Friday, August 26, 2016

Mapping Land and Sea Reclamation

Over the last 30 years the Earth has gained 173,000 km2 of land. Most of it from land reclamation projects. However this isn't just a one way process. Over the same time period the Earth gained 115,000 km2 of water. Much of this presumably due to coastal erosion.

The Deltares Aqua Monitor is a fascinating new global map which allows you to visualize land and water surface changes since the year 2000. The map was created by analyzing changes in Landsat satellite imagery. Custom algorithms were created to scan the satellite imagery to detect changes in surface water and discover where water has become land and land has become water.

On the interactive map green overlays show where surface water has been turned into land and blue overlays show where land has been changed into surface water. If you turn on the advanced options on the map you can toggle the changes on and off. You can also view the changes yourself directly on the map by switching between the 2000 and 2015 satellite imagery.

Some of the most dramatic surface water changes can be seen in:

  • the extending lakes in the Tibetan plateau
  • coastal land reclamation along the Chinese coast 
  • the drying up of the Aral Sea
  • the meandering rivers in the biggest deltas

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Boston's Changing Map

Mapbox has created an interesting visualization of how Boston's geographical footprint has changed through history. Coastlines of Boston provides two different historical views of Boston, as it looked in 1788 and 1898, and allows you to compare these views to the map of Boston today.

The map is actually a neat demonstration of what can be created using Mapbox Studio's new dataset editor. The dataset editor allows you to add and edit geospatial data within Mapbox's existing browser based style editor.

The dataset editor allows you to add data to your maps by uploading CSV or GeoJSON files. It also allows you to add or edit data directly on your maps using point, line, and polygon editing tools. Once you have uploaded and edited your data you can then save the data to your map tilesets.

The Coastlines of Boston map was created by importing historical maps of Boston into Mapbox Studio and then drawing around the historical coastlines. Once the coastlines were traced they were then saved as a map tileset. You can read more about how Coastlines of Boston map was created on the Mapbox blog.

Segregating America's Schools

A great movement to re-segregate schools is underway. Across the United States wealthy communities are gerrymandering school districts to ensure that their children will not have to mix with the children of poorer families.

The Supreme Court case of Milliken v. Bradley in 1974 ruled that desegregation could not be ordered across school district lines. At the same time as rich neighborhoods are being allowed to create their own school districts, state funding of education is being slashed across the United States.

This ensures that schools are, like never before, reliant on local tax funding. In this way the richest neighborhoods ensure that they have the most well-funded and the best schools and at the same time the students of poorer neighborhoods will not be admitted to these schools.

Edbuild has created an interactive map which explores examples of the re-segregation of schools across the United States. The map visualizes the 50 most segregated borders between school districts in the country. It also allows you to view the most segregated borders in each state.

The Edbuild Fault Lines map also examines more closely education in five individual cities. These examples look at how rich neighborhoods are able to segregate their schools, ensure that they don't have to accept students from poorer neighborhoods and that they receive the best funding.

NPR has also looked closely at how school funding in the USA ensures that the rich get the best schools. They created an interactive map which visualizes how much each school district in the USA spends on school funding. Why America's Schools Have A Money Problem colors each school district based on the level of school spending in the district per student.

The map shows that local funding is usually dependent on the levels of local property taxes. If a district has a number of successful businesses contributing a lot of money through property taxes then the school district is more likely to have higher levels of school spending per student. In essence schools in affluent areas are likely to be much better funded that schools in less-affluent areas.

A nice complement to this map is the Memphis Teacher Residency's EdGap map. The EdGap map visualizes school SAT and ACT scores on top of the median household income in the school neighborhood.

The main take home point from this map seems to be that just about anywhere you look in the USA the school's with the worst SAT and ACT scores are mostly in the poorest neighborhoods and the school's with the best results are usually in the richest neighborhoods.

London's Heartbeat

The London Underground is the beating heart of London. It is also its venous system, carrying its people, its lifeblood, around the city.

Tube Heartbeat is a map of traffic on the London Underground. It is an animated flow map which shows how traffic at individual stations rises and falls over the course of a single day. As the animation plays the map of the London Underground beats like a living heart as the people of London travel to and from work and across the city.

Running totals above the map show the total number of arrivals, departures, interchanges and total number of journeys throughout the day. You can also select individual stations on the map to view a chart of these same totals for the individual Underground station over the course of an average weekday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


OpenStreetView is a new application and map for collecting and presenting geo-referenced Street View imagery. OpenStreetView is a Telenav project but the software is open-sourced and the imagery is free to use under a Creative Commons license.

Using the iOS or Android app you can collect Street View imagery and automatically upload it to the OpenStreetView map. You can view all the uploaded Street View imagery on the OpenStreetView desktop map.

One of the main purposes behind OpenStreetView is to improve OpenStreetMap. OpenStreetView includes computer vision technology which can recognize speed signs in uploaded imagery. OpenStreetView is also working on computer vision technology to automatically detect street lanes and lane restrictions. This data can then be fed back into OpenStreetMap.

