Saturday, September 30, 2023

How Not to Stare at the Sun

If you have ever traveled by bus then you have probably experienced the frustration of discovering that your seat is in the direct glare of the sun and that you will now have to spend the majority of the journey squinting and attempting to shade your eyes from the sun's blinding rays.

If you are a normal person you could avoid this problem simply by checking the sun's position in the sky and noting your direction of travel. If you are Amith V Purushothaman however you will program an interactive map to calculate your route, the position of the sun for the period of your journey, and the percentage of time that each side of the bus will spend in direct sunlight. 

Amith's Sit in the Shade is a super interactive map which you can use to calculate the 'best seat to minimize sun exposure while traveling' by bus or car. Just enter your starting location, your destination and the time of your departure and you can view a map of your route colored to show when either the left or right side of the bus will be in the sun. Sit in the Shade will show you the total percent of the time that each side of the bus will be in the sun and then recommend on which side of the bus you should therefore sit if you prefer to sit in the shade.

Honestly I can't ever imagine needing Sit in the Shade but I fully understand the mental challenge of solving this problem and can still appreciate Amith's wonderfully intuitive and beautifully realized map.

Via: Webcurios

Friday, September 29, 2023

The Global Impact of El Niño

This month New South Wales in Australia has been experiencing temperatures up to 16C above the Sepetember average. This is likely the start of El Niño's grip on the country. In an El Niño year Australia typically experiences drought conditions. In July the the World Meteorological Organization said there is a 90% likelihood of El Niño conditions developing this year. They say that it likely to be of 'moderate strength'.

According to Axios "El Niño can reshape weather patterns around the world, bringing drought for tens of millions and floods to others." You can learn more about what causes an El Niño and how it impacts weather conditions around the world in Axios' explainer How the El Niño Climate Pattern Affects the World's Weather.

At the heart of Axios' presentation on the causes and effects of El Niño is an animated story map. This map is used to show how rising temperatures in the Pacific Ocean can lead to shifting trade wind patterns. The effect of these shifting trade wind patterns can in turn lead to a "reduction in rainfall in the western Pacific" (leading, for example, to drought conditions in Australia). In the U.S. the effect of an El Niño is felt most strongly in winter, often leading to wetter conditions in the south, drier than normal conditions in the Midwest and milder than average conditions in the west.

The Axios map includes animated carbon concentration and sea surface temperature layers. I don't know how Azios created their animated weather layers but many animated weather maps use the open source animated weather map released by as a starting point for animating weather data on a map. Mapbox has also released its own animated web-gl wind code, which is particularly useful for creating animated weather layers for maps built with Mapbox's mapping library.

If you want to create an interactive storymap with Mapbox like Axios' El Niño map then a good place to start is this Mapbox Interactive Storytelling template.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

More Medieval Murder Maps!

On Saturday 2 Feb 1297 three Oxford University students decided to celebrate the festival of the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary by going on a frenzied rampage. On the evening of the festival John de Skurf and his two friends Michael and Madoc ran through the streets of Oxford with swords, bows, and arrows "attacking all passers-by". One John Metescharp was shot with an arrow by Michael of St. Aldgate and he eventually died from his wound two days later.

This is just one of the gruesome murders which are recounted on Cambridge University's Medieval Murder Maps.

Back in 2018 Cambridge University unveiled an interactive homicide map which used historical coroner records to plot the locations of murders in medieval London. The university has now released two more interactive maps to also record the grizzly homicidal histories of the medieval English cities of Oxford and York. 

The interactive Medieval Murder Maps use coroners records (and, in the case of Oxford, the records of the antiquarian Twyne) to show the locations of some of the murders carried out in each city in the 14th Century. Murders on the maps are shown using categorized markers. These markers depict the murder weapon used in each recorded medieval homicide.

As well as the two new city maps there is now also a Medieval Murder podcast, in which the team behind the maps discuss some of the most interesting cases, try to solve some of the cold cases, and explore 'the similarities and the differences to violent crime in our modern world'. As well as this podcast the maps themselves also now contain a number of voice overs, providing a narrated summary of some of the medieval murders featured on the maps. Each of the three murder maps now includes a filter option which allows you to see only those murders with voice overs on the map.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Same Size As

Gibraltar (left) compared to Central Park (right)

Same Scales is an interactive map which allows you to compare two different locations side-by-side at the same scale. Comparing locations on the same map can be difficult because of the distortions caused by map projections. Same Scales helps you compare two different locations by showing each at the same scale on two different maps placed side-by-side.

Africa (left) compared to Greenland (right) on the same map

Famously Greenland and Africa appear to be similar in size on maps which use the Mercator projection. The Mercator projection is commonly used in many world maps because it accurately represents direction and shape. However, it distorts the size of land areas the further they are from the Equator.

A small part of Africa (left) compared at the same scale to Greenland (right)

If we compare Africa and Greenland using the Same Scale map we can see that in reality Africa (30.37 million km²) is far larger than Greenland (2.166 million km²).

