Monday, November 20, 2017

The Cost of Going Outside


Apparently Americans have to pay an entrance fee to 'enter' the great outdoors. Some National Parks in the USA charge an entrance fee. And the National Parks Service wants to put those prices up.

Mapbox has therefore released the NPS Fee Explorer Map. This interactive map allows you to select a national park, a mode of entry (car, bike or on foot) and the number of visitors to find out how much your visit could cost after the proposed increases to entrance fees. It also explains how much more this would cost than it costs now to visit the same national park.

The proposed increases only affect 17 national parks. The national parks are highlighted on the map by using a different shade of green than for the surrounding natural areas on the map.

Forget the map though. My big take away from this is that Americans have to pay money to go outside.

Mapping the Irish Rebellion


I've been experimenting a lot recently with the Leaflet-IIIF plug-in. The plug-in allows you to display IIIF manifests in Leaflet maps. This map of Van Gogh's Self-Portrait Dedicated to Gauguin shows how you can use the plug-in to pan & zoom around an IIIF manifest. While this Compendium of Victorian Map Games shows how you can load different manifest URLs into the same Leaflet map.

One of the main advantages of using Leaflet to display IIIF manifests is that you can switch between a map and an IIIF manifest with some ease. In other words Leaflet can be used to show the location of geo-tagged images and provide an interface in which you can pan & zoom around these very same images. You can get a better idea by looking at this demo map of Dublin 1916.

This map uses a number of postcards created after the 1916 Rising in Dublin. These postcards are held by the UCD Digital Library. The map shows the location depicted in each of the images. If you click on a marker then you can view the postcard selected and pan & zoom around the image.

Switching between a basemap map layer and an IIIF manifest is not as straightforward as you might think. The reason for this is that the map and the IIIF manifest use different map projections. Therefore you need to change the map projection every time you switch between a manifest and the map.

Who Else Owns England?


Who Owns England? has set itself the task of mapping who owns land in England. Earlier this year it released an interactive map showing all the land in England owned by the government, government bodies or charities. The map was partly an extension of earlier work done by Anna Powell-Smith for the satirical magazine Private Eye.

Back in 2015 Private Eye created an interactive map showing the amount of English & Welsh land that has been bought up by offshore companies. Selling England by the Offshore Pound uses Land Registry data to plot all land parcels registered in the name of an offshore company between 2005 and July 2014.

Who Owns England? has now created an interactive map of land owned by UK corporate bodies, councils, UK companies, housing associations and more. This new map uses Land Registry data, which for the first time ever shows who owns around 3.5 million land titles. According to Who Owns England? the data shows that "companies and the public sector own around a third of England and Wales". The majority of land is owned by Limited Companies. The second largest category of land owners are local authorities and county councils.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Where can you travel without a visa?


Travelscope is an interactive visualization of all the countries in the world that you can travel to without a visa. The map also includes options to view the population and GDP of every country in the world.

I really like the animated transitions when you switch between Travelscope's two different map views. When you switch between the map and 3d globe view the map actually wraps itself into a sphere. The map also includes animated flow-lines, which are used to show all the countries that you van travel to from your selected country.

The visualization was created using d3.js and three.js and a number of other JavaScript libraries. You can find out more about how the visualization was created on the project's GitHub page. Travelscope is featured on Google's Chrome Experiments site. If you like interactive 3d globes you can find many more examples using the Chrome Experiments geographic tag.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Mapping Earthquake Prone Buildings


The New Zealand Herald has created an interesting mapped tour of Wellington's Earthquake Prone Buildings. The map shows the location of the 95 Wellington buildings which have unreinforced masonry and the 699 buildings which are earthquake prone. The map also identifies hotspots where unsafe buildings are located in areas with large numbers of pedestrians.

The map effectively uses Mapbox GL to provide a bird's eye view of Wellington with 3d buildings (the earthquake prone buildings are colored red on the map). This 3d view of the city is combined with a story map format so that the Herald can take its readers on a tour of the city's vulnerable buildings and dangerous hotspots.

The map uses extrusions to display the 3d buildings. This is neatly combined with the story map format to give a real sense of flying over the city's buildings. This tour of the city is supported by the Herald's analysis of the city's earthquake prone buildings and the danger that they pose to the city. This analysis appears in the scrolling map side-panel.


