streets named for men and the number of streets named for women is perhaps not the most malign form of that inequality but it is extremely pervasive. It signifies how undervalued and unrecognized women and women's achievements are in all areas of society. 

According to Geochicas' analysis Havana is one of the least sexist cities in the world in the area of street nomenclature. Their interactive map Las Calles de las Mujeres explores the ratio of streets named for men and women in a number of cities in Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Cuba, Paraguay, Peru, Italy and Uruguay. Of these Havana has the highest percent of streets named after women. In Havana 37.8% of streets named for people are named after women and 62.2% are named for men. However, even though Havana has a higher ratio of streets named for women than all the other cities on Las Calles de las Mujeres, the number of streets named for men still far out-weighs the number of streets named for women.

According to Mapping Diversity in Europe the city of Stockholm has one of the highest percentages of streets named for women. In Stockholm 19.5% of streets are named for women (out of the streets dedicated to individuals). That makes it just under half as sexist as Havana - but still less sexist than every other European city featured on Mapping Diversity. 

Mapping Diversity has now mapped the streets named for men and women in 30 European cities. If you open one of these maps you can view all the streets in the city which have been named after a woman. Each of these streets is color-coded to indicate if the woman was honored for her role in politics, culture, religion or 'other'.

The EqualStreetNames project has also analyzed the inequality in street names in 50 cities around the world (including San Francisco, Berlin, Brussels and Vienna). According to their analysis San Pablo in the Philippines is one of the least sexist cities, with 22.86% of the streets named after people being named for women. In comparison only 5.88% of gendered streets in San Francisco have been named for women. 

The EqualStreetNames project has also found a number of European cities which are less sexist than Stockholm. These include Freiburg im Breisgau in Germany (with 22.47% of streets named for people named after women) and Bolzano, Italy (20.33% of streets named for people named for women).

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

The Map of Home Heating

The Washington Post has been exploring how Americans heat their homes. Their are four main energy sources used by Americans to heat their homes: electricity, natural gas, propane and fuel oil. Which one is used is mainly determined by geographical and historical reasons.

In How Americans Heat Their Homes the Post has produced a map which shows that fuel oil (in red) is the most used source of home heating in the Northeast. In the South electricity (yellow) dominates. In the Midwest natural gas (dark blue) is the biggest source of home heating, while propane (light blue) is used mainly in rural areas.

The Post's article on home heating includes an interactive map which you can use to see how homes are mainly heated in your town. On this map each census tract is colored to show the main source of heating used in local homes. Hover over a census tract on the map and you can view a percentage breakdown on the four main sources of home heating used in that tract. The article also includes a static map for each of electricity, natural gas, propane and fuel oil showing where each is used across the country.

Monday, March 06, 2023

Sea Ice in Antarctica

A new interactive sea ice map has been released which can be used to help plan sea voyages and to aid climate change research in the Antarctic. Nilas -The Southern Ocean Mapping Platform uses historical and near real-time data on sea ice & sea-surface temperatures in Antarctica and also allows you to explore both the latest data and historical data on chlorophyll concentrations (a proxy for phytoplankton production).

The Australian Antarctic Division developed the map to support both their research into Antarctica and their operational activities. The map includes sea ice extent and sea surface temperatures dating back to 1981 and chlorophyll from 1998. The data allows the AAD to use the map to help plan marine-science voyages. The map can help scientists to understand the historical conditions during the planned dates of a voyage and to reveal the best time to visit a location to achieve a mission's objective.

The map itself uses the Leaflet JavaScript mapping library. My guess is that Nilas uses a custom made polar projection map of Antarctica. This custom polar projection could then be displayed using the Proj4Leaflet plugin for map projections not natively supported by Leaflet. Nilas also appears to have used the leaflet-panel-layers plugin to help build the map's menu panels. 

If you are interested in exploring historic climate and weather data at the other end of the Earth then you might also be interested in SOAC's maps of the Arctic. The National Snow and Ice Data Center has created a series of interactive maps which visualize Satellite Observations of Arctic Change. The maps allow you to see how sea ice, snow cover and frozen ground have all been shrinking during the 21st Century. Other maps plot air temperature changes in the Arctic and the changes to Arctic vegetation.

Each of the NSIDC interactive maps uses NASA satellite data and research to plot changes to the Arctic from 1979 to 2015. The maps allow you to observe the data for each year in this period to observe how global warming has affected the ecological systems of the Arctic. Global warming is causing observable changes to ecological systems in the Arctic. Air temperatures in the Arctic are rising and sea ice extent is declining. Even Arctic vegetation is changing with tundra being replaced by shrubs.

Saturday, March 04, 2023

Racial Dot Density Maps

In the United States there are a number of interactive maps which use census data to visualize the population density and racial mix of local populations. For example CNN's Race & Ethnicity map uses colored dots to show the racial diversity within every census tract in the country.