The Urban Fabric Map is another useful map tool which can be used to compare two different cities side-by-side. This map allows you to select two individual cities and compare their building footprints at the same scale. Comparing the building footprints of cities can reveal interesting differences in the building densities of different cities across the globe. The Urban Fabric website helps you understand these building densities by also listing the number of buildings found in each city map view.
If you are interested in comparing the sizes of different countries with each other then you can also use The True Size Of interactive map. The True Size Of app allows you to overlay the shape of one country on top of an interactive map. You are then able to select and drag this country polygon around on the map in order to compare its size with any other location on Earth.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The Global Problem of Forever Chemicals

Forever chemicals are almost everywhere. If you search for PFAS contamination in any country, continent, or wildlife species around the world, the chances are you will find it. This revelation comes after a massive analysis of data by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has exposed the global scale of the PFAS problem. 

PFAS or toxic "forever chemicals" are harmful substances that pollute the environment, and expose both people and animals to a number of health risks. To help show the threat of forever chemicals to wildlife around the world the EWG has released a new interactive map which visualizes the extent of PFAS contamination. The map was created following an extensive study of over 125 scientific reports on PFAS contamination in wildlife. 

The EWG study reveals that wherever we look for forever chemicals around the world we find them. The fact that PFAS is present in wildlife samples from all over the world suggests that the contamination issue is a global problem. It is also extremely worrying for human health, as even the occasional consumption of contaminated fish or meat will increase the amount of PFAS in an individual.

If you are worried about the impact of forever chemicals on the environment then you can read EWG's new peer-reviewed paper, published in Science of the Total Environment and explore EWG's interactive map, Global Danger: Threatened Wildlife at Risk from PFAS Exposure

The map reveals the extent of PFAS exposure to freshwater fish across the whole United States. According to the EWG eating "just one PFAS-contaminated freshwater fish per month could be the equivalent of drinking a glass of water with very high levels of PFOS or other forever chemicals". However it isn't just fish that are being contaminated by forever chemicals. The map shows that fish, birds and mammals across the world are being exposed and contaminated by PFAS.

The new global map of forever chemicals is just the latest effort of the EWG to expose the problems of PFAS contamination. It follows their previous map of Forever Chemicals in Freshwater Fish and their list of the 100 U.S. Military Sites With the Worst PFAS Contamination.

Monday, September 25, 2023

A Cool, Shady Spot with a Breeze

One result of global heating is that nearly every summer most of us spend some time thinking about places we can go to avoid the oppressive heat. In recent years a number of interactive maps have been released which can help you find shady places to relax and escape the direct sun. These include popular shade maps such as JveuxDuSoleil, ShadeMap and Shadowmap.

Now a new interactive map goes a few steps further and allows you to find shady spots which are also cool & breezy, and which in addition have refreshing amenities nearby. The erfrischungskarte is an interactive map which identifies cool, windy and shady areas in Berlin. It allows you to quickly find areas of the German capital where you can relax in summer based on the level of shade, temperature or breeze, and which have refreshing infrastructure nearby, such as drinking fountains, swimming holes, or green parks.

The erfrischungskarte includes a useful clock-face menu which allows you to choose any time of day. Select a time on this clock and the map will update to show where building shadows will fall at the chosen time. The color of locations on the map relate to estimated temperatures at different times of the day (4 a.m., 2 p.m. and 10 p.m., modeled for a typical summer day, with a resolution of 10 meters). In the 'filter' menu you can change the colors shown on the map to indicate the levels of the wind across the city (cold air volume data for 4 a.m. and 10 p.m., modeled for a typical summer day, at a resolution of 10 meters).

The markers on the map show the locations of drinking fountains & other water sources (blue), parks & other green areas (green) and benches (yellow).

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Restricting the Right to Protest

The right to protest is being restricted in countries around the world. Amnesty International's new interactive map, called Protect the Protest, highlights the growing numbers of human rights violations which are being committed by countries around the world aimed at removing the rights of citizens to legally protest. 

The Protect the Protest map sheds light on the types of repression that are now being faced by protesters around the world. Click on a country's marker on the map and you can learn more about how the right to protest is being attacked in that country. According to Amnesty International governments used illegal force against protesters in 86 of the 156 countries they examined in 2022, and protesters were arbitrarily detained in 79 of those 156 countries.

If you select the 'Human Rights Concerns heading in the map sidebar you can view a list of some of the methods used by authorities to restrict citizens' rights to protest. These include the 'unlawful use of force' and 'repressive legislation'. If you click on any of these methods then the countries which have been found to use this repressive method are then highlighted in yellow on the map. You can then select an individual country to learn more about how this method of repression has been used in the chosen country.

Friday, September 22, 2023

The Royal Parks of London

There are eight Royal Parks in London. The parks are owned by the Crown and managed by the Royal Parks charity. The parks originated from land that the royal family once used for recreation and hunting. Over time, these lands were enclosed and became known as the Royal Parks. The public can enter and use the parks for free but public access to the parks remains at the grace and favor of the Crown.

