Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Wildfires & Smoke Pollution

Wildfires in Quebec and Nova Scotia are causing high levels of unhealthy air conditions across much of eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. Over 400 fires were reported to be burning in Canada on Tuesday evening resulting in smoke pollution and dangerous levels of particulate matter 2.5 over large areas.

FireSmoke Canada has an interactive smoke forecast map which provides forecasts for the next few days. The current forecast shows that a large area of eastern Canada and the northeastern U.S. should expect dangerous levels of PM2 at times over the course of this week.

FireSmoke Canada forecasts are produced by the BlueSky Canada smoke modelling system, which is an ongoing research project at the University of British Columbia. The system uses satellite detections to locate fires, weather forecasts to predict how the smoke will move, and a dispersion model to calculate how smoke will be distributed in the atmosphere. The forecasts are updated every 6 hours and show the expected concentration of PM2.5, a type of particulate matter that can be harmful to human health, at ground level from wildfires.

AirNow's Fire and Smoke Map shows the Air Quality Index (AQI) levels across the United States and Canada. It allows you to view the current particle pollution air quality at your location. It can also give you information about fires and smoke plumes. The map currently shows high levels of air pollution in much of the state of New York. You can view AirNow's air quality forecasts for the next two days in New York regions on their New York air quality forecast page.

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Quiz Around the World

How well do you know the world? Let's find out with Szilvia Berczes' map it! game.

The premise of map it! is very simple. All you have to do is point to the location of ten named countries on a 3D globe. To make the game even easier you can choose which region of the world you wish to play in (Europe, Americas, Asia or Africa). You are awarded one point for every country you identify correctly, with a maximum of ten points. If you click on the star icon at the top of the map you can view your high scores for each of the regions that you have played so far.

The game was made with React.js and the Mapbox mapping library. You can learn more about how the game was made on map it's GitHub repository.

You can find and play many more map and geography games using the games tag on Maps Mania.

Monday, June 05, 2023

Assassination Simulation

Japanese broadcaster MBS has released a full scale 3D digital recreation of the assassination of Shinzo Abe. In July 2022 the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed while giving a speech at Yamato-Saidaiji Station, Nara. A Re-creation of former PM Shinzo Abe's Assassination is a shocking full re-enactment of the Prime Minister's assassination, which uses witness accounts and police reports, to show how the shooting unfolded in real-time.

The use of photogrammetry to create interactive 3D models is a growing trend in journalism. The technology can be used by journalists or media graphic teams to create more immersive and engaging news stories. The creation of interactive 3D models of crime scenes, natural disasters, or other events can help journalists to better understand and explain these events to their viewers. However the accuracy of these 3D re-creations can also be disturbing because of their photo-realism. 

MBS's Re-creation of former PM Shinzo Abe's Assassination has proved controversial, with some readers arguing that it is insensitive to reenact such a violent event. MBS's reenactment allows you to view Shinzo Abe's assassination from three different perspectives; from the perspective of the killer, from the perspective of Shinzo Abe and from the air. 

You can see how showing the assassination from the perspective of the killer in particular could be very controversial. In MBS's defence the reenactment of Shinzo Abe's murder is very effective in demonstrating how the events on the ground obscured the Prime Minister's security team's view of the approaching killer. Also, whether you agree that such an accurate reenactment of a murder should ever be shown or not, the actual reenactment is an extraordinary technical achievement by MBS's graphics department. 

Other examples of 3D reenactments include:

Saturday, June 03, 2023

Where is the Cheapest McDonalds?

At the time of writing the most expensive country in which to buy a Big Mac is Switzerland, where a MacDonald's burger will set you back SFr6.70 (around $7.37). The cheapest country to buy a Big Mac, according to the Big Mac Index, is Egypt, where a burger will cost you E£55.00 (around $1.78). According to the index the average cost of a Big Mac in the USA is $5.36.

The Economist's Big Mac Index compares the purchasing power parity (PPP) between the currencies of different countries by examining the price of a Big Mac hamburger sold at McDonalds' restaurants. The Index "is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP), the notion that in the long run exchange rates should move towards the rate that would equalise the prices of an identical basket of goods and services (in this case, a burger) in any two countries". 

It can also be used to find out the price of a Big Mac in countries around the world.

The McCheapest Map by Pantry & Larder tracks and maps the cost of a Big Mac at every McDonalds in the United States. On this map every McDonalds' outlet is represented by a dot which is colored to show the cost of a Big Mac (green=cheaper and red=more expensive). 

