Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Explore Venus in Street View

Back in the day GTA4.net created a truly impressive Street View map of Liberty City (unfortunately that map no longer works). The map allowed you to explore the whole of Liberty City, from Grand Theft Auto IV, in custom Street Views created from the game.

The new, upcoming, online multiplayer first-person shooter video game Destiny has just taken that concept to a whole new level. To promote the release of the game in September Activision has created a Street View tour of the game world, which allows you to explore and preview the game with Google Maps.

Destiny Planet View allows you to explore Mars, Venus and the Moon in Street View. The Street Views appear to be taken from the real game-world used in the game. You can explore these worlds just as you can in Google Maps Street View by panning around in the custom Street Views and clicking on the arrows to move forward and back.

The custom Street Views include an inset Google Map of the planet which you are currently exploring. You can click on the markers in the inset map to automatically transport yourself to a new Street View. Each of the Street Views also contain markers which allow you to watch videos and view other screenshots taken from the game.

There's a lot more to explore in this incredible preview of Destiny. You'll have to find these for yourself though as I've got to get back to exploring Venus in Street View.

Hat-tip: Google Street View World

The Spread of the Ice Bucket Challenge

Twitter has released another one of those animated Tweet maps created with CartoDB's Torque library. The #IceBucketChallenge map shows how the viral craze for throwing a bucket of ice cold water over your head quickly spread across the world.

As with all these animated Twitter maps you have to normalize the mapped data in your own head - and try to take into account where Twitter has a lot of users and where Twitter is not widely used. However, even taking into account the problems with these Twitter maps, the #IceBucketChallenge map is still a pretty impressive visualization of how the Ice Bucket Challenge, which started in the USA, quickly spread around the world.

That's a lot of cold people and a lot of money raised for charity.

The World Alcohol Map

Everybody likes a drink. Even the Saudis like the occasional sip of wine when no one is looking.
The Wine, Beer or Spirits? map uses data from the World Health Organization to show how much alcohol is consumed in each
country around the world. The map also shows which drinks are the most popular in each country.

Mouse-over a country to see how much beer, wine and spirits are consumed and in what proportions. Or use the buttons to show the countries in the world which drink the most wine, the most beer and the most spirits. You can also click on the 'favorite' button to see which is the favorite drink in each country.

There are a few surprises on the map. For example, I was surprised by the relatively low amount of wine drunk in the USA and Spain, especially considering some of the great wine that gets produced in those two countries.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Affordable Housing in LA

This clever mapped application from The Los Angeles Times shows you where you can afford to rent or buy property in the city.

Just enter your yearly income and how much of that you are prepared to spend on a mortgage or rent and the application will show you where you can afford to live in LA. Areas where you can't afford to either rent or buy are shaded red on the map. Yellow and blue shades indicate the areas where you can afford to live.

Rent or own: Where can you afford to live? uses data from Trulia and DataQuick and is based on the median price of properties sold in the second quarter of 2014 and the median rent for a two-bedroom unit in the last year.

Fracking in Pennsylvania Mapped

StateImpact Pennsylvania has released a series of mapped visualizations of Natural Gas Drilling in Pennsylvania.

The maps show which operators are drilling in Pennsylvania and where. They also show which wells have been cited for violating state environmental regulations. So far there have been 3,331 violations resulting in fines of $4.9 million. The drills are displayed on the map with color-coded markers to show the wells with no violations and those with one or more violations.

You can select individual wells on the map to view details about the operator and any violations.

Route Planning with Rest Stops

Alongways is a neat and simple route-planning map, which can also help you find rest-stops along your journey.

The application uses the Google Maps API Directions Service with the Google Places API to help you find handy places to stop along a route. The application is very simple to use. Just enter your starting location, a destination and the kind of rest-stops you want and the map will display a suggested route with recommended stops for your journey.

You can enter any kind of venue for the type of rest-stops that you want displayed on your route, for example: gas stations, cafes, restaurants or hotels. Each of the recommended rest-stops are shown on the map with a marker. If you click on the marker you can view details about the stop, including the address, user ratings and a customer review.

Alongways increases the search radius for longer routes. This means that for short routes Alongways will only show you venues within a short distance of your route. For longer trips Alongways will search for venues within a slightly bigger radius from the route.

Alongways is a bit like Roadtrippers without all the bells and whistles. If you want the bells and whistles then you might prefer using Roadtrippers.

Roadtrippers also allows you to find venues along a route but it also includes many other options. For example you can define how far off your route you want to search for suggested stops. You can also save your planned trips on Roadtrippers for later reference.

Roadtrippers also includes a huge database of points of interest, so not only can you find cafes, gas stations and hotels along a planned route you can also use Roadtrippers to find interesting places to stop and visit on a journey.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Maps of the Week

This week ProPublica released an impressive mapped visualization of the effect of climate change and oil & gas exploration in the state of Louisiana.

