Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dreaming of a White Christmas

One of NOAA's most popular interactive maps is the First Snow Map, which provides a nationwide guide to when you can expect the first snow of the winter. The map shows the date at your location when the chance of snow is at least 50%, based on historical weather records. NOAA have also created a similar looking map which shows the historical predictability of whether you can expect a white Christmas.

The Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? map uses historical weather data to provide a prediction of the chance of experiencing at least 1 inch of snow at your location on Christmas Day. The whiter the map at your location then the more chance you have of having a white Christmas. The chances of you experiencing a white Christmas are based on the last three decades of weather records at your location.

150 Years of Mountain Photography

Between 1861 and 1958 land surveyors took thousands of photographs of Canadian mountains. These photos provide a wonderful resource of Canada's environmental history. A resource which scientists can use to observe how the environment has changed since the photos were taken.

The Mountain Legacy Project (MLP) has spent the last nine years working out where each of the original land surveyor photos were taken. They have then traveled to each location to capture the exact same views with brand new photographs. By comparing the new photographs with the originals the Mountain Legacy Project can then document how the landscape and environment has changed over the years.

You can examine how Canada's mountains have changed for yourself using the MLP's Explorer. This interactive map allows you to explore the MLP collection of historical photographs by location and directly compare the historical view with the same view today, as depicted in MLP's modern photos.

While exploring the MLP collection of historical and modern photos you can use the Image Analysis Toolkit to directly compare the historical and modern photos of the same view. The Image Analysis Toolkit includes a number of visualization tools for comparing any two photos side-by-side. If you want to spot signs of global warming between the historical and modern views then you might want to look out for glacial change, changes in tree cover (tree lines creeping higher), vegetation change and retreating snowcaps.

36 Years of American Wildfire

The most common cause of wildfires in the United States is lightning. However a large number of wildfires are started by humans, both deliberately and accidentally. You can now explore the causes of wildfires in the USA on a new interactive map.

Jill Hubley has mapped every single American wildfire since 1980. Her interactive map, U.S. Wildfire Causes 1980-2016, visualizes historical wildfire data and even shows which fires were caused by humans and which had natural causes.

The U.S. Wildfire Causes map uses Federal Wildland Fire Occurrence Data from 1980 until 2016. It shows fires started by humans (like accidents or arson) in orange and natural causes in green. No base map is shown under the data when the user is zoomed out on the map. A base map is hardly needed as the wildfire data on its own creates an easily recognizable map of the United States. However a base map is added to the map when you zoom-in, so it is possible to explore the wildfire data by location.

If you click on the 'Specific Cause' button you can view the wildfires colored by the specific natural or human cause. You can also view all the causes of wildfires ranked by the number of acres burned. For most years lightning is the most common cause of wildfire, although in 1980 and 1985 pyromania was the top cause. In most years pyromania and cooking fires appear among the most common causes of wildfires.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

How Time Can Bend Space

Showing how long it takes to travel between two different points on a map can be difficult. The most common approach is probably to use an isochrone layer, which uses color to visualize journey times geographically.

In the example above, from Mapbox, driving times from a selected point on the map are shown using different colors. In this example there is a continual gradation between the different colors. However in lots of isochrone maps lines are drawn on the map connecting points which can be reached in the same travel time. For example lines might be used to show how far you can travel in 10, 20 & 30 minute increments.

Another approach to visualizing travel time on a map is to use a time cartogram. In a time cartogram geographic distance on the map is replaced by a time attribute such as travel time (Eric Fischer has posted a few time cartograms of San Francisco to Flickr). However the problem with time cartograms (as with all cartograms) is legibility. When you distort a map by some other variable apart from distance the map can quickly become illegible, as users struggle to recognize the geography.

Nate Parrott has created an interactive time cartogram to show NYC Subway Travel Time. If you click on a subway station on Nate's map then the subway map automatically redraws itself so that the distance to all stations is based on the journey time from your selected station. This interactive time cartogram works really well as a visualization of journey times and it doesn't suffer from the usual problems of illegibility common to many time cartograms.

There are a number of reasons why the NYC Subway Travel Time Map works so well. To start with users are already familiar with the concept that transit maps distort geography and are not strictly geographically accurate. Users are also familiar with the use of colored lines to show the transit system's different lines. If you are already familiar with a line and its stations on the New York subway map then you will still be able to pick it out on a distorted time cartogram based on the line's color. Even if the NYC Subway Travel Time map confuses you then you can still mouse-over a station on the map and quickly reorient yourself with the New York subway.

If you want to make your own isochrone travel time maps then you might like this How to Make a Travel Time Map post.

Chicago Energy Consumption

The Chicago Energy Database Map is a multivariate visualization of electricity and gas consumption in Chicago neighborhoods. The map uses both color and height in order to show two different variables. Gas consumption in each neighborhood is shown on the map using color, while the height of the neighborhood reflects the amount of local electricity consumption.

Using 3d towers and color allows the map to show two different variables at the same time. The result is an effective visualization of energy consumption in Chicago, as users can clearly see that both gas & electricity consumption is lower in the city center than in the surrounding neighborhoods.

