Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Spy Planes Spying on Texas

Last year Buzzfeed released an award winning investigation into the use of spy planes by the FBI and the DHS over mainland America. Buzzfeed's Spies in the Skies investigation mapped out the flight paths of the FBI and the DHS planes to reveal the areas where these federal planes have been spying.

The Texas Observer has now released a very similar investigation into the aerial surveillance carried out by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). The Texas Department of Public Safety owns two high altitude spy planes.

In Eyes Above Texas the Texas Observer has used tracking data for the two planes, obtained from Flightradar24, to create a map of where the planes have flown. The Esri map shows all the known flight paths undertaken by both planes from January 1, 2015 to July 31, 2017. The map includes a closer view of all the places where the two planes might have flown into Mexico. Under the Department of Public Safety's own rules the planes are not allowed to fly over other countries.

The Observer has used DPS flight logs to color code the planes' flight paths to show those where the flight's purpose is for border security and those where the flights have another purpose. The Observer's map also includes a search facility. You can therefore enter your own address to see how often the DPS spy planes have flown over your house.

Spy Satellites Spy Shrinking Rain Forest

North Carolina State University has used historical aerial imagery captured by the Corona spy satellite in the 1960's & 1970's to track the loss of the Atlantic Forest. The Atlantic Forest is a rainforest located in the border area between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. Over 85% of the Atlantic Forest has now been lost to deforestation.

The Making of a Forest is an Esri story map which uses three different sources to visualize how the rainforest has shrunk over the last seventy years. As well as using historical imagery from the Corona satellite the North Carolina State University analyzed historical aerial photography captured by the Brazilian government in the 1950's & 1980's and Landsat satellite imagery dating back to the 1970's.

As you progress through The Making of a Forest you can view the fixed-wing imagery and satellite imagery from different decades overlaid on top of a map of the Atlantic Forest. This imagery shows how the parts of the rainforest which are now inside the Brazilian and Argentinian national parks in the area are very healthy. Outside of the national parks what was once the Atlantic Forest is now mainly farmland.

China's Great Sea Grab

For a number of years the Republic of China has been engaged in a huge territory grab in the South China Sea. It has claimed countless coral reefs and engaged in building artificial islands, both of which it is using to construct new military bases. Other countries in the area dispute China's ownership of these islands and are becoming increasingly worried about the country's growing military presence.

Reuters has been examining satellite imagery to track China's military expansion in the South China Sea. In Concrete and Coral Reuters has worked with Earthrise Media to explore China's construction projects, particularly on the Paracel and Spratly islands. As part of this investigation Reuters has mapped out the extent of China's dredging and reclamation work on both island chains. This is presented in two maps showing the extent of the Paracel and Spratley islands before and after China's reclamation work.

Both these maps show that the territory owned by China has increased dramatically over the last few years as it reclaims land for military installations. During the same period the amount of reefs and islands owned by other countries on the Spratly Islands has remained largely the same. Only South Vietnam appears to have reclaimed a little land, and nowhere near to the extent of China.

Reuters' small multiples graphic of the Spratly and Paracel Islands is supported by satellite imagery which similarly shows the extent of China's dredging and reclamation work. The satellite imagery also reveals the extent of China's military construction work on the islands.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative has mapped out all the territorial claims of the Asia Pacific. Its Maritime Claims of the Asia Pacific attempts to provide an as complete, accurate and up-to-date map as possible of all the competing maritime claims in the region.

On the map each country's territorial claims are shown using color-coded borders. The map includes a filter option which allows you to view any combination of countries' claims on the map. By selecting any two country's territorial claims on the map it is possible to see exactly where they have territorial disputes.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative map doesn't show territorial claims for the Spratly and Paracel Islands "due to a lack of clarity about what each country claims".

In the last few years both China and Japan have escalated their military presence in the South and East China Seas. China has also become caught up in diplomatic rows with Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei over long standing conflicting claims over territorial rights in the China seas.

Al Jeezera has published a map examining the history of the South China Sea Disputes. The map explores some of the historical hot-spots between China and its neighbors in the area since 1974. The map itself was created using Leaflet.js and the Knight Lab Story Maps library.

The Story Maps template means that you can explore the map chronologically, using the forward and back arrows to progress through Al Jaeera's mapped history of the region. You can also click on the map markers to jump to individual locations on the map to learn more about the history of territorial disputes in that area.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Travel Time Quantiles

Route Times uses data from Google Maps driving directions to visualize where you can drive to in a set amount of time from the center of five major cities around the globe.

Select one of the five cities on Route Times and a number of polylines will be drawn on top of a Leaflet.js map of the chosen city. Each polyline represents a driving route from the center of the city. Each route is colored to show how long it takes to drive. If you click a route's polyline on the map you can view exactly how long it takes to drive and the distance of the route.

The author of the map, Cris Moya, has released the code on GitHub for a very similar map. GoogleTravelTime can create similar route times maps for any location on Earth, and for any time of day or day of the week (again based on Google Maps's driving directions).

Urbanization in England & Wales

The Urban Growth Explorer visualizes the huge urbanization of England & Wales in the last 150 years. The map overlays modern UK town and city boundaries on top of an 1885 Ordnance Survey map to visualize how Britain's towns and cities have grown since the mid-19th century.

