Friday, March 16, 2018

Free Map Backgrounds for Your Phone

If you want a beautiful map background for your phone then you should have a look at Alvar Carto's Map Backgrounds. This tool allows you to make your own background map image for a mobile phone, centered on any location in the world.

To make your background map you just need to zoom and pan an interactive map to your chosen location. You can then choose between four different map colors.

And that's more or less it. Just select your phone from a drop-down list (Map Backgrounds supports iOS, Android and Windows 10) and you are ready to download your new phone background map.

If you really love your new phone background (or you just want to buy a map poster) then you can head on over to Alvar Carto's Map Poster site. Map Poster is an equally easy to use tool for creating and ordering a map poster of any location in the world.

Deindustrialization & Population Decline

Population change from 1990-2010: (green = rising population, purple = falling population)

This week's release of the Alperin-Sheriff/Wikipedia Population Dataset provides us with a great resource for studying American population trends. This Introduction to the Alperin-Sheriff/Wikipedia Population Dataset, in the form of a story map, provides a great introduction to the data and briefly examines where populations in the USA are growing and where they are in decline.

The story map is mostly concerned with introducing and explaining the data but it does briefly touch on the declining populations in the industrial Midwest. This decline is perhaps explained in this Financial Times article, Shrinking cities: population decline in the world’s rust-belt areas. The article explores how deindustrialization is happening across much of the world, as manufacturing and industrial jobs in industrial heartlands move elsewhere in the world.

Cities with the largest population decline 2005-2015

This decline from deindustrialization isn't just limited to the American rust belt. It is also happening in former industrial powerhouses throughout the world. Cities in the German industrial heartland are in decline and even China's north-eastern rust belt is beginning to experience decline.

The Berliner Morgenpost's Where the population of Europe is growing – and where it’s declining allows you to explore more closely recent population decline in Europe. It shows that there is some decline in the German industrial heartland of the Ruhr valley. However this decline doesn't seem much worse than elsewhere in Germany and isn't as bad as the decline being seen in the former East Germany.

Obviously not all population decline can be explained by deindustrialization. The Washington Post used the same data to explore some of the population trends that are shown in the Morgenpost's map. Their article on Where Europe is growing and where it is shrinking notes that populations are declining in the former East Germany and other former countries of the Eastern bloc (except for Poland which has experienced growth). It appears that some areas of western Europe have managed to mitigate against the population decline normally associated with deindustrialization by taking in economic migrants from countries in the former Eastern bloc.

The Sounds of Istanbul & London

The Soundscape of Istanbul is a project dedicated to mapping and archiving the urban sounds of Istanbul. The project was created by Pınar Çevikayak Yelmi during her doctoral studies, however anyone can record and upload sounds to the map.

Individual sounds are displayed on the map by categorized markers. If you select a marker on the map you can listen to the street sounds recorded at that location. If you select the 'Thematic Map' option you can view the sounds organised by category rather than geography. Both the thematic and the spatial maps include a timeline which allows you to filter the sounds by the year they were recorded.

If you like the Soundscape of Istanbul then you might also enjoy the Soundscape of London. This map was also created by Pınar Çevikayak Yelmi, in collaboration with the British Library. This project uses exactly the same format to map the urban sounds of London. Again if you want to listen to any of the recorded sounds you just need to click on the markers on the map.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

America's Quietest & Most Scenic Roads

Geotab has mapped out the quietest stretches of road in each state in America. In America's Quietest Routes you can view details about the quietest roads in each state and also browse through the ten most scenic routes, as chosen by landscape photographer James Q Martin.

If you click on a state on the map you can view details about the state's quietest stretch of road. These details include the name of the road and the route length. They also include a Street View image captured on the route by Google Maps.

Each state's quietest road was determined by the traffic count data from the Highway Performance Monitoring System. The quietness of a road was determined by the annual average daily traffic measured by the number of vehicles. The routes with the lowest average daily traffic were deemed the quietest.

The Secrets of the Sea Revealed

Robert Dudley was the 17th century author of Dell’Arcano del Mare. This huge maritime encyclopedia covers all aspects of maritime life including shipbuilding, astronomy and navigation. It also contains 130 beautiful maritime charts covering all parts of the world.