How well do you know London's Royal Parks? Find out by playing the interactive map game London Park Names. All you have to do is type in the name of each one London's eight Royal Parks. Name all eight and you win the game.

London Park Names is my latest interactive map game inspired by the brilliant San Francisco Street Names (and I promise it will be my last for a while). Having created versions of the game using polylines (Streets of Winchelsea) and place-name labels (US State Names) I wanted to create a variation of the game which used polygons to highlight defined geographical areas. The result is London Park Names.

If you want to create your own variation of the game you can clone London Park Names on Glitch.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Global Migration Explorer

In both American and European politics immigration has become one of the most centrally contested issues. However, according to the authors of World’s human migration patterns in 2000–2019 "a global-scale, high-resolution quantification of migration and its major drivers for the recent decades (has) remained missing" from this political debate. They have therefore created their own global dataset of annual net migration for the years 2000 to 2019.

The Net Migration Explorer is an interactive map which visualizes this global net migration data at three administrative levels. The map also allows you to view population change, and birth & death levels at three different admin levels around the world.

Using the map you can explore which locations around the world have experienced net migration loss and gain for every year from 2000-2019. Many patterns of migration are clearly apparent on the map but I think the data is crying out for someone to create a guided story-map of some of the migration stories revealed by this data (although you can obviously read the authors' paper to learn more about their interpretation of the data). 

If you do want to create your own data visualization of global migration then you can download the data from Zenodo. The code for the interactive map (a Shiny R app) is available on GitHub. Both the data and the map are available under Creative Commons licences. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Live 2 Years Longer with Better Air Quality

Around the world life expectancy could be raised on average by 2 years and 3 months if air quality was improved to meet the World Health Organization guideline. In countries with really high levels of fine particulate pollution (such as India & Bangladesh) life expectancy could be increased by over 5 years.

The Air Quality Life Index looks at air quality levels around the world and calculates how that impacts local life expectancy. Using the AQLI interactive map you can view for yourself how air pollution impacts your family's life expectancy and how it affects the length of people's lives around the world. On the map the potential gain in life expectancy if "fine particulate pollution were reduced to meet the WHO guideline" is shown in red and yellow. The more red a location is shown on the map then the bigger the potential increase in life expectancy.

According to the Index in the USA air pollution shortens the average American’s life expectancy by 3.6 months. If the WHO guideline was met the average American could expect to increase their life expectancy by 2 months. However air quality obviously varies across the US and in the worst affected counties (such as Plumas County, California) life expectancy could be improved by over 2 years by improving the local air quality.

Today The Guardian has reported that 98% of people living in Europe are breathing 'highly damaging polluted air'. The newspaper reports that 75% of Germans are breathing air which is twice the WHO recommended guideline. Nearly half of Spaniards are also breathing air twice the WHO guideline and 37% of French people live in areas with over twice the safe level. In the UK 75% of the population have air pollution which is over the recommended safe level. 

If you live in Europe you can discover the fine particulate levels of the air you breathe on The Guardian's interactive map Europe's pollution divide: see how your area compares. The map uses data from the Expanse project. The modeled air pollution levels are calculated by Expanse using a number of different sources and variables. You can learn more about these on The Guardian's methodology page for the map.

With the number of active wildfires recorded around the world this year air quality has become an even hotter topic than usual. You can view near real-time air quality around the world on IQAir's Live Animated Air Quality Map. The map uses data from government monitoring stations and IQAir's own monitors to create a real-time picture of air pollution levels around the world.

For example the map shows that at the moment the air quality in San Francisco is 9 times the WHO guideline value. The current dangerous levels of air pollution in San Francisco are a result of smoke from a cluster of wildfires on the California-Oregon border.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Olympic Stadia Travel Times

Brisbane has been awarded the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. One of Brisbane's goals in hosting the games is to be “more equal and accessible”. In order to analyze how accessible the Brisbane games will actually be the data consulting firm Smash Delta has been visualizing current travel times to two of the Brisbane games stadia and exploring how those travel times will be improved thanks to proposed public transport developments.

In Mobility and the Brisbane Olympics travel time data has been combined with the Mapbox storymap template to perfectly guide the reader through a presentation of the length of time it takes to travel to the Gabba and the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre (two of the main stadia in the 2032 Brisbane Olympics).

3D models of the Gabba and the Convention Centre provide the perfect starting point from which to add isochrone travel time data for each stadium. As you scroll through Mobility and the Brisbane Olympics you are guided through isochrone layers visualizing public transport, walking and cycling times to the two stadia. As each isochone layer is added to the map a bar chart also shows a breakdown of the population age groups living within different travel times to the stadium.

Overall Smash Delta's 'Mobility and the Brisbane Olympics' is a superb example of mapped data visualization and a very effective demonstration of the power of Smash Delta's StoryScaper interactive spatial storytelling template.