Before industrialization England & Wales were both largely rural countries. In 1801 the proportion of the population living in towns and cities with more than 20,000 people was 17%. In 1891 that proportion had risen to 54%. This shift from a largely rural population to an urban population led to the huge growth in the size of towns and cities. For example, in 1717 the city of Manchester had a population of 10,000. By 1911 it had grown to 2.3 million.

Using the Urban Growth Explorer you can search for a town or city in England & Wales and view (where available) a 2015 town boundary overlaid on top of a map of the location from 1885. If no modern boundary is available for your town you can switch to the side-by-side view to compare the 1885 map with the modern aerial view of your town.

You can also explore the UK's shift from a predominately rural to urban country in Populations Past. In the second half of the 19th Century Great Britain went through a process of demographic transition as the industrial revolution fundamentally changed the way that people lived.

The University of Cambridge's Populations Past is an interactive atlas of Victorian and Edwardian England & Wales. The map allows you to explore some of the huge social and geographical changes which took place in England & Wales during the second half of the 19th century and the effect that those changes had on the population.

The map includes a number of different demographic measures and socio-economic indicators which allow you to explore for yourself the effect of the demographic transition over time and between different locations. The side-by-side view uses two different maps to help visualize the effects of the demographic transition on locations throughout England & Wales over time.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The 50 Most Dangerous Cities in the World

The Most Dangerous Cities in the World interactive map shows the 50 cities across the globe with the highest homicide rates in 2017. According to the map the most dangerous city in the world is Los Cabos in Mexico. Caracas is the city with the second highest homicide rate and Acapulco is third.

One of the most obvious observations to make is that all but 3 of the 50 most dangerous cities are in the continents of North America and South America. The 3 not in the Americas are all in South Africa. The 4 U.S. cities in the top 50 are St Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans and Detroit.

When browsing the map you need to click on the 'i' in the map toolbar to make the map markers interactive. Once you've clicked on the 'i' you can select the map markers to view the number of homicides in a city and its homicide rate. If you zoom in on a marker a map label will appear showing where it ranks in the top 50 most dangerous cities.

You can read more about where the data comes from and how the homicide rates are compiled on the gvSIG blog.

If you are worried about traveling abroad then International SOS provide a very basic interactive map of the travel risks for every country of the world. Their Travel Risk Map provides an overview of the travel risks in each country for medical, security and road safety.

Countries are colored on the Travel Risk Map to show the International SOS assessment of the travel risks in these three categories. The map therefore provides a very basic guide as to where it is safe to travel in the world. You should also check your government's latest travel advice as well. Many governments provide useful advice for their citizens planning to travel abroad. For example the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office provides up-to-date Foreign Travel Advice.

Mapping the History of the World

MappiMundi is a new interactive mapping platform for recording and exploring historical events in space and time. The ultimate goal of MappiMunid is to create a complete world atlas of historical events one event at a time.

Anybody can become a registered user of MappiMundi and use the platform to map out an historical event. Unregistered users can explore the interactive maps of historical events that have already been created by registered users.

A good place to start exploring the capabilities and available features of MappiMundi is the Atlas of World Territories and Battles throughout History. This project maps out major wars and territories in world history. You can use the timeline (directly under the map) to select specific dates in world history and the map automatically updates to show you country borders at the selected time and major battles that occurred in that date range. You can then click on the country / territory polygons or the battle markers to learn more about the countries or historical events.

There are a number of other interactive history mapping projects working on similar platforms. You can view some examples of these on this post on The History of the World - Part Three.

The New York Subway Rental Map

The NYC Subway Rental Map reveals the median rent for a one bedroom apartment in the area around every stop on the New York subway system. The map can also show you if rental rates have gone up or down at each subway stop year-on-year.

The map provides an interesting visualization of New York's affordable and non-affordable neighborhoods using a map of the city that most New Yorkers are familiar with. Every single subway stop on RentHop's interactive map is colored to show the median rent within 0.6 mile of the MTA subway station. If you select a station's marker on the map you can view the exact median rent in the area and the percentage change to the cost of renting in the area since 2017.

According to RentHop rents have dropped around many stops in Manhattan Island and Brooklyn. In fact about half of the stops in Manhattan experienced drops in the cost of renting. On the other hand many stops in the Bronx have experienced a growth in rental rates year-on-year.

Monday, May 21, 2018

How Americans Get to Work

Across the whole of the United States most people travel to work by car and on their own. Apart from a few counties around New York City, the District of Colombia, most counties in Alaska and San Juan country in Colorado most Americans prefer to commute alone and by car.

Flowing data has mapped out the most popular methods of communing in each U.S. county. The How Americans Get to Work interactive map provides a choropleth view showing the most popular method of commuting in each separate county. The blue counties on the map (in the screenshot above) show all the counties where 'Drive Alone' is the most popular method of commuting.

In a few counties around New York and in D.C. the most popular method of commuting is public transport. San Juan, Colorado is the only county outside of Alaska where the most popular method of commuting is by foot.

All the different modes of transport can be filtered on the map. Therefore you can turn off the 'Drive Alone' commuters to see which are the next most popular methods of commuting in each American county.

The Real-Time Global Air Pollution Map

AirVisual Earth is a real-time interactive map of worldwide air pollution. The map includes an animated wind layer and an animated heat map showing the level of air pollution around the world based on the Air Quality Index (AQI).