OpenStreetView is obviously very similar to Mapillary, the current leaders in crowd-sourced Street View imagery. OpenStreetView claim that the major distinctions between the two projects is that OpenStreetView is truly open-sourced, 100% focused on improving OpenStreetMap and optimized for car drivers. They also say that OpenStreetView users own their own data. This means users can download their own uploaded imagery and have the option to delete their account and remove their imagery from OpenStreetView at any time.

The Global Trade in Crude Oil

Crude oil is the world's single most actively-traded commodity. A World of Oil allows you to explore the world's leading exporters and importers of oil over the last 20 years.

A World of Oil uses a WebGL interactive globe to visualize the top ten importers and exporters of crude oil for each year from 1995 to 2014. You can also select individual countries on the map to view where the county imports oil from or where it exports oil to. You can even view the total amount of money made or spent on oil.

The 'Stories in Oil' section (accessed from the hamburger menu) picks out some interesting stories in the data. For example, 'US Spend Falls' will take you to a view showing USA oil imports in 2012. Although still the largest importer of oil in 2012 the USA actually spent less on importing oil than in 2011.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mapping the Texas Triangle

Texas Triangle Tragedies maps the number of fatal accidents in Texas from 2005 to 2014. The map picks out what it calls the 'Texas Triangle', an area outlined by I-35, I-45 and I-10, which has a high concentration of traffic accidents.

I like the consistent design on the interactive map in this report. The aesthetic of highway signs is used for the timeline, legend and for the information windows. The map itself however isn't particularly revealing. As the introduction to the map points out this area has a densely concentrated population. So with more people, and presumably more traffic, we might expect this area to have a higher concentration of accidents than elsewhere in the state.

Texas Triangle Tragedies draws attention to the fact that the "number of traffic fatalities has remained relatively flat comparing the years 2005 and 2014". The site's analysis of the notable contributing factors to the traffic accidents is probably more revealing than the map itself. It shows that driving under the influence is a leading contributor to accidents and that "alcohol-related traffic fatalities increased by more than 20 percent during the time period".

If the Texas Triangle Tragedies map included an option to allow you to filter the accidents shown by contributing causes it could possibly reveal some interesting spatial patterns about where these different types of accidents occur.

Discover the New Delft

Nieuw Delft is a huge new urban development taking place in the Dutch city of Delft. The development will include 800 new homes, new businesses, restaurants and parks. You can now explore how this new development will look when finished on a beautifully designed interactive map.

Ontdek Nieuw Delft is a really cleverly designed oblique aerial view map of the Nieuw Delft district. The map allows you to explore what is currently little more than a huge construction site on a large oblique view of Delft. If you want to see the future of Nieuw Delft then just turn on the seamless image overlays to reveal an oblique projected view of the finished development.

Markers on the map allow you to find out more about individual buildings and districts in the Nieuw Delft. You can also switch to a more traditional map view if you want a better idea about how the Nieuw Delft area fits into the existing map of the city.

Revealing Your Location with Photos

Many people knowingly share their location with Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pokemon Go and countless other apps. However there are probably just as many people who are unaware that they are sharing their location on-line, either because they have forgotten that they agreed to it, or they were unaware what they agreed to when they blindly ticked to accept an app's terms and conditions.

There are probably even more people who are unaware that they are sharing their location every time they share or post a photo online. Accidental Geography is a good reminder that the metadata you share when you post a photograph online can include the location of where that photo was taken.

Accidental Geography maps photos that have been posted to Wordpress blogs by users who haven't removed the geo-tagged data added by their digital cameras and /or phones.

A slightly more polished and humorous warning of accidentally revealing your location by sharing photos online is I Know Where Your Cat Lives.

I Know Where Your Cat Lives displays pictures of cats on a Google Map. The pictures of the cats come from popular photo sharing websites and the locations are based on the data hidden in the cat photo metadata.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Brutalist Street View

Google's panoramic Street View imagery is a great resource for documenting and reporting on building styles around the world. For example, Arti-Fact has been collating and collecting architecturally interesting buildings and sculptures that can be found on Google Maps Street View for over four years.

Artstreetecture is a similar collection of architecturally interesting Street View images. However Artstreetacture has a narrower focus than Arti-Fact, concentrating purely on the Modernist and Brutalist architecture of the 20th and 21st Centuries.

Brutalism obviously has its fair share of critics. Many people find Brutalist buildings cold and ugly. However there does seem to be some re-evaluation of Brutalism going on in architectural criticism. For example, in Britain there have been campaigns to save and conserve examples of Brutalist architecture.

Thanks to the work of Artstreetecture and Google Maps Street View you can view Brutalist buildings from around the world and make up your own mind about whether these buildings deserve saving or whether they deserve the wrecking-ball.