Monday, September 18, 2023

A Year of Wildfire in Europe

In July Europe witnessed its largest wildfire in 23 years. The Dadia forest fire in Greece burned 97,000 hectares and killed 20 people. The large number of wildfires in Europe this year follows the even larger number of fires last year, a year which saw the second largest total burnt area this century. So far.

Czech news website Aktuálně.cz has analyzed satellite data of European Union wildfires since the year 2000 to calculate the total burnt area caused by fires for every year this century. A storymap in Burnt Europe maps out the size of European wildfires in 2024, 2023 and 2017 (the year with the highest total burn area). An interactive map at the end of the story also allows readers to explore in detail the wildfire burnt areas for every year since 2000.

A bar chart and line graph visualize the number of hectares burnt in each of the last 23 years. The data used for the charts and maps was taken from the satellite imagery of the European Forest Fire Information System. The Aktuálně.cz article includes a number of satellite images taken from EFFIS documenting some of Europe's worst wildfires this century.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

How Families Live Around the World.

Gapminder's Dollar Street is an amazing project which has photographed and documented 264 family homes in 50 countries around the world. The resulting pictures provide a truly fascinating insight into the everyday lives of people around the world.

Around six years years ago Anna Rosling Rönnlund began sending photographers to visit families in all corners of the world. In each visit to a family home the photographer takes photos of up to 135 objects, like the family's bedrooms, toilet facilities and food. The resulting photographs have then been organized into a powerful data visualization which can help us to better understand the world and how the people of the world live.

The thousands of lifestyle photographs in Dollar Street can be explored in a number of different ways. The visualization includes a number of controls which allow you to explore the photos by country, by income level and by different topics (e.g. eating, sleeping, socializing etc). If you want to get the most out of Dollar Street however then I advise you to watch Anna Rosling Rönnlund's TED talk (embedded below), which explains some of the most insightful ways in which you can explore Dollar Street.


All the photographs in Dollar Street are licensed by Creative Commons license 4.0. This means that you are free to reuse, edit and share any of the images in your own projects and maps.

Friday, September 15, 2023

The Unknown Pleasures of Population Density

This ridgeline plot map visualizes the population density of Germany. The map was made using Baryon's Population Density Ridgeline Plots for Every Country in the World. Type your county name into this app and you can see your country's population density visualized as a ridgeline plot.

The most famous Ridgeline plot (or joy-plot - as they are sometimes called) appears on Joy Division's famous album cover for Unknown Pleasures. Peter Saville's cover for Unknown Pleasures was inspired by a visualization of the radio waves emitted by a pulsar, which was published in the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy. 

Baryon's population density ridgeline plots use NASA's Gridded Population of the World data to show the density of population along lines of latitude. The result is that areas with high density in a country appear as peaks on the map. 

You can also create ridgeline plots for any location on Earth using Peak Map. Peak Map is a fantastic interactive map which can create an elevation ridgeline plot map for anywhere in the world. To create your own joy-plot map you just need to center Peak Map on your chosen location and a very artistic elevation profile will be generated automatically.

Peak Map includes a number of options which allow you to change the appearance of your generated joy-plot. The automatic setting draws black lines on a white background but you can choose your own background and line colors (my example above flips the default to show white lines on a black background). You can also change the height scale and smoothness of the elevation lines on your joy plot map and even reduce the joy plot map's opacity to reveal a labelled map beneath.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

The World's Bioregions & Ecosystems Mapped

Bioregions 2023 is an interactive map which visualizes the Earth as 185 discrete bioregions. A bioregion is a geographical area defined not by political boundaries but by ecological systems. It is a geographical area that encompasses a unique set of interconnected ecosystems, landforms and watersheds in which a broad community of plants and animals are adapted to specific climatic conditions. 

A bioregion is defined by natural boundaries such as mountains, rivers, and coastlines, rather than political or administrative borders. The Bioregion 2023 map recognizes 14 different types of bioregion, including deserts, mountain grasslands, mangroves and tundra.

You can click on the different bioregions on the Bioregions 2023 map to learn more about the unique ecosystems and wildlife that can be found within that system. Circle markers on the map list the unique species which live in a specific bioregion. If you select a specific bioregion on the map then the map sidebar will provide further details on the size of the region and how many ecoregions exist within that bioregion. 

Nature Map Explorer is an interactive map which allows you to explore the many different biodiversity and ecosystems which can be found across the world. The map shows the natural habitats and biodiversity of animal and plant life around the globe and shows where these habitats are under threat. The map has been designed to help limit global biodiversity loss, support biodiversity conservation and to help mitigate against the impact of climate change.

The Nature Map Explorer includes a number of map layers which allow you to explore global biodiversity and ecosystems. For example the Terrestrial Habitat Types layer shows where forests, wetlands, deserts and other types of habitat can be found around the globe. If you want to see how the world might look without humans you can view the Potential Natural Vegetation layer, which visualizes what vegetation cover we could expect without human impact.

The Species Richness layer shows where in the world there is an abundance of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians and where there is little remaining biodiversity in animal and plant life. You can also view the negative impact of humans on biodiversity using the Threatened Species Richness layer which visualizes where plant and animal species are under threat across the world.

