Monday, May 30, 2016

Slow Down GPS


In Scandinavia the If Insurance company has released a new free sat nav application which can be used with Apple and Google powered mobile devices. It works like most sat nav devices except that the app uses a child's voice when you are driving in an area where there are likely to be children around.

It is estimated that around 65% of Scandinavian drivers drive above the speed limit near schools and day-care centers. In order to remind drivers to slow down when children are around Slow Down GPS simply provides a gentle but effective reminder by switching to a child's voice in areas likely to have lots of children around.

The GPS locations of all schools and day care centers are included in the app. However if you know other centers or institutions where children often attend you can inform Slow Down GPS using their simple crowd-sourced map.

At the moment the Go Slow GPS app only works in Sweden, Finland and Norway. It is such a great and simple idea however that I'm sure that there could be a global demand for this app.

Mapping the History of the World


James Cunningham and Misha Wagner recently decided to map the entire history of the world. The result of this ambitious undertaking is Timeglo.be, a d3.js powered interactive globe plotting the location of over 20,000 events across the whole of recorded history.

Timeglo.be uses data from Wikipedia and DBpedia to show historical events on an interactive 3d globe. The map provides a global overview of any chosen time period, giving a really interesting cross section of world history at any given point in time. You can search for events by date and by key words and then follow the links provided to view more detailed information on Wikipedia.

Timeglo.be also serves as a visual presentation of Wikipedia’s biases and the overall bias in English language content generation. For example, comparing the USA and China from 1850 to 1870, brings up the U.S. Civil War and the Taiping Rebellion. However there are literally hundreds of times more Wikipedia entries for the U.S. Civil War than there are for the Taiping Rebellion.


Chronas is another interactive map which maps Wikipedia data to provide a view of historical events across the globe.

Chronas not only maps historical events but also provides a mapped overview of country boundaries for any given date. If you select a year from the time slider, running along the bottom of the map, the map will update to show how the world looked at the chosen time.

If you then click on a country or geographical area on the map a Wikipedia article on the selected historical region will open in the map sidebar. For example, if you select the year 573 AD from the time slider, you can select the Visigoths region on the map to learn more about these nomadic tribes.


Of course it isn't only country boundaries which have changed over the history of the Earth. The planet has also physically changed since the dawn of time. This interactive 3d globe from Dinosaur Pictures travels back 600 million years to the dawn of multi-cellular life on Earth and shows how planet Earth has physically evolved throughout its history.

What Did the World Look Like actually presents a 3d globe which shows how the Earth looked at any period in its history. The site includes two menus, which allow you to change the era visualized on the interactive 3d globe. The menu at the top of the page allows you to select an era by age and the menu at the top right allows you to select a view based on the stages of life on Earth and by geologic period.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Maps of the Week


I've been thinking a lot about the potential of Terrapattern this week. Terrapattern uses deep learning machine vision techniques to search for similar patterns in satellite imagery.

It is a technology which could truly revolutionize a number of fields. For example in archaeology aerial imagery of historical sites is often used to determine sub-surface features based upon features which can be seen on the ground - especially when viewed in detailed aerial imagery. If you fed in the satellite image of a round barrow into Terrapattern then it could identify other locations with similar features.

At the moment Terrapattern only works for Pittsburgh, San Francisco, New York and Detroit. However other cities are coming soon. The Terrapattern about page has examples of things that you might want to try searching for, such as baseball diamonds, airplanes or solar panels. Part of the fun of Terrapattern however is just clicking on the map to see how quickly it finds other similar looking locations.

That 'about' page also includes a lengthy 'How it Works' explanation of the neural network behind Terrapattern.


Blast Map is an interactive map showing underground nuclear tests carried out by countries across the globe since 1963. 1963 was the year the Partial Test Ban Treaty came into force, which prohibited all test detonations of nuclear weapons except underground. Using data from the Northern California Earthquake Data Center the map shows all seismic events which have been determined to be not geological in nature but were instead caused by either quarry blasting or nuclear testing.

Blast Map shows the location of these quarry blasts and nuclear test sites around the world. The chart beneath the map shows the magnitude and date of each of the blasts. The chart and map are synchronized together so that the chart automatically updates to reflect the data in the current map view. You can also use the chart to refine the data shown on the map by range of magnitude and date.

The map sidebar provides links to significant nuclear testing events. For example, if you click on the 'Soviet Nuclear Archipelago' link you can view a map and chart view of soviet nuclear testing from 1964-1991. You can read a little more about the significance of these highlighted testing events and how the map was made on this Adventures in Mapping blog post.


Mark Evans has used the Google Maps API to create a hypnotic visualization of commuting flows, showing the distances and 'journeys' that American's make to and from work.

Using the ACS Commute Map you can zoom in on any U.S. county and view an animated map showing where people live and work. The maps don't show the actual journeys that commuters make but do give a great sense of how town and city centers suck in commuters from surrounding suburbs.

The data for the maps comes from the American Community Survey. You can learn more about how the map was made from this data on Mark's blog post ACS Commuter Data Visualizations. Mark's ACS Commute Map was originally inspired by Alasdair Rae's mapped visualizations of commuting in the Bay Area.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Mapping the 1947 Partition of India


In 1947 the British Indian Empire was partitioned into the Dominion of Pakistan (which later split into Pakistan and Bangladesh) and the Union of India (later the Republic of India). One result of the partition was that 14 million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims were forced or decided to leave their ancestral homes and move their families to other countries. It was probably the largest mass migration event in human history.

The 1947 Partition Archive is documenting and sharing eye witness accounts of individuals affected by the Partition of British India in 1947. These individual stories of post-partition migration can be viewed on an interactive map. The map allows you to access oral histories of pre-Partition life, post-Partition migration and the ensuing life changes brought about by this migration.

