Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mapping the World of Fonts

IDEO has created an interactive map which organizes fonts by their visual similarities. The map provides designers with a tool to explore, 'understand and see relationships across more than 750 web fonts'.

IDEO used machine learning to organize different fonts into a 2D plane based on vision pattern recognition. This 2D plane of fonts organized by visual similarity was then turned into a fully interactive and searchable interactive font map. Using Font Map you can pan and zoom around this 2D plane of fonts exploring different font families by visual similarity.

You can select individual fonts on the map to view the font's name, its page on Google Fonts and a list of similar fonts.

You can read more about the convolutional neural network used to group the fonts and the algorithm used to turn the results into 2D plane on this How To blog post.  IDEO appear to have created their own custom interactive map interface for exploring the fonts organized by visual similarity. However you could easily achieve similar results using an existing mapping library such as Leaflet.js.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Making L.A. Safer for Pedestrians

If there is one city in the USA that really needs a Vision Zero initiative it is Los Angeles. Over 2,800 people have lost their lives on the streets of Los Angeles since 2003. Nearly half of the victims were pedestrians or cyclists.

Thankfully Vision Zero Los Angeles is here and it wants to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2025, To kick-start the initiative the city has released an interactive map of traffic fatalities. The map shows the location of all traffic fatalities in Los Angeles from 2003 to 2016. The map also shows the location of planned safety projects under the Vision Zero scheme.

One reason for mapping traffic fatalities is to identify traffic black spots. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation has identified the Los Angeles streets with the highest concentration of fatal accidents, which they have dubbed the High Injury Network (HIN). Despite contributing only six percent to the city's road network the roads in the HIN have seen nearly two-thirds of all deaths and severe injuries to pedestrians.

You can view the location of the streets in the HIN on the High Injury Network Map. This interactive map identifies Los Angeles most dangerous roads. The map also shows the locations of schools which are on or near the HIN and links to the city's Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan.

You can view other examples of Vision Zero initiatives at Vision Zero Boston, Vision Zero New York and Vision Zero San Francisco.

L.A.'s Elevated Levels of Lead

Children in 323 neighborhood areas in Los Angeles County have lead levels at least as high as found in Flint, Michigan. Some have levels at least twice as high. Reuters has examined the results of more more than 15,000 tests on child lead levels taken between 2011 and 2015 by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The results of that analysis are worrying for L.A.'s children and parents.

In Lead's Hidden Toll Reuters examines the areas of Los Angeles with the highest levels of lead and explores some of the reasons why these levels might be high. The article is illustrated by an interactive map which shows the levels of lead found in children in each census tract area. You can click on each neighborhood on the map to view the number of tested children and the percentage found with elevated levels of lead.

Lead's Hidden Toll and the interactive map are part of Reuters' nationwide investigation, Off the Charts. The map not only show the levels of lead found in L.A.'s children, it also allows you to view the results of childhood blood lead tests in 21 different U.S. states.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The History of Music Around the World

During his long life the American musician Alan Lomax gathered together a huge collection of recorded folk music from around the world. You can now search and listen to the songs from Lomax's collection on the Global Jukebox. The Global Jukebox allows you to listen to music from around the world. giving you access to folk recordings not just from the Alan Lomax collection but from other well known international folk music collections.

There are many different ways to search and listen to folk music from round the world using the Global Jukebox interactive map. At its simplest you can click on the markers on the map to listen to examples of folk songs from that location. The Global Jukebox however also contains a number of curated journeys around the world of folk music. These journeys have been created by folk music experts to take you on a tour of the music from particular traditions and cultures.

If the curated journeys and lesson plans of the Global Jukebox are too structured for your liking then you can try the 'surprise me' button to listen to a random song. You can also select the 'Wander the Earth' option to be taken on a continuous random trip around the world's folk music.

30 Years of The Simpsons

The Simpsons are celebrating their 30th anniversary. The first ever short episode of The Simpsons appeared on The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. Remarkably Bart Simpson doesn't look a day older now than he did in that first ever episode.

A new Esri Story Map of Springfield has been released to celebrate this 30th anniversary. The map not only allows you to explore America's most famous town but also includes a wealth of information about the show and all the main characters. As you progress through the Interactive Simpsons Story Map you are introduced to the show's characters and also shown where they live on the Springfield map.

You can also explore the map yourself. If you click on any of the colored building footprints on the map an information window will open with a description of the selected building.

The Simpson's City Map provides a bird's eye view of Springfield. This map allows you to explore an oblique view of Springfield and view places of interest in the town, such as the home of the Simpsons family (742 Evergreen Terrace) and the location of's first ever Kwik-E-Mart.

If you select a marker on The Simpson's City Map you can learn more about some of the town's most important locations, The Simpson's City Map also include an attempt to crowd-source information. If you have information about a building on the map you can press the 'contribute' button to submit your own knowledge about the town of Springfield.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Comparing Old Maps

The David Rumsey Map Collection is a fantastic collection of vintage maps from around the world. The David Rumsey Map Collection has also been at the forefront in working on digitizing vintage paper maps and making them available to view and use online. For a long time the collection has used Georeferencer to georectify vintage maps and make them accessible as interactive digital maps.