The Chicago Energy Database Map does have some problems as a multivariate visualization but these problems are largely due its age.The map is a few years old now and appears to have been designed in Leaflet using some trickery to provide the oblique bird's eye view of the city map. The result is that the user can't tilt the map and can only rotate the map in 90 degree stages. This can make it a little difficult to view all of the neighborhoods on the map, as the taller neighborhoods in the foreground can obscure any shorter neighborhoods behind them.

Today the map could be created using a modern vector map library, such as Mapbox GL - which supports pitch & bearing. If the map was recreated in Mapbox GL the user would be able to tilt and rotate the map at will and would be able to explore the data more easily. You can view some examples of 3d towers being used to visualize two or more variables in this post on Mapping Population in 3D. You can view a few other methods of mapping more than one variable in Jim Vallandingham's Multivariate Map Collection.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Guns Across State Lines

New Jersey has some of the most restrictive firearm laws in the country. Unfortunately for New Jersey most of the other 49 states aren't so fussy about selling guns. That might be why 79% of guns in New Jersey recovered and traced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were bought out of state.

Axios has mapped the ATF's Firearms Trace Data - 2016 to show the top ten out of state sources for firearms for each U.S. state. The interactive flow map in How guns move across state lines visualizes the top ten out of state sources for recovered and traced guns in each state. If you hover over a state you can see how many guns were traced by the ATF in that state in 2016. You can also see the percentage which were originally purchased out of state and the ten states where the most guns were originally purchased.

If you want to make your own interactive flow map then you might be interested in Sarah Bellum's Canvas Flowmap Layer for ArcGIS or the Leaflet.Canvas-Flowmap-Layer.

The Geography of Long Life

Female babies born in the UK this year can expect to live until they are 85.8 years old. If they are male then they can hope to live until they are 82.3 years old. However a new born's life expectancy can vary a lot depending on where they live in the country.

The UK's Office for National Statistics has released information on the Health State Life Expectancies 2014 to 2016, which examines life expectancy in each area of the UK. This ONS report includes two interactive maps; one visualizing life expectancy in each local area in the UK and the other showing the gain in life expectancy in each local area since 2001-2003.

Healthy life expectancy at birth can vary across local areas of the UK by 18 years. The best places to live if you want a long healthy life is Richmond upon Thames if you are male (69.9 years) and the Orkney Islands if you are female (73.0 years). The worst places to live are Dundee City for males (54.3 years) and Manchester for females (54.6 years).

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The First #uksnow of Winter

It's snowing! There's nothing quite like the excitement of waking to the first snow of winter, grabbing your phone and visiting the #uksnow Map.

The #uksnow Map maps the location of snow in the UK based on the number of tweets that mention snow. To add snow to the map you just need to include the hashtag '#uksnow' in a Twitter message and a UK postcode. You should also rank the amount of snow out out of ten (where 0/10 = no snow and 10/10 = a blizzard).

The #uksnow Map includes an option to view all the photos of snow that have been posted on Twitter. Just click on the photo icon attached to the Twitter sidebar and thumbnails of the photos will appear in the sidebar. Just click on any of the thumbnails to view the image in full-size.

Now where did I put put my sledge?

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Trees of Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Tree Map uses data from a number of sources to map Edinburgh's trees. The map uses colored map markers to show the locations of the city's trees by species.

Using the map menu it is possible to view individual tree species separately on the map or to view all species at once. If you select a tree on the map you can view its Google Maps' Street View image and details about the tree's height and age. Each tree also has its own unique URL (click on a tree to get its link), which means you can share a link to any tree on the map.

The Edinburgh Tree Map was built using Leaflet.js and the Carto Maps API. If you don't want to build your own map and database then you can create a tree map with OpenTreeMap, a paid service which was used to create the Los Angeles and San Francisco tree maps (linked below)

Other Tree Maps:

San Francisco
New York
Los Angeles
Madison, Wisconsin

Friday, December 08, 2017

The Most Fragile Cities Around the World

Three of the most at risk cities in the world, Mogadishu, Kismaayo, and Merca, are in Somalia. At the opposite end of the scale Canada, Japan and Australia are home to some of the least at risk cities.

Fragile Cities is an interactive map which allows you to explore the fragility of 2,100 cities around the world. The Fragile Cities project ranks cities using 11 different metrics, which consider areas such as income inequality, natural & man-made risks and access to services.

If you select a city on the map you can view its Fragile Cities fragility rank. You can also view how it ranks under all 11 of the fragility metrics. The map includes a number of themed map visualizations which provide a closer view of the fragility hot-spots around the world. The slide control at the bottom of the map also allows you to view the cities' fragility ranks for every year since 2000.

The Best Transit Networks in America

New York has the best transit network for commuters. San Francisco comes in a close second. However the transit networks in Cincinnati and Charlotte showed the most improvement in the last year in terms of providing the greatest increases in access to jobs by transit

Every year the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota ranks the most populated towns and cities in the United States according to how well they connect workers with jobs via transit. Essentially the rankings are based on how many jobs can be reached by employees in a given time.

