Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Most Popular Music in Your Town

SZA's Kill Bill was the most listened to song in New York and San Francisco this year. In Denver and New Orleans the most listened to song was Morgan Wallen's Last Night. While Eslabon Armado y Peso Pluma's Ella Baila Sola was the most popular tune in Los Angeles, Houston and San Diego.

Spotify has released a new interactive map which reveals the most listened to songs in cities around the world. Wrapped Mapped has been released by Spotify as part of its annual data round-up of what music people have been listening to in the past year.

Every December Spotify provides all its users with a personalized summary of their listening habits over the previous year. This 'Wrapped' summary provides a fun and engaging way for Spotify users to see which artists, songs and genres they have been listening to, as well as how many minutes they have actually spent listening to music during the year. Wrapped is typically released in early December, and users can share their Wrapped results with friends and social media.

This year's Wrapped includes an interactive map which reveals the local streaming trends during 2023 in locations across the world. Click on a city on the Wrapped Mapped interactive globe and you can view a top 5 list of the songs which were most streamed in that city over the past 12 months. If you have a Spotify account you can even click on the links to listen to each of the listed songs.

London, Paris & Berlin Metro Memory Games

I think I've started a new mapping trend. At the beginning of October I released my TubeQuiz map. Since then I have spotted three other new map games which also require players to name all the stations on the London Underground network. 

The latest incarnation of a London Underground station memory game is I Know The Tube. I Know The Tube follows the now well known format of a map memory game, in that players simply have to remember the names of tube stations on the London Underground map. Type in a correct station name and its label will be added to the map and you will earn one point.

The unique selling point of I Know the Tube, and where it differs from the other London Tube station naming games, is that it actually uses Harry Beck's schematic map style for the underground map. This fact alone would make this my favorite incarnation of all the London tube map memory games. Except the game doesn't use localStorage to keep a record of your scores. 

The absence of localStorage means that if you close the browser you will have to start on 0 points when you return to the game at a later date. This is quite a set-back because the I Know the Tube game actually includes all 11 main tube lines, the London Overground, DLR, Emirates Air Line, Tramlink and TFL Rail lines. It therefore has 454 individual stations for players to name. That is quite a lot for one sitting! 

Kailan Banks cloned the Glitch page of my original TubeQuiz to create his own version of the game. TubeGuessr made a couple of very neat improvements to my original game. It added localStorage, (which allows a player's guesses and score to persist between sessions) and also added support for a number of spelling variations and typos. The localStorage idea was so good that I went back and added that to my own version of the game.

There is also a fourth London Underground station naming game which you can play. The London Tube Memory Game isn't a direct copy of my original game (in fact it appears to be have been coded from scratch) but the object of the game remains the same, in that you are required to name all the stations on the London Underground.

The London Tube Memory Game has also made a number of useful improvements on my original game. The best of these improvements is that the London Tube Memory Game lists all the stations already named in the map sidebar. The London Tube Memory Game scoring system also shows you how many stations on each individual tube line you have named so far and how many more stations on that line you still have to name. I think both of these improvements make the game a lot easier and more fun to play.

For the last two weeks I've been thinking of creating similar games for the New York and San Francisco transit networks but haven't had the time to start those yet. If you want to create those games yourself then you can clone my TubeQuiz game on Glitch. Once you've cloned the game all you then really need to do is change the data in the places.js file to show the names and locations of stations on the transport network you wish to use for your game.

Of course nothing is really new in map games. I can't really claim to have started this trend. My TubeQuiz game was itself inspired by Chris Arvin's SF-Street-Names game. So if anyone should be credited with starting a new mapping trend it really should be Chris Arvin.

Update - The developer of the London Tube Memory Game has been very busy and has actually created a whole Metro Memory website, which features similar games for Paris, New York, Berlin and a number of other major global cities.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Locking Up Louisiana

The state of Louisiana likes putting its citizens in jail. Nearly 1 in every 100 Louisiana residents are locked up in a state prison or local jail. The reasons for Louisiana's high incarceration rates are simple. It isn't because Louisiana is full of criminals. It is because of racism and the profits to be made from enforced slave labor.

I arrived at this conclusion after reading the Vera Institute of Justice's project Louisiana Locked Up: A Problem in Every Parish. Not that Vera ever expressly cites racism in its report - but the implications are very clear from the data. Vera's data driven investigation of Louisiana's incarceration problems uses a story-map format to investigate the rates, results and causes of why this southern state imprisons so many of its residents. 

The report includes many maps, including maps which show the incarceration rates in each of the state's parishes. According to the map "the prison admission rate is greater than the national average in 92 percent of parishes and more than twice the national average in 63 percent of parishes." 

One very damning map layer juxtaposes the location of the state's prisons and jails with the location of historical plantations. According to Vera: 

"The state’s largest jails and prisons are situated squarely on the same land where Black people were enslaved to sustain the state’s agricultural industry. These facilities now use the forced labor of incarcerated people (who are disproportionally Black) to sustain the “corrections” industry."

In 2018 The Pudding used 150 years of census and incarceration data to explore the legacy of slavery on modern incarceration rates in the United States. The Pudding's The Shape of Slavery allows you to view the 1860 distribution of slaves in the Southern States alongside present day incarceration rates in each state.

America likes to put people behind bars. The NAACP reports that 21% of the entire world's prison population is living in American jails. This propensity to lock up its citizens affects African Americans more than most other Americans. The NAACP says that African Americans are incarcerated at nearly five times the rate of white Americans.