AirVisual Earth owes an obvious debt of inspiration to Cameron Beccario's Earth. Cameron's very similar interactive globe also has animated wind and air pollution layers. Earth also includes real-time aurora predictions and ocean currents.

The air pollution data for AirVisual Earth comes from thousands of EPA monitoring stations around the world. Data for the map also comes from owners of AirVisual's own air quality monitors across the globe. You can see where all these measurements come from on AirVisual's AQI Stations Map. This map shows the real-time readings from over 9,000 worldwide locations.

The Worst Drivers in Britain

The worst drivers in the UK live in Somerset & Avon. A new interactive map visualizes the number of different driving offences based on the number of registered drivers in each area of the country. The map reveals that Avon and Somerset has the worst driving record overall, with nearly 200,000 offences.

The UK's Driving Offence Hotspot map shows eight different categories of driving offence, from speeding to running lights and ignoring signs. Drivers in Somerset & Avon were caught speeding more than drivers in any other area. Drivers in London were the worst offenders of driving while using the phone (not hands free) and drivers in Scotland were the worst offenders of driving carelessly. careless driving.

The UK's Driving Offence Hotspot map provides a choropleth view for each of the eight categories of driving offence. If you select a category you can then click on areas of the UK to view how they rank for that offence, the total number of drivers who were penalized for that offence and how many offences there were per 10,000 drivers.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

101 Mass Shootings in 2018

Yesterday's tragic shooting in a Texas high school was the 101st mass shooting incident in the USA this year. You can see the locations of all 101 mass shootings on ABC 15's interactive map. The map plots every mass shooting incident so far this year according to the Gun Violence Archive's database.

The Gun Violence Archive is also the data source for Vox's interactive map of Mass Shootings Since Sandy Hook. Vox's map shows the locations of all 1,686 mass shootings that have occurred in the U.S. since Sandy Hook in 2012.

Esri's School Shootings Map concentrates only on those mass shootings which have occurred in schools. This map shows every school mass shooting since Columbine in 1999. Esri's map uses the Washington Post’s database of school shootings, which has had to be continually updated since 1999.

Esri's map is the best map of the three. It's use of scaled markers shows the number of casualties at each incident. Unfortunately, because mass school shootings have now become so common place in the USA, the Esri map could now use a timeline feature. This would enable users to filter the results shown by date to get a sense of whether school shootings in America are really becoming more frequent year by year.

The Royal Wedding Map

The UK's Ordnance Survey has released a story map which allows you to follow today's royal wedding on an interactive map. The story map includes all the important locations on this important day.

The Royal Wedding map plots Prince Harry's and Meghan Markle's movements over the course of their special day. It follows the royal couple from Windsor Castle to St George's Chapel, where the marriage ceremony is taking place. As you progress through the story the bird's-eye view map zooms and pans around the royal town of Windsor to highlight all the featured locations.

The map sidebar includes information about the happy couple, the guests and the featured locations. It also include times of when all the important events will take place on this royal wedding day. You can therefore easily follow Harry & Meghan's marriage journey on the Royal Wedding map as you watch the coverage on television.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Plastic Polluted Pacific Ocean

Henderson Island is a remote island in the South Pacific. Nobody lives there but, despite being uninhabited, its beaches are covered in rubbish. In fact 19 tonnes of trash made up of 37 million separate pieces litter this deserted island.

In What Happens to the Plastic we Throw Out National Geographic explains how domestic plastic trash ends up polluting a remote island in the middle of the South Pacific. As you progress through National Geographic's story a background map of the South Pacific shows the levels of mismanaged municipal plastic waste produced by countries on the Pacific Ocean. Much of this plastic waste eventually ends up in the Pacific. Carry on scrolling and the map updates to show the levels of plastic waste entering the ocean from rivers in Asia and North, Central & South America.

National Geographic identify the Yangtze River as the most polluted river in the world. Most of that pollution eventually ends up in the Pacific by way of the East China Sea. The background map animates the modeled pathways of marine debris to show how the plastic from the world's rivers ends up creating the huge plastic gyres polluting our oceans.

Can You Guess the City?

City-Guesser is a fun map quiz which tests your knowledge of world cities. In City-Guesser you are shown the maps of major cities around the world. All you have to do is name which city is being shown in each map. To ensure that the game isn't ridiculous easy all the place-name labels have been removed from each city map.

If you guess correctly you proceed to the next round. Guess wrong and it is game over. You get points for each correct answer. The game keeps a record of the maximum level you reach (the number of correct answers in one game) and your highest score. Your aim therefore is to beat your own high score and your highest level reached. Or you can try and beat me. So far I've reached level 7

You might also like these other map based games:

Quizzity - point to the named locations on a map of the world.
Guess the world city from its cold war Soviet spy map
Guess the city from its bike lane map
Click that 'hood! - a geography game that tests your knowledge of city neighborhoods.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Mapping LA by Night

Just Downtonw's LA Streetlights is an interactive map of street-lighting in Los Angeles. The map features dark extruded building footprints lit up by models of all the city's streetlights.

I don't think that the map was created for any other purpose than it looks really striking and provides an interesting map of the city at night. You can see, however, how the map could be useful to city planning departments, especially for reporting faults, scheduling repairs and maintaining the city's streetlights.

