Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Maps of the Week


This week ProPublica released an impressive mapped visualization of the effect of climate change and oil & gas exploration in the state of Louisiana.

Southern Louisiana is losing 16 square miles a year to the Gulf of Mexico. At the heart of ProPublica's map, Losing Ground, is a series of timeline visualizations of historical aerial imagery. These timelines allow you to observe the loss of land in Louisiana by comparing present day aerial imagery with aerial imagery going back to the 1930's.

Accompanying the aerial imagery are a series of interviews of people living and working in the affected areas. These interviews are supported by audio files and photos. In combination the audio, photos, interviews and aerial imagery of Louisiana's land loss provide a powerful account of this ongoing environmental disaster.


Last year Dave MacLean, from the GIS Faculty at the Centre of Geographic Sciences of the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), released a map of photos taken from the International Space Station.

Our World from the ISS is an ESRI map of photos, taken from the ISS posted by @Cmdr_Hadfield and @AstroMarshburn on Twitter. The map allows you to view thumbnails of some truly amazing photos of Earth taken from the ISS.

Dave MacLean has now released a new map covering photos from the ISS Missions 40 and 41. All the photos are mapped to the locations shown in the views of the Earth depicted. The map may not break any new ground in the world of interactive cartography but it definitely wins the weekly award for the most shared map on social media.


This week I was also quite impressed by the Street View treasure hunt game The Day Google Street View Stood Still.

This Street View game uses the Web Audio API to provide audio clues to help you find a number of hidden items. In the game you are teleported to a Street View location somewhere in the world. The object of the game is to follow the audio clues to find objects nearby. The game is a kind of 'hot or cold' searching game, as you get closer to the correct destination the audio clues get louder. If you travel in the wrong direction then the sounds becomes quieter.

The Day Google Street View Stood Still has a number of levels. When you finish a level you are told how many steps you have taken and how long it took you to reach the correct destination. If you make one of the top ten quickest times you can even add your name to the high-score table.

Mapping Events


MapTiming HASH is a new application designed to help you find upcoming events on a map. Currently the map is populated with the dates and times of church services in Belgium. However anyone can add an event to the map and the application is not restricted to mapping events in Belgium or to religious services.

Over the years there have been many attempts to crack the events mapping market. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when creating a map of upcoming events is populating the application with enough events. Like MapTiming Hash you can help to populate an events map by crowd-sourcing your event database, by allowing users to add events to the map.

Crowd-sourcing events data means surmounting the Catch 22 problem of events mapping - you need users to add events to the map but you need events on your map to get users. The problem is how do you reach a critical mass where enough users add events to the map to make the map useful enough to attract users in the first place.

Traditionally events mapping websites have overcome this problem of having enough events on the map to attract users by using third-party events services such as EventBrite and Upcoming. MapTiming Hash has a different solution. The hook for adding events to MapTiming Hash is that you can then use the dynamic URL of the event to share the event with friends. You can even use an iframe to add the map of your added event to your own website. Therefore if you are an organization which has an upcoming event you can use MapTiming Hash to create and share a map of your event.

Another very useful feature of MapTiming Hash is the events search features. Like most event mapping websites you can search for events on MapTiming Hash by location and by date. However MapTiming Hash also uses hash tags to organize types of event. When adding events to the map users are encouraged to use keywords (beginning with a '#') in the description of the event. These hashtags can then be used by users of the map to find events with a specific tag. For example you can filter the events shown on the map by entering 'aanbidding' by clicking on the hashtag button. Do this and the map will filter the events to only show upcoming church services tagged with 'aanbidding'.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Bárðarbunga Depth Map


Quakes 3d is an interesting animated mapped visualization of seismic activity near the Bárðarbunga Volcano in Iceland over the last two weeks.

The map animates through two weeks of earthquake activity, visualizing a heat map of seismic activity on the surface, overlaid on top of an aerial image of the area. At the same time the same data is plotted as a depth map beneath the map layer.

You can pause the animated playback of the earthquake data at any time and you can also switch between a map and aerial view of the area around Bárðarbunga.

Also see: Mapping Seismic Activity at Bárðarbunga

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Photo Map from Outer Space


Last year Dave MacLean, from the GIS Faculty at the Centre of Geographic Sciences of the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), released an amazing map of photos taken from the International Space Station.

Our World from the ISS is an ESRI map of photos, taken from the ISS posted by @Cmdr_Hadfield and @AstroMarshburn on Twitter. The map allows you to view thumbnails of the posted images. If you click on the thumbnail the photo will then open in a new browser window.

Dave MacLean has now released a new map covering photos from the ISS Missions 40 and 41. All the photos are mapped to the locations shown in the views of the Earth depicted. The map also shows the live position of the International Space Station.

Story Maps with Mapbox GL


Yesterday I was impressed by two story maps created with Mapbox GL. The Mapbox Blog published a very neat map highlighting some of the details in their new satellite imagery for Madrid airport. The Guardian  also used Mapbox GL in a feature on immigration in Texas (to see the map scroll down to the section headed 'The impact of Migrants on Falfurrias').

Both of these maps make use of Mapbox GL's panTo and rotateTo functions to seamlessly pan and spin the map to new locations.

I was particularly impressed with the Mapbox Blog map. This map cleverly uses the height of an overlaid div element to work out when to pan and zoom the map to show new locations. As you scroll down this map sidebar element the map automatically updates to show you the relevant location.

I was so impressed I had to steal the code. I used the Mapbox Blog's map code to make this little tour of the London Olympic Park.