There is a geographical factor at play in these incarceration rates. The Prison Policy Initiative states that "the South has consistently had a higher rate of incarceration than the other regions of the United States". The Pudding decided to explore if there was any connection between the high rate of incarceration in Southern states and the legacy of slavery. By mapping 150 years of census and incarceration data they wanted to see if historic incarceration rates differ between the former slave states and the non-slave states of the North.

They do. The Pudding concludes that "we still see the shadow of the undeniable, institutionalized, strategic racism of the 100 years after the Civil War".

Monday, November 27, 2023

The Live Amtrak Train Map is a live interactive map which shows the real-time locations of passenger trains in the U.S. and Canada. 

The map uses colored markers to show the near real-time positions of trains from a number of different train companies in North America. The arrow on the markers show a train's direction of travel and the colors indicate the transit operators of individual trains. If you click on a marker on the map you can discover the selected train's name, which stations it is traveling to & from, and its current speed.

The map includes Amtrak trains in the U.S., VIA Rail Trains in Canada and the locations of trains from a number of other transit providers. Unfortunately the map is missing a number of regional train operators. Reading the comments on this Hacker News thread it appears that the map's creator is actively working on adding the live train location feeds for a number of these missing transit operators.


The Amtrak/VIA Live Map also shows the live position of Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada trains. It uses live data from Amtrak's Track-A-Train service and VIA's status service to estimate the real-time location of U.S. and Canadian trains and their current running status.

The location of individual trains is shown on the map with colored numbers. The colors on this map indicate the on-time performance of the train at the last station. In other words a train's color on the map provides a guide to how late a train is running. If you click on a train on the map then you can view how many minutes (if any) it is running late and its current estimated speed.

The map sidebar shows a selected train's complete schedule, including all the stations on its route. This schedule shows how many minutes late (if any) the train departed each and every station already visited and how many minutes late it is expected to arrive at all remaining stations on its route.

You can also track trains in real-time on the official Amtrak Track Your Train Map. Enter a train number, or name into Amtrak's map and you can view its progress in real-time. Click on a train's marker on the map and you can view its current speed, its estimated time of arrival at its next station and how minutes early or late it is running.

If you enjoy live real-time transit maps then you might also enjoy:

If you are a fan of live real-time maps of train networks then you might also like:

geOps - animated maps of over 700 transit systems around the world
Train Map - a live map of the Belgium rail network
Swiss Railways Network - the original real-time map of Swiss trains
Mini Tokyo 3D - a live real-time map of Tokyo's public transit system (in 3D)
Zugverfolgung - real-time train tracking in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands
Signalbox - a live train map of the UK

You will also find many more live transit maps by checking out the real-time tag on Maps Mania.

The World as 1000 People

If the world's population was proportionally represented as 1,000 people then 591 of those people would live in Asia, 185 would live in Africa, 91 in Europe, 75 would live in North America, 55 in South America and the remaining 5 people would live in Oceania. 

The Visual Capitalist has mapped The World's Population as 1,000 People. On the map each marker (shaped as a human figure) represents just over 8 million people. For example the USA's population of 339,996,563 is represented as 42 markers. The most populated country in the world is India with 1,428,627,663 people (represented as 178 on the map). Neighboring China is the second most populated country with 1,425,671,352 people (represented as 177).

The map uses population estimates from the United Nations Population Division.
You can also explore where people live around the world on the Pudding's Human Terrain interactive map. This map shows population density across the globe using 3D population pyramids. The taller a pyramid block on The Pudding map then the more people live there. 

The data for the Human Terrain map comes from the Global Human Settlement Layer. This data from the European Commission looks at the population living within 1 km² areas, 'regardless of administrative boundaries'. 

The use of population pyramids is a well used and visually dramatic way to show population density. For example The Pudding's map is very similar to a WebGL powered map created by Topi Tjukanov to show the density of Europe's population.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

The World's Largest Snow Dome

This morning I discovered MapTheClouds, which features a whole host of impressive interactive map visuals. I'm sure a lot of the maps featured on MapTheClouds are very useful but as ever I'm drawn to the fun, experimental maps, to the maps that apparently serve no other purpose than they were fun to create and are even more fun to play with.

Here are a few links to my personal favorites, but check out MapTheClouds yourself, as this is only a small selection of a far larger collection of interactive maps:

Snow Globe

Click on any location in the world on this map and you can encase it in a gigantic snow dome. 

Why? Who cares ... do you really need a reason to entrap the whole of Manhattan in the world's biggest snow dome?

Maybe you don't want to live entrapped inside a gigantic dome. But I bet you'd love to be surrounded by thousands of hot air balloons floating upwards into the heavens. Click on your home town on this map and you can discover what it looks like to be surrounded by the world's largest number of aeronauts.

Have you ever wondered what it would look like if you could compare a globe of present day Earth side-by-side with a globe of Pangaea? Me neither but I'm very glad that I can.

This interactive map shows two rotating interactive globes. One should look familiar to you, as it is the Earth as it looks today from space. The other globe however shows you what the world looked like around 300-200 million years ago, when North America, Africa, South America, and Europe all existed as a single continent called Pangaea.

When the world seems to be largely a grey, monotone and dull place you need to open up this map, which allows you to peer through a magical portal to catch a glimpse of the wonderful and colorful world inhabited by the Finns and Danes.

If you like these maps then do visit MapTheClouds which has many, many more excellent examples of fun map projects.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Global Sentiment Towards Israel & Palestine

The interactive map Israel-Palestine Media Bias visualizes the results of a sentiment analysis of mostly English language media and social media websites to determine whether they have a predominately Israeli or Palestinian bias.

Using the map you can explore the Israel/Palestine sentiment bias expressed by the media in individual countries, on different platforms and by the percentage of a country's population being Muslim.

