Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Bumps of New York City


Many years ago I briefly worked as a road surveyor. The job involved walking five to ten miles of road a day, painstakingly measuring every road irregularity (e.g. potholes) and recording the data on a handheld computer. The data was then used by the local authority to identify the most damaged roads and schedule road repairs.

This was in the days before the availability of commercial GPS units so everything had to be measured by hand and measuring wheel. These days I imagine the job could be done at one hundred times the speed with cars fitted with a GPS unit and an accelerometer. Or you could even do it by bike.

Varun Adibhatla has created an interesting visualization of this kind of road surface survey carried out using a bicycle and an iPhone's accelerometer. Bumpiness in NYC shows the trail of a bike journey in New York. The bike's track on the map is colored by 'bumpiness', with the most bumpy sections colored in red.


Many laptops these days also have built-in accelerometers. The Quake-Catcher Network realized that they could create the world’s largest and densest earthquake monitoring system simply by using the data from accelerometers in the world's laptop computers.

The Quake-Catcher Network links participating laptops into a single coordinated network that can detect and analyze earthquakes faster and better than ever before. QCN uses Google Maps to show the data collected from participating laptops and from participating desktop computers with USB sensors. The map also shows the latest USGS reported earthquakes.

Friday, November 21, 2014

United States Arrest Rates


To illustrate a report on the Racial Gap in U.S. Arrest Rates USA Today has created an interactive map which compares the arrest rates of black and white Americans across the USA.

You can use the Compare Arrest Rates map to discover the arrest rates of white and black Americans by police departments throughout the United States. The markers on the map are colored blue where there is a larger disparity in the rate of black arrests and green where there is a larger disparity in the rate of white arrests.

The data for the map comes from 2011 and 2012 FBI arrest records.

Crap on a Map


Apparently people defecating on the streets is a thing in San Francisco. At least it is a big enough problem for Jennifer Wong to think it warrants its own interactive map.

Jennifer has used San Francisco Department of Public Works data of sidewalk cleanings for 'human waste or urine' to create the (Human) Wasteland map. The map includes a steaming pile of heat-map view of human waste in San Francisco, which just might help you avoid wading through human excrement on your next trip around town.

The map makes use of the Google Maps Styled Maps feature to provide a context appropriate colored base map. The same 'appropriate' colors are used in the heat map layer. If you want you can filter the crap on the map by month and search the map by address.

The Great German Bakers Map


German newspaper Zeit has decided to celebrate the tasty delights of the best German bakeries with this German Bakers Map.

To help create the map Zeit asked its readers to recommend their favorite local bakeries. They then used the Mapbox mapping platform to map all the bakeries in Germany which received more than one recommendation from Zeit's readers. The bakeries are shown on the map with different colored markers. The darker the color of a bakery's marker then the more recommendations it received.

Users of the map can enter a post-code to view their closest recommended bakeries. They can also click on a baker's marker on the map to see what Zeit's readers recommend you should buy and eat at the chosen bakery.

Squatting in East & West Berlin


West Berlin has a long tradition of civil, grassroots political action. One of the clearest demonstrations of this tradition is the well established squatter movement in the city. After the Fall: Socio-Spatial Movements in East Berlin plots the location and significant dates of civil action in both East and West Berlin.

Significant instances of civil action are plotted on the map using two colors. The yellow markers show 'socio-spatial movements' from before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the blue markers those which occurred after the fall. The red line on the map shows the position of the Berlin Wall.

The map demonstrates how before the collapse of the Berlin Wall this movement of civil action was largely confined to West Berlin. However since the reunification of Germany the eastern half of the city has also seen a rise in civil action, particularly in the growing squatting movement.


The data for the After the Fall map comes from Berlin Besetzt. Berlin Besetzt is a map showing the locations of squats in Berlin from 1970 to the present day. You can view all the houses that have been squatted in this period or you can use the date slide control to view the history of squatting in Berlin over the last few decades.

