Monday, February 20, 2017

The History of American Cities


The National Trust for Historic Preservation provides information on the building age and historic monuments of American cities. Their Atlas of ReUrbanism includes a series of interactive map which visualize a host of historical information about a number of American cities. The maps include information on the relative building age of city neighborhoods, the location of nationally registered historic places, historic & cultural monuments and historic districts.

So far interactive maps and fact sheets are available for ten cities. By the summer 50 cities will be available in the Atlas. Each city map provides a visualization of a city's National Trust 'Character Score'. The Character Score of city neighborhoods is based on the median age of buildings, the diversity of the age of buildings and the size of buildings in the neighborhood.

The Character Score layer provides an overview of where the city's older districts are located. The Cultural Resources tab on each city interactive map allows you to add other historic information to the city map. These layers include information on the location of listed buildings, historical monuments and nationally & locally registered districts.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The 2016 Global Light Pollution Map


The Light Pollution Map allows you to see how human populations around the world effect our ability to see the stars at night. The light pollution map was created by stitching together cloud free night time satellite imagery of the Earth.

Using the map you can get a reasonable sense of where humans live around the globe. In the USA you can make out the major urban centers in the east of the country and along the west coast. In Egypt you can clearly make out the river Nile due to the concentration of urban areas along the Nile valley.

However the Light Pollution Map obviously isn't a population map. For example North Korea appears dark on the map because of the lack of power in the country (although North Korea contradicts this western view of the country and claims the reason for the absence of light is because 'the essence of society is not on flashy lights').

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Internet Shutdown Tracker


In India the government uses blanket internet shutdowns to try to curb violence and unrest in conflict ridden areas. The state believes that these bans on internet access are important preventative measures to stop the spread of violence.

Opponents of these internet shutdowns argue that because India has a flourishing digital economy such indeterminate denials of access to the internet cause businesses and the economy as a whole to suffer needless losses. The bans also effect the ability of journalists to report the news in crisis situations and can cause stress to people trying to contact friends and families. There is also the worry that the power to impose internet shutdowns can be used by the government to stifle legitimate opposition.

The Software Freedom Law Centre are trying to track the Indian government's use of internet shutdowns. One way in which they disseminate this information is through the Internet Shutdown Tracker interactive map. The map shows locations across India where the government has shutdown the internet.

The map also includes a breakdown of the number of internet shutdowns imposed by year. This tracker shows that in 2016 the government vastly increased the number of times it resorted to restricting access to the internet.

Friday, February 17, 2017

How to Add a Walking Time Layer to a Map


An isochrone layer shows travel times on a map. It can be used to show how long it will take to travel from one location to other locations on a map. For example it can be used to visualize how far you can walk within different periods of time from a given location.

If you want to add a walking time layer to an interactive map then you can use walkshed.js. Walkshed.js is an opensource JavaScript library for adding a simple walking times layer to an interactive map. You can view walkshed.js in action on this interactive map. If you click anywhere on the map a walking time isochrone layer is instantly added to the map, showing how far you can walk from that location in incremental periods of time.

The walking times are calculated on the client side in the browser, so the map works very quickly. Essentially walkshed.js works by analyzing the OpenStreetMap data in the map layer. It assigns friction values to the map data to work out how easy it is to walk at each location. For example water, railways and interstate highways are given a high friction score because they are very hard to walk across. Conversely a park is given a low friction score because it would be easier to walk through.

If you want more information about how walkshed.js works then this YouTube video, Walkshed.js: Measuring Walkability with Client-side Raster Processing, provides a detailed account of how walkshed.js calculates walking times in the browser.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Make America Hate Again


In the last year 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.

Donald Trump was asked just yesterday, by an Israeli journalist, how he planned to address rising anti-Semitism in  America. He responded by saying,
"Well, I just want to say that we are, you know, very honored by the victory that we had -- 316 electoral college votes. We were not supposed to crack 220. You know that, right? There was no way to 221, but then they said there's no way to 270. And there's tremendous enthusiasm out there".
I think that this is a convoluted way of saying that the President believes in 'self-love not hate'. Maybe if we all love ourselves as much as Donald Trump loves himself there would be little room left for hate in the world.

A less favorable interpretation of Trump's answer might be that he has no intention to address the growing number of hate groups and hate crimes in America.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Commuting in DC


The District of Columbia's Department of Transport has released a comprehensive visualization of commuting, congestion and transportation in the nation's capital. District Mobility: Multimodal Transportation in the District is divided into a number of different stories, examining different aspects of the transportation system’s congestion, reliability, and accessibility.

