Wednesday, May 04, 2016

The Real-time Video Map


A couple of years ago, when the short-form video sharing site Vine first appeared, there was a small trend to create maps of the latest videos posted using Vine. The maps proved quite popular at the time.

There was a certain appeal to the maps as they allowed you to see normal people around the world broadcasting in almost real-time. They also probably had a certain voyeuristic appeal. Unfortunately all the Vine maps seem to now be defunct. However you can still view real-time videos being posted around the world on Facebook Live.

The Facebook Live Map is a map of the latest Facebook Live videos. Facebook Live allows Facebook users to post live video broadcasts to their Facebook friends and to the whole world. The Facebook Live Map shows the locations of all the latest videos and live videos being posted using Live.

The map has two different types of map marker. The blue dots represent videos which are no longer live but which have been posted in the last few minutes. The flashing dots are the videos which are currently being broadcast live. If you select any of the dot markers on the map you can watch the broadcast live (or its recording if it has recently finished). If you hover over a marker you can also see where other people around the world are tuning in to watch the chosen video.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Crowdsourced Sidewalk Scores


Walkscope Denver is a crowd-sourced map which is gathering data on the quality of Denver's sidewalks. The map allows anyone to select a section of sidewalk or intersection and report on the quality of the sidewalk or add pedestrian counts.

To add an observation to the map you just need to select a sidewalk or intersection on the map and then select whether you want to report on sidewalk quality, intersection quality, or the number of pedestrians. You then answer a few simple questions and submit a photo of the sidewalk (if you so desire).

The map also provides a visualization of all the crowd-sourced reports submitted so far. Using the side-panel menu you can view mapped visualizations of all the sidewalk quality reports, all the intersection reports and the pedestrian counts. If you select a sidewalk or intersection on the map you can also view the reported scores and, where available, photos of the sidewalk or intersection.

Mapping Spike Lee's New York


Spike Lee has set a large number of his movies in his home city of New York. Red Bull are celebrating this fact with an interactive strip map, New York Through the Lens of Spike Lee, which looks at some of the locations around the Big Apple where the director has shot scenes for his movies.

The map not only allows you to discover locations which feature in Spike Lee's movies but also lets you view the relevant clips from the films directly from the map. The map also includes an animated polyline and map labels which indicate which Spike Lee films were shot at those locations.

The map uses an effective navigation device which requires the user to simply scroll down the web-page. As you scroll you are taken on a linear north to south journey through Spike Lee's New York. This method of map navigation works well when you only have a linear path to plot on your map.

On my monitor there is a slight problem with the Spike Lee map when the plotted path makes a west to east detour through north Brooklyn. At this point the path disappears off the top of the screen. However you can still scroll back-up on the map to select the markers in north Brooklyn.

This method of linear scrolling on a map owes a lot to the traditional strip map. It is a little surprising that we don't see more interactive strip maps on the internet. The browser, with its often linear scrolling method of navigation, seems to lend itself rather well to the strip map format. However interactive strip maps on the web seem to be few and far between.


Propublica is one of my favorite examples of an interactive map which makes use of this linear scrolling method common to traditional strip maps. Killing the Colorado takes you on a journey down the Colorado river, exploring how man is engineering the death of this once great river.

As you scroll down the page you follow the course of the river overlaid on a satellite view. On your journey down the river information windows open highlighting some of the water projects that are draining water from the river.

The Propublica map owes a lot of its inspiration to the New York Times' A Rogue State Along Two Rivers. A Rogue State Along Two Rivers explores the rise of ISIS by following the paths of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The interactive story stitches together a series of aerial images of both rivers to create a strip map which you navigate by scrolling down the page.

The Wildly Inaccurate Map of Global Cooling


The Wildly Inaccurate Map of Global Cooling is, as the name suggests, a very inaccurate map of how the world might be affected by global cooling. It is hard to predict how the world will be affected by changes in average global temperatures. For obvious reasons a lot of modern day climate science is concentrated on exploring the possible effects of a rise in temperatures on Earth.

The reason I created the map was to explore the setPaintProperty function in Mapbox. The setPaintProperty function allows you to adjust the colors of layers in a Mapbox GL map in the browser. In the Wildly Inaccurate Map of Global cooling I have used the setPaintProperty to change the colors of the water and landcover layers of the basemap as the user adjusts the global temperature slide control.

When the slide control is moved the colors change on the map layers across the whole world. Obviously changes to the Earth caused by global temperature changes would not be so uniform. The changes would be different across the planet depending on degrees of latitude, micro-climates and elevation.

One way I could improve this map would be to add a digital elevation model to the map. I could then change the colors on the map according to levels of elevation.

In its present form the map should be seen as a demo of the setPaintProperty in Mapbox GL. You should view the changing colors and the climate information on this map with a huge degree of skepticism.

Monday, May 02, 2016

America's Unequal Schools


In the USA if you want a good education it seems that the most important thing you can do is make sure that you are born into a well-off family and that you live in an affluent neighborhood.