On the map individual countries are colored to reflect the extent the analysis detected pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli sentiments in that country's media and social media. Blue countries are those with a pro-Israeli sentiment and red indicates a pro-Palestinian sentiment score.

I think the map is a really interesting attempt to explore global sentiments to Israel and Palestine in media and social media. However it is important to be aware that it was created with the help of the Israeli Civilian Intelligence Center, which is made up of Israel's Aman (military intelligence), Mossad (overseas intelligence) and Shabak (internal security). Agencies which themselves presumably have very pro-Israeli sentiments.

The creator of the map acknowledged in a Reddit comment that the visualization should be titled 'Media Sentiment' rather than 'Media Bias'. The use of a negative '-' to indicate a pro-Palestine sentiment score and positive scores to indicate pro-Israel sentiment is also I think particularly ill considered.

Also See

Gaza Damage Proxy Map - assessing the damage to buildings in Gaza

Mapping the Massacres - a comprehensive map of all the atrocities committed by Hamas on the 7th October.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

America is a Jigsaw

If you want a little Thanksgiving fun today then you should play TripGeo's State Locator game. State Locator is an interactive map of the United States. A map which you have to assemble yourself based on the shapes of the individual states and a few image clues.

At the beginning of the game you are presented with a random state. Your job is to place this state onto a blank map of the United States. When you start the game the only clues you have as to where to place a state are markers showing the largest towns and cities in the U.S., the shape of the state and the background images shown on the state.

The game presents you with a number of choices (in the form of question marks) where you can place each state. You just need to select the correct location on the map for each 50 states in turn. You are rewarded one point for each state that you correctly place on the map. Complete the map and you will receive 50 points. However the game also keeps tabs on how many mistakes you make. The aim of the game is to get 50 points with the fewest number of errors.

My best score so far is 75 errors (my excuse is that I'm not American).

You might also enjoy my own US States Quiz. In my game you are required to name all of the 50 states before you are allowed to eat your Thanksgiving dinner. Enter the name of a U.S. state and the state will be colored green on the map. 

Don't worry if you can't name all 50 states in one sitting. The game will remember your score and which states you have already named, so you can close the game and return to complete the game at a later time. Just press the 'start over' button if you wish to clear the map and start afresh.

One objective of the US States Quiz is to beat the characters of Friends. In the episode 'The One Where Chandler Doesn't Like Dogs' four of the characters try to name all of the US states. Monica manages to name 36 states ("nobody cares about the Dakotas"). Rachel gets 48. Joey somehow manages to name 56. Chandler then challenges Ross to name all 50 states before he can eat his Thanksgiving dinner. Initially Ross names 46 states. Many hungry hours of struggle later he manages to name all 50 states and then starts eating his dinner. Only for Chandler to point out that he has actually named Delaware twice!

If you enjoy naming US States then you should also enjoy Find the State. In this game you are asked to locate on a map each of the 50 US states in turn. As well as having to identify all 50 states part of the objective in this game is to build winning streaks. Identify a wrong state and your streak returns to zero.

If you need some help locating a state then it is worth reading the state's description in the map sidebar, which usually provides some clues as to the state's geographical location within America.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Where Your Food Comes From

When you begin to prepare your Thanksgiving dinner you may wonder about where all that food comes from. Well a new interactive map from CU Boulder and The Plotline, can help show you where. The Food Twin shows you where food is grown and consumed in America and how crops travel from producers to consumers.

Click on your county on the map and you will see colored dots flowing into your county from other counties around the United States. The colors of the dots represent different food groups (grain, nuts, vegetables, fruits and tubers). Each dot represents a set number of calories from that food group. If you switch to the 'producer' view on the map you can see in which other counties food produced in your county is consumed.

It is important to note that the Food Twin is a simulated model of food production and consumption. The model is based on satellite data and survey statistics "to generate an estimate of the types of crops that are grown in different regions across the United States". The consumption of different food groups is estimated based on consumer surveys. The routes between producers and consumers of food is modeled using 'possible shipment routes between all counties". 

You can read more about the production, consumption and transportation models used by the map in this blog post. The map is however a model and your Thanksgiving green beans and candied yams may not actually have been grown in the counties indicated by the Food Twin.

If you want to know more about the geography of your Thanksgiving meal then you should explore Esri's Mapping the Thanksgiving Harvest. This interactive map shows where your turkey, cranberries, sweet potatoes, potatoes, green beans, brussels sprouts, pumpkins and pecans were reared or grown.

Around 46 million turkeys are eaten every Thanksgiving. A large proportion of those turkeys come from Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Indiana. There is a very big chance that your sweet potatoes come from North Carolina, which grows more than half of all America's sweet potato crop.

What you actually eat for your traditional Thanksgiving meal will also be influenced by geography. For example if you live in the north or west then you will probably have cranberry sauce with your turkey; while those who live in the southern states will mostly be enjoying sweet potato casserole. Nearly everyone will be eating turkey - but how you prepare your turkey can also be shaped by where you live. If your turkey is smoked, roasted or fried probably depends on whether you live in the mid-west, the east coast or California.

If you want to know more about how where you live shapes your Thanksgiving menu then you should refer to the LA Times. The newspaper has used data from Google to determine the Thanksgiving foods searched for in different regions of the United States. You can read the results of their analysis in What will be on your Thanksgiving plate? It depends on where you’ll be. The article even includes a little tool which can show you the Thanksgiving foods that are most searched for in every state.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

America's Changing Plant Hardiness Zones

Around half of Americans have been moved into a new plant hardiness zone. If you check out the USDA's new Plant Hardiness Zone Map you have a very good chance of discovering that your home is now in a new hardiness zone.