Each of the stories are accompanied by interactive maps which help to illustrate the city's busiest and most reliable roads and public transit routes. The maps and the stories do a good job in providing an overview of how the city's transportation networks operate and how they are used.

However this report is probably not the best place to go if you want to explore the city's transportation data in detail yourself. The lack of place labels on the map means that you need to have a good knowledge of Washington's geography and roads to read the maps/ Also very few of the map overlays are interactive so you can;t drill down to view the actual data displayed, This is partially offset on some of the maps by markers highlighting the busiest intersections and stops in the city.

Glasgow on the Run


The Urban Big Data Centre has released an interactive map visualizing cycling and running data in the Scottish city of Glasgow, The map uses data from users of the Strava running and cycling tracking application to show the most popular places for cycling and jogging.

Glasgow in Motion allows you to select either cycling or running / walking and view an animated map showing the most popular routes used by Strava users. As the animated timeline plays you can observe not only the most popular places for cycling & running in the city but also the most busy hours of the day and days of the week, The map also includes weather data so you can observe how different weather conditions effect the popularity of cycling and running.

It is interesting to see how cycling and running activity changes through the course of a day and on different days of the week. For example this time element allows you to observe popular commuting routes for cyclists.  However the map doesn't include an option to view a heatmapvisualization of the overall data in one go. This would provide an interesting overview of the most popular cycling and running locations in the city for all Strava users.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mapping Endangered Species


The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources's Red List of Threatened Species is a comprehensive database of animal and plant species which are at risk of extinction around the world.

The IUCN Red List website allows you to search for specific animals or plants and view an interactive map showing where the species still exists in the wild and any protected areas provided for the species. For example this map visualizes the remaining range of the leopard. The map highlights areas where the leopard is still extant (shaded yellow) and the areas where the leopard once ranged but is now extinct (shown in red).

You can use the IUCN Red List search bar to view interactive maps showing the range of any threatened species. You can search for a species using either its common or scientific name.


What is Missing? is a global map and timeline of animal species around the world that have either become or are in danger of becoming extinct. What is Missing? includes both a global map and a timeline view of these animal species. In both the map and timeline view you can select any of the individual markers to learn more about the individual endangered or extinct animal species.

What is Missing? includes a number of videos and stories providing information about some of the planet's most endangered species. It also includes information about actions that you can take as an individual to help protect endangered animals, prevent habitat loss and reduce emissions.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Greatest Diplomatic Network in the World


The USA operates hundreds of embassies and consulates across the globe. In fact the USA has the most extensive diplomatic network of all the countries in the world. When you combine this vast network with a President with the charm, attention span and interpersonal skills of Donald Trump you can see how it could be used to make America great again.

The Lowy Institute's Global Diplomacy Index ranks the diplomatic networks of all the countries in the G20 and OECD. The index ranks each of these 42 countries based on factors such as the number of embassies and consulates each country operates across the globe.

The Global Diplomacy Index Network Map allows you to view the diplomacy ranking of each of the 42 countries featured and to view the diplomatic networks of each country. If you select a country on the map you can see the locations of its diplomatic missions in each country across the globe.

The yellow dots on the map show cities around the world where G20 or OECD nations have diplomatic posts. Click on a city's dot and lines connect to the city showing every G20 or OECD country with a diplomatic post in the city.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Mapping Canada's Population


Earlier this week the first data from the 2016 Canadian census was released. The first data from last year's census covers population and dwelling counts. You can view how population has changed in the Toronto region on this Population Change in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2011-2016 interactive map.

The map shows how the population has changed in each census tract region between the 2011 and 2016 censuses. If you hover over a census tract on the map you can view the percentage of the negative or positive population change in the tract. You can also view the population totals for the tract from the 2011 and 2016 census returns.


The City of Toronto itself grew by 116,511 people since the last census. If you are interested in the population totals for other Canadian locations you can view the 2016 census population data for the whole country on Census Mapper.

For example this Population Density map shows the population counts for each census tract in Canada. If you select a tract on the map you can view the 2016 census returns for the total population, the number of dwellings and the number of households. If you are interested in the population change in your area then you can check out this Absolute Population Change map, which shows which tracts have seen a growth or decline in population since the 2011 census.