The map itself uses Mapbox GL's extrusion property both to show the city's buildings in 3d and for the streetlight models themselves. The data for the maps comes from Los Angeles GeoHub, the city's new public website for location-based open data.

How Gerrymandered is Your State?

PlanScore has mapped the level of gerrymandering in all 50 states in the USA. PlanScore includes a comprehensive historical dataset of partisan gerrymandering, so you can examine the history of gerrymandering in each state and which political parties the districts have been gerrymandered to support.

The PlanScore choropleth map shows the level of gerrymandering in each state for both the U.S. House and State House elections. The darker the red or blue colors on the map then the more skewed the districts are towards the represented political party. If you select a state on the map you can view a more detailed report on the partisan bias in that state and how that compares to the level of gerrymandering in other states.

PlanScore has also developed a scoring service which allows you to test how fair or gerrymandered new district plans are. To use this service you just need to upload a shapefile or GeoJSON file of a district plan. PlanScore will then reveal the levels of the plan’s underlying partisan skew, showing how much the plan has been gerrymandered.

Also See

What's Your Vote Worth - an interactive story map which explores the history of America's voting system, the right to vote and how voter representation is skewed under the present system and map. The story map includes a choropleth view of how much one vote is worth in each state.

The Gerrymandering Project - FiveThirtyEight has had a go at redrawing America's voting districts for themselves. In the Atlas of Redistricting FiveThirtyEight has created a number of new congressional maps, each designed to show how districts can be redrawn to favor different political parties.

How Gerrymandered is your Congressional District? - this 2014 map from the Washington Post colors each congressional district based on its gerrymandered score (determined by the Post's analysis).

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Erosion of the World's Coastlines

The State of the World’s Beaches is a report into how the world's coastline has changed since 1984. The authors of the report analyzed 33 years of satellite imagery, from 1984–2016, to create a global dataset of shoreline change rates. From this analysis it was determined that 24% of the world’s sandy beaches are eroding and 28% are accreting. 48% of sandy coastlines remained stable over the 33 years analysed in the study..

You can view where shorelines are eroding or accreting on the Long-term Shoreline Changes map. This map shows shoreline erosion and accretion rates for the whole world. The lines marked red on the map show where erosion took place over the 33 years and the green areas show where shoreline accretion has occurred. The length of the lines visualize the extent of the erosion or accretion over the 33 years examined in the study.

You can click on the individual lines on the map to view a time series chart. This chart shows the shoreline position for each year available from the satellite analysis. You can read the full State of the World's Beaches on the Nature website.

The Car Crash Prediction System

A new mapped based tool claims to be able to predict the likelihood of automobile collisions for every street and intersection. It uses machine learning and historical collision data to determine the future risk of car crashes on city streets.

The Louisville Automobile Collision Prediction System color-codes sections of Louisville's roads based on their predicted collision risk score. Using the colors of the roads you can determine the predicted risk of a future car collision. If you select individual road segments on the map you can view the underlying historical collision data on which the collision risk score is based.

The slide control in the map control panel allows you to filter the section and intersections shown on the map by a risk score range. This therefore allows you to search the map for the most risky sections or intersections or to locate the safest roads and intersection in Louisville.

You can read more about how the collision prediction system works by clicking on the 'Full Report' link above the map.

If you remain a little skeptical about these types of precog maps then you might enjoy the satirical White Collar Crime Risk Zones interactive map.

Open Palestine

This year Israel is celebrating its 70th anniversary. It therefore seems like an appropriate time to remember what existed before the creation of the State of Israel. 70 years ago 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes to create a Jewish state. Over the last 70 years Palestinian villages have been destroyed or renamed and the map has been almost entirely redrawn.

Palestine Open Maps allows you to browse historic maps from the period of the British Mandate of Palestine and to view information about both the present day locations and those erased in the last 70 years. At the moment the platform allows you to explore vintage maps from 1880 and from the 1940's & 1950's.

This is very much an alpha release of Palestine Open Maps. The release notes say that you can add data about "present and erased localities' but none of the layers under the "Change of status since 1945' heading appear to be working. The split screen option also seems to be a work in progress, which means you can't yet compare the vintage maps with the present map of the area side-by-side.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Examples of Global Warming

EarthTime is a compelling visualization of real examples from around the world of global warming, deforestation and rising sea levels. The site uses historical satellite imagery to demonstrate how the Earth is changing over time due to the impact of the human race.

If you select the Stories tab you can choose from a number of different environmental stories curated by some of the world's leading scientists and environmentalists. These stories includes visualizations of deforestation, shrinking glaciers, expanding urban centers, coral bleaching and sea level rise. All the stories use animated satellite imagery to show how different locations around the world have changed over time.

The use of animated satellite imagery allows the user to witness for themselves the impact that humans are having on the environment. EarthTime was developed by Carnegie Mellon University and uses data collected from respected government and non-governmental agencies around the world. All of this environmental data is open source.

Mapping the History of the Gulag

The Gulag was the government agency responsible for the forced labor camp system that operated in the Soviet Union from the 1920s to the 1950s. The camps were widely used to house political prisoners or individuals the communist government believed might be dangerous, disruptive, suspicious or disloyal to the new regime. Prisoners in the Gulag camps were subject to forced hard labor and the prisoners were used as part of the Soviet industrialization campaign.