This year’s report Access Across America: Transit 2016 shows the rankings for each city, listing the cities in order of the greatest job accessibility by transit. It also lists the cities which have shown the best year-on-year improvement. These are the cities with the greatest increases in job accessibility by transit.

The report is accompanied by a series of interactive maps which visualize the spatial patterns of accessibility within each city. For each city an interactive heat map show the number of jobs accessible in each census block area within 30 minutes (on public transit) between 7:00 and 9:00 am.

Town vs Country

German newspaper Zeit has noticed a divide in attitudes in many western countries between their rural and urban communities. This divide in attitudes was seen clearly in the last presidential election in the USA and in the UK's Brexit referendum. In both these cases there were clear differences between the way urban and rural communities voted.

Zeit Online therefore decided to find out if there was this same urban-rural split in attitudes in Germany. In Diving into Urban-Rural Prejudice the newspaper first set out to discover how many Germans live in the countryside and how many in towns and cities. They discovered that "almost 70 percent of all Germans live in places with a population of less than 100,000". Zeit has visualized this answer in a dot map and bar graph, which shows the percentage of Germans living in different sized communities.

In the rest of the article Zeit explores the attitudes of urban and rural communities to a number of social and political questions to discover if there really is a difference in attitudes between town and country. The newspaper discovered a number of areas where there are clear differences in social and political attitudes. It also discovered that some of these seem to have grown in recent years (perhaps in response to Germany's acceptance of a large number of refugees).

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Southern California Fires Maps

Two fires erupted overnight in Southern California. The Thomas fire in Ventura County has already burned 90,000 acres and threatens communities both on the coast and inland. The Creek fire is burning near Sylmar and has prompted officials to evacuate more than 8,000 homes. Authorities say that the fire may not be fully contained for two to three weeks.

Esri's Ventura Wildfires map displays active fire incidents and situation reports from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) database. The map also includes the MODIS thermal layer. This uses the MODIS satellite detection system to show the location of hot spots that could be potential fire locations, as detected by MODIS in the last 24 hours.

You can also view the same information on Esri's US Wildfire Activity Public Information Map. This second map covers the whole of the United States, while the first map is concentrating on the current active fires in Southern California. The US Wildfire Activity Public Information Map visualizes US wildfire locations, perimeters, fire potential areas, global burn areas, wind conditions, and precipitation using a variety of different official sources. This map also includes news & media concerning wildfire activity taken from social media.

A Journey Along a Greenland River

The New York Times wants to take you on a journey down a Greenland river. A journey which helps explain how melting ice sheets can cause a rise in global sea levels. In Greenland Melts, Where's the Water Going? the NYT uses drone photos of Greenland to help explain how meltwater rivers flow through the ice sheets and into the sea.

As you scroll through the story map you are taken on a journey along a Greenland river. On this journey you will experience how meltwater from Greenland's ice collects and drains to form rivers. You will see how these rivers carve a path through the ice sheet and how the rivers eventually drain into the ocean and contribute to rising sea levels.

After you have finished this journey along a Greenland river the New York Times discusses the importance of new research which suggests that the ice sheets retain some of the meltwater from melting ice sheets. This new discovery should help improve climate scientists' understanding of rising sea levels and help to refine our climate models.

You may also like:

Sea Level Rise Viewer - NOAA's interactive map models how different extents of sea level rise will impact coastal areas in the USA up to the year 2100.
Rising Seas - a map which allows you to explore data from 500 sea level meters around the world which have been measuring sea levels since 1933.
Shrinking Glaciers Around the World - a collection of maps tracking how glaciers are shrinking across the globe

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Mapping Rent in L.A.

The Los Angeles Times has mapped out Where You Can Afford to Rent in California. Using the newspaper's new interactive map you can view all the zip-codes in the state where you can afford to live based on your annual salary.

The L.A. Times' affordable rent map includes a slide tool which allows you to enter the amount of money you can spend on rent a month. After you have entered how much rent you wish to pay the map automatically updates to show where you can afford to rent. Each zip-code area is colored by affordability, based on the rental listings on Zillow.

You can also enter your salary into the tool. If you enter your salary then the map also tells you what percentage of your wage is being spent on rent. The L.A. Times suggests that "you spend no more than 30% of your gross income on rent and utilities".

Near Collisions in New York

Computer vision specialists Mobileye equipped City of New York vehicles with cameras which are able to detect the locations of pedestrians. Mobileye was then able to use these cameras to plot when and where City vehicles were in "near-collision events with pedestrians".

Mobileye has now teamed up with Esri to map this data in order to discover patterns and spatial trends in these near-collisions. The Mobileye and Esri story map introduces you to the project, explains some of the discoveries made into where & when near-collisions happened and also allows you to explore the mapped data for yourself.

