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.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Rickshaws & Pigeons - Monitoring Air Pollution


Delhi has one of the worst air pollution records in the world. London has the worst air pollution record in Europe. Both cities however are developing interesting ways to monitor near real-time air pollution.

In Delhi Project Peppered Moth has equipped five auto rickshaws with internet connected air pollution sensors. These sensors measure air pollution every 30 seconds as they navigate around the city. The Project Peppered Moth website includes an interactive map which allows you to explore the readings from any of the rickshaws for any of the days that they have been in action.

The map shows color-coded markers for each reading taken by the sensors. I assume green markers indicate lower readings and red markers show higher readings.

London doesn't have as many auto rickshaws as Delhi but it does have thousands of pigeons. Pigeon Air Patrol has developed tiny backpacks fitted with air pollution sensors. It has also found a number of pigeons who have agreed to wear the backpacks on their daily commute around London.

The Pigeon Air Patrol website also includes an interactive map which presents the pigeons' tracks and the air pollution readings that the pigeons collected for what I assume was a test run. If you click on any of the markers on the you can read a summary of the air pollution level (although they all seem to say 'moderate pollution').

Now all we need is for both cities to put as much imagination into lowering air pollution as they are into monitoring it.

8-Bit Maps of the World


Back in 2010 Bret Camper released 8-Bit City - New York, an interactive 8-Bit map of New York, which resembled the world maps used in 1980's computer games.

Since 2010 8-Bit City has expanded in scope and you can now view 8-Bit maps of 18 cities around the world. These 8-bit maps use data from OpenStreetMap which is then processed in a custom rendering engine, built by Brett, to create the map tiles for each interactive city map.


If you want to create an 8-Bit type map of a location which isn't featured in 8-Bit Cities you can use the 8-Bit Map Maker. This clever OpenStreetMap based tool can create an 8-bit game world map for any real world location.

Just enter your address into the map and you can create a little static game world map of your own neighborhood. The 8-Bit Map Maker also includes an option to download the created 8-Bit map of your location as a tiled map.


If you want to view a fully interactive 8-Bit map of the world then you should have a look at the Super Mario Map of the World. This interactive map was styled in Mapbox Studio to resemble the 8-bit maps used in the Super Mario computer games.

If you want to learn more about how the map data was styled to resemble an 8-Bit map then you can read the Designing a Super Mario Map with Mapbox Studio Classic on the Mapbox Blog.

Mapping the Science Paper Pirates


Sci-Hub is an online repository of pirated scientific academic papers and articles. It allows researchers and students to access expensive pay-walled academic content. Content that is usually only available from expensive academic journal publishers.

Perhaps one of the strongest arguments in support of the illegal pirating of scientific papers is that the present system is prohibitively expensive, especially for struggling students and researchers from developing countries. It has been claimed that the popularity of Sci-Hub in countries such as India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Iran proves that Sci-Hub is providing access to scientific research to those who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford it.

In an article on the Science website, Who's Downloading Pirated Papers?, John Bohannon has created an interactive map showing where pirated scientific academic papers and articles have been downloaded from Sci-Hub around the world. In order to make the map Bohannon contacted Alexandra Elbakyan, the Sci-Hub creator, to request the geographic location of every user who has downloaded an academic paper from Sci-Hub. In order to protect the privacy of Sci-Hub users the data was aggregated to the nearest city.

Bohannon's article on Science also includes a link to the open data behind the map. The data includes '28 million download request events from the server logs of Sci-Hub from 1 September 2015 through 29 February 2016'.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Divided Recovery in House Prices


The Washington Post has been looking at the uneven recovery in the housing market since its collapse in 2004. 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.