Thursday, November 23, 2017

Australia's Marriage Law Survey Results


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

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

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

How the World has Changed


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

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

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Geography of the Thanksgiving Meal


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

The traditional Thanksgiving menu can be hugely influenced by geography. For example if you live in the north or west then you will probably have cranberry sauce with your turkey; while those who live in the southern states will mostly be enjoying sweet potato casserole. Nearly everyone will be eating turkey. But how you prepare your turkey can also be shaped by where you live. Tell me if your turkey is smoked, roasted or fried and I can probably tell you if you come from the mid-west, the east coast or California.

The Los Angeles Times has used data from Google to determine the Thanksgiving foods searched for in different regions of the United States. You can read the results of their analysis in What will be on your Thanksgiving plate? It depends on where you’ll be. The article includes a little tool which can show you the Thanksgiving foods that are most searched for in each state.


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

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

UK Car Accidents Mapped


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

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

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



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

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

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Censored on Google Maps


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

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


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

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

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

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

Ignore Google's Thanksgiving Travel Advice


According to Google for most people the best time to travel home for Thanksgiving is early Wednesday morning (3-4 am).  Google analysed traffic data from last year's Thanksgiving holiday to determine the best and worst times to travel by car from a number of major cities. But ignore Google's advice about the worst time to travel. It isn't during rush-hour tomorrow. The worst time to travel is during rush-hour today.

Mapping Thanksgiving includes a tool which allows you to discover the best and worst times to leave a number of American cities. Select the city where you live and the tool will tell you the best time to travel - before and after Thanksgiving. Unfortunately Google has only looked at data starting the day before Thanksgiving. Which is why I've told you to ignore Google's travel advice! Google claims that the worst time to travel for most people is around 4 pm tomorrow. The actual worst time to travel is during rush hour today. This is because a lot of people will actually finish work before their usual time tomorrow.

The AAA says that in 8 out of the top 10 congested cities the worst time to travel is during rush hour on Tuesday (if you live in Atlanta or Houston then Google is correct & Wednesday rush hour is the busiest time). The AAA has also listed the worst times to travel to America's busiest airports. Some are busiest Tuesday & some busier on Wednesday (check the AAA list for the different airport times).

The University of Virginia agrees with the AAA that Tuesday evening rush hour is normally the worst time to travel. They have released an interactive map which uses data from last year to show the best and worst times to travel in Virginia this week. The Virginia Thanksgiving Holiday Historic Travel Trends map allows you to use a timeline to see how busy the state's roads are (historically) during this whole holiday week.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Still Building Trump's Wall


Donald Trump wants to spend millions of hard working Americans' tax-dollars on a wall between the United States and Mexico. KPBS claims that 653 miles of that wall already exists, 90% of which was built in only the last 12 years by Presidents Bush and Obama.

KPBS submitted a number of Freedom of Information requests to U.S. Customs and Border Protection in order to learn where that 'wall' is and when these sections were built. You can explore the data on their new interactive map America's Wall.

Using the map you can select sections of the wall to see when it was constructed and what type of physical barrier it is. You can also use the timeline chart to see how much of this existing wall was built in any particular year. This timeline is synced to the map. When you click on the chart the map is filtered to only show the sections built in the selected year.



USA Today flew & drove along the entire 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico. During these journeys they mapped every known piece of the existing border fence between the two countries. You can view the locations of this existing border fence and also view the aerial video USA Today shot during their flight along the border on their interactive map.

Should we build a wall? A 2,000-mile search for answers not only maps the existing border fence but also explores some of the problems the USA could face in trying to build Trump's wall between Mexico & the USA. The map shows where the existing fence consists of vehicle barriers, pedestrian fencing, other fencing and where no fencing currently exists.

The beginning of 'Should we build a wall' is in a story map format. This section explores some of the geographical, economical and legal problems the USA could face in trying to build Trump's wall. You can view some of these geographical problems yourself in the USA Today's aerial videos. If you scroll to the bottom of the story map and click on the 'Explore the map' button you can click on the map to view videos of the aerial footage captured during the flight along the border.

'Should we build a wall' is just one part of USA Today's special report The Wall - an in-depth examination of Donald Trump's border wall. In the rest of the report you can read interviews, listen to podcasts and explore the border in virtual reality.


Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Reporting, has also been collecting data on the US-Mexico border for a number of years. They have spent a long time mapping the existing border fence using satellite imagery and government PDF maps of the border.

From this data Reveal has discovered that around 700 miles of the 1,954 mile-long U.S.-Mexico border is already fenced. Trump's new wall will therefore need to be at least 1,300 miles long. That's a lot of Chinese steel. You can explore Reveal's work on their The Wall interactive map. The map shows the current fence and shows where it is a 'vehicular' and where it is a 'pedestrian' fence. The map also shows where no fence currently exists.

You can get a good sense of the scale of construction needed to build Trump's new wall in a video from the Intercept. The Intercept downloaded and stitched together 200,000 satellite images to create a huge strip map of the U.S.-Mexican border. You can view this strip map in Visualizing the U.S.-Mexico Border, a short video which pans along the whole border.


From Donald Trump's 'detailed' construction plans we know that the Trump Wall will be up to 15 meters high, made of concrete and steel (but also possibly fencing) and will be 1,954 miles long. If you are having difficulty envisioning just how far 1,954 miles is then you can use the Berliner Morgenpost's interactive map. The Trump Wall Comparison Map allows you to overlay an outline of Trump's proposed border wall between the USA and Mexico on any other location on Earth.

If you want to create your own Trump Wall map then you can get Reveal's data for the US-Mexico border fence on Github. You can read more about how this data was collected and mapped in the Reveal article The Wall: Building a continuous US-Mexico barrier would be a tall order.

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.