The Interactive Map of the Gulag is a visualization on the history and geography of the forced labor camps operating in Soviet Russia. It includes an interactive map showing the location of each camp and a timeline showing the number of prisoners held in the camps for each year from 1918 to 1960.

The markers are scaled to show the number of prisoners each camp held for each year. If you click on the timeline the markers will change size to show how many prisoners were in each camp in the chosen year. The map also displays the total number of prisoners held in the Gulag camps and the number of prisoners who died in the forced labor camp in that year.

If you select a camp's marker on the map you can view more detailed information on the selected camp. This includes the years that the camp operated, the activities which prisoners were forced to undertake and the number of prisoners held by year.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Blueprints to Hogwarts

I've been trying to track down the blueprints to Hogwarts for a long time. Without much success. Until now.

The Ravenclaw Map is an interactive map of Hogwarts. It isn't quite a Marauders Map but it does include plans of all the school's floor levels and helps you to win a number of Hogwarts' awards. If you hover over any of the rooms on the map you can reveal its name. If you click on a room you can also read a short description of what can be found there. The map could therefore prove invaluable for anybody who needs to surreptitiously find their way around the school.

As you explore the Ravenclaw Map you can also win yourself a number of awards. If you click on the 'Challenges' button you can discover which rooms you need to find on the map to earn yourself a number of different awards.

The Santa Cruz School of Street View

Santa Cruz del Islote is a tiny island in the Caribbean. Despite being only 200 meters in length and 120 meters wide it is home to around 1,200 people. It is in fact one of the most densely populated islands in the world. How such a small island is able to sustain so many people is incredible. In fact we could all learn something about sustainability from the islanders of Santa Cruz del Islote.

The School of Sustainability is an amazing introduction to Santa Cruz del Islote and its people. It includes 3D map of the island and custom Street View scenes which allow you to fully explore the whole island. It also includes a number of video portraits of some of the people who live and work on Santa Cruz del Islote.

The School of Sustainability has a hugely impressive navigation system which allows you to explore the island and the individual lessons. All the custom Street Views and lessons are marked on a 3D map of the island. Click on any of these markers and the map seamlessly pans and zooms into the selected Street View scene. Click on the small map inset and the map will pan and zoom back out to show the overhead view of the island.

The custom Street View scenes also include markers which allow you to learn more about the islanders and view photos and other information about life on Santa Cruz del Islote. The lessons themselves are each short videos about individual islanders and how they contribute to life on the island.

The Roundest & Squarest Countries

The continent of Africa contains both the world's most round country and the world's most rectangular country. The roundest country in the world is Sierra Leone. Egypt is the most rectangular.

Back in 2016 David Barry worked out the most rectangular shaped countries in the world. In Rectangular Countries David wrote an algorithm to find the optimum rectangles in a list of shapes. He then applied the algorithm to all the country borders in the world, using the country shapefiles from Natural Earth.

He discovered that Egypt is the most rectangular shaped country. The Vatican and Sint Maarten came second and third. Using his algorithm the Maldives was the least rectangular country in the whole world. David's Rectangular Countries lists all the world's countries in their order of rectangular-ness.

Gonzalo Ciruelos has now carried out a very similar analysis of country shapes to find the world's roundest countries. Like David he has listed all the world's countries, but in this case in their order of roundness. According to What is the Roundest Country? Sierra Leaone is the world's roundest country. Nauru and Zimbabwe are the second and third most round countries. The Marshall Islands is the least round country.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Roll Your Own Non-Warped Maps

I've always loved Map Warper, a service that allows you to georectify vintage maps so that they can be used with modern interactive mapping platforms. However you should use Map Warper with caution as it is not suitable for every map. As the name suggests Map Warper warps your map image to fit a Web Mercator map projection. This can lead to serious distortions in the way your vintage map will appear.

The Antirubbersheeter is a new web service which can help you to create a Leaflet.js map of any image, with its own co-ordinate system. The problem with using an image as your background map in Leaflet is that you then need to work out how to geocode points on your image if you want to add markers, polylines etc. Antirubbersheeter does all this for you.

This means that you can now more easily use Leaflet.js to make interactive maps of your vintage maps, your fantasy maps, your computer game world maps or interactive maps from any image that you want to use. It is really easy to use Antirubbersheeter. Just upload your image. Add a list of places you want to geocode on your image. Antirubbersheeter then allows you to simply click on your image to geocode your list of places.

When you've finished Antirubbersheeter outputs the json of your geocoded locations, providing you with the co-ordinates for each of the places you want to mark on your very own Leaflet.js map.

Antirubbersheeter includes a demo map which you can view to see how this all works in practice. I've also created a slightly simpler demo map which you might find a little easier to work from. If you work from my simpler demo map you just need to:

1. change the bounds variable to the height and width of your image (in that order)
2. change the image variable to the URL for your image on imgur (or the image yourself)
3. change the marker co-ordinate numbers to the y and x numbers for each of your markers

These can all be found in the json output you get after geocoding your image using Antirubbersheeter.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Flight of the Osprey

Julie's Improbable Journey is an Esri Story Map tracing the 2,500 mile migration of a young osprey from her birthplace in southeast Michigan to Venezuela. The map uses data collected from a satellite tag placed on Julie as part of a project led by Michigan Osprey.