This year Georeferencer has released version 4 of their Georeferencer tool. The tool has added some great new features to aide anyone interested in georectifying and digitizing old vintage maps. It also has a great new interface for comparing different maps side by side.

Georeferencer Compare is an amazing way to find and compare old vintage maps side-by-side, It includes various different view modes. As well as comparing maps side-by-side you can overlay different maps as layers (and adjust their opacity), you can view them in swipe mode or you can use a 'spy glass'.

The David Rumsey Map Collection has updated to version 4 of Georeferencer. This means you can use David Rumsey Georeferencer Compare to find and compare vintage maps from the collection. Using the tool is a great way to see view how maps of specific locations have developed over time,

The Land Information Explorer

A new interactive map from non-profit Shared Assets can help you find out key information about any area of land in the UK. Land Explorer uses open data to provide information at the click of a mouse button about land ownership and current & potential land use.

Land Explorer couldn't be easier to use. Just click on a location on the map and all the land information is automatically displayed in the map sidebar. As well as information from the Land Registry you can view information about flood risk (from the Environment Agency), the potential for agricultural use (from Natural England) and any planning restrictions on the land.

Land Explorer also provides more simple geolocation data, such as the address, elevation and latitude and longitude of the selected location.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

All the World Could Live in Argentina

43.5 million Argentinians live in one of the biggest countries in the world. Every Argentinian therefore could theoretically have a lot of space to themselves. However half the population of Argentina choose to live in a 400 km semi-circle in and around Buenos Aires.

You can see how most Argentinians prefer to live close to each other on this new Population Density of Argentina map. The map uses Mapbox's fill extrusion property to show population density in each census tract as a colored height map (the taller and darker the tract the more people live there). If you mouse-over a census tract on the map you can see how much square footage each inhabitant could have if the tract was divided evenly between each person.

According to the accompanying blog post the whole world's population could comfortably live in Argentina. Everyone would have to live in a huge city with the population density of Buenos Aires. If that doesn't bother you then start packing your bags because Argentina certainly has the room.

Animated Data Transitions

Sasaki's Understanding Homelessness is a very impressive data visualization. What makes it so impressive is the way it picks out and explains some of the important stories about homelessness in the United States hidden in the data. One of the main ways that it explores and explains the data is through the use of animated transitions between different types of data visualization. For example, if you switch between the 'map' and 'table' visualizations then the dots (each one representing 5 homeless people) actually fly off the map and rearrange themselves into a table.

To create these animated data transitions Sasaki developed their own data visualization library called Continuity. At the moment Sasaki isn't providing much support for using Continuity but they do say that they are "are working to document and release more components and examples" of Continuity.

Before these components and documentation are released you can see Continuity in action on the Understanding Homelessness map and on Imagine Boston. The Imagine Boston map visualizes a range of demographic, transport and other data about Boston. It uses the Continuity data visualization library to explore and visualize this data. As with the Understanding Homelessness map animated transitions between different types of visualizations are used to help explain some of the stories revealed by the Boston data. Particularly impressive is the racial population data and how you can click on the different races in the racial breakdown table to add that specific demographic to the interactive map.

Introducing the New Google Earth

Today Google unveiled the new Google Earth. The most obvious difference to the latest incarnation of Google's 3D map is that Google Earth is no longer a stand alone application but is instead now entirely browser based.

The new Google Earth allows you to explore the world in glorious 3D. To this end the main on-screen tools are all designed to help you explore the world more easily. These tools include a 'Voyager' button which provides a number of great tours of the world (provided by the BBC Earth TV program) tours of some of the world's national parks and a Street View tour of the Galápagos Islands. My guess is that Google will be working with other content providers to help develop and add more of these curated 'Voyager' tours to Google Earth.

The on-screen tools also include a search option, which allows you to quickly find your favorite locations around the world. If you run out of places to search you can also use The 'I'm Feeling Lucky' button, which will take you to a random location. One of the great features of the new Google Earth is the 'Knowledge Cards', small information windows which appear on screen to provide you with information about locations and to provide links to other nearby points of interest.

As well as the on-screen buttons you can access more functionality from the burger menu. This includes 'Map Style' which allows you to adjust map features, such as the visibility of place labels. 'Settings' can also be accessed from the burger menu, where you can adjust things such as the 'fly-to' speed and the unit of measurements used by Google Earth.

I've only had a brief look at the new Google Earth and so far I'm very impressed. One of the reasons I hardly use Google Maps any more is that it is soooooo slow and is too keen to show me the world I already know (giving preference to places my friends and I have already been and know exist). Google Earth doesn't seem to suffer from the new Google Maps speed problems. It also seems designed to help you explore and find the wonders of planet Earth.