Monday, November 20, 2017

Still Building Trump's Wall


Donald Trump wants to spend millions of hard working Americans' tax-dollars on a wall between the United States and Mexico. KPBS claims that 653 miles of that wall already exists, 90% of which was built in only the last 12 years by Presidents Bush and Obama.

KPBS submitted a number of Freedom of Information requests to U.S. Customs and Border Protection in order to learn where that 'wall' is and when these sections were built. You can explore the data on their new interactive map America's Wall.

Using the map you can select sections of the wall to see when it was constructed and what type of physical barrier it is. You can also use the timeline chart to see how much of this existing wall was built in any particular year. This timeline is synced to the map. When you click on the chart the map is filtered to only show the sections built in the selected year.



USA Today flew & drove along the entire 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico. During these journeys they mapped every known piece of the existing border fence between the two countries. You can view the locations of this existing border fence and also view the aerial video USA Today shot during their flight along the border on their interactive map.

Should we build a wall? A 2,000-mile search for answers not only maps the existing border fence but also explores some of the problems the USA could face in trying to build Trump's wall between Mexico & the USA. The map shows where the existing fence consists of vehicle barriers, pedestrian fencing, other fencing and where no fencing currently exists.

The beginning of 'Should we build a wall' is in a story map format. This section explores some of the geographical, economical and legal problems the USA could face in trying to build Trump's wall. You can view some of these geographical problems yourself in the USA Today's aerial videos. If you scroll to the bottom of the story map and click on the 'Explore the map' button you can click on the map to view videos of the aerial footage captured during the flight along the border.

'Should we build a wall' is just one part of USA Today's special report The Wall - an in-depth examination of Donald Trump's border wall. In the rest of the report you can read interviews, listen to podcasts and explore the border in virtual reality.


Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Reporting, has also been collecting data on the US-Mexico border for a number of years. They have spent a long time mapping the existing border fence using satellite imagery and government PDF maps of the border.

From this data Reveal has discovered that around 700 miles of the 1,954 mile-long U.S.-Mexico border is already fenced. Trump's new wall will therefore need to be at least 1,300 miles long. That's a lot of Chinese steel. You can explore Reveal's work on their The Wall interactive map. The map shows the current fence and shows where it is a 'vehicular' and where it is a 'pedestrian' fence. The map also shows where no fence currently exists.

You can get a good sense of the scale of construction needed to build Trump's new wall in a video from the Intercept. The Intercept downloaded and stitched together 200,000 satellite images to create a huge strip map of the U.S.-Mexican border. You can view this strip map in Visualizing the U.S.-Mexico Border, a short video which pans along the whole border.


From Donald Trump's 'detailed' construction plans we know that the Trump Wall will be up to 15 meters high, made of concrete and steel (but also possibly fencing) and will be 1,954 miles long. If you are having difficulty envisioning just how far 1,954 miles is then you can use the Berliner Morgenpost's interactive map. The Trump Wall Comparison Map allows you to overlay an outline of Trump's proposed border wall between the USA and Mexico on any other location on Earth.

If you want to create your own Trump Wall map then you can get Reveal's data for the US-Mexico border fence on Github. You can read more about how this data was collected and mapped in the Reveal article The Wall: Building a continuous US-Mexico barrier would be a tall order.

The Cost of Going Outside


Apparently Americans have to pay an entrance fee to 'enter' the great outdoors. Some National Parks in the USA charge an entrance fee. And the National Parks Service wants to put those prices up.

Mapbox has therefore released the NPS Fee Explorer Map. This interactive map allows you to select a national park, a mode of entry (car, bike or on foot) and the number of visitors to find out how much your visit could cost after the proposed increases to entrance fees. It also explains how much more this would cost than it costs now to visit the same national park.

The proposed increases only affect 17 national parks. The national parks are highlighted on the map by using a different shade of green than for the surrounding natural areas on the map.

Forget the map though. My big take away from this is that Americans have to pay money to go outside.