As you progress through the story map overhead aerial imagery shows you a bird's-eye view of Julie's journey. The aerial imagery uses a 'fog of war' overlay so that you only see the narrow strip of Julie's flight path (or a number of narrow paths around places where she stopped for a temporary rest on her migration).

You can learn more about how John M Nelson made this map in his tutorial Migration, Visualization, and Just-Enough-ification. This covers the whole process, from downloading the bird's track to creating the impressive bird's eye view strip maps of Julie's journey.

Osprey are just one of numerous species of American birds that annually migrate in North and South America. National Geographic's wonderful Where Do They Go? maps the annual flight patterns of American bird species.

Also See

Tracking Cuckoos to Africa ... and Back Again

Norway's Neglected Bridges

In Norway the public roads administration is responsible for checking the safety of all the country's bridges. According to VG they are not carrying out the required annual inspections for more than half of the country's bridges. In Rules are Broken on Half of All Bridges VG looks at the data behind the inspections of Norway's bridges.

VG's investigative report includes an interactive map showing the location of all the bridges that are overdue for inspections. The Neglected Bridges map shows all 16,971 bridges on national and county roads. Bridges on the map can be highlighted to show all those that are suffering from severe damage, bridges that have been marked as needing repairs and bridges that are overdue being inspected.

If you select an individual bridge on the map you can read its report from the public road administration database. These includes details about when it was last inspected and the results of that inspection.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Shadows of Boston

Boston’s Planning and Development Agency has made an impressive interactive map which shows all of Boston's buildings in 3d. Boston 3D Buildings is an amazing map of the city containing thousands of Boston's buildings in glorious 3d.

My favorite feature of this incredible 3d map is that you can view the shadows of all the buildings for any time of day and for any month of the year. Just click on the 'Daylight' button and you can change the building shadows on the map to see how they would look at different times and in different months.

If you select the 'Layers' button you can toggle a number of map features on & off. These include trees, points of interest and even the 3d buildings themselves. You can change the colors of the buildings from the grey & white (as seen in the screenshot above) to color-coded by zoning. You can also click on individual buildings to view details about the selected building.

Time Travel Switzerland

Smapshot is a platform for georeferencing and visualizing historical images of Switzerland. The platform uses Cesium.js to display vintage photographs superimposed on top of a 3d globe. You can use Smapshot just to explore historical, vintage views of Switzerland. Or you can join in and help to georeference other vintage photographs of the country.

So far Smapshot has georeferenced a large number of vintage aerial photos of Switzerland. You can have a lot of fun browsing these historical aerial views. If you click on any of the thumbnail images of the photos then the 3d globe zooms and spins to show you the exact view depicted in the photo. The image is superimposed on top of the globe, so you can see where the historical picture was originally taken.

If you click on the 'contribute' button you can help Smapshot to find the locations of other vintage photos of Switzerland. It is possible to contribute to this process even if you don't know Switzerland very well. The description notes attached to the vintage images are often all you need to discover the exact location of the view depicted in the photo.

Tracking Cuckoos to Africa

The number of cuckoos in the UK has fallen drastically over the last few decades. The British Trust for Ornithology has been tracking the migrations of cuckoos in order to discover why. By satellite-tracking cuckoos the BTO is able to learn more about their migration routes and their lives away from their breeding grounds in the UK. By identifying the areas of importance to these birds the BTO hopes to be able to better understand and explain the losses to the British Cuckoo.

In May 2011 five British Cuckoos were fitted with satellite-tags. The birds are called Larry, Peckham, PJ, Selborne and Victor. You can view their migration routes for the last seven years on the BTO's Tracking Cuckoos to Africa ... And Back Again. An animated Google Map allows you to watch the bird's fly south for the winter and return back to the UK in spring for each of the seven years.

You can find out what the scientists have learnt by tracking the cuckoos on What we have learnt so far. In summary it has been discovered that the birds tend to leave the UK much earlier than previously thought. They winter in and around the Congo rainforest. The birds actually only spend about 15% of their time in the UK. Important information has also been discovered about the birds' migration routes and important stop-over locations on these routes.

You might also like Where Do They Go?, National Geographic's wonderful map of the annual flight patterns of American bird species. You can also find many more posts on animal tracking on Maps Mania under the animal tracking tag.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

New York - Hour by Hour

The night-time population of Manhattan is around 2 million people. During a normal weekday however the number of people shoots up to around 4 million, as people come to New York to work, shop and play. The Manhattan Population Explorer is a mapped visualization which allows you to explore how the population of Manhattan changes block by block for each hour of every day, during an average New York week.

Using the day and hour controls on the map you can view every Manhattan block's population for any hour of the week. If you want to know more about the population patterns that the map reveals you can read through the 'Story' element by simply clicking on the forward and back buttons.

The 'Statistics' button allows you to view a graph of Manhattan's population over a week alongside the map. The statistics automatically update to reveal Manhattan's population for any day or hour that you select using the map controls. 

The visualization uses D3.js with Mapbox GL and the code for the project is on GitHub. The GitHub page for the project also includes a presentation of the methodology used in modelling Manhattan's population.