Both The Guardian and Mapbox Blog maps include the option to gracefully fallback to an alternative Mapbox map for browsers which don't support Mapbox GL. I haven't done that with my map - so to view the map you will have to use a modern browser which supports Web GL.

Mapbox Satellite Update


Mapbox has begun adding new satellite imagery from Worldview-3. Worldview-3 was launched two weeks ago and is already providing unrivaled satellite imagery of the Earth, at 31 centimeter (12 inch) resolution.

Mapbox has now begun to add satellite Imagery from Worldview-3 to Mapbox satellite view. The first update to the imagery is just a small 3 km2 area around Madrid’s airport. This small update is enough to see that Worldview-3 can be used by Mapbox to provide detailed satellite imagery which is at least on a par with plane captured aerial imagery.

The Mapbox blog has a really nice map of the new satellite imagery, which is almost as impressive as the imagery itself. The map highlights some of the detail captured by Worldview-3 at Madrid airport using the new Mapbox GL mapping platform.

The map uses Mapbox GL's panTo, flyTo and rotateTo methods to seamlessly pan and rotate the map to new locations. These location updates are fired by the user as they scroll through the map sidebar. As the user scrolls through the information provided in the map sidebar the map automatically pans and rotates to show the location being explored in the text.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Louisiana is Losing Ground

Using historical aerial imagery from NASA and USGS, ProPublica has put together an impressive interactive mapped visualization of the effect of climate change and oil & gas exploration on the state of Louisiana.

Southern Louisiana is losing 16 square miles a year to the Gulf of Mexico. At the heart of ProPublica's map, Losing Ground, is a series of timeline visualizations of historical aerial imagery. These timelines allow you to observe the loss of land in Louisiana by comparing present day aerial imagery with aerial imagery going back to the 1930's.

For example, here is the area of Venice and West Bay as it looked in 1932:


Here's how the same area looks today:


Accompanying the aerial imagery are a series of interviews of people living and working in the affected areas. These interviews are supported by audio files and photos. In combination the audio, photos, interviews and aerial imagery of Louisiana's land loss provide a powerful report into this ongoing environmental disaster.

How Big is Africa?


Compera is a fun tool which you can use to compare the size of two different countries, states or cities.

Using Compera couldn't be easier. Simply select the two locations you wish to compare from two drop-down menus and you will be shown two maps of your selected locations, allowing you to easily compare their respective sizes. Compera also reveals how many times the larger location is than the smaller location, the size of each (in square kilometers) and  the populations of each.

The maps on Campera are created using D3.js, using map data from Natural Earth Data.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Wikipedia Dot Map of the World


Wikipedia Worldview is an interesting visualization of geo-referenced Wikipedia entries. Using the application you can select a language and view a dot-map of the world created purely through the plots of all the locations of Wikipedia entries.

You can select to view a single language's Wikipedia entries or any combination of languages. A geo-referenced map of the world is then created from all the geo-tagged articles in the chosen language(s). When the map has been created you can even click on the map to link through to the selected Wikipedia article.


Mapping Wikipedia is a similar project from TraceMedia and the Oxford Internet Institute.

Using the Google Maps API Mapping Wikipedia allows you to view the geography of all geotagged Wikipedia articles in a number of different languages. It can also create maps based on the word count of articles, the date created, number of authors, and number of images.

If you are interested about how the map was created TraceMedia has provided an outline of the tools used in building the application.


WikipediaVision is an animated Google Map of real-time map edits to Wikipedia.

The map displays an information window for each edit, with the title of the article, the summary of the edit (if a summary was given), a link to the changes that were made to the article and the time the edit happened.

Minecraft Maps the World


The British Geological Survey has released a Minecraft world using the Survey's geology data of mainland Great Britain and surrounding islands.

You can download the BGS's world for Minecraft at the GB Geology with Minecraft page on the BGS website. This page also includes a Google Map which allows you to explore the BGS Minecraft world of Great Britain with Google's popular interactive mapping interface.

The BGS's Minecraft World uses data from the UK's Ordnance Survey on the world surface. The geology of Great Britain beneath the surface is also represented on the surface of the map and shown beneath the bedrock.


The British Geological Survey's Minecraft world is inspired by last year's Ordnance Survey Minecraft map. The UK's Ordnance Survey is charged with maintaining the UK's geospatial and cartographic data. This largely involves creating and publishing maps in paper and digital form and now also in textual cube form for Minecraft fans.

Minecrafting with OS OpenData is a Minecraft map of mainland Great Britain and surrounding islands that anyone can download and explore in Minecraft. The OS Minecraft world was built with OS OpenData, which is Ordnance Survey data that is freely available under an attribution-only license.

The OS Minecraft world of Great Britain consists of more than 22 billion blocks representing over 220,000 square kilometres. Each block in the world represents 50 square metres. To help you navigate this 3d world the Ordnance Survey website has published a list of Minecraft world co-ordinates to some well known UK locations.

The Ordnance Survey Minceraft Overviewer Map of the UK allows you to view this Minecraft map of the UK within a Google Maps interface.


Denmark's government has also released its free spatial data in a format which can be used with Minecraft. You can download the Danish Minecraft data at Danmarks Frie Geodata i en Minecraft.

The Danish Minecraft world is on a scale of 1:1, so it should take you a long time to explore the whole country. The Danish Minecraft world also includes 3d buildings so there is a lot of fun to be had navigating around Denmark's cities.


SparseWorld is creating huge Minecraft maps of New York and other cities around the world. These Minecraft worlds are  created using elevation, landcover and orthography data from USGS, 3d buildings from Google Earth and street mapping data from OpenStreetMap.