Currently the cheapest Big Mac in the country is in Stigler, Oklahoma  ($3.49) and the most expensive is in Lee, Massachusetts ($8.09). As shown above according to the Big Mac Index the current average price for a Big Mac in the USA is $5.36. 

Obviously traveling to Stigler, Oklahoma to save a couple of dollars on a Big Mac is impractical for most people. Luckily the McCheapest Map updates to show the cheapest and most expensive McDonalds' restaurant in the current map view. Therefore you can just zoom in on your town and the map will show the cheapest and most expensive McDonalds in your area.

Friday, June 02, 2023

Tree Maps of the World

Gieß den Kiez is an interactive map of over 800,000 trees in Berlin. Using the map Berliners can discover what types of trees are growing in their neighborhood and then sign-up to help water individual trees. 

By clicking on individual trees on the Gieß den Kiez (Water the Neighborhood) map you can get information about a tree's species, its age and its watering requirements. Registered users can also adopt individual trees and tag them when they have watered them. The information display for each tree includes a chart which shows when the tree was last watered. 

If you want to create a Water the Neighborhood for your city then you can fork the project on the Gieß den Kiez GitHub page. Something which Leipzig Gießt has successfully managed in creating a map of over 60,000 trees in Leipzig. Like the Berlin map Leipzig Gieß can be used to find out about local trees and to sign-up to help water individual trees.

Steve Bennett has created a global database and interactive map of open tree data from around the world. His map shows the location of nearly 14 million trees in over 190 cities around the globe in 19 different countries. 

Many local and municipal governments keep a record of all the trees that they are responsible for maintaining. uses this data to create a worldwide map of trees. When you select a city marker on the map you can explore an overview of the tree data kept by the city. This includes information on the number of different trees of different species and the type of data which the city records about each tree. 

The map menu allows you to change how the trees appear on the map. For example you can see all the tree markers in a city colored by species, or sized by trunk size. If you select an individual tree on the map you can view its scientific and common name. You can also view images and information on the selected species of tree (this information is taken from Wikipedia). The map also includes a link to view a selected  tree on Google Maps Street View (where available).

When you select an individual tree on the map you should also be able to find a link to the original data source. These local municipality databases have also been used to create the following city tree maps:

The New York City Street Tree Map
Melbourne Urban Forest
London Tree Map
Trees of Madison
Amsterdam Tree Map

Thursday, June 01, 2023

Mapping 1,001 American Novels

1,001 Novels: A Library of America is an interactive literary map of America. A map on which over one thousand novels have been plotted based on the geographical 'heart' of each story. 

'1,001 Novels: A Library of America' is a project of love created by Susan Straight, a novelist and professor at UC Riverside. Over the course of five years, Susan read and mapped 1,001 novels set in the United States. The resulting interactive map allows you to explore American novels by region, plot, and theme.

Straight's goal in mapping over one thousand American novels was to "tell the story of America through its literature." She believes that novels can provide a unique window into the lives of people from different parts of the country and different eras. By mapping the novels, Straight also hoped to create a tool that can help readers discover new books and learn more about the history and culture of the United States.

As a result of reading and mapping 1.001 American novels Susan developed a sense of 11 distinct regions in the United States. These regions are based on the physical geography of the United States, as well as the cultural and historical traditions of each region. In the Esri Story Map 1,001 Novels: A Library of America you can explore each of these 11 regions and the novels that are set in each region. Susan Straight believes that these regions provide a unique lens through which to view American literature. By exploring the novels set in each region, it is possible to gain a deeper understanding of the diversity of American life and culture.

The Esri Story map also includes a complete map of all 1.001 novels set across all regions of the United States. The location setting in each novel has been determined by references in the books themselves, from what authors have said and from asking some of the authors themselves where they believe the heart of their books might be.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The World's Population in 3D

This 3D Map of world cities with a population over 100k visualizes the global population of the world's cities as 3D towers. Zoom in on Europe and you can see that London dominates western Europe, towering over Paris, Madrid, Berlin and Rome. 

The data for the map comes from this Wikipedia list of towns and cities with 100,000 or more inhabitants. Wherein lies the problem. The main problem with this Wikipedia list is that there is no universally agreed standard for defining city borders and boundaries. For example Greater London is around 1,569 km² while Paris is around 105.4 km². So the London tower on this interactive map encompasses the population of an area over ten times as large as the population represented by the Paris tower. No wonder the London tower dwarfs the Paris population tower.

In reality the population density in central Paris is far higher than that of inner London. Which is why it is much better to actually map population density rather than population totals. For example look at this population density map of Europe created by The Pudding. 

If you look at Europe on this map you can see that central Paris and Barcelona have much higher population densities than central London. Of course London makes up for this with the huge numbers of people living in the huge urban sprawl outside the city center. 