A few week's ago NPR released 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 on the map 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.

If you are unfortunate enough not to be born to a rich family in an affluent neighborhood then you might not learn that the American Dream promises "opportunity for each according to ability or achievement ... a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position." (James Truslow Adams, Epic of America, 1931)

The Abolitionist Map of America


PBS has teamed up with historypin to create the Abolitionist Map of America. The Abolitionists was a three part documentary from PBS which explored the history of the abolitionist movement in America.

The Abolitionist Map of America allows you to explore archival images, documents and videos related to abolitionism on an interactive map. You can discover this multi-media content on the map by location and by date. The map also includes a number of curated tours.

The tours section of the map provides the routes of a number of walking tours for Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Charleston and Rochester. These walking tours provide routes taking in a number of locations important to the abolitionist movement in each of the cities. The mapped tours also include the archival media featured in the rest of the map.

Overlaying Video on a 3D Globe


Last year the Cartography and Geovisualization Group at Oregon State University created an amazing interactive map from NASA's video of A Year In The Life Of Earth’s CO2.

The group's Interactive Map of A Year In The Life Of Earth's CO2 wraps an HTML5 version of NASA's narrated video of a year's Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide concentrations around an interactive globe. This mean that you can zoom in and out and pan the video just as you could an interactive globe.

Greg Tatum has now created a three.js powered interactive globe using the same narrated NASA video, Earth's CO2 overlays the narrated video on top of a three dimensional model of the Earth. As the video plays you can rotate the globe and use your mouse-wheel to zoom in and out.

Earth's CO2 requires a web browser.that supports WebGL.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Sea Level Rise - Australia


A new interactive map from NGIS allows Australians to see how a rise in sea levels could effect their neighborhoods. Coastal Risk Australia visualizes the predicted sea level rise for 2100 and also allows users to simulate different levels of sea level rise on a map of Australia.

You can use the search facility to center the map on any Australian location. The initial 'Predicted' map view shows the effect of predicted sea level rises for the year 2100. If you switch to the 'Manual' view you can use the map slide control to manually adjust the level of sea level rise and see the results automatically update on the map.

The digital elevation model used by the map is based on LIDAR data.

The 3D Maps of the Week


This week I was really impressed with an interactive map from Dublin City Council commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising.

The City and the Rising features images, text and videos that connect incidents and events of the Easter Rising with locations across the city.This multi-media content is displayed on top of vintage map of Dublin.

My favorite part of The City and the Rising has to be the incredible 3d maps which you can view of a number of important locations in Dublin. These 3d maps were made from archive photographs, maps and documentary sources to recreate how Dublin actually looked in 1916.

Therefore with The City and the Rising you can not only learn more about the events that took place in and around Dublin's General Post Office (for example) you can also explore the GPO and O'Connell Street in 3d. In fact, if you have an Oculus Rift headset, you can view the 3d scenes in virtual reality.


I was also impressed this week with a 3d map of the London Marathon route, created by Emu Analytics, using Qgis2threejs and building height & elevation data.

London Marathon 3D uses building height information derived from the UK Environment Agency's LIDAR data. The 3d buildings help you to navigate the route and the terrain elevation layer gives you a good idea of the few hills along the route. The elevation layer reveals how flat the London Marathon route is, apart from the beginning of the race in Greenwich.

Emu Analytics warn that the map is a bit of a browser killer. If your computer is a little old you might want to view this YouTube video of the map instead.


The Washington Post has been looking at the uneven recovery in the housing market since its collapse in 2004 (this one obviously isn't in 3D). What they have found is that although the market has largely recovered it is the wealthy who are benefiting, while poorer and minority neighborhoods are lagging behind.

The Post's report America's Great Housing Divide is accompanied by an interactive map which allows you to see how property prices are doing in your area. If you enter a town name or zip-code into the map you can view a choropleth map showing how homes in your neighborhoods have changed in value since 2004.

If you click on the map you can see the percentage change in value in homes in the zip-code area. You can also view a graph showing the rise and fall of property prices in the area since 2004 compared to the rise and fall of house prices in the wider metro area.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Map Marker Collections


Mapbox has released a new version of their Maki map icons collection. The collection includes 114 different open sourced map markers which can be used with your interactive maps.

Each icon in the Maki collection is available in two sizes, 11px by 11px and 15px by 15px, and can be downloaded in SVG format. The new collection also comes with the Maki Icon Set Editor, which allows you to change the color and shape of the map icons so that they complement the design of your interactive maps.

Interactive map developers and designers might also be interested in the Maki Style Guidelines.


Another source for downloadable map icons is the Map Icons Collection. The Map Icons Collection includes over 1,000 different map icons in seven different styles. It is also possible to edit the colors of each of the map markers in the Map Icons Collection.

A third source for map markers is the Map Icons Designer. The Map Icons Designer includes 200 map icons which can be downloaded in PSD Vector Shape & PNG format.