In New Zealand all buildings need to be assessed by law to identify which buildings are earthquake prone. The New Zealand Herald were able to use this data to create their map of Wellington's earthquake prone buildings. In the United States the Oregonian had to take a different approach in mapping the Oregon buildings most prone to earthquake damage.

In 1974 Oregon enacted its first statewide building code. In 1993 western Oregon adopted its first seismic standards. Franz Rad, a professor of civil & environmental engineering at Portland State University, argues that these dates provide a "broad-brush look at the vulnerability of buildings".

Earthquakes: How Vulnerable are Portland’s Buildings? uses Portland building age data to assess which buildings are most earthquake prone. Building footprints are colored on the map to show buildings constructed before 1974, those constructed between 1974 & 1993 and buildings erected after 1993. You can therefore use the map to assess the ('broad-brush') vulnerability of any Portland building to earthquake damage.

Do you live near a gas pipeline?


Do you know how near you live to a gas pipeline? Well you can now find out using a new interactive map from the Sierra Club. Yesterday the environmental organization released an interactive map of gas pipelines in the USA. You can use the map to see how near your home, school or workplace is to a gas pipeline and if they are in a pipeline blast zone or evacuation zone.

The Sierra Club Gas Pipelines Map displays planned and already operating gas pipelines across the United States. If you zoom-in on the map you can also view the location of schools, hospitals, daycare centers and nursing homes. It can be a little difficult to select individual pipelines on the map. However if you do successfully click on a pipeline you can find out who it is owned by and whether it is in operation, planned or under construction.

Also See

Building the Dakota Access Pipeline
What Kinder Morgan's Pipeline will Mean for B.C.'s Coast
A Line in the Sand - mapping reactions to the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline in Canada

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The World's Most Dangerous Countries


This week I've seen a lot of reports recommending the International SOS Travel Risk Map. International SOS provide a very basic interactive map of the travel risks in each 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 does provide a very basic guide as to where it is safe to travel in the world. Unfortunately that is as far as the map goes. At the very least I would expect to be able to click on individual countries on the map to learn more about the travel risks in the selected country. If I'm travelling to a country I don't just want to know that there is a high security risk I want to know what those risks are.

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. If you click on Zimbabwe on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice page you can see that the travel advice has been updated today and takes this week's military coup into account.

If you do use the Travel Risk Map please also check your government's latest travel advice as well.

Building a Map of the Roman Empire


The Pelagios project is currently working on creating vector tile map layers to work with the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire. A vector based Atlas of the Roman Empire will allow Pelagios to offer the user many more options. For example users could be given a choice to view place-name labels in Latin, ancient Greek or using the modern place-names. The vector based map will also have many more zoom levels which will allow Pelagios to actually map individual Roman Empire buildings.

Pelagios has been documenting the process of creating their vector tile map of the Roman Empire. You can read about how the vector tile map is being built on The Roman Empire Vector Map Project and Building the Roman Empire Vector Tile Map. A final post (yet to be published) will explore more the new possibilities that the vector tile map will provide for Pelagios and users of the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire.

This early demo version of the vector tiled map of the Roman Empire provides a drop-down menu that you can use to change the language of the map labels.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The DC Transportation Model


Property developers in Washington DC must provide trip generation estimates in their project planning applications. In order to show how a project will impact on local traffic and public transit these reports include estimates of both morning and evening trips to and from the proposed development.

A new online mapping tool, developed by Stamen for transportation consultants Fehr & Peers and the District Department of Transportation (ddot), can now make these trip generation estimates for you. TripsDC is an interactive map tool "for estimating vehicle, walk, bike, and transit trips based on a proposed development's characteristics and its context".

Using the tool you can enter the address of a proposed development project. You then need to enter the number of residential units, the number of parking spaces and the retail square footage. That's all you need to do. With this information the tool can automatically produce your project's morning and evening trip generation estimates.

If you aren't planning any major development projects in DC you can still use the map to view the data behind the model. These include an interesting layer which shows the distance to the nearest Metro for every location in the capital.

Lead Poisoning in New York


In 69 New York neighborhoods at least 10 percent of small children tested have elevated lead levels. The Reuters news agency has been examining childhood blood testing data in New York, at the census tract level, to determine where children are being exposed to high levels of lead.