In recent years, like many gardeners, I've discovered that I can successfully sow plants a few weeks before their recommended earliest dates and that I can continue harvesting some vegetables much later than I have been able to in previous decades. Global heating has also meant that I have begun to experiment with plants which aren't usually recommended for my hardiness zone.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture I am not alone in experiencing a change in my growing seasons. Last week the USDA updated its Plant Hardiness Zone Map for the first time in more than a decade. On the new map average temperatures are around 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than on the 2012 map. This means that many gardeners are now in a new plant hardiness zone.

Plant hardiness zones are used to guide gardeners and horticulturists on the appropriate flowers and vegetables to grow where they live. The zones help gardeners understand which plants will flourish in their specific climatic conditions. They also help to guide gardeners about when they should sow and harvest different plants.

The USDA says that because the new Plant Hardiness Zone Map is based on recent changes in weather data it can't be used as evidence of global heating, which is usually measured over a longer period of time. However I don't think many people doubt that because of climate change gardeners in the United States can expect to see plant hardiness zones moving even further northwards in the coming decades.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Alternatives to Google Maps Street View

Panoramax is an open-source photo-mapping platform that allows users to share and exploit street level photography. It is a free alternative to proprietary services, such as Google Maps Street View, providing a freely available resource for sharing and mapping field photos. The Panoramax platform allows anyone to capture street level photographs and contribute them to the Panoramax database and interactive map. This imagery is then freely accessible and reusable by all.

Panoramax claims that "All photos (are) easily accessible and reusable without an account: via the website or a standard API (STAC format)". If you click on the 'share' button on the map you can also embed a Panoramax map and street level imagery on a website as an iframe.

Mapillary is another crowd-sourced platform for sharing and exploring street-level imagery. The platform allows users to upload and share images of streets, roads, and other public spaces from around the world. These images are then stitched together to create a continuous street-level view of the world. Mapillary is similar to Google Street View, but it used crowd-sourced images and anyone can contribute to it.

Mapillary was acquired by Meta in 2020 but was founded in 2013. Due to its ten year head start on Panoramax, Mapillary currently has far more imagery available on its platform. I'm guessing, however, that Mapillary's ownership by Facebook may be a disincentive to some users, who may be disinclined to share their street level imagery with Meta. To those users Panoramax may prove to be a welcome new addition to the world of crowd-sourced Street View.

KartaView (previously known as OpenStreetCam) is another platform which can be used for collecting, viewing and sharing street level imagery around the world. Thousands of people around the world currently use KartaView to map street level photographs using the KartaView apps for Android and iOS.

You can explore all the uploaded street level imagery on the KartaView interactive map. Where imagery is available roads are colored blue on the map. You just need to click on a blue road to view the available imagery for that location. KartaView's street level imagery is free to use under an open-source license.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Introducing the Sunderland Collection

The Sunderland Collection of antique maps has been digitized in full and can now be explored in detail on the new virtual platform Oculi Mundi (Eyes of the World).

The Sunderland Collection was started by Dr Neil Sunderland in the 1990s. The collection now consists of around 130 vintage globes, maps and atlases which date back to as early as the 13th century. The new Oculi Mundi platform takes a very visual (some might even say annoying) approach to presenting and exploring the Sunderland Collection. In 'explore' mode you are forced to scroll through a 3d scrolling virtual gallery choosing maps to explore in closer detail from their floating screenshots. Personally I prefer the 'research' mode which allows you to explore the Sunderland map collection in chronological order. 

If you select a map in either the explore or research modes you can then explore the selected digitized map in close detail, exploring the map by panning and zooming in and out. Each map also includes 'gallery notes' which provides information on the selected map with details about when it was drawn and the name of the cartographer.

The chronological 'research' mode of the Sunderland Collection actually presents a neat visual view of the history of cartography, encompassing examples of early T & O maps, Ptolemaic maps, and medieval Mappa Mundi. At the moment the Oculi Mundi is seriously missing a 'search' option, which would allow users to more easily search the collection by individual cartographer or map. However the stories section of Oculi Mundi does provide some great guided tours of some of the vintage maps in the collection and a neat introduction to the historical development of map projections over time.

The David Rumsey Documentary

If you are a fan of antique vintage maps then you won't want to miss A Stranger Quest. Directed by Italian filmmaker Andrea Gatopoulos A Stranger Quest explores the passions of David Rumsey and his famous map collection. The file will premier at the Torino Film Festival on November 30 and will be released in 2024. The David Rumsey Map Collection has one of the largest online collections of digitized vintage maps.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Mapping Damage in Gaza

A researcher at UCL's CASA has released a new interactive mapping tool which can help researchers and news agencies "estimate the number of damaged buildings and the pre-war population in a given area within the Gaza Strip". The Gaza Damage Proxy Map is based on an earlier tool which was developed to estimate damage caused by Russia in Ukraine.

The Gaza Damage Proxy Map colors individual buildings in the Gaza Strip to indicate the probability that the building has suffered damage since October 10, 2023. If you use the map's drawing tool you can highlight an area of the Gaza Strip on the map. The Gaza Damage tool will then automatically estimate the number of damaged buildings in the highlighted area and the estimated affected population. The percentage of the buildings damaged in the area is also calculated for you. If you select individual buildings on the map you can view information on the date of the damage and view a link to the source media for the damage report.