If you scroll through to the end of the Mobileye and Esri map you will find links to two other maps, a Point, hex bin, and street map and a Time of day and heading map.The first of these maps uses hex bins to visualize the number of near-collisions on New York's streets. It also provides a breakdown of the number of collisions by time of day for each location. The second map uses colored markers to show at what time of day the most collisions occurred at each location.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Sanitation in the Rohingya Refugee Camps

The refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh are having to cope with hundreds of thousands Rohingya, fleeing religious persecution in Myanmar. The incredible overcrowding in the camps has led to conditions of poor sanitation and limited health care. Reuters has undertaken analysis of satellite photos of the camps to assess the use of latrines and water pumps in the camps and how their distribution and use might effect the well-being of those living there.

In The Rohingya Crisis: Life in the Camps Reuters has used recent satellite imagery to explore the number and placement of latrines, makeshift latrines, open defecation areas and water pumps. The news agency has identified those latrines which are too near or too far from refugee households. It has also identified makeshift latrines and open defecation areas, which have been built by the refugees themselves. Many of these are located in unsafe areas or are too shallow and therefore pose a risk of contaminating water pumps.

As more and more desperate refugees arrive from Myanmar the Kutupalong refugee camp grows in size everyday. The AFP news agency reports that it is set to house 800,000 people, which would make it the largest refugee camp in the world.

The AFP has interviewed a number of refugees who now live in the Kutupalong refugee camp. You can read their stories on the KFP's Kutupalong: Rohingyas Hit Dead End interactive map. The map uses a recent satellite image of the camp as the base-map for these refugee stories. The use of a satellite image is very effective in conveying the sheer size of the Kutpalong camp. The numbered markers on the map provide access to the refugees interviewed by the KFP. You can read these stories simply by selecting the markers on the map.

The Halifax Explosion

100 years ago tomorrow, on the morning of 6 December 1917, a French cargo ship carrying high explosives crashed into a Norwegian ship in Halifax Harbour in Canada. The resulting massive explosion killed 2,000 people in Halifax, injured at least 9000 more and destroyed every building within a 1.6 mile radius (over 12,000 in total).

CBC Canada has created an incredible 360 degree video which recreates the collision of the two ships and the explosion which led to the loss of thousands of Canadian lives. The video shows an animated 3d model of Halifax Harbour, the town on the shore and the SS Mont-Blanc and SS Imo. As the video replays the collision you can pan the camera around and explore the complete scene in 360 degrees.

As well as this 360 degree recreation of the explosion CBC Canada has mapped the damage the explosion caused to the town of Halifax. A City Destroyed: 100 Years After the Halifax Explosion includes a map showing the buildings burned, collapsed and wrecked. In Part Two of this web documentary you can also explore an interactive 3d model of Halifax. This model includes the damaged and destroyed buildings. It also includes a number of map markers which you can select to read about some of the victims and survivors of the Halifax explosion.

You can learn more about the individuals killed in the Halifax Explosion in Global News' interactive map of Halifax. The interactive map in The Halifax Explosion killed nearly 2,000 people. Here is where most of them lived shows many of the houses in Halifax where people lost their lives.

The numbered markers show the number of victims in each house. If you select a marker on the map you can view the names of the people who died in that home. You can even click those names to read the details about the individual which were entered in the Halifax Explosion Death Registration Book.

Global News has also created a Children's Map, which maps the homes where 437 victims who were 12 or under died. Again you can click on the names of the victims to read the details entered into the Death Registration Book.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Israeli Settlements in the Westbank

The Settlements and Solutions Project maps the locations and history of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The map is designed to help further understanding of the political and territorial conflicts in the West Bank and of some of the 'Land Swap' scenarios which have been proposed in peace negotiations.

The 'Green Line' on the map is the armistice line drawn up after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. This was the agreed border between Jordan and Israel until 1967. The red line is the West Bank Security Barrier, a physical barrier that Israel has been building since 2002. Israeli settlements in the West Bank are marked on the map in blue and Palestinian communities are shown in yellow.

You can click on the colored Israeli settlements and the Palestinian communities to view details about the population living in each area. The information provided for each Israeli settlement includes details about what year the settlement was founded, the number of buildings constructed and even information about how the people have voted in Israeli elections.

The map also includes visualizations of various Land Swap proposals. These show on the map territories which could be swapped between Israel and the Palestinians in proposed solutions to the problems in the West Bank. This includes Land Swap suggestions made in the 2008 Abbas-Olmert negotiations and in the Geneva Accord.

Macrostrat's Geologic Map of the World

The English geologist William Smith is credited with creating the first nationwide geological map. A geologic map reveals the distribution of geological features such as rock units or geologic strata. Smith's beautiful 1815 map visualized Britain's geological types using different colors for different types of geological feature (you can view interactive versions of William Smith's geological maps of England, Scotland & Wales at William Smith's Maps).

Macrostrat is a collaborative platform for geological data exploration and integration. They claim to have the world's largest geologic map database. Their interactive Geologic Map allows you to explore the geology of the whole world. If you click on the map you can view information on the age, lithology and geologic strata at your selected location. The Macrostrat Geologic Map also includes an option to view elevation profiles. If you select elevation profile from the map menu you can draw a line between any two points on the map to view an elevation chart beneath the map.