You can also explore the many ecoregions of the world on the Ecoregions 2017 interactive map. This map provides a guide to 846 ecoregions around the globe. Using the map you can view the different ecoregions which can be found across the world and discover more about the distinct characteristics of each type of ecoregion.

Ecoregions are ecologically and geographically defined areas which have distinct natural characteristics, species and habitats. The ecoregions are colored on the map by the type of habitats that exist within them. If you hover over an area on the map you can view more details about the region's natural habitat and the biogeographic realm in which it exists.

The Ecoregions 2017 map also includes a number of other layers. These include a layer showing the global distribution of biomes, a layer showing the protected status of regions around the world and a 'realms' layer showing the Earth's eight biogeographic realms.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

The City Map Game

I really like the game SF-Street-Names, which I reviewed Monday in the post The Streets of San Francisco Game

In fact I liked SF-Street-Names so much that I immediately started trying to see if I could replicate the game for a different city. The result is the Streets of Winchelsea. In this very scaled back version of the SF-Street-Names game you have to name all of the 17 streets of the small English town of Winchelsea (and you will probably need to be one of the town's 600 residents to get more than one or two streets correct).

After completing the Streets of Winchlesea I decided it would be easier to create a map game in which players have to name cities rather than streets. In SF-Street-Names lots of co-ordinates need to be stored for every single street polyline. For cities you only need to store one co-ordinate for each city - the latitude and longitude of the geographic center of the city. 

I have therefore decided to 'borrow' the game-play idea from SF-Street-Names for a 'name the cities' type game. So far I have created two city games (Scotland & Wales), and one 'name the states' game:

US State Names
Scottish City Names
Welsh City Names 

In US State Names you have to type in the names of all 50 US states. Each time you type in a correct state that state will be labeled on the map (the US state version of the game highlights some problems with the place-name labeling code I'm using - at the moment the state labels are appearing offset from the state centroids).

In Scottish City Names you have to type in the names of Scottish cities. Every time that you type in a correct city name then that city is labeled on the interactive map. Your task is to label all 8 Scottish cities.

In the Welsh version of the game you have to name all 7 Welsh cities (apologies to Welsh speakers as the game only recognizes the English names not the Welsh language city names).  

In the Streets of Winchelsea game you have to enter the names of the town's 17 streets. In the game you only have to type in the first part of the name (you don't need to type in the designation 'Road', 'Street', 'Hill', 'Lane' etc).

I am in massive debt to Map Channels for helping me create these games. The fact that these games even work is thanks to his amazing work at fixing and improving my awful code.

Cloning the Game

If you want to create a similar game for any other country in the world (you know one with a few more cities) then you can clone the project on Glitch

After cloning the game all you really need to do is change the data in the places.js file to your own data. The game will then automatically work with your data.

You will also probably want to re-center the map to show the area containing your data. You can change the latitude and longitude of the map on line 25 of the main.js file. 

You might also want to change the title of the map (the text that appears in the browser tab). You can do this on line 64 of the main.js file.

If you do create a game for another country or state then leave a link to your game in the comments and I'll add the link to the games listed in this post.

The Virtual Tour Maker

Over the weekend Map Channels sent me a link to a new virtual tour of Bagnoles de L'Orne in Normandy, France. Bagnoles de L'Orne is a beautiful spa town set beside a pretty lake and the Andaines Forest. The Map Channels virtual tour takes you on a guided Street View walk around some of Bagnoles de L'Orne's most picturesque locations.

The Bagnoles de L'Orne virtual tour was made with Map Channels' new Tour Maps virtual tour wizard. With Tour Maps you can quickly create your own Street View tours around any location. Creating a tour is very easy and just requires you to create a route on an interactive map. You can easily add and edit places of interest on your route. Once you have created your route using the map wizard you can then view an animated tour of your route and share your map with friends and family. 

Your completed Map Tour includes a synchronized map and Street View tour, with step-by-step directions of the tour in the map side-panel. Viewers of your completed virtual tour can simply press the map's play button to automatically progress through your planned route. The tour map includes speed controls so that users can increase or decrease the play-back speed of the tour. Users can also use the step-by-step directions in the side-bar to navigate directly to specific stages on the virtual tour. 

Each Street View panorama on your tour will auto-rotate to provide a panoramic view of a location when the user pauses on an individual stage of the tour. If users follow your tour on a mobile device they can also turn on geolocation to actually follow their on the ground progress with the mapped virtual tour.

Monday, September 11, 2023

The Streets of San Francisco Game

I know the names of nearly 1/5th of the streets in San Francisco. Which is incredible - especially when you consider I've never been to San Francisco. Luckily my hitherto unbeknownst knowledge of the names of San Franciscan roads makes me a God of SF-Street-Names

SF-Street-Names is a surprisingly fun map game in which your only requirement is to name streets in the Golden City. SF-Street-Names consists of an unlabeled map of San Francisco. Your job is to just type in the possible name of any San Francisco street. If you type in a correct name the street will then become labeled on the map and you score will increase.