If you select an individual marker on the 1947 Partition Archive Map you can click through to read the individual accounts of living through the partition. The markers on the maps, indicating the individual mapped histories, can be filtered by where the individuals migrated from or where they migrated to.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Searching for Map Patterns


A few years ago Onformative developed an algorithm, called GoogleFaces, that scans Google Maps satellite imagery looking for patterns in the landscape that we might recognize as resembling human faces.

Terrapattern has taken this idea of detecting patterns in aerial imagery and developed it into something that is actually very useful. Using deep learning machine vision techniques Terrapattern is able to accept a user input (a selected area on a satellite map) and search for other locations which look the same.

For example, if you click on a golf course sand trap on the aerial map Terrapattern will instantly find other locations with golf course sand traps. Click on a stretch of a nice river bank with tree cover and you will be shown other locations where Terrapattern recognizes the same patterns in the imagery.

At the moment Terrapattern only works for Pittsburgh, San Francisco, New York and Detroit. However other cities are coming soon. The Terrapattern about page has other examples that you might want to try searching for, such as baseball diamonds, airplanes or solar panels. Part of the fun of Terrapattern however is just clicking on the map to see how quickly it finds other similar looking locations.

That 'about' page also includes a lengthy 'How it Works' explanation of the neural network behind Terrapattern.

Bend Me Over Backwards


For the next thirty days you can follow actor and performance artist Shia LaBeouf on a real-time interactive map. If you want you can even pick LaBeouf up and take him wherever you want.

#TAKEMEANYWHERE shows LaBeouf's journey so far and his current position. Every day he, and his two fellow travelers, are tweeting the co-ordinates of a location and the first person to arrive can then take them anywhere that they want.

LeBeouf's has in the past been criticized for plagiarism in his art and I can't help noticing the similarities between #TAKEMEANYWHERE and my own performance art piece #BendMeOverBackwards.

The Nuclear Weapon Testing Map


Earlier this month the Future of Life Institute partnered with NukeMap to create 1100 Declassified U.S. Nuclear Targets, an interactive map showing all U.S. nuclear targets around the world in 1956.

Of course the nuclear arms race didn't end in 1956. In fact the USA, Russia and many other countries around the world have continued to carry on developing their nuclear capabilities. One way of determining who is continuing to test nuclear weapons is by analyzing seismic records. Which is exactly what Blast Map has done.

Blast Map is a map showing underground nuclear tests carried out by countries across the globe since 1963. 1963 was the year the Partial Test Ban Treaty came into force, which prohibited all test detonations of nuclear weapons except underground. Using data from the Northern California Earthquake Data Center the map shows all seismic events which have been determined to be not geological in nature but were instead caused by either quarry blasting or nuclear testing.

Blast Map shows the location of these quarry blasts and nuclear tests around the world. The chart beneath the map shows the magnitude and date of each of the blasts. The chart and map are synchronized together so that the chart automatically updates to reflect the data in the current map view. You can also use the chart to refine the data shown on the map by range of magnitude and date.

The map sidebar provides links to significant nuclear testing events. For example, if you click on the 'Soviet Nuclear Archipelago' link you can view a map and chart view of soviet nuclear testing from 1964-1991. You can read a little more about the significance of these highlighted testing events and how the map was made on this Adventures in Mapping blog post.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Game of Thrones Tracking Map


Despite all the sterling work by the LOTR Project to create interactive maps of Middle Earth the most mapped fictional landscape in the fantasy world has to be Westeros.

If you don't believe me here is just a selection of some of the Game of Thrones interactive maps that have featured on Maps Mania in the last two years:
The reason for all these maps is undoubtedly the popularity of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels and HBO's popular Game of Thrones dramatization of this series. However these interactive maps also owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jonathan Roberts' official maps of Westeros and Essos, based on George R. R. Martin own hand-drawn maps.

Jonathan was commissioned by Random House to create the maps for the published novels. While the interactive maps above don't re-use Jonathon's cartography the underlying maps are obviously influenced by his knowledge of the geography of a Game of Thrones.

Now that the sixth season of a Game of Thrones is upon us there has obviously been a rush of new interactive maps appearing on the scene. Of these new maps I'd pick out Collider's Where is Everybody? map as worthy of mention for attempting to do something a little new.

The Collider map is updated after each episode of the HBO drama to show the last known location of each of the characters. It therefore provides a handy guide to keep track of your favorite characters during season six of a Game of Thrones.

Rural Life on Map & Film


Over the last year I've lost more than a few hours browsing through the BFI's interactive map of Britain on Film. The map is an amazing way to step back in time by finding and watching vintage film footage of locations throughout the UK.

Britain on Film contains thousands of vintage films from all over the UK which you can search for by location and then watch for free. This collection of films has just got even larger as the BFI has now added over 750 films, dating from 1900 to 1999, exploring rural life in Britain.

You can search this new collection on the Britain on Film map by selecting the 'Rural Life' link in the map sidebar. All the vintage films from the collection will then be shown on the map by location. Select a marker on the map and you can view the chosen historical film.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Nice Guys Maps of 1970's LA


The Nice Guys, starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, is set in 1970's Los Angeles. If you want to re-familiarize yourself with LA in the '70's before seeing the movie then you should take a look at The Nice Guys Map.

This Google Map takes you on a little tour of some of LA's most famous locations, including the Sunset Strip, the Hollywood Sign and Venice Beach. Each of the featured locations is accompanied by photos from 1977 and 2015. This allows you to directly compare the LA of today with the LA of the 1970's and assess how Los Angeles has changed over the last thirty odd years.

The Google Map itself has been given an appropriate 1970's orange tinge using the Styled Maps feature of the JavaScript Maps API.