You can view the results from the Reuters investigation on their Lead Poisoning interactive map. This choropleth map provides an overviews of the number of children who tested with elevated levels of lead. You can hover over each census tract on the map to view the exact percentage of children with elevated levels and the number of children tested in that census tract.

The interactive map provides quick links to view other cities where children have tested with worryingly high levels of lead. However the map can also be used to view lead testing results in locations throughout the United States.

The Density of Housing in London


The UK government has set a target of building a million new homes by 2020. This raises the question of where do you put a million new homes. In the past the government has wanted to relax laws which restrict new buildings on green field sites. However building on green field sites is usually very unpopular with voters. An alternative approach would be to build more densely in already built-up areas.

EMU Analytics and London YIMBY has teamed up to show that there may be many opportunities to build new homes in London. The London Housing Density map shows the number of homes in each Lower Layer Super Output Area (LSOA) in London. The map uses a 200x200m grid and clips around known non-residential areas (such as large parks) to give a reasonably accurate picture of the housing density in each LSOA.

The London Housing Density map also includes layers which show residential and non-residential building heights. These additional layers show where there might be more scope for increasing the number of homes by building taller apartment buildings.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Mapping Hate Crimes


The FBI has released its Hate Crime Statistics for 2016. The data shows that the number of hate crimes has risen for the second year running. As in previous years the highest number of hate crimes are race based crimes, with more than half of those crimes aimed at African-Americans. Alarmingly the number of religious based crimes against Muslims increased by 19 percent in just one year.

The Anti-Defamation League has updated its Hate Crime Map with the FBI's 2016 data. If you select the 'Hate Crime Data' tab on the map you can view which cities (with a population over 100,000) have reported hate crimes for any year since 2004. The blue dots indicate those cities which have reported hate crimes for the selected year.


Earlier this year the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) also reported a huge increase in hate crimes against Muslims in the United States. They reported that the number of anti-Muslim hate groups in America grew from 34 to 101.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center the overall rise of hate groups is a direct result of the 'incendiary rhetoric' used by Donald Trump. In its annual census of extremist groups the SPLC claims that "Trump’s run for office electrified the radical right, which saw in him a champion of the idea that America is fundamentally a white man’s country".

The SPLC's interactive Hate Map tracks the growing number of hate groups operating in the United States. The map uses colored markers to indicate the category of each hate group shown on the map. If you select a marker on the map you can click-through to learn more about what this type of hate group believes and how they operate.

Estimating Crowd Sizes with Maps


Estimating crowd sizes can be a very controversial subject. For example Donald Trump claimed there were a "million-and-a-half people" at his inauguration and said that the press were "going to pay a big price" for reporting figures way below his expert opinion.

One way to estimate the size of a crowd is to use maps to calculate the surface area of a crowd and then to multiply that surface area by the estimated density of the crowd. MapChecking is a very simple interactive map tool that can do this for you. It allows you to draw the surface area of your crowd, demonstration, march or gathering on a Google Map. It then allows you to enter an estimate for the number of people per square meter in your crowd. Once you have entered those two variables MapChecking automatically works out the crowd size.

Using a Reuters photo of Trump's inauguration with Map Checking gave me a figure of 357,143 people in the National Mall on January 20, 2017. If anything this might be being a bit generous as I haven't allowed for what look to be sizable gaps in the crowd in the Reuters photograph.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Mortgage Dot Map


An interactive view of the housing boom and bust is a dot map which shows the number of mortgages awarded in the United States for every year since 2001. As the animated map plays out you can see how the housing boom and bust has effected mortgage lending throughout the country.

Each dot on the map represents 10 mortgages. The color of the dots show the ethnicity of the mortgagees. A line graph below the map shows how the number of mortgages has risen & fallen over the same period. The timeline includes significant dates when economic events had a significant impact on the housing market.

The map includes a link to an article examining how restrictions to credit availability has disproportionately affected black and Hispanic households. The map includes filter controls which allow you to restrict the mortgages shown by ethnicity. You can therefore use the timeline with the filter controls to see for yourself how significant economic events have effected mortgage lending to different ethnic groups.

