Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The 10 Best Sound Maps

Recently there has been a trend to marry Google Maps Street View with sound recordings. The combination of 360 degree panoramas with recorded sound is an effective way for developers to represent both the aural and visual experience of locations around the world.  The Sound City ProjectNight Walk in Marseilles and Sounds of Street View are three good examples of websites which combine sound and imagery.

While the combination of Street View and sound recordings can be particularly evocative sometimes developers just want to represent the aural landscape of locations. Here then are some of the best Sound Maps from around the world:

From the insect chorus of the Borneo to the crooning baritone song of an Atlantic humpback whale, this map wants to serenade you with the sounds of nature. The Nature Soundmap is a map featuring the sounds of nature captured by professional nature recordists around the world.

Maps have always been a fascinating way to explore the globe. Satellite imagery and Street View imagery have made armchair exploring even more immersive. Add in the sounds of the monsoon in Borneo and the soundscape of the Brazilian rain-forest and you can almost imagine that you really have been transported to the other side of the world.

One of the most popular uses of interactive maps is to show how locations have changed over time. The wonderful Historypin has been mapping old vintage photographs for a few years and I've even had a go myself at mapping vintage films on my There and Then map.

The Historical London Sounds map is the first attempt I've seen at mapping vintage sound recordings. Using original BBC Radio actuality recordings the Historical London Sounds map allows you to listen to life on the street in London in the 1920's, 1930's, 1940's and 1950's.

The Audio and Acoustic Engineering Research Centre at the University of Salford wants to build a sound map of the world. To achieve this the Centre is crowd-sourcing the process of mapping the aural landscape.

Sound Around You allows users to upload sound clips to a Google Map either from the Sound Around You iPhone app or from a recording stored on your computer. One really nice feature of the Sound Around You map is the use of Google Street View. When you select a marker on the map, to listen to a submitted sound clip, where available a Street View window also opens.

Radio Aporee is another crowd-sourced map of sound recordings. Since 2006 the project has been creating a sound map allowing you to listen to sound recordings from locations around the world.

Soundcities is yet another crowd-sourced database of sounds and sound maps from around the world, using found sounds and field recordings. It is possible to browse the submitted sounds by location on a Google Map. It is also possible to browse by mood. The Google Map includes a number of sound recordings made in lots of cities around the world and all the sounds can be listened to directly from the map.

The British Library Sound Maps is a nice collection of Google Maps featuring audio recordings in a number of different categories.

Users can explore traditional music on the Music from India and Traditional English Music maps. The Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust map features a number of first hand oral accounts from survivors of the Holocaust.

The British Library collection also includes sound maps of wildlife recordings and British regional accents and dialects.

If all this noise is giving you a headache then you might want to listen to the sound of silence recorded at locations around the world. The Museum of Modern Art, New York created a sound map to accompany an exhibition celebrating John Cage’s 4’33” ( commonly known as Cage's 'silent' piece).

MoMa's Share Your Silence map is a sound map of user contributed recordings of 'silence' around the world. If you want to hear how silence sounds in different locations around the world you can simply click on the map markers and listen to the submitted recordings directly from the map.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

America's Greatest Drives

The US Secretary of Transportation used to have a website, called, which provided detailed information on over 850 scenic roads in the United States, including maps, sample trips and points of interest along the way. Unfortunately the website was taken off-line in September 2013.

America's Scenic Byways is an open-sourced project to provide an alternative to the now long departed The site uses data taken from, before it disappeared, and information provided by the new site's users.

America's Scenic Byways includes a Google Map of all the scenic featured drives in the US. You can search for drives near you by location. Selecting a drive on the map will take you to a map of the route with information on its length and the likely time it would take to drive.

All of the featured drives on America's Scenic Byways include photos and information about the landscape and topography you can see on the route and details about points of interest along the way.

Bogotá in 3d

Bogotá en 3d is a beautiful looking CartoDB created map of the El Chicó neighborhood of Bogotá.

The map shows the footprints of thousands of buildings in the neighborhood, alongside information about the number of flats contained in each individual building. If you select a building on the map you can view details on the building's usage and also a photo of the building.

I'm not sure how useful you will find the map's functionality but it is definitely worth a look just for the beautiful 3d representation of the neighborhood's buildings.

Jane Goodall Street View

Google has added Street View imagery to Google Maps from the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. The park is where the famous anthropologist Jane Goodall has for 45 years been studying the social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees.

Now you can also explore the shores of Lake Tanganyika and the rain forests of the Gombe Stream National Park using Google's interactive panoramic imagery.

Google has also added new Street View imagery in Japan. Google used a boat to capture Street View imagery along hundreds of kilometers of the Tohoku coast. The coast in this region of Japan was devastated by the March 2011 tsunami. The new imagery covers 400 km of the coast in the Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.

The House Sharing Map

Unfortunately, unless you are a Russian oligarch, it is likely that you will never be able to afford to buy a home in London. This means, that if you do want to live in London, you will probably have to rent.

Unfortunately, unless you are a member of a Saudi royal family, you will never be able to afford to rent a house on your own in London. This means, that if you do want to live in London, you will probably have to house-share.

Sharing vs. Affordability is a Google Map which can help you find the areas in London where you can afford to rent a property. The map uses data from Find Property to visualize where you can afford to live on your own in London and where you would have to house-share.

Just use the slide control to enter how much rent you can afford to pay and the map shows the areas of London which are too expensive, where you could afford to rent on your own and where you would have to share with one, two or three other people.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mapping Police Brutality

After the shooting of the unarmed 18-year-old Mike Brown in Ferguson by a police officer a number of Ferguson citizens came together to form Hands Up United.