A Literary Tour of Rome

The Morgan Library and Museum has been inspired by August Hare's 1870 guidebook 'Walks in Rome' to create their own interactive map of the eternal city. Hare's original guide to Rome included a wealth of literary quotations about the city's magnificent ancient buildings and monuments. The Morgan Library and Museum's City of the Soul, similarly explores how Rome provided the inspiration for many nineteenth century authors and poets.

The interactive City of the Soul map was created for the museum’s exhibition on Rome and the Romantics.The City of the Soul allows you to explore Rome through the literary insights of a number of nineteenth century writers. If you select one of the city's famous locations on the map you can read from a selection of literary works which were inspired by the chosen building or monument.

The basemap used for the City of the Soul is Paul-Marie Letarouilly’s 1841 city plan. If you like Letarouilly's plan of Rome then you might also enjoy this fully interactive version of Lanciani's Forma Urbis Romae. At the turn of the 20th Century Italian archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani undertook the task of creating a huge detailed map of Rome. A map which would visualize when different parts of the city were built.

Lanciani’s Forma Urbis Romae is color codded to show the different historical epochs when different areas of Rome were built. On the map ancient and medieval Rome is shown in black, early modern Rome in red and the modern city (to Lanciani) is shown in blue.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

1000 Years of London History

Layers of London wants to map the history of London from the time of the Romans right through to the modern day. That is a lot of history. So it needs your help.

Layers of London is already working with a number of partners, including the British Library, Historic England, The National Archives, London Metropolitan Archives and the Museum of London Archaeology. However it will also be crowd-sourcing content. Anyone who has an interesting historical story to tell about a place in London can pin their story to the Layers of London map.

Layers of London is for now in a beta phase of testing. Currently when you browse Layers of London you can view two historical maps of London on the map, the Morgan map (1682) and Roque map (1746). It is also possible to view some historical aerial photos of London captured by the RAF.

The historical notes are shown on the map using map markers. These historical notes can be filtered in two ways. You can use the timeline to explore London's history by date range. You can also select to view from a number of curated and public themed 'collections'. These collections allow you to browse London's history by theme, subject matter or from a particular institution or organization.

The timeline and themed 'collections' on Layers of London reminds me a little of History Pin. This crowd-sourced map of historical photos, videos, audio recordings and memories has proved hugely successful around the world. If Layers of London can also tap into this demand for local and personal history then it could also become a successful portal of crowd-sourced history.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Mapping the Military's Pollution

The military are one of America's biggest and most prolific polluters of the environment. The United States military and its contractors are the only people in the United States still allowed to dispose of hazardous waste using highly polluting 'open burn' sites. It makes full use of this exemption.

ProPublica has been investigating the military's use of open burn sites and the potentially lethal pollution that they cause. In Open Burns, Ill Winds they examine how the military gets rid of hazardous material at a potentially huge cost to the health of people living nearby.

ProPublica has for the first time mapped all of the military's 'high' and 'medium risk' hazardous sites across the country. Bombs in Your Backyard is an interactive map which shows the location of current and former military locations which contain toxic pollutants and contaminants in the soil or water. It also shows military sites that contain explosives or discarded military munitions.

If you select a state from the drop-down menu you can view a list of the military installations in the state with the most high & medium risk sites. The map sidebar also includes a list of the number of military installations in each state with high & medium risk hazardous sites.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Bike Thieves of Toronto

CBC Toronto has used data from Toronto police to map where bikes were stolen in Toronto from 2014 to 2016. The Toronto Bike Theft Map reveals that downtown Toronto experiences the most bike thefts but other neighborhoods, such as Willowdale West and Lansing-Westgate have also seen a rise in bikes being stolen since 2014.

The map includes a number of options which allow you to filter the map by year, type of bike and the type of location where they were stolen from (e.g. apartment, outside, house). When you select a type of bike or type of location the map automatically updates to only show the bike thefts which match your selected type. The actual number of bike thefts matching your type is also displayed.

The accompanying article explores the data and reports on the neighborhoods which have seen the most bike theft crime and the types of location which are seeing a rise in bike crime. It also includes some handy tips about how you can secure your bike and help protect it from being stolen.

The Worldwide Wind Power Map

Earlier this year the World Bank released the Global Solar Atlas, an interactive map which allows you to carry out a simple solar power output calculation for nearly any location in the world. The map provides estimations of the likely solar power potential for any location.

The Technical University of Denmark and the World Bank have now worked together to create a similar tool for wind energy. The Global Wind Atlas is designed to visualize the potential for wind power generation across the globe. The map uses both mesoscale and microscale modeling in order to help utilize wind energy.

The Global Wind Atlas can provide wind resource information for individual countries & regions or you can use the drawing tools to view wind resource data for a custom defined area. This wind data includes information on power density, wind direction and wind speed.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Leaflet is Riddled with Bugs

British photographer Levon Biss is using the Leaflet mapping library to present a series of photos in his latest project, Microsculpture. Microsculpture allows you to view high resolution photos of insect specimens from Oxford University Museum of Natural History up close and in fine detail as Leaflet maps.