The Gaza Damage Proxy map uses Synthetic Aperture Radar imagery captured by satellites to detect damaged buildings. By measuring the change in the intensity of these radar waves since before the Israeli attacks on Gaza it is possible to estimate the probability that individual buildings have been damaged. Damage points from the UN Satellite Office (UNOSAT) have also been used to validate the accuracy of the damage detection algorithm used by the map. The map itself also includes an optional layer which adds geo-located footage of strikes and destruction in Gaza as triangular map markers.

You can learn more about the methodology used to estimate building damage in Gaza in the Bellingcat article, A New Tool Allows Researchers to Track Damage in Gaza. The Ukraine Damage Assessment Map allows you to carry out similar analysis of the estimated building damage caused by Russia in Ukraine.

Also See

Mapping the Massacres - a comprehensive map of all the atrocities committed by Hamas on the 7th October.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

The Rise & Fall of National Rail Networks

The Berliner-Morgenpost has visualized the rise and fall of the German rail network from its rapid growth in the 19th Century right up to its 21st Century post-privatization contraction. The German Rail Network from 1835 Until Today uses an interactive map to show all the active rail lines in Germany for every single year from 1835 until 2022.

On December the 7th 1835 a six-kilometer rail line from Nuremberg to Fürth was opened. On which a steam locomotive, the Adler, would carry passengers at the dizzying speed of 28 kph. Things then sped-up rather quickly and by 1870 Germany had constructed around 14,000 kilometers of railway lines. In fact the German railway became so large that in the 1920s the nationalized German rail company, the Deutsche Reichsbahn was the largest employer in the world.

In West Germany the national rail network began to suffer from the 1950s as a consequence of the rise in car ownership. However the biggest contraction in the German rail network began in the 1990s. After the reunification of Germany the newly privatized rail lines in the former East Germany were forced to close unprofitable lines and stations. The result is that the German rail network now has around 39,900 km of lines, down from the 52,900 km of rail-lines it had from 1940-1970.

Irish Railway Stations 1834-2000 is a simple interactive map which plots every active Irish train station in operation for every year from 1834 to 2000. By scrolling through all 166 years on the map you get a great overview of the rise and fall of the railway in Ireland since 1834.

The first railway line opened in Ireland was the Dublin and Kingstown Railway (D&KR), which ran between Westland Row in Dublin and Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire), a distance of 10 km (6 mi). It was opened on 17 December 1834. In 1839 a second railway line, the Ulster Railway, opened between Belfast Great Victoria Street and Lisburn. 

If you use the map's timeline to progress through the years from 1834 you can see how the railway spread across Ireland, largely emanating out from the initial lines built in Dublin and Belfast. For almost a century after 1834 the railway in Ireland continued to grow, reaching out to all parts of the island of Ireland. 

When you reach the late 1930's on the map you can begin to see railway stations disappearing off the map. The Great Depression and the rise of the motor car obviously had an effect of freight and passenger traffic resulting in the closure of a number of stations. In the 1950s and 1960s you can begin to see the closure of many branch lines on the map. This significant reduction in the rail network in Ireland means that even in the 21st Century the Irish rail network consists of only around 1,698 miles, or around half of the 3,480 miles of line that existed in the early 20th Century.

In August 1847 a railway line was opened connecting the Swiss cities of Baden and Zurich. 175 years later Switzerland's rail network is over 5,000 kilometers long. Back in 2022 the Swiss broadcaster SRF celebrated the 175th anniversary of the country's railway network by creating a Journey Through the History of Swiss Railways.  

SRF's history of the Swiss railway includes a map which shows the opening of new railway lines by year of construction. This map is accompanied by a graph which shows the length (in km) of railway lines opened in each year. From the animation of this map above you can see that the golden era of the Swiss railway was in its first one hundred years. Since the 1920s further extensions to the railway in Switzerland have been fairly sporadic. 

If you are interested in the history of your city's transit network then you should have a look at Citylines. Citylines is a collaborative platform which is busy mapping the public transit systems of the world. Using Citylines you can explore interactive maps visualizing the local transit systems of hundreds of cities around the globe. You can also use Citylines to explore how each city's public transport network has grown and contracted over time. 

Each city's transit system map includes a date control, which allows you to view the extent of the local transit network for any year in history. Press the play button on the map and you can view an animated map showing how the city's transit system has developed through history. 

All the data used on Citylines is open sourced under the Open Database License (ODbL). This means that if you want to create your own city public transit map then you can download the data for your map from Citylines (in json or CSV formats).

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Wednesday Night is Game Night

Following the huge runaway success of Benjamin Tran Dinh's the London Tube Memory Game (which bears an uncanny resemblance to my own London TubeQuiz) it is not that surprising that a number of other map memory games have now suddenly appeared on the scene. 

US States Quiz

My own US States Quiz is similar to the London Tube Memory Game. The only real difference is that instead of having to name London tube stations in this US States Quiz you are required to name all of the 50 separate states which together form the United States. Don't worry if you can't name them all in one sitting as the game will remember your score and which states you have already named.

London Boroughs Quiz

I have also created the London Boroughs Quiz, in which you have to name all the London boroughs. There are 33 London boroughs to name in total. Naming all 33 is very tough. Even though I wrote the game I struggled to name 25 London boroughs while playing the game this morning.

This one is strictly for the residents of the English city of Nottingham personally I can't name a single tram station in Nottingham). However if you are a resident of Nottingham then you will have a lot of fun trying to name all 50 stations on the city's tram network. This game doesn't appear to use localStorage so you will lose your score when you close or refresh the browser window.

Following the huge success of his London tube game it is no surprise that Benjamin Tran Dinh himself has been busy creating versions of the game for other cities. These include the Washington DC Metro Memory Game in which you have to name all the metro stations in the US capital.