I loved SF-Street-Names as a concept so much that I immediately started thinking about how I could replicate this for other cities. SF-Street-Names is built on top of Mapbox GL. Which means that you might be able to create a game like SF-Street-Names using the 'in' expression to check names and add place-name labels to the correctly identified street. 

For example you could check a user's entry and if they 'type' Mission color the Mission Street green on the map using the following expression,
'line-color': [ 
  ['in', 'Mission', ['get', 'name']], '#3DDC97'
However I can also think of a number of problems of using expressions to check and respond to user inputs (for example having to set up a bounding box to only check and color the correct results within San Francisco and not the rest of the world).

This is why I suspect that a more brute force method might be a better approach to creating a game like SF-Street-Names. For example you could download the polylines and names of every street in San Francisco from OpenStreetMap. You could then create a separate variable for every street name. It would then be relatively easy to check user inputs against these variables and change the map and increase the user's score when they enter a correct street name.

However I really don't want the unnecessary effort of having to write my own code. My fervent wish is for the developer of the game to create a GitHub repository for SF-Street-Names so that anybody can clone the map and adapt it to work for other cities around the world.

Update: I've stolen the SF-Street-Names idea for my own game - Streets of Winchelsea. This is a smaller game in which you have to name the 17 streets of Winchelsea in East Sussex. The game will probably have limited appeal. I suspect it will only be completed by one or two of the 600 people who actually live there.

If you want you can clone the map on Glitch here. All you need to make the game work for a different location is to update the street data in the places.js file

Spoiler Alert

Despite only knowing the street names of 'Haight', 'Ashbury', 'Lombard' and 'Mission' I was able to guess the names of nearly 19% of San Francisco's streets. My tips for scoring reasonably well (even if you don't know San Francisco) is to think about how much Americans like to use a numbering system for their street grids and to think about which dead presidents are likely to have been memorialized by having streets named after them. 

If you enjoy playing SF-Street-Names as much as I did then you might also like Noah Veltman's History of San Francisco Place Names map. The History of San Francisco Place Names is one of my favorite interactive maps of all time. The map explains the toponym and origin of many San Francisco street names. Click on a highlighted street on this interactive map of San Francisco and you can discover who that street was actually named for.

Saturday, September 09, 2023

Map of the Best Restaurants

I don't think I've posted a link to a 'find a nearby restaurant' interactive map in over ten years. Today I'm breaking my unconscious embargo on restaurant maps with a link to the superb Map of the Best.   

Map of the Best is an incredibly well designed interactive map which uses data from a number of different restaurant rating organizations to show you great places to eat near your current location. Open Map of the Best and it will automatically show you a map featuring recommended restaurants around your current location.  

The map sidebar includes a number of filters which allow you to refine the displayed restaurant by price, number of stars, review ratings, and type of cuisine. For example, if you just want a cheap-ish pizza you can set the price filter to '$' and enter 'pizza' in the Cuisine search box. The map will then only show you the nearest recommended non-expensive pizza restaurants to your location.

The restaurants featured on Map of the Best have all been recommended or rated by Michelin, 50 Best, Gayot, the Good Food Guide, Google, or Gambero Rosso. It is also possible to filter the results shown on the map to only include restaurants recommended by any combination of these restaurant guides / reviewers.

Via: the excellent Webcurios

If you are looking for somewhere good to eat nearby then you might also like: 


Friday, September 08, 2023

Geolocating General Surovikin

The investigative journalists at Bellingcat have been developing some important tools and methodologies for geolocating images. On Wednesday they applied their investigative geolocating powers to identify the location of General Sergey Surovikin.

On September 4th a photograph of Surovikin was posted online, accompanied by the message "General Surovikin has emerged. He’s alive and well, home with his family in Moscow". Surovikin, who had been a close associate of the Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, had not been seen in public since the beginning of the Wagner mutiny in June. His disappearance had led to speculation that he had either been arrested or 'disposed of' by Russian authorities.

In order to determine the fate of Surovikin it is necessary to authenticate the date of the photograph, where it was taken, and who is actually in the picture. The BBC's Verify team determined that there was a 'high probability' that the people in the photo were Surovikin and his wife and that the picture had not appeared before. All that remained therefore was to determine where the photo was taken.

In Geolocating Russia’s Disgraced General Surovikin Bellingcat explains how the 'crowd' was able to geolocate the photograph based on the visual clues in the published picture. Thanks to a number of investigators and Twitter users the correct location in the photograph was narrowed down to the Terrazza restaurant in an elite neighborhood of Moscow, close to where Surovikin has a home.

Thanks to the work of the BBC and a number of independent investigators it appears that Surovikin is indeed still alive in Moscow. However, as Bellingcat reports, "key questions as to his fate and current standing remain unanswered".

Thursday, September 07, 2023

Finding History Nearby

RIP the Wikipedia layer. Killed ten years ago by Google Maps.