Using the Leaflet mapping library as a platform for browsing images isn't new. However it has rarely been done so beautifully. There are some gorgeous insects in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History collection and Levon Biss has captured them exquisitely.

Each insect's completed image consists of around 8,000 individual photographs (the large scale photographic prints are up to 3m high), captured using optical microscopes. The Leaflet mapping library really allows the user to fully explore these high resolution photos by zooming in close on the insects. The map scale in the top right-hand corner of the map provides a useful guide to the size of the insects as you zoom in & out on the images.

You might also be interested in the Art of Mapping Art, which looks at a number of examples of the Leaflet mapping library being used to provide an interface for zooming-in on and exploring works of art.

Mapping Population in 3D

UK developers Parallel have released an interactive map which visualizes UK population density in 3D. Their ONS Population Estimates map shows the population density in each UK Lower Super Output Area (LSOA) and the age breakdown of the population in each LSOA.

The population density view on the map uses Mapbox GL's extrusion property to create 3D towers on the map. The height of the towers represents the population density of the LSOA. In other words the higher the tower then the greater the population density.

If you switch to the 'Age Profile' option then you can view a breakdown of the numbers in each age group of both the male & female population in each LSOA. In this 'Age Profile' mode the map still shows a choropleth view of the population density. However if you hover over an LSOA on the map then you can view a population pyramid chart which visualizes the area's age profile.

Mapbox has also used the extrusion property to visualize population density. Their Population Density Inspector allows you to view the number of people living in each census block in America as a 3D tower.

On The Population Density Inspector the height of each census block on the map represents the population density (based on census block population counts). You can read about how Mapbox created their map (with a little help from Turf.js and Tippecanoe) on the Mapbox blog.

You don't have to use Mapbox GL's extrusion property to map population density in 3D. Bjørn Sandvik has posted an interesting tutorial on how to use Three.js & D3.js to visualize population density in 3D. The tutorial includes a 3D map of Oslo's population density

The second tutorial in Mapping Grid-Based statistics using OpenLayers, Three.js and D3.js provides a 3d visualization of Oslo's population data, with each grid's population density shown as a 3D tower or block on the map. The tutorials in the post are in Norwegian but the source code is available on GithHub and should be easy to follow for anyone familiar with OpenLayers and D3.js.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Videos on Maps

Earlier this year the Leaflet mapping library followed Mapbox GL's example by releasing a L.VideoOverlay class which allows you to add videos as an overlay to your Leaflet maps. This means that you can add playable videos on top of both Mapbox GL and Leaflet maps. This feature is particularly useful if you want to add animated timelapse satellite images to a map.

If you are interested in how you can make a video from satellite images and then overlay that video on top of a Leaflet map then you might be interested in Spatially Enabled Video Editing with FME. This tutorial walks you through the process of using FME and FFmpeg to create videos from a series of still images. The tutorial includes some demo Leaflet maps which have satellite video overlays.

If you are interested in overlaying video on top of interactive maps then you might also like this video map of Winter Storm Jonas. And, if you like Mapbox's snow storm map, then you might also like their other weather maps of Hurricane Patricia and Animated Atmosperic Water map.

London Bans Fried Chicken

Many councils in the UK have introduced 400 meter fast food exclusion zones around schools. These zones don't apply to existing fast food outlets but do apply to anyone planning to open a fast food restaurant in the future. The purpose of these exclusion zones are to help fight the rise of child obesity.

Later this week the London mayor Sadiq Khan plans to announce a fast food exclusion zone around London schools. You can see the areas that will be affected on Dan Cookson's interactive map London Schools 400m Exclusion Zones. Dan's map places a 400m circle around every school in London to visualize all the places where new fast food outlets will be banned under the new policy.

You can see from the map that huge areas of London will be exempt from new fast food restaurants. For example nearly the whole of the East End will be a fast food exclusion zone. Perhaps the London mayor is unaware of how big an impact this policy could have. London's high density of people (and therefore more schools) means that a 400m fast food exclusion zone affects a huge percentage of inner London.

The bricks & mortar retail sector is already suffering in many areas of London. At the moment fast food is about the only expanding sector of the retail sector, especially in economically deprived areas
like London's East End.

In Fast Food England the Guardian mapped the number of fast food restaurants per 1,000 people in England. The newspaper found that "the poorest areas of the country have disproportionately higher numbers of fast food outlets." Tower Hamlets, which will almost be completely covered by the new fast food exclusion zone, has seen a growth in fast food outlets since 2014. The new exclusion zones will kill this expanding sector of the retail sector. In the long run the consequence of this policy could be the closure of many bricks & mortar shops in London's most deprived areas.

Of course the mayor will probably argue that fast food outlets lead to obesity in a high proportion of people living in economically deprived areas. Therefore this new policy could have wider long term health benefits for London, not just for London's children, but for the population as a whole.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Map of the Year 2017

The Journal of Maps has named their Best Map of 2017. Their choice for map of the year is a flow map visualization of people moving between U.S. states. The map certainly proved an inspiration to a number of cartographers this year.

