Monday, March 19, 2018

The Population Density of Slaves in the USA

In 1861 the United States Census Office "for the benefit of sick and wounded soldiers" created and put on sale a map showing the distribution of slaves in the southern United States. The map was based on data from the 1860 census and was the Census Office's first population density map..

You can view the map online on the Library of Congress website. The map uses different shades and patterns of gray to show the percentage of the population in each county who are slaves. If you have problems determining the differences between the different shades and patterns of gray you can zoom in on this interactive version of the map to read the actual percentage labels written on the map.

You might also like this modern version of the 1860 Census Slavery Map. Spencer Baucke has created a very faithful interactive reproduction of the original map in Tableau. On Spencer's map each county is interactive. If you hover over a county you can view the name of the county and the percentage of residents who were enslaved.

Oil Spills in the Niger Delta

The Niger Delta in Nigeria is the most productive oil-producing region in Africa. It has been relentlessly exploited, mostly to the economic benefit of western oil companies and corrupt politicians. It has also had a devastating impact on the local environment. Since oil drilling started in the 1950's it is estimated that between 9 and 13 million barrels of oil (1,400,000 and 2,100,000 m3) has been spilled. The government and oil companies have made little effort to control the environmental impact of the oil industry, nearly always deny responsibility for oil spills and try their hardest to avoid having to clean-up after spills.

Amnesty International's Niger Delta Oil Spills is an interactive map of oil company spills in the Niger Delta. This map is the result of a crowd-sourced effort to analyse oil spill investigation reports by volunteers around the world. This crowdsourced campaign analysed thousands of reports and photographs produced by companies in relation to oil spills in the region.

Using the interactive map you can view the locations of the oil spills derived from reading the oil spill investigation reports. The markers show the location of spills and are color-coded by the severity of each spill. The map includes options to filter the results shown by the two main oil companies operating in the region, Shell and Eni. If you click on a marker on the map you can view details about the spill and click through to read the oil spill report and any photos included in the report.

You can read more about how crowdsourcing was used to analyze oil spill records and the effect of oil spills on the Niger Delta in Amnesty International's Niger Delta Negligence.

Time Travel on the Thames

One of the best ways to view London is from the Thames. A boat trip through the city allows you to sit back and relax while the vistas of London unwind around you. While you drift through London's historic sights you might even begin to wonder what it would have been like to sail down the river in Georgian times.

A Riverside View of Georgian London can help you picture the view from the Thames in 1829. This tourist guide to London, published in 1829, provides a hand-drawn view of both banks of the Thames from Westminster to Richmond upon Thames.

Luckily for us Panorama of the Thames has provided a great tool for viewing A Riverside View of Georgian London. Its Compare Panoramas tool allows you to travel along the river in 1829, comparing Georgian London to the same river views as can be seen in modern day London.  Press play on the 1829 panorama and on the 2013 panorama and you will be taken on a simultaneous journey down the Thames with synchronized views of Georgian and modern London.

Via: Londonist

E-mail a Tree Today

A new interactive map allows you to e-mail any one of Singapore's half a million urban trees. is a new map from the National Parks Board of Singapore. The map allows anyone in Singapore to look up and discover the species name of any of their favorite trees. It also allows them to leave a message for their favorite tree.

Users can click on any tree on the map to find out details about its species, when it was planted and its ecological benefits. More importantly you can also send a tree a personal  'treemail'. This might be just a general message of support for the tree. Or, if you want to be more serious, you could leave a treemail about the health of the tree or post a photo you've taken of the tree.

It is possible to search both by location and by species of tree. also provides details of walking tours where you can see and learn more about some of Singapore's most interesting and important trees.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

5...4...3...2...1 Ignition - Launch SpaceX in 3D

I've seen a number of 3D maps over the years but this has to be one of the coolest. Concept3D's SpaceX map is a 3D map of the launch site of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. This on its own would be pretty amazing but this map also allows you to actually launch the 3D model of the Falcon Heavy into space.

Using the map you can explore the SpaceX launch site in 3D, rotating around and zooming into the model of the Falcon Heavy. When you are happy that everything looks ready for take-off turn on your computer's sound and press the 'launch' button. You can then listen to the actual countdown from a Falcon Heavy launch and watch as the 3D model rocket on the map takes off and shoots into space.

This animated 3D map was made in Mapbox GL using Three.js. If you want to create your own 3D scenes in Mapbox then you should look at threebox, a plugin for Mapbox GL JS that supports basic animation and advanced 3D rendering.

The Hate Crime Map of India

Amnesty International has released an interactive map that allows Indians to report hate crimes. Halt the Hate maps crimes which have been committed against people or groups in India because of their caste, religion or ethnicity.