Mapping the Irish Rebellion


I've been experimenting a lot recently with the Leaflet-IIIF plug-in. The plug-in allows you to display IIIF manifests in Leaflet maps. This map of Van Gogh's Self-Portrait Dedicated to Gauguin shows how you can use the plug-in to pan & zoom around an IIIF manifest. While this Compendium of Victorian Map Games shows how you can load different manifest URLs into the same Leaflet map.

One of the main advantages of using Leaflet to display IIIF manifests is that you can switch between a map and an IIIF manifest with some ease. In other words Leaflet can be used to show the location of geo-tagged images and provide an interface in which you can pan & zoom around these very same images. You can get a better idea by looking at this demo map of Dublin 1916.

This map uses a number of postcards created after the 1916 Rising in Dublin. These postcards are held by the UCD Digital Library. The map shows the location depicted in each of the images. If you click on a marker then you can view the postcard selected and pan & zoom around the image.

Switching between a basemap map layer and an IIIF manifest is not as straightforward as you might think. The reason for this is that the map and the IIIF manifest use different map projections. Therefore you need to change the map projection every time you switch between a manifest and the map.

Who Else Owns England?


Who Owns England? has set itself the task of mapping who owns land in England. Earlier this year it released an interactive map showing all the land in England owned by the government, government bodies or charities. The map was partly an extension of earlier work done by Anna Powell-Smith for the satirical magazine Private Eye.

Back in 2015 Private Eye created an interactive map showing the amount of English & Welsh land that has been bought up by offshore companies. Selling England by the Offshore Pound uses Land Registry data to plot all land parcels registered in the name of an offshore company between 2005 and July 2014.

Who Owns England? has now created an interactive map of land owned by UK corporate bodies, councils, UK companies, housing associations and more. This new map uses Land Registry data, which for the first time ever shows who owns around 3.5 million land titles. According to Who Owns England? the data shows that "companies and the public sector own around a third of England and Wales". The majority of land is owned by Limited Companies. The second largest category of land owners are local authorities and county councils.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Where can you travel without a visa?


Travelscope is an interactive visualization of all the countries in the world that you can travel to without a visa. The map also includes options to view the population and GDP of every country in the world.

I really like the animated transitions when you switch between Travelscope's two different map views. When you switch between the map and 3d globe view the map actually wraps itself into a sphere. The map also includes animated flow-lines, which are used to show all the countries that you van travel to from your selected country.

The visualization was created using d3.js and three.js and a number of other JavaScript libraries. You can find out more about how the visualization was created on the project's GitHub page. Travelscope is featured on Google's Chrome Experiments site. If you like interactive 3d globes you can find many more examples using the Chrome Experiments geographic tag.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Mapping Earthquake Prone Buildings


The New Zealand Herald has created an interesting mapped tour of Wellington's Earthquake Prone Buildings. The map shows the location of the 95 Wellington buildings which have unreinforced masonry and the 699 buildings which are earthquake prone. The map also identifies hotspots where unsafe buildings are located in areas with large numbers of pedestrians.

The map effectively uses Mapbox GL to provide a bird's eye view of Wellington with 3d buildings (the earthquake prone buildings are colored red on the map). This 3d view of the city is combined with a story map format so that the Herald can take its readers on a tour of the city's vulnerable buildings and dangerous hotspots.

The map uses extrusions to display the 3d buildings. This is neatly combined with the story map format to give a real sense of flying over the city's buildings. This tour of the city is supported by the Herald's analysis of the city's earthquake prone buildings and the danger that they pose to the city. This analysis appears in the scrolling map side-panel.


In New Zealand all buildings need to be assessed by law to identify which buildings are earthquake prone. The New Zealand Herald were able to use this data to create their map of Wellington's earthquake prone buildings. In the United States the Oregonian had to take a different approach in mapping the Oregon buildings most prone to earthquake damage.