Ai Weiwei in New York


The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei currently has a city wide art exhibition in New York City. 'Good Fences Make Good Neighbors' is inspired by Robert Frost’s poem 'Mending Wall' and explores issues around immigration and the plight of refugees. Until February 11th 2018 you can view the artwork featured in Ai Weiwei's exhibition at locations throughout New York.

As part of the Good Fences Make Good Neighbors exhibition 200 banners have been hung around the city. These banners feature portraits of refugees (who featured in Ai Weiwei's documentary Human Flow). The exhibition also features a number of new site-specific works of art which are located in public-spaces throughout New York.

If you need help finding the over 300 works of art in the exhibition, as you navigate the city, then you might want to refer to the Good Fences Make Good Neighbors interactive map. The map uses categorized markers to show the locations of structures, bus shelters, lampposts and advertising spaces used in Ai Weiwei's exhibition. The map also allows you to access the exhibition notes for each of the featured art pieces.

How Well Do you Know the World?


It's always good to start a new working week with a relaxing but educational map guessing game. Outline Maps is a Leaflet.js based series of map games which tests your geographical knowledge of the countries of the world and their capitals.

Outline Maps consists of two different types of game. The 'Find by name' games require you to point out named locations on a map of the world. The 'Find by feature' games highlight an area on the map and ask you to type in the identified location's name. Currently the game involves naming countries in either Africa, Europe, South American or the USA. There is also a game that requires you to know the capital cities of the world.

Outline Maps is available in GitHub. You can therefore fork the game and create your own map game. To create an Outline Maps game for another part of the world (e.g. the states of America) you just need to add a GeoJSON file of the geographical borders.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

21 New World Heritage Sites


In July UNESCO announced that 21 new sites around the world have been given World Heritage status. The new sites include the first locations in Angola and Eritrea to be given World Heritage status and many other places of special cultural and natural significance across the globe.

You can explore all of these new locations on Esri's story map the 21 Newest UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Using the map you can view photos, fast facts and satellite imagery of each of the sites. The map also includes the UNESCO descriptions for each site.

You can view the location of all 1073 UNESCO World Heritage Sites on this UNESCO World Heritage List Interactive Map. The color of the markers on this map show which are cultural (yellow) & natural (green) sites and which sites are in danger (red).

Friday, November 10, 2017

Americans With Honor


On Tuesday Syria agreed to sign the Paris climate agreement. When that happens every country in the world will have signed up to the Paris Accord. Unfortunately that world also includes Donald Trump.

Obviously the Paris Accord only has a chance of succeeding if all those countries honor what they signed up for. So does Donald Trump have any honor? Apparently not-  as he is threatening to withdraw the United States from the agreement. Not every American is happy with that decision. For example the We Are Still In movement is a collection of U.S. states, cities, counties, businesses, universities and civil society organizations who have agreed to "stand by the Paris Agreement and are committed to meeting its goals".

Data-Driven Yale has released an interactive map of just some of those organizations that have pledged to honor the promise the USA made when it signed up to the Paris climate agreement. You can click on the markers displayed on the map to learn more about the individual organizations and any ecological commitments that they have made.

How Green is Your Valley?


Under 6% of all the land in the UK is built on. Over half of the land is farmland and around a third of the land is natural.

The BBC has released a new map tool which can tell you how land is used in your Local Authority Area. Just enter a postcode into the BBC's How much of your area is built on? and you can view a map of your LEA which shows what land is built on, farmland, green urban (parks, gardens etc) and  natural.

The maps use data from the Co-ordination of Information on the Environment (Corine) project, which uses satellite imagery and map data to determine land use in European countries.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

The OS Mapping Toolkit


The UK's Ordnance Survey has a released a GeoDataViz Toolkit designed to help map makers 'communicate data effectively'. It includes colour palettes, map symbols and visual deconstructions. It also includes lot of advice for creating effective visualizations and many links to other helpful resources.

The Basemaps section of the toolkit will probably be of most interest to users of the OS Maps API. However the Colours, Symbols and Visual Deconstructions sections have more cross-platform appeal and should be of interest to all online map makers, whatever your preferred mapping platform.

The different sections of the toolkit are full of useful guidelines and recommendations for visualizing data with maps. Each section also includes lots of links to other useful resources. You can learn more about the GeoDataViz Toolkit and how it is used internally within the Ordnance Survey on the Ordnance Survey Blog.