In the UK the Office for National Statistics has now released a Dot Density Prototype map for the 2021 UK census. This map allows you to visualize a whole range of household data in dot density format. The data available includes ethnic groups. Which means you can explore for yourself the racial density of different ethnic groups in any neighborhood in the country (the screenshot above looks at the density of ethnic groups in the city of Birmingham).

What is really impressive about the ONS map is the range of household data that you can explore. For example if I look at my census tract in East London I can see that 55% of the local houses are occupied by just 1 person, over 38% of the local population were born overseas, 42% don't own a car, and only 7.8% don't own a passprt. 

Also See

The Racial Dot of Brazil - 190 million dots colored by race 
Dot Map of South Africa - a racial dot map, with options to also view first languages and household income

Friday, March 03, 2023

Rising Sea Stripes

NPR has been investigating how rising sea levels are causing coastal erosion in the city of Saint-Louis, Senegal. 75% of Senegal's coastline is at risk of coastal erosion and, in recent years, some neighborhoods of Saint-Louis have already experienced devastating floods. In Disappearing Saint-Louis NPR has used a series of maps to show how Saint-Louis is located precariously between the Atlantic Ocean and the Senegal River, and is dangerously exposed to rising seas and coastal erosion.  

One map in the NPR article uses colored lines to show the median position of the shoreline for every year since 2000. This map provides a fantastic visualization of how coastal erosion is increasingly encroaching on the city. The colored lines, overlaid on top of an aerial view of the Saint-Louis shoreline, clearly show how the shoreline is rapidly eroding. The darker lines show the median position of the shoreline in the earliest years and the lighter lines represent the sea's position in more recent years. The obvious progression of the median position of the shoreline up the beach over time provides a stark visualization of the precarious position that the residents of Saint-Louis now find themselves in.

Thursday, March 02, 2023

The Witch Trials of Europe

550 Years of Witch Trials in Europe is a dashboard and interactive map which allows you to explore the history and data of witch trials and executions in Europe between 1300 and 1850. During this period up to 110,000 people (mainly women) were accused of witchcraft, around half of whom were subsequently executed. 

550 Years of Witch Trials in Europe uses data collected by Peter T. Leeson and Jacob W. Russ from George Mason University. This includes information on around 43,000 people tried for witchcraft in 21 European countries between 1300 and 1850.

The interactive map in 550 Years allows you to view the number of people tried and executed in different European towns and cities by decade. Press play on the map timeline and you can view an animated visualization of the number of witchcraft trials and executions for every decade from 1300 to 1850. If you switch to the 'Total' view you can view the total number of trials and executions in each town during the entire period. For example between 1430 and 1670 3,378 people were killed for witchcraft in Vaud, Switzerland. 

The University of Edinburgh has released a series of interactive maps visualizing the nearly 4,000 women and men accused of being witches in Scotland from the 16th to 18th centuries. The Witchcraft Act was in force in Scotland between 1563 and 1735. Under the Witchcraft Act the practice of witchcraft and the act of consulting with witches could be punished by death. It is not known exactly how many women and men were executed for being witches but the Survey of Scottish Witches estimates that around two-thirds were killed. About 84% of those accused of witchcraft in Scotland were women.

The University of Edinburgh's Witches project includes a number of different maps of the Survey of Scottish Witches data. The Residences with Timeline map is among the most interesting of the maps in the project, as it allows you to explore the data using a number of different filters. Using these filters you can view the location of only females or only males accused of witchcraft, you can explore the numbers accused by social class or by occupation. You can also explore the numbers of people accused of witchcraft during any selected date range.

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

The Undeniable Truth on Street View

To mark the one year anniversary of Russia's illegal war on Ukraine the website 'Undeniable Street View' has been launched. By providing virtual walks through six Ukrainian cities with custom made 360 degree panoramic 'Street View' imagery the Undeniable Street View allows you to see for yourself the damage that Russia has inflicted on Ukrainian infrastructure. 

The cities of Kyiv, Irpin, Kharkiv, Izyum, Chernihiv and Sumy, like hundreds of other towns in Ukraine, have suffered incredible damage at the hands of Russian aggression. Using the custom panoramas in Undeniable Street View you can take a virtual walk around areas of these six cities to witness how Russia has targeted civilian infrastructure in its illegal war. 

Undeniable Street View has been created using drone and Street View imagery captured by War Up Close, led by Mykola Omelchenko. war Up Close has made it their mission to record the destruction caused by Russian forces in Ukraine. You can see more of their panoramic imagery and 360 degree models of Ukraine on their website War Up Close.

Also See:

Culture in the Crosshairs - 3D photogrammetry models documenting the destruction of culturally important Ukrainian buildings
360 War - more panoramic 'Street View' imagery from Ukraine
3D Models of Ukraine - Hidenori Watanave's photogrammetry models of destroyed buildings & vehicles
The Virtual Museum of War Memory - custom made Street View panoramas captured at different locations in the Kyiv Oblast.