If that wasn't enough Benjamin has also created metro memory games for, New York, Paris, Berlin, Madrid and Vienna. I'm sure Benjamin is working on more - links to these will be added to his Metro Memory home page when complete.

If you enjoy naming US States then you should enjoy Find the State. In this game you are asked to name each of the 50 US states in turn. As well as having to name all 50 states part of the objective in this game is to build winning streaks. Identify a wrong state and your streak returns to zero.

All of these games (bar Find the State) were actually inspired by Chris Arvin's original map memory game Name San Francisco Streets. In this game you are required to name all the streets of San Francisco. If you have never been to San Francisco my tip is to remember that Americans do like to use numbers when naming their city streets.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Ten Years of Global Marine Traffic

The Global Marine Traffic Density Service (GMTDS) map visualizes global marine traffic over the last ten years. The map is designed to support a number of uses, including monitoring fishing activity, monitoring port activity, and environmental and economic activity monitoring.

The GMTDS Map has processed hundreds of billions of AIS signals from over ten years of marine traffic around the world to create this global map of marine traffic density. Using the map you can access and explore over ten years of marine traffic around the world.

Marine traffic density is shown on the map as hours per square kilometer, revealing how many hours in total ships have spent in each square kilometer. You can use the map's time slider to filter the data by month and use the playback controls to animate global marine traffic over time.

You can filter the type of marine traffic shown on the map using the map sidebar. These filter controls include options to select the 'ship type' shown on the map. The ship type option includes cargo vessels, fishing vessels, tankers and even ice breakers.You can also filter the map by draft, which records how far below the water line a vessel's hull normally sits. This is an important consideration for marine navigation, for example for vessels traversing through ship canals and locks. The 'loitering' filter allows you to view where vessels have spent more than six hours in a single cell (square kilometer). 

Also See

MarineTraffic - uses AIS data to create a live real-time map of global ship traffic

VesselFinder - another real-time map of global shipping traffic

Monday, November 13, 2023

Standing on Top of the World

If you want an uninterrupted view towards the horizon in all directions then you need to stand on top of a mountain. But not just any mountain. What you need is an 'on top of the world' mountain. 

On Top of the World Mountains

An "on top of the world" mountain, also known as an OTOTW mountain, is a mountain that is so high that no other mountains can be seen above the horizon from its summit. There are over 6,000 OTOTW mountains in the world, and they are found on every continent except Antarctica. The highest OTOTW mountain is Mount Everest, which is 8,848.86 meters (29,031.7 feet) tall.Other notable OTOTW mountains include K2, Lhotse, Makalu, and Manaslu.

Pinnacle Points

A 'pinnacle point' is a point on the Earth's surface from which no higher point can be seen in any direction. This means that if you were to stand at a pinnacle point, you would have an unobstructed view of the horizon in all directions. If a summit is not an OTOTW then it can't be a pinnacle point either. Therefore pinnacle points are a subset of OTOTWs.

If you want to feel like you are standing at the top of the world then you can find your nearest pinnacle point on the Pinnacle Points interactive map. This map shows the points on Earth from which no higher point can be seen in any direction. The pinnacle points are shown on the map using colored markers based on each point's elevation.

Jut Scores

If you prefer looking up at impressive mountains rather than staring wistfully towards the horizon from on high then you want the PeakJut map instead. According to PeakJut the impressiveness of individual mountains is based on two factors, height and steepness. PeakJut has therefore invented the Jut Score, which ranks mountains based on how sharply a mountain rises above its surroundings, factoring in both height and steepness.

Share your location with PeakJut and it will show you the most impressive looking mountains closest to you, based on their Jut rankings. If you click on one of the suggested mountains you can view its location on an interactive map. This map highlights the selected mountain's peak and its base (or most impressive viewpoint). You are also given some important data, such as the mountain's elevation and 'Jut'.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

The Spanish Wealth Divide

El Diario has released an interactive map which shows how much people earn across the whole of Spain. The map starkly reveals not only the huge income inequality between northern and southern Spain but also the inequality between many urban and rural communities. 

The map in Rich Neighborhood, Poor Neighborhood uses data from the National Statistics Institute to show the average gross income per household (i.e. before taxes). The data is derived from 2021 personal income tax returns. In the screenshot of the map above you can see that there is a clear income divide between southern Spain and the north of the country (particularly the north-east). 

Back in 2019 El Pais created a similar interactive map to visualize the average income of every neighborhood in Spain. This 2019 map also uses data from the National Institute of Statistics, using tax returns from 2017. 

El Pais' Map of Spanish Incomes, Street by Street also revealed a stark contrast between northern and southern Spain. However the less granular data used in this map means it is not as good at showing the local income inequalities in individual towns and cities as the new El Diario map.

The new map reveals that many southern Spanish cities include many neighborhoods in which the residents are in the top 10% of Spanish earners. However these rich city centers are surrounded by much poorer neighborhoods. According to El Diario the "historic centers of the cities have the highest incomes, which decrease as we move further away until we reach the peripheral neighborhoods".

The El Diario map includes an option to compare the 2021 data with the income returns from 2020. It is therefore possible to see which neighborhoods are becoming richer and which are becoming poorer. In fact if you hover over a neighborhood on the map you can view information on the average family income, how the neighborhood compares to the national average, and by what percent local average income levels have risen or fallen since 2020.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Peering into the Heart of Darkness

This week the European Space Agency released the first full-color images from the Euclid telescope. Euclid is a space telescope (situated in a halo orbit at an average distance of 1.5 million kilometers beyond Earth's orbit) which has been tasked to explore dark energy and dark matter.