Migration in the United States 2009-2013, which we first featured on Maps Mania back in May, uses flow lines to visualize the numbers of people moving between different states in the USA. It includes options to see which states have the biggest exchanges of citizens and to view the most popular state destinations for each individual state.

The US Migration Flow Map is an illustration of a "force-directed method to automatically lay out migration flows". This method has been designed to reduce clutter and improve readability when using flow lines on a map. You can read more about the design principles behind the method in Automated layout of origin–destination flow maps: U.S. county-to-county migration 2009–2013 in the Journal of Maps.

I first stumbled across the US Migration Flow Map in a link in the introduction to Sarah Bellum's Canvas Flowmap Layer. This popular ArcGIS JavaScript API library allows you to map objects flowing from one location to another.

The library uses Bezier curves to visualize the movement of objects on an interactive map. One purpose of using Bezier curves is that you can show the direction of flow by using either a convex or concave curve on your flow line.

The ArcGIS flowmap layer in turn inspired the Leaflet.Canvas-Flowmap-Layer. You can get a great idea of what you can achieve with the Leaflet.Canvas-Flowmap-Layer on this fully adjustable demo map. The map provides a visualization of airport destinations using animated Bezier curves. It includes a number of options which demonstrate the range of animation options provided with the Leaflet flowmap layer.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Street View Tag

Street Tours is a new mapping tool which allows you to easily create interactive tours using Google Maps Street View. Using the tool you can tag locations on Google's panoramic imagery to provide additional information for the tour's users.

The image above shows a Street Tour of Bournemouth Beach in the UK. In this demo tour the pier, the Oceanarium and the Tourist Information office have all been tagged on Street View. When the user clicks on the these label tags, while taking the Street Tour, information windows open to provide useful information on these Bournemouth landmarks.

Creating your own tour with Street Tours is very easy. The application uses Google Maps to highlight the area of your tour. You then simply click on the Street View panorama to add labels to the locations that you wish to feature on your tour. You can style the tags to change how they look and  add any information which you want to appear in the location's associated information window.

Street Tours is a great way to use Google Maps Street View imagery to provide a virtual tour of a location. The tours are quick and easy to create. Finished tours can be added to your website or blog using the provided embed code. Alternatively you can just share completed tours with your family and friends using the link of your finished tour.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Power Plants of North America

The North American Power Plants interactive map shows the location of nearly 10,000 power plants in the USA, Canada & Mexico. The map also provides a breakdown of how much capacity is provided by each type of power plant. Currently natural gas provides over 40% of capacity in the whole of North America.

6,400 of the power plants on the map (generating one or more megawatts) use renewable sources, such as hydroelectric, wind, solar, pumped storage, biomass, geothermal and tidal. 3,300 of the power plants use non-renewable sources (natural gas, coal, nuclear and petroleum).

You can use the drop-down menu to filter the map by type of of power production. When you filter the map then the map sidebar also updates to provide a breakdown of the capacity within the selected sector. This sidebar also automatically updates as you zoom & pan the map to provide a breakdown of capacity for only the power plants shown in the current map view.

Carbon Brief also provides a comprehensive map showing How the US generates electricity. The map visualizes how & where electricity is generated in the USA and the amount of electricity generated by the different types of electricity production.

The map allows you to filter the results by type of electricity production. This allows you to see where in the country the different types of electricity production create the most output. For example geothermal power plants are all based in the west of the country while nuclear power plants seem to be mostly built in the east.

All the power plants are displayed on the map using colored scaled markers. The colors indicate the type of power plant and the size of the markers represents the plants' output capacity. The graph in the map sidebar shows the percentage that each type of production contributes to the total of electricity production in the United States. You can select a state from the drop-down menu to view the makeup of the capacity mix for that state.

The Global Croplands Map

The USGS has released an interactive map which shows all the land used for crops and all the possible cropland in the world. As the world's population continues to grow the USGS believes that monitoring global croplands and their water use is essential to ensure future food security.

The Global Croplands map provides 30 meter resolution cropland data for the entire world. The data comes from analyzing Landsat satellite data using the Google Earth Engine cloud computing platform. Europe, India, the USA, China and Russia have the highest cropland areas and combined have about half of the world's cropland.

The 30-m global cropland data used in the Global Cropland map is currently in the peer-review stage. Once this peer review process is over the data will be released and available to download.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Australia's Marriage Law Survey Results

In September Australia held a non-binding national postal survey into the issue of same-sex marriage. There was a high response rate, with over 80% of eligible voters participating in the survey. An overwhelming 61.6% of voters voted 'Yes' to same-sex marriages while 38.4% voted 'No'.

You can see how people voted in your area on Esri's interactive map of the results. Their Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey map shows the 'yes' & 'no' votes in each electoral district. The map also reveals the response rate of eligible voters in each district.