Beyond Cartogram Elections


Yesterday we looked at some of the visualization methods used by the New York Times to map the election results in the Virginia governor's race. These methods included using scaled markers, directional arrows and color intensity. The Washington Post has also been experimenting with new visualization techniques for mapping the Virginia election results.

In How Virginia went from blue to red and back again the Post uses scaled pyramids to show the number of votes cast in each electoral precinct and the margin of victory. These pyramids are colored to show the winner in each district. The height of the pyramid represents the size of the winning margin, while the width of the pyramid represents the size of the vote.

These scaled pyramid markers work quite well visually. They accurately portray how the Republicans continued to do well in the less densely populated rural areas while the Democrats dominated the race by winning in urban areas where more voters live.

If you want to know more about how the New York Times created their different views of the Virginia election results then you should read Mapbox's report New York Times live-mapping Virginia election. This blog post explains how the Times used Mapbox GL JS expressions in order to create their different views of the election data.

From Africa to Europe - Refugee Journeys


More than 5,000 refugees died last year trying to get to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea. Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boat - Mapping and Documenting Migratory Journeys and Experiences is an international research project, led by the University of Warwick, which carried out 257 in-depth qualitative interviews with people who have made this journey.

The project has released an interactive story map which allows you to view some of these migratory journeys on a map, while also learning about the individual experiences of the people who actually made the journeys.

Each of these individual journeys are mapped to show each stage of the person's migration from Africa to Europe. 'Back' and 'Next' buttons allow the user to follow each stage of the journey made by the interviewed refugees. As the map updates the map side-panel also updates to provide information about the journey. This information includes the first-hand experiences of the individual refugee and more general information about the conditions that refugees experience at the mapped locations.


15 Years: Fortress Europe is an animated map of migrant and refugee deaths in Europe over the last fifteen years. The map uses data from the Migrant Files to show where and when migrants have died in trying to get to Europe, or in trying to move around the continent.

As the map plays through the fifteen years of data red markers are added to the map to show the location of each migrant death. The map sidebar continually updates to show details about each migrant death and you can click on individual markers on the map to read more details about each of these deaths.

Since 2013 the Migrant Files has been maintaining a database of migrants who have died in Europe or on their way to Europe. The database lists more than 30,000 people who have died trying to get to Europe since the year 2000.

An interactive map on the Migrant Files website shows that a large proportion of these deaths occur in the Mediterranean, particularly among migrants trying to cross from Libya & Tunisia to Italy.


The Silk team has also created an interactive map from the Migrants' Files data examining the number of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean. Their map allows you to query the information about migrant deaths by year, location and cause of death.

If you click on a map marker on the Fatal Migration Incidents in the Mediterranean map you can read details about the mapped incident, including the number of casualties and the date of the incident.


The Migrant Map 2000-2015 is another interactive map of the Migrant Files data, visualizing the number of dead or missing migrants across Europe and Africa. The map presents a truly shocking picture of the scale of this human tragedy.

You can select markers on the map to learn more about the individual cases reported and about the source of the information. The map also includes an animated heat-map layer which helps to highlight some of the hot-spots for migrant deaths over the last six years.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

US Election Results


The New York Times has mapped out the results of yesterday's elections in Virginia, New York and New Jersey. For these election results the newspaper has used the Mapbox GL mapping platform and provided users with a variety of different visualizations of each result.

The default view on the mapped results provides a simple choropleth view of the results in each county. This default view of the vote share allows readers to see the vote share of each candidate in each electoral precinct.

This 'vote share' view suffers from a common problem of electoral mapping, where larger rural precincts with less voters dominate the map at the expense of smaller urban precincts (where a majority of voters actually live). You can see in the screenshot above that in this 'vote share' view, for Virginia, the Republican Ed Gillespie actually appears to have won in most of Virginia, despite having lost the election.


To overcome this slightly misleading picture the NYT's electoral map also includes a 'vote density' view. In this mapped view the hue of the color used in each precinct is based on the density of voters. As you can see in the map above this helps to address some of the problems with the 'vote share' view. The muted red no longer visually dominates over the stronger hued blue on the map.