Every August I hold a day of remembrance for the sad demise of the Wikipedia layer on Google Maps. Younger readers probably won't remember the glory days of Google Maps when you could simply click on the Wikipedia layer in Google Maps to discover more about all the interesting POI's around any location in the world. For some reason this fantastic layer was killed and removed from Google Maps in August 2013.

This year however I have been able to throw away my mourning veil forever. Thanks to History Travels I am now able to emerge from my bereavement and resume normal life. 

History Travels is an interactive map which uses the Wikipedia API and Wikigeosearch to show you historical places around any location. Enter a location and a radius distance into History Travels and it will show you all the nearby locations featured in Wikipedia. Click on any of the historical place markers on the map and you can learn more about the selected Point of Interest. All the mapped POI's are also listed in the mapped sidebar with a link to the location's full entry on Wikipedia.

There have been lots of interactive maps which have used the Wikipedia API over the years. You can find links to some of these using the Wiki label on Maps Mania. What I most like about History Travels is that the map automatically updates when you move the map to show the closest historical points of interest. This is a great feature to help you quickly find the nearest Points of Interest as you move around a town or city

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

How Near do You Live to a Mass Shooting?

In 2014 around 3,438,482 Americans lived within 1 mile of a mass shooting event. That number is very high - especially when compared to most other countries around the world. However because of America's complete failure to control gun ownership that figure has now grown to a frightening 41,930,273. 

This means that in 2023 over 12% of Americans live within one mile of a mass shooting.

These figures come from a powerful data visualization story from CNN. Interactive maps feature prominently in CNN's In the last decade, an estimated 40 million Americans lived within 1 mile of a mass shooting. One of these maps shows the number of people in America who have lived within one mile of a mass shooting for every year since 2014. The progressively higher number of people living near to mass shooting events powerfully demonstrates the growing trauma being caused by gun-crime in the USA.

The CNN story also includes an interactive map which allows you to enter your own address, to discover how near you live to a mass shooting event. The map shows the locations of all mass shooting events since Jan 1st 2014. Once you enter an address the map calculates the distance of your home (or work address) to the nearest of these mass shooting events.

CNN's maps use data from the Gun Violence Archive. The Gun Violence Archive reports that there have already been 488 mass shootings in the USA so far this year. To date 210 children have been killed by guns in 2023 and 482 children have been injured by guns.

The Mass Killing Database, a collaboration between Northeastern University and the Associated Press, tracks all multiple homicides in the United States since 2006 with four or more victims. According to the Mass Killing Database 2,939 people have lost their lives in mass killings since 2006. According to the database 2023 is on course to be another record year in the United States for the number of mass killings.

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

The River Basins & Watersheds of the World

OSM River Basins is an interactive map which uses OpenStreetMap data to visualize all the river basins of the world. 

A river basin is an area of land drained by one river system and its tributaries. It includes all the land where rainwater or melted snow drains into the river, either directly or through smaller tributary streams and rivers. River basins can be incredibly large - covering thousands of square kilometers, or very small - covering just a few square kilometers.

Like all maps OSM River Basins may contain errors or incomplete data. However, because the map uses OpenStreetMap data any errors can be easily rectified by correcting the data on OSM. You might also be able to find a more accurate visualization of your local river basin(s) by playing with the map options (e.g. by selecting the 'waterway=river or canal' radio button).

A watershed is a smaller and more localized area within a river basin. It is a specific area of land where all the water that flows over or under it converges into a common point, such as a lake, river, or wetland. Watersheds are often delineated based on the topography or land contours, where the water collects and drains towards a particular outlet. 

In simple terms, a river basin is a larger region drained by a river, while a watershed is a smaller area within that basin where all the water flowing within it converges to a common point. River basins can have multiple watersheds within them, each contributing water to different sections of the river system.

You can explore watersheds on the Global Watersheds interactive map. Click anywhere on the Global Watersheds map and you can view a visualization of the upstream watersheds calculated from your selected location. The map allows you to quickly see where water is coming from and where it is going at any location on Earth. 

The screenshot above shows the huge 1 million km² watershed flowing from the Andes into the Solimões River in Brazil. If you want to view the world's largest watersheds on the Global Wathershed map then click downstream in the Amazon Basin (the world's largest watershed) or downstream in the Mississippi River Watershed in the United States. 

If you wish to see where a watercourse flows to then you can select the 'downstream' option on the map. This will then display the flow path of the selected river from the selected location to the ocean. Other options allow you to download the data of a watershed in geoJSON, shapefile or KML formats.

You can view an animated journey of the downstream flow path of a river on the River Runner interactive map. River Runner Global allows you to virtually drop a raindrop anywhere in the world to visualize its journey to the sea. You can select any location in the world on the map and then watch the animated journey that a raindrop would take from that location downstream to the sea.

Sunday, September 03, 2023

Mapping the Colors of Autumn

Now that September has arrived Autumn will not be far behind. Although the Autumn Equinox is on the 23rd September this year the Smoky Mountain Fall Foliage Map shows that the most northern counties of the United States will begin to notice the colors of leaves changing as early as the beginning of this month.