The telescope is capturing highly detailed astronomical images across a large area of the sky. The first five images, released earlier this week, demonstrate Euclid's ability to capture razor-sharp details even when zooming in on very distant galaxies. And you actually can zoom into each of these first five images yourself thanks to ESA's interactive map of each image.

If you click on the header image on each of these five dedicated ESA pages you can view an interactive map of the selected image, allowing you to "zoom into the Universe through Euclid's eyes":

(remember to click on the mast head image on each page to open the interactive map)

I've also read rave reviews this week about the New York Times's A Guide to the James Webb Telescope. Unfortunately this article is locked behind a paywall.

Thursday, November 09, 2023

How Long Will You Live?

According to I can expect to live for another 26.9 years. This calculation is based on my age, sex and country of birth. I am lucky I don't live in the United States. If I did I'd have 16 months less to live. Mind you if I lived in Japan I'd be able to look forward to living an extra 7 months.

Enter your date of birth, country of birth and sex into and it will tell you your estimated life expectancy based on United Nations data. Not only does tell you how many years and months you can expect to live it will also show you an interactive map showing you all the countries in the world where someone of your age and sex has a higher and lower life expectancy. For example if I lived in any of the countries colored green on the map above I would have a longer life expectancy. If I lived in any of the red colored countries I could expect a lower life expectancy. can also tell you how many people in the world are currently older and younger than you (84% of the world's population is younger than me). It can also show you your chances of dying in each of your remaining years. For example next year I have around a 2% chance of dying. I'm a little sad that my chance of dying reaches 100% when I reach 107. I was so looking forward to my 108th birthday.

Via: quantum of sollazzo

Documenting Russian Crimes in Ukraine

In March 2022 Russian troops invaded the Ukrainian village of Yahidne. During their month long occupation of the village the Russian army locked the villagers in a school basement. 360 people, including children and the elderly, where forced to live together in cramped and unsanitary conditions. There was so little space that people had to sleep standing up, people had to use buckets for toilets and there was very little food. During their imprisonment 11 of the villagers died. 

It is impossible to imagine the conditions in which the 360 residents of Yahidne were forced to endure by the Russian army. However thanks to the power of phtoogrammetry you can explore a 3D model of the school basement where the villagers were imprisoned. Hidenori Watanave's Satellite Images of Ukraine uses a 3D model to provide a virtual guided tour of the school basement. 

The photogrammetry 3D scan of the basement was captured by Kyiv-based @YaroPro4. This photogrammetry model was then added to a Cesium 3D globe by professor Hidenori Watanave of the University of Tokyo.

You can read more about the criminal actions of the Russian army in Yahidne and the awful conditions in which the villagers were kept on Time's article A Ukrainian Village's Month in Captivity in a Basement.

Australia's ABC News has published a number of 3D photogrammetry models to document the destruction caused by Russian missiles to culturally important Ukrainian buildings. The article Culture in the Crosshairs includes three separate visualizations which reveal the devastating destruction being caused to important Ukrainian landmarks.

The 3D models of Kharkiv’s historic red brick fire station, the Irpin Bridge and Chernihiv's historic regional youth library were each created using LIDAR data captured on the ground in Ukraine. This data was then processed into 3D photogrammetry models. Models which ABC News are then able to use to create interactive fly-throughs documenting and highlighting the scale of destruction of each of these historic landmarks.

360war is also working to document the damage being caused to Ukraine by Russia's illegal war and to ensure that this senseless destruction is seen by people around the world.

360war is documenting the destruction of Ukrainian towns and villages, showing the aftermath of Russian air strikes and artillery fire on the infrastructure and buildings of Ukraine. Using panoramic 'Street View' imagery 360war allows you to explore in close detail some of the devastating destruction left behind by the Russian army.

An interactive map shows the location of all the available 'Street View' images (mainly concentrated in Kharkiv, Kyiv and Chernihiv). On this map aerial panoramic images are indicated using a drone shaped marker, while ground based panoramic images are shown with black dots. Many of the interactive panoramas include a 'learn more' link which provide more information on the location depicted and the damage caused by the invading Russian army.

The Department of Tourism of the Kyiv Oblast State Administration is also determined to record and document the destruction being caused in their region. In order that no-one is ever able to forgot the crimes committed in the Kyiv region they have established a Virtual Museum of War Memory.

The main exhibit in the Virtual Museum of War Memory is a number of custom made Street View panoramas. These 360 degree panoramic images, taken at different locations in the Kyiv Oblast, allow you to take a virtual walk through some of the horrific destruction inflicted by the invading forces.

The Street View images for each of these virtual tours have also been added to Google Maps. This means that while exploring one of the museum's virtual tours you can click on the 'View on Google Maps' link to reveal the exact location on Google Maps. The 'i' information icon in the top right hand corner of the Street View image also reveals the name of the town where the panorama was taken.

You can view more of the terrible destruction inflicted by the invading Russian army on Hidenori Watanave's  3D Data & 360 Panoramas Map of Ukraine.

These maps use data from images and videos captured in Ukraine to recreate incredible 3D models of some of the devastation caused by the Russian army. 3D photogrammetric models have been created of buildings and vehicles which have been destroyed during the war using drone captured imagery and photos taken on the ground. The result is a shocking interactive 3D map which allows you to view some of the devastating destruction in Ukraine from an almost first person perspective.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Dutchify Your Street

Thanks to the Netherlands Board of Tourism you can now visualize how your street might look if you were able to get rid of all the cars & the ugly road, and replace them with a bike lane, a few trees & some beautiful flowers.

