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.

Story Maps with Mapbox GL


Yesterday I was impressed by two story maps created with Mapbox GL. The Mapbox Blog published a very neat map highlighting some of the details in their new satellite imagery for Madrid airport. The Guardian  also used Mapbox GL in a feature on immigration in Texas (to see the map scroll down to the section headed 'The impact of Migrants on Falfurrias').

Both of these maps make use of Mapbox GL's panTo and rotateTo functions to seamlessly pan and spin the map to new locations.

I was particularly impressed with the Mapbox Blog map. This map cleverly uses the height of an overlaid div element to work out when to pan and zoom the map to show new locations. As you scroll down this map sidebar element the map automatically updates to show you the relevant location.

I was so impressed I had to steal the code. I used the Mapbox Blog's map code to make this little tour of the London Olympic Park.

Both The Guardian and Mapbox Blog maps include the option to gracefully fallback to an alternative Mapbox map for browsers which don't support Mapbox GL. I haven't done that with my map - so to view the map you will have to use a modern browser which supports Web GL.

Mapbox Satellite Update


Mapbox has begun adding new satellite imagery from Worldview-3. Worldview-3 was launched two weeks ago and is already providing unrivaled satellite imagery of the Earth, at 31 centimeter (12 inch) resolution.

Mapbox has now begun to add satellite Imagery from Worldview-3 to Mapbox satellite view. The first update to the imagery is just a small 3 km2 area around Madrid’s airport. This small update is enough to see that Worldview-3 can be used by Mapbox to provide detailed satellite imagery which is at least on a par with plane captured aerial imagery.

The Mapbox blog has a really nice map of the new satellite imagery, which is almost as impressive as the imagery itself. The map highlights some of the detail captured by Worldview-3 at Madrid airport using the new Mapbox GL mapping platform.

The map uses Mapbox GL's panTo, flyTo and rotateTo methods to seamlessly pan and rotate the map to new locations. These location updates are fired by the user as they scroll through the map sidebar. As the user scrolls through the information provided in the map sidebar the map automatically pans and rotates to show the location being explored in the text.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Louisiana is Losing Ground

Using historical aerial imagery from NASA and USGS, ProPublica has put together an impressive interactive mapped visualization of the effect of climate change and oil & gas exploration on 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.

For example, here is the area of Venice and West Bay as it looked in 1932:


Here's how the same area looks today:


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 report into this ongoing environmental disaster.

How Big is Africa?


Compera is a fun tool which you can use to compare the size of two different countries, states or cities.

Using Compera couldn't be easier. Simply select the two locations you wish to compare from two drop-down menus and you will be shown two maps of your selected locations, allowing you to easily compare their respective sizes. Compera also reveals how many times the larger location is than the smaller location, the size of each (in square kilometers) and  the populations of each.

The maps on Campera are created using D3.js, using map data from Natural Earth Data.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Wikipedia Dot Map of the World


Wikipedia Worldview is an interesting visualization of geo-referenced Wikipedia entries. Using the application you can select a language and view a dot-map of the world created purely through the plots of all the locations of Wikipedia entries.

You can select to view a single language's Wikipedia entries or any combination of languages. A geo-referenced map of the world is then created from all the geo-tagged articles in the chosen language(s). When the map has been created you can even click on the map to link through to the selected Wikipedia article.


Mapping Wikipedia is a similar project from TraceMedia and the Oxford Internet Institute.

Using the Google Maps API Mapping Wikipedia allows you to view the geography of all geotagged Wikipedia articles in a number of different languages. It can also create maps based on the word count of articles, the date created, number of authors, and number of images.

If you are interested about how the map was created TraceMedia has provided an outline of the tools used in building the application.


WikipediaVision is an animated Google Map of real-time map edits to Wikipedia.

The map displays an information window for each edit, with the title of the article, the summary of the edit (if a summary was given), a link to the changes that were made to the article and the time the edit happened.

Minecraft Maps the World


The British Geological Survey has released a Minecraft world using the Survey's geology data of mainland Great Britain and surrounding islands.

You can download the BGS's world for Minecraft at the GB Geology with Minecraft page on the BGS website. This page also includes a Google Map which allows you to explore the BGS Minecraft world of Great Britain with Google's popular interactive mapping interface.