Every year Smoky Mountain releases an interactive Fall Foliage Map, which plots the annual progress of when and where leaves change their colors across the United States. According to the map some northern states will already have begun to notice a change in the colors of leaves. 

The Fall Foliage Map uses historical weather records from all 48 continental states to predict the arrival of fall at the county level across the contiguous United States. The map includes a date control which allows you to view the leaf color you can expect for any date from the beginning of September through to the end of November.
The Swiss Tourism website has also released a Foliage Map, which shows you when and where Swiss trees will be at their most colorful. The Swiss interactive map of foliage colors includes a slide control which allows you to adjust the date shown on the map. When you change the date the map automatically updates to show the predicted foliage colors across the country for the chosen date. 

The Fall colors displayed on the map are based on current climate data for drought, heat and precipitation conditions. The map also takes into account data on last year's fall foliage colors. This year the Swiss Tourism Board's Foliage Map includes markers for over 250 high resolution 360 degree webcams which actually allow you to view Switzerland's fall colors for yourself, even if you live on the other side of the world. 

If you live in Finland or are planning to visit the country to experience its amazing Fall foliage then you can refer to Visit Finland's Autumn Foliage Live map. This map uses both historical data and weather cameras from around Finland to provide a near real-time map of Autumn colors in Finland (updated weekly).

You can use the map's date control to discover when foliage throughout the whole county will reach its peak. Because Visit Finland is the country's official tourist website it also includes lots of information and advice for anyone wishing to travel to the country to experience the magic of Fall in Finland. 

The Huron-Manistee National Forests Fall Color Map allows you to track the changing of color in the Huron-Manistee National Forests in Michigan. The map also includes photographs of the fall foliage captured by forest employees starting September 1 through October 31, 2023.

Saturday, September 02, 2023

Mapping the Great Kantō Earthquake

100 years ago yesterday, on September 1st 1923, the Great Kantō earthquake struck Japan. The earthquake struck near midday, at a time when many people were cooking lunch. In Tokyo, during and after the earthquake, fires spread across the city. In the 46 hours after the quake around 40% of Tokyo burned to the ground.

Japanese newspaper Nikkei has marked the 100th anniversary of the Great Kantō earthquake with a mapped reconstruction of how nearly half of Tokyo was destroyed on September 1st 1923. The 100th Anniversary of the Great Kantō Earthquake provides a chronological mapped account of where fires broke out in the Japanese capital in the wake of the earthquake, showing where and how these fires spread through the city over the following two days. 

As you progress through Nikkei's historical recount of the earthquake the map sidebar provides information on the progress of the fires devouring Tokyo, illustrated with some vintage photographs taken during and after the quake. The areas of Tokyo burned by the fires are shown in red on the accompanying map.

Nikkei has also commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Great Kantō earthquake by creating an interactive map which plots the epicenter of the 13,680 earthquakes which have struck Japan over the course of the last century. 

Japan's Earthquake Archipelago uses scaled circles to plot the epicenters of each earthquake. The color of these circles can be selected to show either the magnitude or depth of the individual quakes. The earthquake data visualized on the map comes from the Japan Meteorological Agency.

If you are interested in historical disaster mapping then you should also view CBC's extraordinary 3D reconstruction of the 1917 Halifax Explosion. A City Destroyed: 100 Years After the Halifax Explosion includes an astonishing 360 degree video reconstruction of the tragedy, as well as a fully interactive 3D map of 1917 Halifax, visualizing the damage and destruction caused by the explosion.

Friday, September 01, 2023

The AI Satlas

The Allen Institute's Satlas interactive map uses AI to create high resolution images of the world, even when only low resolution satellite images are available. The Allen Institute has also trained the AI to identify the location of wind turbines, solar farms and tree canopy coverage around the globe.

Satlas uses satellite imagery from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 satellites. The Allen Institute manually scanned this ESA imagery to identify 36,000 wind turbines, 4,000 solar farms, and 3,000 tree cover canopy percentages. It then trained an AI on this data in order for it to be able to globally identify the locations of other wind turbines, solar farms and tree cover around the world.

If you select the 'super resolution' option on Satlas you can explore the world with satellite imagery which has been increased four times in resolution by AI from the original ESA Sentinel-2 captured imagery. Like many other products 'enhanced' by AI Satlas does have a tendency to 'hallucinate'. For example Satlas has replaced the 5-aside football pitches in my local park with some neat rows of trees (presumably it mistook the green AstroTurf for canopy cover).

Despite these 'hallucinations' Satlas claims its data has a 'high accuracy'. Satlas has actually sampled and validated the wind turbine, solar farm and tree cover data for each continent to estimate this data's accuracy. You can view the estimated precision and recall of the data for each product on each continent on Satlas's Data Validation Report.

The Allen Institute is just one of a growing number of geospatial companies that are using AI to identify and classify objects in satellite imagery. Some of the other companies working in this area are Descartes Labs, Radiant Earth and Orbital Insight.