It is a matter of great sadness to the Dutch people that people in the rest of the world are not able to live in cycle-friendly environments. Therefore the Netherlands Board of Tourism has decided to help the great car-worshiping unwashed picture the beauty of a car free environment. Enter your address into the Dutch Cycling Lifestyle and you can see how your street might look without that noisy road and those dirty cars.

Dutch Cycling Lifestyle uses an AI to alter the Google Maps Street View image of your street to make it a little more Dutch. The result is an imagined view of your road, looking a little greener and probably a lot more attractive.

Over the years there have been many websites which have experimented with enhancing or altering Google Maps Street View. Many of these have taken a more dystopian view than the Dutch tourism agency. You can see my review of some of these in the post 5 Ways to Destroy Your House on Street View. Unfortunately all 5 of the experiments listed in that post no longer work. Luckily the three Street View experiments listed below are still in operation:

Coastline Paradox - uses Google Maps Street View imagery to visualize how rising sea levels are likely to affect locations around the world over the next three hundred years.

Floating Shiny Knot - places an animated floating shiny knot on the Street View image of your street.

Street Galleries - lets you turn the Street View images of selected locations around the world into art galleries.   

Via: Webcurios

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

The Interactive Pathfinding Map

The Pathfinding Visualizer is an interactive pathfinding tool that allows you to discover the most direct route between any two points in the world, using a number of different pathfinding algorithms.

A map pathfinding algorithm is a way to find the shortest or most efficient route between different points on a map. It helps you find the best path to go from one location to another, considering obstacles or limitations on movement. These algorithms work by breaking down the map into small connected sections, and then calculating the best path between these sections. They usually assign weights or costs to each section based on factors like distance, terrain features, or any other relevant information. The algorithm then calculates the path that has the lowest cumulative cost. 

Map pathfinding algorithms can be used for various purposes, such as finding the fastest route while driving or for optimizing logistics or delivery routes. They help alleviate the task of manually examining all possible paths and provide an automated and optimized solution for finding the most favorable way to reach a destination.

The Pathfinding Visualizer allows you to calculate a path between two points using four different pathfinding algorithms. After you select your start and destination points on the map you can choose to use either the A*, Greedy, Dijkestra's or Bidirectional Search pathfinding algorithms. Once selected you can then watch as the algorithm calculates the most efficient route between your two points on the interactive map.

Monday, November 06, 2023

Redesigning the World's Transit Maps

The University of Freiburg has redesigned the transit maps of every city in the world. Zoom in on any location on the university's LOOM Global Transit Map and you can view the local transit network mapped using your choice of four different transit map projections.

In every city in the world you can view the local transit map in either a geographical, octilinear, geo-octilinear or orthoradial projection. The animated GIF above shows each of these four projections applied to the New York subway and lightrail network. 

The 'LOOM' in the map's title stands for 'Line-Ordering Optimized Maps'. LOOM is an algorithm developed by the University of Freiburg that takes the geographical data of a transit network and then maps it to minimize 'the total number of line crossings and line separations'. In this mapping LOOM respects the geography of the network so that the map created isn't just a schematic map of the transit network but works geographically as well. 

Because the transit maps generated by the University of Freiburg respect the geography of station locations the resulting transit maps can be used as overlays on interactive maps. The university has developed a set of map tiles which you can use to add these transit maps in your favorite mapping library. The Transit Vector Tile Service offers map tiles for tram, subway-lightrail, rail-commuter and long distance rail in the geographical, octilinear, geo-octilinear and orthoradial layouts. These maps are updated weekly with the latest OpenStreetMap data.

Via: Weekly OSM

Saturday, November 04, 2023

A Map of the World That Is Gone

When Elan Ullendorff moved to South Philadelphia this summer he realized that he knew very little about the recent history of his new neighborhood. So he decided to change that. The result is Love Letters to Places I'll Never Meet, an interactive map which summons up the recent past of South Philadelphia by creating an interactive map of some now shuttered stores. 

To create his love letter to the South Philly he will never know Elan acquired a list of local closed businesses. He then mapped these businesses using Google Maps listings and downloaded some of the most positive reviews of each business. The result is an interactive map of some of South Philadelphia's lost stores.

Due to the recent acceleration of online retail, the Covid pandemic and ever rising rents many of us now live in neighborhoods and towns with an ever diminishing number of actual physical stores. The evolution of our neighborhoods, as they adapt to the changes in consumer retail behavior, can have a permanent effect on the psychogeography of our home towns. Our sense of self is often rooted in a strong sense of place. 

Perhaps there is a growing need for poignant historical maps like this. Not just maps of 'Places I'll Never Meet but also Love Letters to Places that I've Loved and Lost Forever.

Via: Wecurios

Friday, November 03, 2023

Star-Gazing Hotels

If you live in a town or city and you want to observe the true astronomical splendor of the night sky then you need to plan an evening away, somewhere away from the bright lights of the city, somewhere where there is very little light pollution. Luckily there is a new interactive map that will not only help you find locations with reduced light pollution but will also show you the locations of nearby hotels.

DarkHotels uses a global light-pollution map to show the levels of light pollution around the world. Therefore it is very easy to find locations on the map which will be great for star-gazing. If you find a location on the map that you fancy visiting then you just need to use the calendar control to enter the dates of your planned visits and then hit the 'refresh results' button. Once done the map will show the locations of available hotels with their current nightly rates. Click on a marker and you will be taken directly to where you can make a reservation for your stay.

Also See

Light Pollution Map - this interactive map allows you to explore the levels of light pollution around the world using VIIRS (infrared imaging) data collected by satellites.

Spaceship Earth - this clever map allows you to enter any address in the Netherlands to discover how many stars can be seen from that location. The map also explores some of the most (and least) light polluted areas in the country.