The Dying Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is shrinking. Every year the surface level of the Dead Sea drops more than a metre. In the 1980's the tourist resort of Ein Gedi proudly sat on the coast of the Dead Sea. Tourists now face a 2km walk from Ein Gedi to reach the sea.

You can see how much the Dead Sea has shrunk since 1973 on this interactive Dead Sea Map. The map contains six overlays which show the surface area of the Dead Sea for six different years. If you hover over any of the colored squares you can view an overlay showing the size of the Dead Sea in the selected year. An information window reveals the year selected, the satellite source for the overlay and the area in kilometres of the Dead Sea in that year.

You can compare satellite images of the Dead Sea yourself on NASA'a Earth Observatory. The shrinkage of the Dead Sea is very apparent on NASA's three satellite images from 1972, 1989 and 2011.

The shrinking of the Dead Sea is not yet as severe as that suffered by the Aral Sea. The Aral Sea was once the fourth largest lake in the world. Due to Soviet irrigation projects the Aral Sea is now less than 10% of the size it once was. In fact the eastern basin of what used to be the Aral Sea is now called the Aralkum Desert

Lots of people have used satellite images to document how the Aral Sea has dwindled in size over time. This NASA Earth Observatory feature uses a series of images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite to document the water loss in the Aral Sea from 2000-2017.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Wikipedia's Languages Mapped

Terra Incognita is a map based visualization tool for exploring the geography of Wikipedia in different languages. It provides a great way to research Wikipedia's global coverage in different languages.

Terra Incognita was created to reveal the biases and unevenness in Wikipedia's coverage in different languages. If you select a country on the map and a number of different languages the map provides a clear visualization of the coverage that can be found in each of the languages selected. For example the screenshot above shows that there are a lot of articles in Dutch about places in the USA. Coverage is not so good for Chinese, Lithuanian and Hindi speakers.

As well as its intended use I think Terra Incognita is quite useful as a local tourist guide. If you are visiting a foreign country you can select the country on Terra Incognita and find all the articles about the country in your mother tongue. The map therefore provides a great way to search Wikipedia for the locations that you are visiting, which actually have a Wikipedia article in your language. Click on the dots on the map and you are even given the link to the relevant Wikipedia article.

An Interactive Map of 1.7 Billion Stars

The European Space Agency's ESASky 2.2 is an interactive map of the galaxy. The map uses imagery from ESA's Gaia mission. The Gaia mission's aim is to make the most accurate map of our Galaxy using observations from the Gaia satellite, which is in orbit around the sun.

My favorite feature of ESA's interactive star map is the 'Explore random target' button. This button uses ESA's Infinite Improbability Drive to instantly transport you to a random location in the universe. Click the button and the map shows you a random galaxy, star cluster or nebula. An information window provides information about the random astronomical feature displayed and a link to read more about it on Wikipedia.

ESASky is in fact a great place to learn about the universe. If you click on the 'Explore publications data for this region' an overlay will map locations in the current map view with links to academic articles about the astronomical location. The 'explore image observations' button will show you a list of science-ready images and spectra available for the current field of view.

China to London by Train

The South China Morning Post has published an impressive data visualization which take you on a journey along each of China's five biggest Belt and Road infrastructure projects. China's ambitious One Belt, One Road strategy plans to connect China to the rest of Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa with a huge transport and oil & gas pipeline network.

In The five main projects of the Belt and Road Initiative the South China Morning Post explores a rail route from China to London, Gwadar Port, a rail route to Iran, the Asian gas pipeline and the Khorgas Gateway.  For each of these projects the newspaper has created an animated route story map. As you scroll through each story the map follows the route of the selected infrastructure project. The accompanying text and images explain the nature of the project and introduce the many locations that the route passes through.

Also See

Fortune's China Belt & Road - a map showing some of the rail, oil & gas pipelines and maritime connections that China has already constructed or plans to build
One Belt, One Road - a Financial Times story map exploring some of the Belt and Road projects
Riding the New Silk Road - a New York Times story map traveling along one of the new rail lines
The World According to China - a series of maps from the NYT showing where and how much China has invested in other countries

Monday, May 07, 2018

Maps of Loving Kindness

After visiting the Southern Poverty Law Center's important but depressing Hate Map, which tracks the growing number of hate groups operating in the United States, it is very easy to forget that most people are actually filled with loving kindness. So let's remind ourselves on this wonderfully glorious day of all the love and kindness in the world.

The Kindness Map has set itself the mission "to magnify kindness in the world". It believes that if you see kindness and share that kindness with the world then you help to create a kinder world. Therefore to help you more easily share the acts of kindness that you witness with the world the Kindness Map was born.

The map contains examples of acts of kindness carried out by people across the globe. If you've also witnessed an act of kindness yourself then you can add it to the map simply by sharing your story with the Kindness Map.

Alongside all these acts of kindness the streets of America are also filled with love. For example there are eight million love stories in the naked city alone. And yours could be one of them, if you add your love story to The Cut's New York Love Map.

This New York map of love shows "482 stories of kissing and hooking up", which took place at different locations around New York. The black markers show locations where people have shared stories of relationship break-ups - so ignore those stories. You should instead concentrate on the blue markers which contain all the wonderful stories of people falling in love for the first time.