The BGS's Minecraft World uses data from the UK's Ordnance Survey on the world surface. The geology of Great Britain beneath the surface is also represented on the surface of the map and shown beneath the bedrock.


The British Geological Survey's Minecraft world is inspired by last year's Ordnance Survey Minecraft map. The UK's Ordnance Survey is charged with maintaining the UK's geospatial and cartographic data. This largely involves creating and publishing maps in paper and digital form and now also in textual cube form for Minecraft fans.

Minecrafting with OS OpenData is a Minecraft map of mainland Great Britain and surrounding islands that anyone can download and explore in Minecraft. The OS Minecraft world was built with OS OpenData, which is Ordnance Survey data that is freely available under an attribution-only license.

The OS Minecraft world of Great Britain consists of more than 22 billion blocks representing over 220,000 square kilometres. Each block in the world represents 50 square metres. To help you navigate this 3d world the Ordnance Survey website has published a list of Minecraft world co-ordinates to some well known UK locations.

The Ordnance Survey Minceraft Overviewer Map of the UK allows you to view this Minecraft map of the UK within a Google Maps interface.


Denmark's government has also released its free spatial data in a format which can be used with Minecraft. You can download the Danish Minecraft data at Danmarks Frie Geodata i en Minecraft.

The Danish Minecraft world is on a scale of 1:1, so it should take you a long time to explore the whole country. The Danish Minecraft world also includes 3d buildings so there is a lot of fun to be had navigating around Denmark's cities.


SparseWorld is creating huge Minecraft maps of New York and other cities around the world. These Minecraft worlds are  created using elevation, landcover and orthography data from USGS, 3d buildings from Google Earth and street mapping data from OpenStreetMap.

How to Tell Stories with Maps


School of Data has published a good round-up of narrative mapping platforms. The article includes a few examples of good story maps and explores some of the mapping libraries which can be used to create interactive maps to annotate or narrate a story.

Seven Ways to Create a Storymap reviews popular narrative mapping libraries such as Knight Lab's StoryMap JS, Esri StoryMaps and CartoDB's Odyssey.js. It even mentions my own story map demo created using waypoints.js with Leaflet, JourneyMap.

One of the examples listed in the School of Data article is new to me. LeafletPlayback is a very neat Leaflet library which allows you to animate GPS Tracks, in the form of GeoJSON objects, on a Leaflet map. You can see the library in action on this example map, which animates markers along four separate tracks. The map includes video type playback controls which also allow you to control the playback of the animated marker tracks.

The LeafletPlayback library provides a great way for developers to animate a journey on a map. Using the library you can animate a marker along a polyline, with the marker's movement synchronized to a time-stamp in your GeoJSON object.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sounds on Street View - The Game


Back in March I made a little demonstration map using the Web Speech API. The Speaking Map allows you to click anywhere on a Google Map to listen to the address clicked on being spoken by your computer. The Web Speech API isn't widely supported yet - so to hear the map talk you will have to use a compliant browser. In this case you will probably need to view the Speaking Map in Chrome.

At the time I did wonder if anyone else might use the Web Speech API to create a map which was a little more useful. Internet agency Netro has now created a Street View game using the Web Audio API. This game might not be any more useful than my little demo map, but it sure is a lot more fun.

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. Go in the wrong direction and the sound 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.

Hat-tip: Google Street View World

Dunkin' Donuts vs Starbucks


The Boston Globe has released a map of all the Dunkin' Donuts and Starbuck locations in the USA. In Dunkin’ Donuts Set for California Expansion the Boston Globe visualizes the dominance of each business in the areas where they were founded.

The map shows a higher density of Starbucks on the West Coast and a higher density of Dunkin' Donuts in the Northeast. However the map also shows how both companies are expanding across the country.

For this map the Boston Globe uses a similar approach to that taken in their recent Massachusetts Pedestrian Crashes map. Both maps include the option to explore hot-spots on the map, areas where the data shows interesting results. In the pedestrian crashes map the hot-spots option is used to explore and explain locations with abnormally high number of pedestrian crashes.

In the Dunkin' Donuts map the 'See hotspots' option takes you on a tour of some of the major cities and states to explore and examine the preponderance of Dunkin' Donuts and / or Starbucks outlets.