Unfortunately the Halt the Hate map is a very basic interactive map. In fact it is less of a map than a yellow blob that happens to be in the shape of India. Obviously the main reason for using a map to document hate crimes is to enable users to browse and search by location. The fact that you can't zoom in on the map and because the map has no place-labels it is very difficult to search this map by location.

Because there is no marker clustering and all 489 hate crimes have been placed all on top of each other on the map it is actually impossible to select a huge number of the hate crimes from the map. You can partially overcome this problem by filtering the number of markers shown on the map. If you filter the hate crimes shown by year, motive, location etc. it does become a little easier to select individual markers on the map.

The Halt the Hate map is a great idea. It does therefore pain me to conclude that Amnesty International's hate crime map is a bit of a crime against mapping.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Free Map Backgrounds for Your Phone

If you want a beautiful map background for your phone then you should have a look at Alvar Carto's Map Backgrounds. This tool allows you to make your own background map image for a mobile phone, centered on any location in the world.

To make your background map you just need to zoom and pan an interactive map to your chosen location. You can then choose between four different map colors.

And that's more or less it. Just select your phone from a drop-down list (Map Backgrounds supports iOS, Android and Windows 10) and you are ready to download your new phone background map.

If you really love your new phone background (or you just want to buy a map poster) then you can head on over to Alvar Carto's Map Poster site. Map Poster is an equally easy to use tool for creating and ordering a map poster of any location in the world.

Deindustrialization & Population Decline

Population change from 1990-2010: (green = rising population, purple = falling population)

This week's release of the Alperin-Sheriff/Wikipedia Population Dataset provides us with a great resource for studying American population trends. This Introduction to the Alperin-Sheriff/Wikipedia Population Dataset, in the form of a story map, provides a great introduction to the data and briefly examines where populations in the USA are growing and where they are in decline.

The story map is mostly concerned with introducing and explaining the data but it does briefly touch on the declining populations in the industrial Midwest. This decline is perhaps explained in this Financial Times article, Shrinking cities: population decline in the world’s rust-belt areas. The article explores how deindustrialization is happening across much of the world, as manufacturing and industrial jobs in industrial heartlands move elsewhere in the world.

Cities with the largest population decline 2005-2015

This decline from deindustrialization isn't just limited to the American rust belt. It is also happening in former industrial powerhouses throughout the world. Cities in the German industrial heartland are in decline and even China's north-eastern rust belt is beginning to experience decline.

The Berliner Morgenpost's Where the population of Europe is growing – and where it’s declining allows you to explore more closely recent population decline in Europe. It shows that there is some decline in the German industrial heartland of the Ruhr valley. However this decline doesn't seem much worse than elsewhere in Germany and isn't as bad as the decline being seen in the former East Germany.

Obviously not all population decline can be explained by deindustrialization. The Washington Post used the same data to explore some of the population trends that are shown in the Morgenpost's map. Their article on Where Europe is growing and where it is shrinking notes that populations are declining in the former East Germany and other former countries of the Eastern bloc (except for Poland which has experienced growth). It appears that some areas of western Europe have managed to mitigate against the population decline normally associated with deindustrialization by taking in economic migrants from countries in the former Eastern bloc.

The Sounds of Istanbul & London

The Soundscape of Istanbul is a project dedicated to mapping and archiving the urban sounds of Istanbul. The project was created by Pınar Çevikayak Yelmi during her doctoral studies, however anyone can record and upload sounds to the map.

Individual sounds are displayed on the map by categorized markers. If you select a marker on the map you can listen to the street sounds recorded at that location. If you select the 'Thematic Map' option you can view the sounds organised by category rather than geography. Both the thematic and the spatial maps include a timeline which allows you to filter the sounds by the year they were recorded.

If you like the Soundscape of Istanbul then you might also enjoy the Soundscape of London. This map was also created by Pınar Çevikayak Yelmi, in collaboration with the British Library. This project uses exactly the same format to map the urban sounds of London. Again if you want to listen to any of the recorded sounds you just need to click on the markers on the map.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

America's Quietest & Most Scenic Roads

Geotab has mapped out the quietest stretches of road in each state in America. In America's Quietest Routes you can view details about the quietest roads in each state and also browse through the ten most scenic routes, as chosen by landscape photographer James Q Martin.

If you click on a state on the map you can view details about the state's quietest stretch of road. These details include the name of the road and the route length. They also include a Street View image captured on the route by Google Maps.

Each state's quietest road was determined by the traffic count data from the Highway Performance Monitoring System. The quietness of a road was determined by the annual average daily traffic measured by the number of vehicles. The routes with the lowest average daily traffic were deemed the quietest.