Esri's map uses data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics who have released detailed results and participation rates from the survey. The ABS has published two interactive maps the Participation Map and the Response Map. These maps allow you to view the participation rates and the results of the survey by State/Territory and Federal Electoral Divisions.

How the World has Changed

Urban Radiance compares historical night-time satellite views of the Earth to analyse urban development across the world. By comparing recent night-time satellite imagery with historical night-time satellite views of the same locations Urban Radiance is able to show how countries have changed in terms of urbanization, electrification and population density.

Urban Radiance has compiled time-based night-time satellite composites of Asia, the Middle East, North America, North Africa, Europe and the whole World. On each map the newer night-time view uses orange to show light pollution while the older night-time uses blue to show light pollution. In this way it is easy to pick out areas in the map where light pollution has grown over time.

On each composite map Urban Radiance has picked out significant areas which have seen a growth in light pollution. For example in North America Urban Radiance highlights how the growth of shale gas fields in the Dakota and South Texas regions has led to more light pollution in these areas. Below each map graphs show the total growth (or fall) in radiance in each country shown on the map.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Geography of the Thanksgiving Meal

Tomorrow across the United States people will be sitting down to eat a traditional Thanksgiving meal. The tradition largely depends on where you live in the country.

The traditional Thanksgiving menu can be hugely 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. Tell me if your turkey is smoked, roasted or fried and I can probably tell you if you come from the mid-west, the east coast or California.

The Los Angeles Times 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 includes a little tool which can show you the Thanksgiving foods that are most searched for in each state.

This Thanksgiving America will consume around 250 million turkeys, millions of barrels of cranberries and hundreds of thousands of acres worth of green beans. If you are interested in where your turkey was raised and where your brussels sprouts were grown then you need Esri's Where Does Your Thanksgiving Meal Come From? interactive map.

The map looks at the origins of the traditional Thanksgiving vegetables, turkey and sweet dishes. It includes separate maps showing where turkeys, cranberries, sweet potatoes, potatoes, green beans, brussels sprouts, pumpkins and pecans are grown and farmed in the United States.

UK Car Accidents Mapped

The Co-op's Car Accidents Map can help you plan a UK driving route and tell you the number of collisions that tool place along the route in 2016. The map uses data from the Department of Transport to show you where collisions have taken place on the UK's roads.

The car routing engine used in the Car Accidents Map doesn't take into account the number of collisions along the route. In other words it won't necessarily show you the safest route. It just maps one possible route and tells you the distance, estimated driving time and the number of collisions along that route.

The map does show every collision last year in the UK for every route you search. This means you can manually check the proposed route and try to work out a safer route for yourself. The map would definitely be more useful if it included an option to search for safer routes. Perhaps the map should include a warning that the route shown isn't necessarily the safest route. I definitely assumed when first using the map that it would automatically try to route me around hazard hotspots.

This is the second interactive map for car drivers that the co-op has released this year. In August Co-op Insurance also released an interactive map to help UK car drivers see where vehicle crime is most frequent.

Enter your location into Park Smart and you can view the location of nearby car crimes that have occurred in the last six months. Numbered and scaled markers show the number of car crimes reported at each location. It is therefore possible to quickly identify roads and blocks which experience high or low levels of car crime.

As well as the interactive map Co-op Insurance has released some handy tips for parking your car safely. Such as parking with your wheels facing the kerb to deter car thieves looking for a quick getaway.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Censored on Google Maps

Since the earliest days of Google Maps a big multi-colored circle has obscured a part of Noordwijk aan Zee in the Netherlands. It isn't the only location in the world which is hidden on Google's satellite imagery. However no one seems to know why Google is so keen to censor what appears to be just a normal Dutch residential neighborhood in Noordrwijk aan Zee. No other online map service censors the area and even on Google Maps you can walk around the neighborhood on Street View.

Back in 2006 this Dutch website suggested that the area was censored on Google Maps because a liquid fuel pipeline had once run through the area. However the pipeline was removed from the area a very long time ago (before Google Maps even started).

Another reason why this censorship in the Netherlands is so strange is because it is very unsubtle. Anyone looking at the area on Google Maps can be in no doubt that Google is trying to hide something here. Google is not usually so unsubtle when hiding locations on Google Maps.

A slightly more nuanced way to hide locations on satellite maps is by blurring the image. For example this building in Greece appears to have been intentionally blurred out on Google Maps. An even more subtle approach is to use a lower resolution image for censored locations. This French prison appears in lower resolution on Google Maps compared to the area around the prison. The low resolution imagery means that the casual user may not be aware of Google's censorship while at the same time successfully obscuring any details in the prison.

Even more subtle is to use older satellite imagery to hide new constructions or additions to locations. For example, it is believed that an older satellite image of this Irish prison has been superimposed on top of newer satellite imagery on Google Maps. If you look closely around the boundary wall of the prison it does appear that different images have been stitched together here.

Wikipedia maintains a useful list of Satellite map images with missing or unclear data. The list keeps track of locations which are censored on the most popular satellite map services. It has also mapped these locations so that you can view the results of this censorship for yourself.