Friday, July 25, 2014

Mapping the US Drought

The New York Times has published an interesting animated map to visualize the spread of drought conditions in the US over the last five months. Mapping the Spread of Drought Across the U.S. includes a number of weekly updated charts with an animated map to show the latest extent of the drought in the western and south-western states.

The map animates through the last five months showing heat maps of where the drought has been most severe. I'm not entirely sure how the map was created but based on the Mike Bostock credit I'm assuming the map was created with d3, using SVG to draw the map and the drought areas. The map may also be using path transitions to help smooth the animations between the different drought by date SVG paths.

Mapping Squatting in Berlin

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. It is also interesting to note 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.

Conservation & Crowd-Sourced Maps

This week I came across two interesting examples of organisations using crowd-sourced maps in order to help protect the countryside in the UK.

Butterfly Conservation are holding their annual butterfly count (19th July- 10th August). The butterfly count enables Butterfly Conservation to monitor the health of butterfly species across the UK.

If you visit Butterfly Conservation you can download a Butterfly Chart to help you identify and record butterflies. You then need to find a suitable location and spend just fifteen minutes identifying and recording the butterflies which you see.

All the results from this crowd-sourced butterfly census are then added to the Butterfly Sightings Google Map. The butterfly sightings on the map can be filtered by date, species, habitat and location.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England has released a Google Map to identify brownfield sites across the country.

In order to try and stop the over development of rural land in the countryside the CPRE needs your help to locate brownfield sites where land is being wasted and could be used for property development instead.

#WasteOfSpace is a map of all the brownfield sites identified so far. You can contribute to the map by submitting brownfield sites by e-mail, by Tweet or through Facebook.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Europe is Moving Westwards

The European Union has released a new open data portal to provide information on EU funding and the socio-economic situation in each European Union country. The data can be downloaded in a number of common formats (including CSV, JSON and XML) and can be used free of charge.

The Cohesion Policy Data also provides visualizations of the data in a number of formats, including using Mapbox powered maps. The maps allow you to visualize a number of the socio-economic data-sets on a map of Europe, including data on GDP, unemployment rates and population.

The net migration data is particularly interesting. Immigration is currently proving to be a hot political topic in many European countries so I'm sure this data will prove to be popular with developers and news outlets. The map (screenshot above) clearly shows that most of the EU countries from the former Eastern Bloc (including East Germany) are experiencing high levels of emigration.

The map also shows that the many of the most popular destinations in Europe are around the Mediterranean coast, with north-western Italy, southern France and eastern Spain proving particularly popular as migrant destinations.

Mapping the Crisis in Ukraine

Liveuamap is a Google Map reporting incidents from the crisis in Ukraine. The map is a nonprofit, volunteer run project with a mission to inform the world about the on-going conflict in Ukraine.

The latest events in the country are plotted on the map using categorized map markers and are also listed in a map side-panel. The blue map markers relate to Ukrainian government actions and the red markers show the actions of the pro-Russian rebels.

The map includes a date picker so that you can select to view reported incidents from any date during the conflict. It also includes dynamic URL's so that you directly link to any incident reported on the map.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tracking Flight 17

I've seen a number of impressive images maps showing the location where Malaysia Airlines flight M17 was shot down over Ukraine. Now the Wall Street Journal has released the first decent interactive map that I've seen.

Tracking Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shows the flight path of flight 17 on July 17th, the date of the crash. The map also allows you to view flight paths of flight 17 in the months preceding the crash and the paths taken since the plane was fatally shot down.

The map shows that Flight M17 was flying within the usual flight path. You can also see how Flight 17 since the crash is making a wide berth of Ukrainian air space.

The WWI Mapped Interactive

The Guardian has released a very impressive mapped interactive about the history of World War I. A Global Guide to the First World War uses maps, audio, historical film and archive newspaper reports to examine the causes, struggles and effects of the first truly world-wide armed conflict.

The introductory map is particularly stunning with a number of small videos playing within the country outlines of a global map.

The first chapter of the interactive is a tour of the world highlighting when individual countries entered the First World War. Let's hear it for plucky Andorra, who, with an army of just 10 soldiers, declared war on Germany in 1914.

The other chapters in the narrative use audio narratives, archive film footage and excerpts from The Guardian's own newspaper reports during the war. These chapters deal with life in the trenches, the experiences of soldiers around the world and the aftermath of the war.

Introducing Wikia Maps

There's a new interactive mapping platform in town! Wikia Maps is a new easy to use map creation tool from Wikia, the free web wiki creation and hosting website.

The first thing to note is that Wikia Maps is not a fully fledged online mapping platform. It has similar functionality to Google Maps Engine Lite, in that it allows you to quickly add a few pins to a map and then grab the embed code to add a map to your webpage. However Wikia Maps does have an option to quickly create a map from any image. This option could make Wikia Maps a very popular amateur mapping tool indeed.

At the moment Wikia Maps provides two main user options. The first option, 'real map', allows you to add map pins to a Mapquest base map layer. You can create categories for your added map markers and you can also use your own images for the map pins. This easily allows you to add groups of markers and to select a different map pin marker for each of your categories.

The second option is where Wikia Maps excels. Using Wikia Maps you can easily create maps from your own images. So if you want to create a map of Westeros all you need to do is upload a Westoros image map and start adding pins to the map of your fantasy world.

This option should prove very popular. It allows computer game players to quickly create maps of game worlds. It allows fantasy fiction fans to quickly create maps of fictional worlds. It allows photographers to upload photos and add map pins to highlight people and other features in a picture. I can truly see this option being used by lots of people in lots of exciting ways.

If you look at the Featured Maps you can see the fun users are already having with this option to create maps with your own images. There is already a map of the Millennium Falcon, Westeros and a photo map from the Oscars.

If you want to start creating your own Wikia Map then you might find the Wikia Maps How-to Guide a useful place to begin.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Incredible Cat Stalking Map

One of the earliest popular uses of the Google Maps API was Gawker Stalker. The now defunct Gawker Stalker allowed you to track the movements of your favorite celebrities thanks to the detailed stalking carried out by Gawker and their readers.

If there is one thing more popular than celebrities on the internet then that is pictures of cats. It is therefore surprising that we have had to wait seven years for someone to finally get around to releasing 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 cat photo metadata.  I'm guessing that the map is partly intended as a warning about sharing your personal information online (or maybe its just a warning about sharing your cat's personal data online).

Weather on the Route

If you are planning a leisurely hike or a nice road-trip then you probably want to know what the weather will be like. WeatherTrip is a very easy to use map which can show you what weather conditions to expect along your planned route.

Just enter your starting point and destination into the application and a route will instantly be shown on a Google Map with a number of weather symbols showing you the current weather conditions along your planned walk or drive.

If you aren't setting off right now then you can use a date picker to select the date of your planned trip. Pick a new date and the weather symbols automatically update to display the weather on your planned trip date.

The Dark Sky: Weather Along a Traffic Route is another map which can show you the weather along your planned route. The app lets users request directions and then displays the route on a Google Map.

The first 60-minutes of your requested route will include a rain forecast from Dark Sky, showing where (and how hard) you’ll get rained on if you left right now. One feature that is missing is the ability to check the weather for a specific time. However the map could still be useful if you are heading out for a walk and you want to know if it is going to rain any time soon along your planned route.