A third 'vote lead' view uses scaled circular markers in each precinct. The size of these markers reflects the size of the lead of the winning candidate in each precinct. Again this map presents a more accurate picture of the actual result of the election. Another 'shift from 2016' view uses colored arrows to show the swing in votes in each precinct since the last election. This view provides a great visual picture of the huge swing in Virginia from the Republicans to the Democrats.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

California Air Quality


In June of this year Google and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) released an interactive map of air quality in Oakland, California. The map was the result of a collaboration between EDF and Google.

For this collaboration Google's Street View cars were equipped with sensors to measure nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide and black carbon as they drove the streets, while also capturing the panoramic Street View imagery used on Google Maps. Google has now completed air quality tests for the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and California’s Central Valley.

So far no interactive maps have been released of this data. However the Google Blog has a few videos looking at the mapped results of these air quality measurements. The Aclima Blog has also published a number of data stories exploring the data. In addition Google says that air quality scientists can also request access to the data itself.

Controlling the Weather


Geoengineers never watch disaster movies. If they did then they obviously wouldn't keep trying to change the climate and weather. From seeding clouds with silver iodide (in order to increase precipitation) to using algae to consume CO2 many scientists seem keen to control the environment. What could possibly go wrong?

The Geoengineering Monitor is attempting to track and monitor attempts to geoengineer the climate around the world. It has mapped the location of over 800 geoengineering projects. The Geoengineering Map provides information on Carbon Capture, Solar Radiation Management and Weather Modification projects.

These three different types of geoengineering are shown on the map using color-coded map markers. If you click on a marker you can view details on the selected project. These details include information on the companies involved and a brief explanation of the science being used to try and control the climate or weather.

What People Think of Donald Trump

Lots of people think Donald Trump is an idiot. Here's where over 13,000 of those people live.


Perhaps someone who works at the White House will frame this map and hang it somewhere prominent in the Oval Office.

Of course not everyone thinks that Trump is an idiot. Some people think he is a genios (sic). Here's where those 40 people live.


These two maps come from Trump in One Word, a website which asks you to describe Donald Trump in (you get guessed it) just one word. After you have described Donald Trump you can view the results from all the other people who have visited Trump in One Word. Just click on any of the words that have been used to describe Trump and you can see an interactive map of where all the people who submitted that word live (exact addresses not used).

Toronto's Caffeine Gang Wars


Toronto's caffeine gang wars are tearing the city apart. As rival coffee gangs fight for territory local residents can do next to nothing to stop the relentless spread of caffeine. Innocent residents can only sit back and watch in horror as their neighborhoods are overrun by blank-eyed caffeine addicts.

Neoformix is more informed than most. They have been busy mapping the spread of coffee shops throughout Toronto and its surrounding suburbs. They have even managed to map out out how the rival coffee gangs have carved out the city between them.

The Toronto Coffee Shop Territory Map shows you which parts of Toronto belong to which coffee shop gang. Using a Voronoi map Neoformix has divided Toronto into a patchwork quilt of new neighborhoods based on the nearest coffee shop chain.

In the center of the city you can see how Tim Hortons (red) and Starbucks (green) have conquered lots of small territories. However smaller independent coffee shops still manage to thrive in some places. If you zoom-out on the map you will discover that outside of the city Tim Hortons has carved out a lot of territory. As the population gets less dense there is more of a chance that your nearest fix of caffeine will come from a Tim Hortons.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Explore the Seafloor


Have you ever wondered what lies beneath the ocean waves off the coast of America? If you have scuba diving experience you could always explore the seafloor for yourself. Or you could just let the U.S. Geological Survey do all the diving for you.

As part of the Coastal & Marine Geology Program Seafloor Mapping Project the USGS has been busy collecting video and photography of the seafloor off of the U.S. coast. You can explore the seafloor videos and photos for yourself using the USGS's Video and Photograph Portal. From the portal you can access interactive maps of California, Pacific Islands, Pacific NW, Alaska, New England and the Mid Atlantic.

All these interactive maps include seafloor video and photo imagery which you can explore directly from the map. Locations where video imagery is available are marked red on the map. The photo imagery is colored blue. Just click on these blue & red dots to view the seafloor imagery.

Fantasy Map Generators


Oskar Stalberg's City Generator is a fun little application which can automatically create a map of a fictional town, complete with buildings, roads and trees.