Using the date control it appears that 1981 was the golden age for squatters in Berlin. This map also clearly shows the rise of squatting in east Berlin after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The map also reveals that Kreuzberg has remained a very popular area for Berlin squatters for more that thirty years.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How Walmart Conquered America


A new CartoDB map visualizes how Walmart discovered America. Walmart Nation plots the historical opening of every Walmart store and reveals how the company contributed to the first map of the new United Stores of America.

Walmart's perilous journey started in 1962 in Rogers, AK. Their primary objective was to explore and map newly acquired territory, find a practical route across the Western half of the continent, and establish an American presence in this new territory before Britain and other European powers tried to claim it.

Thanks to the heroic efforts of these retail pioneers every American can now sleep soundly at night in the secure knowledge that there will be low prices, always, when they awake.

Mapping Support for Obamacare


iSideWith is a website that can tell you which political party you should support. iSideWith asks you a series of questions on domestic, international and environmental issues and then shows you whether you side most with the Democrats or Republicans (or other parties) on these issues.

iSideWith also use the data collected from these questions to provide a breakdown on support for a number of major issues. Part of the breakdown for each issue is a Google Map showing support or opposition for the issue across the United States.

For example this Google Map shows nationwide Support for Obamacare based on users' answers on iSideWith. Overall the poll shows 45% supporting Obamacare and 52% in opposition. The map allows you to see where support and opposition is most strong, at state, county and city level.

You can also view the poll results and maps for a number of other social and political issues, including gay marriage, abortion and government spending.

The Google Maps Guide to MotoGP


MotoGP is the premier championship of motorcycle road racing. Hertz, this year's sponsors of MotoGP, has released a Google Maps based guide to some of the tracks on the 2014 MotoGP tour.

Beyond MotoGP is obviously meant to highlight Hertz' role in sponsoring MotoGP and to help market the Hertz brand. To be successful in these goals however the map needs to attract users and to do that it must provide some kind of useful service to its visitors.

Ostensibly then the map is a guide to five of the top race tracks on the MotorGP tour and to their surrounding areas. In this role the map is reasonably successful. If you select a marker on the map you can not only learn about a track's history but also discover useful information about how to visit the selected circuit location.

The map also provides useful information about the tourist attractions around each of the featured MotorGP tracks. Beyond MotoGP therefore provides a great service for any MotorGP fans who are planning a vacation around attending a MotoGP event at any of the five mapped tracks.

However MotoGP is an 18-race competition. So you would have thought to be a truly effective guide for MotoGP fans then the map should cover more than the five selected tracks. As a marketing tool it would surely be more effective if it provided a comprehensive guide to all the tracks on the MotoGP world championship tour.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Interactive Map Jigsaw


If you've been furiously clicking away trying to beat your hi-score on MapQuiz then it could be time to take a break and try out a more sedate and relaxed geo-game.

GeoJigsaw is an inspired interactive map jigsaw from Esri. The game allows you to select jumbled up maps from around the world. All you have to do is to put all the jigsaw pieces back together to complete the map.

You can select map jigsaw puzzles to play by location or by difficulty level. If you can't find a map that you like don't worry. You can just zoom in on any location in the world and create your own map jigsaw puzzle.

World Champion Geographer


I am the geographic champion of the world.

Okay, I'm not. That title is currently held by Frederick B. But I am the fifth highest scorer today on the Esri MapQuiz. Which is good enough for me.

MapQuiz is a your geographic literacy game which tests how well you can recognize satellite imagery from different locations around the world. Log-in to MapQuiz with a Facebook account and you will be shown a series of satellite images. All you have to do is guess the correct location from four suggestions.

You are awarded points for each location that you get correct and for how quickly you can answer. After you have completed six rounds of the game you can compare your score against today's top scores, the top scores recorded this month, the best this year and the all time top scores.

I'm warning you though you will have to go some to beat me!