Now I want you to go out into the world today and share all that you have learned and spread the message of love and kindness with everyone that you meet. Why not start right now by sharing this post on social media?

People Not Borders

Wökpö Interactive has released an interactive map which compares modern country borders to the actual geography of where the world's ethnic groups live. The map uses data from ETH Zurich's Geo-referencing of Ethnic Groups.

The interactive globe in Beyond Modern Borders doesn't load on my laptop. However the globe includes a button to view an interactive map. This map actually works. The thick lines on the interactive map show the modern country borders while the thinner lines separate the ethnic groups. You can reveal an ethnic group's name by clicking on the map.

Alongside the map Wökpö Interactive has done some analysis of the relative homogeneity of different countries around the world. If you select a region from the drop-down menu you can view a graph showing how diverse or homogeneous that regions individual countries are. The countries are color-coded on this visualization to show whether country populations have religious, linguistic or ethnic diversities.

Where People Live

It is estimated that 88% of the world's population lives north of the equator. One reason for this fact could be that there is more landmass north of the equator and more water south of the equator. However the north of the planet has roughly 68% of the world's landmass so that obviously doesn't fully explain why nearly 90% of the world's population is squeezed into 68% of the world's landmass.

You can see where the world's population lives on Andre Andersen's World Population Map. This population density map includes two graphs which show the distribution of the world's population both by latitude and longitude. This helps us to see where the highest densities of the world's people actually live.

Using the map you can see a huge percentage of the world's population lives east of Delhi and west of China's east coast. That is between longitude 72 E and longitude 123 E. Bill Rankin's Radical Cartography estimates that half the world's population lives north of 24 N latitude.

The answer to why most of the world lives north of the equator is because that is where India and China are. Why most people live in India and China is of course an entirely different question.

Also See

Worldwide Population Density

The Merpeople Sightings Map

Dutchman Samuel Fallours once bought a mermaid in Indonesia. He managed to keep the mermaid alive in a bathtub for four days before it died of malnourishment. Luckily for us before Fallours' mermaid died he managed to capture her likeness for posterity

Now History Today has created an interactive map of Merpeople sightings around the world. The map documents the locations where individuals believe that they have seen either mermaids or mermen. However, before you start worrying that History Today is shape-shifting into the Fortean Times, the reports on their interactive map all date from 1610-1784.

Merpeople Sightings, 1610-1784 is a story map exploring some of the reported sightings of merpeople during the great age of world exploration. The map was created to accompany Vaughn Scribner's article on Mermaids and Mermen in History Today. In the article Scribner explains why many of the world's greatest thinkers in the 18th century were open to the idea of merpeople, especially during an age when many wonderful creatures were being discovered around the world.

And before you glibly dismiss these historical intellectuals as gullible fools you might want to check-out:

Saturday, May 05, 2018

High Speed Rail Destinations

China now has over 16,000 miles of high-speed rail-lines. Trains can travel on these high-speed lines at over 200 mph. It is the world's largest and most used high-speed rail network. Places High-Speed Rail Can Take You is an interactive map of China's growing high-speed rail network. The map is designed to show you where you can travel to by high-speed train from any Chinese city.

If you select a city on the map you can view all the destinations you can reach using the high speed train network within 3, 4, 5 or 6 hours journey time from your selected city. It is a great way for passengers to see the destinations available to them within a set time.

If you select a station on the map or select it from the drop-down menu the map will show you all the high-speed rail lines from that city. The lines are colored on the map to show the travel times to different destinations. Where the line is yellow the train can arrive there in 3 hours, orange equals 4 hours, pink is 5 hours and purple is 6.

Friday, May 04, 2018

How Segregated is Your Town?

This week the Washington Post released an impressive interactive map revealing the level of segregation in American towns and cities. The Segregation Map is a huge dot map of the United States, visualizing the ethnic breakdown of the American population. The Washington Post aren't alone in worrying about the level of segregation in American cities. The Anti-Discrimination Center has also this week released a series of interactive maps exploring the segregated neighborhoods of American cities.

In Segregated, really segregated, or ultra-segregated? the Anti-Discrimination Center has created three interactive maps which show the current level of integration in American neighborhoods. The initial map of the three shows the largest ethnic group in each state, county, or census tract area. The second map shows the percentage of the African-American population in each area and the third map shows the percentage of Hispanic or Latino population in each area.

On both the African-American and Hispanic or Latino maps you can click on the colors representing a percentage block (in the map legend) to highlight those areas corresponding to that range. You can also see whether your neighborhood has become more or less integrated over the last six years by switching between the Census 2010 and the American Community Survey 2016 views.

European Building Heights

Europe's earth observation programme Copernicus has released building height data for all of Europe's major cities. Using the Urban Atlas interactive map you can view and download the building data for the capital cities of all 31 countries in the European Union and European Free Trade Association.

The building heights data on the interactive map consists of a 10 m x 10 m resolution raster layer. The building heights were derived from stereo images from Cartosat-1, a stereoscopic Earth observation satellite and the data comes from the reference year 2012. You can download the building data for each capital city in ESRI shapefile format.

One quick observation I made with the map is noticing how only a relatively small area of central London has tall buildings, especially compared with other European cities like Paris. Londoner's  on the whole appear to like living in two story houses rather than in apartment buildings. They also like to moan about the lack of affordable housing.