Just click on the empty canvas to start generating a city map. You can then watch as urban sprawl starts to spread out from the location where you first clicked. If you don't like any of the gaps in your map you can click on the canvas again to add more buildings and roads to your randomly generated map.


The Medieval Fantasy City Generator is another fun tool. This one creates random fictional maps of medieval towns. Just choose your size of town or city and the Wizard of Maps will magically create your very own fantasy medieval map.

All the maps created by the Medieval Fantasy City Generator include a number of similar features. Each town or city is centered around a central market place. Each town is surrounded by a city wall. The city wall has up to four gates, where up to four roads enter the city. All of these roads end at the central market. A castle is also placed somewhere along each city's wall.


The Fantasy Map Generator is a d3.js based wizard for creating fantasy maps of fictional lands. The generator creates a fictional world complete with coast lines, regional borders and map labels. The generator also includes a number of customization options which allow you to change the color of the map and the number of features generated.

The Fantasy Map Generator is very much a work in progress and the author has lots of new developments in the pipeline. Details about these developments are covered in his blog Fantasy Maps for Fun and Glory.


If you enjoy fantasy worlds and maps then you should follow Uncharted Atlas on Twitter. This Twitter bot publishes random fantasy maps created by a fantasy map generator.

The details on how these maps are created can be viewed on Generating Fantasy Maps and Generating Placenames. The code for the generator is also available on GitHub.

1850's Geneva in 3D


In the nineteenth century Swiss architect Auguste Magnin created an amazing 3d model of the walled city of Geneva. You can visit the model at the Maison Tavel in Geneva. If you can't get to Geneva then you will need to visit Geneve 1850 instead.

Geneve 1850 is an epic online interactive model of 1850's Geneva. The map allows you to immerse yourself in and explore Geneva as it looked in the mid-nineteenth century. To create this digital model of historic Geneva engineers scanned Magnin's original model in high definition. They were then able to recreate the 2,000 buildings (and their 40,000 windows and 8,000 skylights) in this digital model of the original.

The result is truly impressive. You can explore the city at street level, wandering around old Geneva on the ground. Alternatively you can take a bird's eye view tour of the city, flying a few feet above the city's rooftops. A menu provides a long list of important landmarks in the city which allows you to quickly navigate to different places in the city. Information points on the map also allow you to read about the history of the city's most iconic buildings.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

How Opioids Kill Neighborhoods


The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has just published an amazing investigation into the harm that the opioid epidemic has had on one Pittsburgh neighborhood. Journalists from the newspaper spent months in Carrick, Pittsburgh talking to addicts, the police, health care workers and ordinary residents. The result is Riding OD Road, an in-depth special report into how Carrick became the opioid capital of the region.

This remarkable piece of long-form journalism is partly illustrated by a number of Leaflet powered interactive maps. The maps are used to show the devastating effect the opioid epidemic is having on the people living in Carrick. They visualize the number and locations of heroin/opioid-related charges made by police in the area and the number of drug related police actions undertaken in Carrick. Another interactive map is also used to show how overseas and absentee landlords are exploiting the situation in Carrick by buying up cheap housing and then renting to addicts.

The maps in Riding OD Road are simple illustrations used to help convey the scale of the opioid crisis in the neighborhood. The heart of Riding OD Road is the remarkable interviews with the people who live and work in Carrick and their first-hand testimonies of living in a community being destroyed by opioids,

Friday, November 03, 2017

Mapping a Rohingya Refugee Camp


Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, fleeing religious persecution in Myanmar, are now living in government-run refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. 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.

Also See

Refugee Republic - an interactive map exploring life in the Domiz Refugee Camp in Iraqi Kurdistan
Hockey & Baseball Refugees - an online documentary exploring five Greek refugee camps

Mapping Changes to Journey Times


Isochrone maps can be useful. They can be particularly useful if you need to show the effect on passenger travel times when you move the location of a train station.

The German rail company Deutsche Bahn wants to move a train station in Hamburg from Altona to Diebsteich. Spiegel Online and Motion Intelligence have carried out their own traffic analysis to show the impact of this move on train passengers. They have visualized the results on an interactive map. Brauchen Sie Bald Langer zum Zug? shows which areas of Hamburg are within 30 minutes of an intercity railway station.