Southern Louisiana is losing 16 square miles a year to the Gulf of Mexico. At the heart of ProPublica's map, Losing Ground, is a series of timeline visualizations of historical aerial imagery. These timelines allow you to observe the loss of land in Louisiana by comparing present day aerial imagery with aerial imagery going back to the 1930's.

Accompanying the aerial imagery are a series of interviews of people living and working in the affected areas. These interviews are supported by audio files and photos. In combination the audio, photos, interviews and aerial imagery of Louisiana's land loss provide a powerful account of this ongoing environmental disaster.

Last year Dave MacLean, from the GIS Faculty at the Centre of Geographic Sciences of the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), released a map of photos taken from the International Space Station.

Our World from the ISS is an ESRI map of photos, taken from the ISS posted by @Cmdr_Hadfield and @AstroMarshburn on Twitter. The map allows you to view thumbnails of some truly amazing photos of Earth taken from the ISS.

Dave MacLean has now released a new map covering photos from the ISS Missions 40 and 41. All the photos are mapped to the locations shown in the views of the Earth depicted. The map may not break any new ground in the world of interactive cartography but it definitely wins the weekly award for the most shared map on social media.

This week I was also quite impressed by the Street View treasure hunt game The Day Google Street View Stood Still.

This Street View game uses the Web Audio API to provide audio clues to help you find a number of hidden items. In the game you are teleported to a Street View location somewhere in the world. The object of the game is to follow the audio clues to find objects nearby. The game is a kind of 'hot or cold' searching game, as you get closer to the correct destination the audio clues get louder. If you travel in the wrong direction then the sounds becomes quieter.

The Day Google Street View Stood Still has a number of levels. When you finish a level you are told how many steps you have taken and how long it took you to reach the correct destination. If you make one of the top ten quickest times you can even add your name to the high-score table.

Mapping Events

MapTiming HASH is a new application designed to help you find upcoming events on a map. Currently the map is populated with the dates and times of church services in Belgium. However anyone can add an event to the map and the application is not restricted to mapping events in Belgium or to religious services.

Over the years there have been many attempts to crack the events mapping market. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when creating a map of upcoming events is populating the application with enough events. Like MapTiming Hash you can help to populate an events map by crowd-sourcing your event database, by allowing users to add events to the map.

Crowd-sourcing events data means surmounting the Catch 22 problem of events mapping - you need users to add events to the map but you need events on your map to get users. The problem is how do you reach a critical mass where enough users add events to the map to make the map useful enough to attract users in the first place.

Traditionally events mapping websites have overcome this problem of having enough events on the map to attract users by using third-party events services such as EventBrite and Upcoming. MapTiming Hash has a different solution. The hook for adding events to MapTiming Hash is that you can then use the dynamic URL of the event to share the event with friends. You can even use an iframe to add the map of your added event to your own website. Therefore if you are an organization which has an upcoming event you can use MapTiming Hash to create and share a map of your event.

Another very useful feature of MapTiming Hash is the events search features. Like most event mapping websites you can search for events on MapTiming Hash by location and by date. However MapTiming Hash also uses hash tags to organize types of event. When adding events to the map users are encouraged to use keywords (beginning with a '#') in the description of the event. These hashtags can then be used by users of the map to find events with a specific tag. For example you can filter the events shown on the map by entering 'aanbidding' by clicking on the hashtag button. Do this and the map will filter the events to only show upcoming church services tagged with 'aanbidding'.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Bárðarbunga Depth Map

Quakes 3d is an interesting animated mapped visualization of seismic activity near the Bárðarbunga Volcano in Iceland over the last two weeks.

The map animates through two weeks of earthquake activity, visualizing a heat map of seismic activity on the surface, overlaid on top of an aerial image of the area. At the same time the same data is plotted as a depth map beneath the map layer.

You can pause the animated playback of the earthquake data at any time and you can also switch between a map and aerial view of the area around Bárðarbunga.

Also see: Mapping Seismic Activity at Bárðarbunga

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Photo Map from Outer Space

Last year Dave MacLean, from the GIS Faculty at the Centre of Geographic Sciences of the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), released an amazing map of photos taken from the International Space Station.

Our World from the ISS is an ESRI map of photos, taken from the ISS posted by @Cmdr_Hadfield and @AstroMarshburn on Twitter. The map allows you to view thumbnails of the posted images. If you click on the thumbnail the photo will then open in a new browser window.

Dave MacLean has now released a new map covering photos from the ISS Missions 40 and 41. All the photos are mapped to the locations shown in the views of the Earth depicted. The map also shows the live position of the International Space Station.