The Pudding's Human Terrain interactive map shows population density across the globe using 3D population pyramids. The taller a pyramid block on The Pudding map then the more people are living 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'. It is therefore a much better guide of the actual population density within cities. 

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.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

The World's Most Impressive Mountain

Every schoolchild knows that Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. But is it the most impressive? 

Mount Everest has an elevation of 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) above sea level. However, if we measure the height of a mountain from its base to its peak, then the tallest mountain in the world is Mauna Kea, which is an inactive volcano on the island of Hawaii. Mauna Kea has an elevation of 4,207 meters (13,802 feet) above sea level, but its base is located on the ocean floor, which is about 6,000 meters (19,700 feet) below sea level - making it technically taller than Mount Everest.

While both Mount Everest and Mauna Kea are both obviously massive mountains they are not the most impressive. At least they are not the most impressive according to the website PeakJut. PeakJut measures 'impressiveness' based on two main factors. One of these factors is the height of a mountain above its surroundings. However PeakJut also factors in a mountain's steepness, or the rate that it rises above its surroundings.

"For instance, even though Mount Elbert in Colorado (elevation: 4399 m) has a higher elevation than Grand Teton in Wyoming (elevation: 4198 m), the latter is a far more dramatic peak, as it not only rises a greater height above its surroundings, but is also much steeper."

PeakJut has therefore invented the Jut score and ranked the impressiveness of over 200,000 mountains around the world. 'Jut' is an indicator of how sharply or impressively 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 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'. 

So which is the most impressive mountain in the world. Well, according to PeakJut, Annapurna Fang in Nepal has the highest Jut score. Nanga Parbat in Pakistan and Māchhāpuchchhre in Nepal come in a close second and third respectively.

If you want to find the least impressive 'peak' in the world then you might struggle to beat the peak with the highest Jut score near me. Here is the Street View of Beacon Hill, which at a tiny 27 meters has the highest Jut score in Southeast England. 

Monday, May 29, 2023

Stack Overflown

Nomic Atlas is an online tool for visualizing and exploring large datasets. It enables users to store, update and organize multi-million point datasets of unstructured text, images and embeddings. Atlas organizes the text and data into interactive maps which can then be explored in a web browser, using the map to run semantic searches of the uploaded data.

You can view an example of an interactive map created using Atlas in this Map of Stack Overflow Posts. This map organizes questions posted to Stack Overflow by frustrated programmers.The map visualizes the relationships between different topics on Stack Overflow. 

The map is created by using Vertex AI to generate embeddings of Stack Overflow posts. Embeddings are a type of representation that captures the meaning of a text. The map is then created by using the embeddings to calculate the similarity between different Stack Overflow posts. Because the map visualizes the relationships between different topics on Stack Overflow it can therefore be used to identify related topics, to find new topics to learn about, and to discover specific questions and answers posted on Stack Overflow.

If you like the Stack Overflow map then you might also like the Map of GitHub. The Map of GitHub is a network graph of over 400,000 GitHub projects. Each dot on this interactive map is a Github project, mapped based on the number of 'common stargazers'. 

This map of GitHub projects is made based on GitHub users use of stars to save or like a repository. In simple terms it connects two different repositories based on the number of users who have starred both repositories. In slightly more detailed terms it organizes a database of 350 million stars awarded to repositories between 2020 and the end of March 2023 using a Jaccard Similarity algorithm.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Bat Virus Jump Zones

Over a fifth of the human population lives in areas where there is a large risk that a bat bourne disease will spread to humans. Bats carry tens of thousands of viruses. For most of human history we have been in little danger from these viruses because of the minimal contact between bats and humans. Now, because of human incursions into bat habitats the dangers of a virus jumping from bats to humans is on the increase.

In the Bat Lands: Part 1 Reuters has created a map which shows the level of risk of a virus spreading from bats to humans across the whole world. As you progress through Reuter's article the map pans and zooms to identify areas in China, India Brazil and West Africa where Reuters believe there is a chance that a new global pandemic could be caused by a virus jumping from bats to humans. 

Reuter's five part series begins by looking at the history of bat-borne diseases, and how they have caused outbreaks such as Ebola and SARS. The series also examines the factors that are driving the destruction of bat habitats, such as deforestation, mining, and agriculture. Part 5 of the series looks at the challenges of preventing the next pandemic, and what can be done to reduce the risk. It concludes by calling for a new approach to conservation, one that takes into account the risk of pandemics.

Via: The Top 10 in Data Journalism - the Global Investigative Journalism Network's weekly round-up of the best data stories.