If you switch between 'Altona' and 'Diebsteich' you can see the effect that moving the train station will have on passengers. Some passengers will have shorter journeys to their nearest innercity station. Others will lose out and will face a longer journey. The colored isochrone layer on the map shows the travel times for passengers in 5 minute increments.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

The Earthquake Ring of Fire


Esri's John Nelson does make some beautiful maps. His latest Seismic Illumination is a case in point. This map uses historical earthquake data going back to 1898 to show how earthquake activity can reveal the Earth's tectonic plates.

Seismic Illumination visualizes historical earthquake activity, particularly around the Pacific Ocean. By concentrating on the Pacific Ring of Fire the map is able to show how continental drift causes  seismic activity where the Earth's tectonic plates meet & grind beneath each other.

You can see in the screenshot above two of the design flourishes which make this such a striking map. The luminescence effect really helps the earthquake activity stand out on the dark base map. The warped map labels look like they could have been carved out of the tectonic plates on which they sit. If you like these effects then you will be happy that John Nelson has explained how they were created in two tutorials: Luminescence Hack and Envelope-Transformed Label Shadows.

Exercise Data is Beautiful


Strava's Global Heatmap is a beautiful visualization of Strava user activity across the globe. The map uses 13 trillion rasterized pixels to display 1 billion activities. The result is in an amazing map showing where Stava users love to cycle and run.

According to Strava the Global Heatmap is now hotter than ever before. In a blog post, The Global Heatmap, Now 6x Hotter Strava have explained how they manage to assemble and visualize this much data so seamlessly on an interactive map. The map also now uses Mapbox GL. This change means that users of the map can rotate and tilt the map to get a different angle on all those energetic journeys.


Activity tracking application Human has also created a global interactive map showing where people love to bike and run. One Day on Human provides a snapshot of just one day's walking, running and, cycling activity from March of last year.

One Day on Human provides an interesting visualization of where the Human app is being used around the world. A lot of people actually seem to be using the app not only as a fitness tracking app but to record their general movements. For example, people have been using the app to track themselves on ferry journeys around New York and on London's M25 orbital motorway.


The Nike+ Places map also provides an informative heat map layer visualizing the most popular running routes for owners of Nike's running app and tracking devices.

Using the heat map layer you can search for the most popular running routes in any location around the world. In truth the popular routes revealed by the heat map layer aren't a great surprise. Parks and off-road routes seem to be very popular with joggers. For example in London the major parks and canal tow paths seem to have a strong appeal to a lot of Nike+ users.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

The Visual Language of Maps


Geraldine Sarmiento of Mapzen has been exploring how cartographers communicate information about the world to map readers through drawings on a two dimensional surface. She examines how cartographers use simple lines to convey movement, texture and form.

In Explore the World of Form with Morphology Geraldine illustrates her thesis with examples taken from interactive maps. These examples include specific forms used in maps, such as airports (eight of the busiest airports in the world can be seen in the image above), bridges, buildings and roads.

When these forms are examined in isolation from the rest of the map we may begin to better understand the visual language used to communicate meaning to the map user. Geraldine has therefore developed a tool which allows you to isolate specific forms on an interactive map. Morphology is an interactive map which allows you to study forms in cartography by isolating specific forms on the map. You can use the drop-down menu to filter the map to show only isolated forms. For example, if you select 'airports' from the menu then all the other map features will be removed and only airports will be shown on the map.

The UK Construction Map


Disruption caused by builders can be a huge pain. A new interactive map hopes to keep you better informed about any construction projects taking place near people's homes in the UK and Ireland. The map shows you the location of nearby building projects and allows you to find out who is responsible for the construction project, the name of the building contractor and the planned dates of construction.

Construction Map is an initiative by the Considerate Constructors Scheme, who hope it will provide a single point of reference about construction work being carried out in the UK and Ireland. The map provides details about construction sites, companies, suppliers and partners registered with the Considerate Constructors Scheme.

If you type in your post-code or address into the Construction Map you can view an interactive map of construction projects taking place around your home. The red markers show the active construction sires, while the other colored markers show the locations of construction companies, suppliers etc. If you select a construction site on the map you can discover the name of the contractor, the name of the client and the length of the construction project. If the site has already been visited by the Considerate Constructors Scheme then you can also view their rating for the construction site.