One of the 130 maps in his Secrets of the Sea is the Carta Particolare della Terra Nuoua con la Gran Baia et el Fiume Grande Della Canida, a sea chart of the Newfoundland era. Norfish has created an interesting story map which explores some of the more interesting details in Robert Dudley's sea chart of Newfoundland.

As you progress through the story map Norfish examines the map's projection, calligraphy, place-name labels, prevailing winds and fathom soundings. You can also explore the map for yourself. Robert Dudley's sea charts are completely unique, enjoying a distinctive technical style with beautiful calligraphy and elaborate compass roses and cartouches.

Synchronized Street Views of the World

Street Image Compare is a fun little tool which allows you to directly compare Google's Street View imagery with Mapillary's crowdsourced alternative. Using the tool you can virtually walk around any location while comparing Google Maps Street View coverage with the street-side images available in Mapillary.

Mapillary is a free to use and crowdsourced service which provides street-level imagery around the world. Street Image Compare places the Mapillary street level imagery of a location directly beneath the Google Maps Street View imagery of the same location. You can explore around a location using the navigation button on either street level image or by using either of the maps. Street View Compare automatically updates, as you move around a location, showing you the closest images from both Google and Mapillary.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pi Day on Planet Earth

The best way to celebrate Pi day is to take a little tour of some of the many natural and human-made circles which can be found on planet Earth. Luckily Esri has created a World of Circles interactive map to help you find these beautiful landmarks of striking symmetry.

This Esri map contains aerial imagery of natural and human-made circles of various sizes, locations and origins. These circles include circular crop fields, thousand year old human earthworks, dormant volcanoes and even a defunct particle accelerator. If you would like to create a similar tour of interesting shapes then you can get started at Esri's Story Maps website.

Mapping the Last Ice Age

IceMap is an animated map of the last Eurasian Ice Age. It allows you to view the ice sheets, sea levels and temperatures which affected the Eurasian Arctic 38 thousand years ago.

The map includes an interactive timeline which allows you to view the conditions from 37,000 years ago through to 8000 years ago. If you press play on the timeline you can watch as the ice sheets grow and move and the sea level falls and rises.

If you select the graph icon on the map you can view an interactive graph of the ice volume, mean annual temperature and sea level over the period of the Eurasian Ice Age. The graph includes an interactive bar which allows you to select a year to view the ice volume, temperature and sea level totals and to view these levels shown on the interactive map.

Hand Drawn Polygons for Leaflet

You might have seen examples of rough.js floating around on social media this week. Rough.js is a new canvas based library for creating graphics which have a sketchy, hand-drawn appearance. The library's github page includes a neat d3.js demo map in which each of the states has been filled in with a different hand-drawn style.

Rough.js doesn't only work with static maps. Because the library is canvas based you can also overlay hand-drawn, sketch like polygons on top of an interactive map. At least you can if you use the new Leaflet.RoughCanvas plug-in for Leaflet maps. The plug-in allows you to add polylines and polygons to a Leaflet.js map which have a hand-drawn style.

Here's a demo map which I created using Leaflet.RoughCanvas with a Mapbox styled base-map.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Mapping Student Debt

$1.3 trillion in student debt is owed by 42 million Americans. Student debt delinquency can affect all sections of society. However delinquency in the USA disproportionately affects minority communities.

Mapping Student Debt allows you to view the average student loan balance in each household at zip-code level in the United States. If you hover over a zip-code on the map you can view the level of delinquency, the average loan balance and the median income. If you want to view how student loan delinquency disproportionately affects minority communities then select 'Map 2' from the 'View Map' menu. You can then switch the map layers to show choropleth layers of student loan delinquency and the African-American or Latino populations.

The text beneath 'Map 2' reveals how debt delinquency is often highest in areas with a large minority population. In other words student loan delinquency disproportionately affects minority communities. One reason for these above average delinquency rates in minority populations is that African Americans and Latinos are more likely to receive loans from high-cost credit providers with less generous terms and tougher repayment requirements than white students. After graduation African Americans and Latinos also suffer from higher unemployment rates and lower earnings. This in turn contributes to higher levels of delinquency.