Hands Up United's goal is in the short-term to get justice for the shooting of Mike Brown and, in the long-term, to help prevent future incidents of police brutality. To help achieve this goal Hand Up United has released an interactive map to which anyone can post reports of police brutality or police misuse of power.

This Google Map from the Cato Institute shows the location of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids in the United States.

The Cato Institute argue that "the Drug War (has) given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of 'no-knock' or 'quick-knock' raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users."

The Botched Paramilitary Police Raids map uses colored map markers to show raids that led to the death of innocent people, the death of a non-violent offender, the death or injury of a police officer etc. It is possible to refine the data on the map by state, year and by outcome.

Home.Land.Security say that there are many websites dedicated to mapping crime but not many that are mapping where people feel vulnerable because of the police themselves.

Home.Land.Security claim that many individuals  "including people of color, queer folks, and undocumented immigrants" see a police presence as itself a threat. They have therefore determined to map police shootings and targeted arrests for what they call "quality of life" crimes in San Francisco. 

The Home.Land.Security map allows users to view the locations of 'Officer Involved Shootings' and reported  "Quality of Life Crimes". It is also possible to load demographic data onto the map and to view San Francisco neighborhood boundaries.

The Art History of Zero

'ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60s' is a Guggenheim exhibition showcasing the art of the ZERO group of artists. The ZERO art movement started in Germany in the 1950's but soon became influential throughout Europe and Japan.

As part of the new ZERO exhibition (October 10, 2014–January 7, 2015) the Guggenheim has released an interactive map exploring the history of the ZERO group, the group's network of artists and the locations of some of their most important exhibitions.

The ZERO Countdown to Tomorrow Network map includes a circular 'clock' navigation tool, which allows you to explore the growth of the movement chronologically. Alternatively you can explore the entries geographically by simply selecting the markers on the map.

The Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative aims to connect artists and art institutions across South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa. As part of the project the Initiative has released an interactive map showcasing artists from each region through video, audio, and background information.

The Map Navigator allows you to navigate the UBS MAP’s library of digital content by location, artist, artwork and exhibition. The map includes a range of information, including audio and video clips of the featured artists. If you want to learn more about any of the artists taking part in the initiative you can click through to view their dedicated page, which features biographical information and photos of the artist's work.

Mapping Real-Time Buses in 3d

Over the years Maps Mania has reported on a huge number of real-time transit maps around the world. Transit maps which allow you to view the live movements of buses, trams and trains live on a map. Seetys is the first one that I've seen which allows you to follow vehicles in 3d.

The Seetys Transport website provides real-time simulated maps of bus networks in a number of Spanish cities. The maps allow you to view each of the featured city's bus routes on a Google Map. The maps include the option to follow individual buses as they move in real-time. If you select the '3d simulation' option you can even follow individual buses in 3d using the Google Earth browser plug-in.

The maps were created using Vasile's Transit-Map library. The library allows you to animate vehicles on a map using public transport timetables (GTFS) to interpolate vehicle positions along transit routes. The Seetys Transport website has used the website to create real-time simulated bus transit maps for Madrid, Barcelona, Vitoria, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Malaga and Grenada.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Maps of the Week

The most beautiful maps of the past week come from this collection of road orientation maps. Crayon the Grids is a series of maps where all the streets have been colored based on their orientation. The results, I think you will agree are absolutely stunning.

This series of city road orientation visualizations includes maps of San Francisco, Tokyo, New York, Chicago, London, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin and Boston.

Flickr and Panoramaio data has been used in the past to create some truly beautiful heat maps visualizing the areas where people have taken the most photographs. It is always amazing to zoom in on these visualizations to see how maps of towns and cities can emerge simply from geo-tagged photo data.

There is now a new application which helps you build a map of a location yourself simply by using the tags in geo-tagged Flickr photos.  Mapr from allows you to dynamically load Flickr photo data by geographical tags. You can therefore create your own map of a location simply by loading more and more geolocated Flickr data (using the photos' tags).

If you enter your zip code into the Commute Map you can view a mapped visualization of where people in your area commute to for work. You can also use the map to compare the length and time of your daily journey to work with the average commuter journeys of your neighbors.

The red circles on the map show the center of each zip code area. If you click on the red circles you can view the percentage of people who commute from your entered zip code area to the zip code area represented by the circular marker. You can also view details about how far the commute journey is, how long it is likely to take and how that compares to the average commute journey length and time from your zip code area.

Recently a number of developers have been adding sound to Google Maps Street View. The combination of 360 degree panoramas with recorded sound enables developers to help recreate both the audio and visual experience of locations around the world.

The Sound City Project has taken this concept one step further by producing their own interactive panoramas and combining these with high quality 3D sound recordings. Using the application you can explore locations, such as Times Square in New York and the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, with custom Street View imagery while listening to the sounds recorded at the same locations.

A styled Google Map allows you to navigate between the different locations featured in the project, including a number of locations in New York, San Francisco and also in Sweden & Norway.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The View of Earth Live from Space

ISS Live is a beautiful WebGL Earth visualization of the position of the International Space Station, which also includes NASA's High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) live video stream of the Earth as seen from the ISS.

There are a number of other maps of NASA's live stream of Earth but the use of a 3d globe in ISS Live makes this the most beautiful. The visualization uses Kloken Technolgies' WebGL Earth with Mapbox's satellite imagery,

You can use the shift key on your keyboard to rotate the orientation of the WebGL Earth globe and zoom in and out by right-clicking your mouse.