In 1974 Oregon enacted its first statewide building code. In 1993 western Oregon adopted its first seismic standards. Franz Rad, a professor of civil & environmental engineering at Portland State University, argues that these dates provide a "broad-brush look at the vulnerability of buildings".

Earthquakes: How Vulnerable are Portland’s Buildings? uses Portland building age data to assess which buildings are most earthquake prone. Building footprints are colored on the map to show buildings constructed before 1974, those constructed between 1974 & 1993 and buildings erected after 1993. You can therefore use the map to assess the ('broad-brush') vulnerability of any Portland building to earthquake damage.

Do you live near a gas pipeline?


Do you know how near you live to a gas pipeline? Well you can now find out using a new interactive map from the Sierra Club. Yesterday the environmental organization released an interactive map of gas pipelines in the USA. You can use the map to see how near your home, school or workplace is to a gas pipeline and if they are in a pipeline blast zone or evacuation zone.

The Sierra Club Gas Pipelines Map displays planned and already operating gas pipelines across the United States. If you zoom-in on the map you can also view the location of schools, hospitals, daycare centers and nursing homes. It can be a little difficult to select individual pipelines on the map. However if you do successfully click on a pipeline you can find out who it is owned by and whether it is in operation, planned or under construction.

Also See

Building the Dakota Access Pipeline
What Kinder Morgan's Pipeline will Mean for B.C.'s Coast
A Line in the Sand - mapping reactions to the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline in Canada

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The World's Most Dangerous Countries


This week I've seen a lot of reports recommending the International SOS Travel Risk Map. International SOS provide a very basic interactive map of the travel risks in each country of the world. Their Travel Risk Map provides an overview of the travel risks in each country for medical, security and road safety.

Countries are colored on the Travel Risk Map to show the International SOS assessment of the travel risks in these three categories. The map therefore does provide a very basic guide as to where it is safe to travel in the world. Unfortunately that is as far as the map goes. At the very least I would expect to be able to click on individual countries on the map to learn more about the travel risks in the selected country. If I'm travelling to a country I don't just want to know that there is a high security risk I want to know what those risks are.

Many governments provide useful advice for their citizens planning to travel abroad. For example the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office provides up-to-date Foreign Travel Advice. If you click on Zimbabwe on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice page you can see that the travel advice has been updated today and takes this week's military coup into account.

If you do use the Travel Risk Map please also check your government's latest travel advice as well.

Building a Map of the Roman Empire


The Pelagios project is currently working on creating vector tile map layers to work with the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire. A vector based Atlas of the Roman Empire will allow Pelagios to offer the user many more options. For example users could be given a choice to view place-name labels in Latin, ancient Greek or using the modern place-names. The vector based map will also have many more zoom levels which will allow Pelagios to actually map individual Roman Empire buildings.

Pelagios has been documenting the process of creating their vector tile map of the Roman Empire. You can read about how the vector tile map is being built on The Roman Empire Vector Map Project and Building the Roman Empire Vector Tile Map. A final post (yet to be published) will explore more the new possibilities that the vector tile map will provide for Pelagios and users of the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire.

This early demo version of the vector tiled map of the Roman Empire provides a drop-down menu that you can use to change the language of the map labels.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The DC Transportation Model


Property developers in Washington DC must provide trip generation estimates in their project planning applications. In order to show how a project will impact on local traffic and public transit these reports include estimates of both morning and evening trips to and from the proposed development.

A new online mapping tool, developed by Stamen for transportation consultants Fehr & Peers and the District Department of Transportation (ddot), can now make these trip generation estimates for you. TripsDC is an interactive map tool "for estimating vehicle, walk, bike, and transit trips based on a proposed development's characteristics and its context".

Using the tool you can enter the address of a proposed development project. You then need to enter the number of residential units, the number of parking spaces and the retail square footage. That's all you need to do. With this information the tool can automatically produce your project's morning and evening trip generation estimates.

If you aren't planning any major development projects in DC you can still use the map to view the data behind the model. These include an interesting layer which shows the distance to the nearest Metro for every location in the capital.