Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Chopping Down the London Tree Map


This week Cartonerd has taken his sharpened axe to the London Tree Map. This new interactive map from the Greater London Authority shows the location and genus of 700,000 London trees.

London has over 8 million trees, therefore the London Tree Map is clearly not an exhaustive map of all of London's trees. This is one of Cartonerd's main complaints with the map. In Can't See the Woods for the Trees he argues that by mapping less than ten percent of London's trees the map is obviously a false representation of London's trees.

This criticism is obviously true. However the introduction to the map clearly states that the map is not an exhaustive survey of London's trees. So this criticism is also a little harsh, However another of Cartonerd's criticisms of the map, namely the 'lack of naming conventions for recording species' in the data, highlights a really serious problem with the quality of the data.

Before reading Cartonerd's criticisms of the map I had happily been using the map to identify the species of trees in my street. I also used the map to find out the locations of a number of edible fruit and chestnut trees that I didn't know about in my neighborhood.

Cartonerd clearly feels that the London Tree Map 'lies' and shouldn't have been released until the errors and inconsistencies in the data are addressed. If you live in London I think that you still might be interested in using the map to help identify the trees in your street and neighborhood. However it is obviously worth bearing in mind the inconsistencies in the data identified by Cartonerd and remaining aware that this map shouldn't be read uncritically.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Christmas Traditions Around the World


Every Christmas Eve you can track Santa's journey around the world on Google's annual Santa Tracking map. However you don't have to wait until Christmas Eve to visit the Google Santa Tracker. Every day, between now and Christmas Eve, the Google Santa Tracker will feature a different Christmas related game.

The Google Santa Tracker also includes a Google Map looking at Christmas Traditions around the world. It is always fascinating to explore how different cultures celebrate Christmas around the world. For example did you know that in Iceland the Christmas Cat prowls the streets at Christmas gobbling up anyone who is not dressed-up in clothes warm enough to ward off the winter cold?


If you want to learn more about Christmas traditions around the world then you can also explore the Santas Around the World map. Santa goes by many different names. In many countries he is of course Saint Nicholas, but he is also known as Father Christmas, Agios Vasilis, Shengdan Laoren and Ded Moroz.

It seems that there are two main versions of Santa's name. In many countries Santa is named after Saint Nicholas, for example 'Santa Claus' itself derives from the Dutch 'Sinterklaas', a dialectal pronunciation of Saint Nicholas. In many other countries he goes by the name of Father Christmas, for example he is 'Père Noël' in France, 'Pai Natal' in Portugal and 'Papa Noel' in Spain.

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Art of Mapping Art


One of the great advantages of flexible JavaScript mapping libraries like Leaflet.js is that they can be used to create far more than just interactive maps. For example, if you swap your map tiles for image tiles, you can quickly create an impressive interactive image viewer.

Last week we looked at how Europeana Labs has used Leaflet.js to create a simple interactive interface for viewing medieval manuscripts. Prophesies About the Papacy allows you to use Leaflet's panning and zooming controls to explore the illustrations and text in the Vaticinia de Summis Pontificibus, a series of prophetic manuscripts dating from the 14th century.

Europeana Labs are not the only developers to use Leaflet to provide a simple interface for exploring images. The Rijksmuseum also uses Leaflet to allow visitors to explore the works of the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt in close detail. The Rijksmuseum's dedicated Rembrandt web page includes a number of the Dutch master's paintings, all of which can be explored in detail using a Leaflet powered interactive image viewer.


The Minneapolis Institute of Art has also used Leaflet to provide an interface to view works of art in its extensive collection. For example this Leaflet map of Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple allows you to examine El Greco's painting in all its stunning detail, including the portraits of four other Renaissance painters in the lower right-hand corner.


Of course image viewers created with Leaflet don't have to be confined to presenting the paintings of famous artists. The Getty Museum has used Leaflet to provide a way of exploring the beautiful designs which can be found in Roman mosaics. The Getty's Roman Mosaics website includes a Leaflet map showing the original locations of the Roman mosaics in its collections.

Leaflet wasn't used just for the map. If you click through on the links provided in each mosaic's marker on the map you can actually explore the mosaics themselves on their own individual Leaflet image viewer.


Gunma GIS Geek has also used the Leaflet mapping platform to create interactive maps from a couple of famous Japanese pilgrimage mandalas. Pilgrimage mandalas are paintings which provide a panoramic view of temple and shrine sites.

The first map on Temple Pilgrimage Mandala is of the Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala. This 16th–17th century hanging scroll depicts the Nachi Shrine on the Kii Peninsula in Japan. The painting represents the journey of two pilgrims (the couple clothed in white) as they enter the scene (bottom right) and take a circuitous route through the temple complex to the Nachi shrine.

Mapping the Attack on Pearl Harbor


75 years ago, on the 7th December 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. Around 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,178 wounded in the attack. The attack directly led to the USA entering into World War II.

Japanese developer Hidenori Watanave has mapped eyewitness reports of the attack on a 3D interactive map of Oahu island in Hawaii. The 1941 Project allows you to read testimony of the attack on Pearl Harbor from actual eyewitnesses of the attack, as documented in Katrina Luksovsky's book, 'Ford Island December 7, 1941'.

The map was created using the Cesium WebGL virtual globe library. The 1941 Project also includes links to Hidenori Watanave's other 3d mapping projects. These include the Hiroshima Archive, a 3d map of eyewitness accounts of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb, the Nagasaki Archive, eyewitness accounts of the bombing of Nagasaki, and the Battle of Okinawa, eyewitness accounts of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

How to Find Your Local Superhero


Jonah Adkins has created a U.S.Avengers interactive map which can help you find your local Marvel superhero. U.S.Avengers is a new Marvel comic book series which features an America-themed team of Avengers. Using Jonah's map you can discover which of thees superheroes is from your U.S, state.

io9 has been keeping tabs on Marvel's promotional cover art releases for the new U.S.Avengers comic. Marvel has released one promotional cover for each U.S. state. Each of these individual state covers assigns an individual Avenger hero to the featured state. So io9 has been able to work out the Avenger superhero for all 50 states.

Jonah has used this information to create his U.S.Avengers Map, which shows the Avenger superhero for every state. Each state includes a map label which shows the name of the local Avenger superhero. You can even mouse-over these superhero labels to view a picture of the hero,

Jonah used Mapbox Studio to create his custom comic styled map. The map uses four different background images to create the comic half-tone type effect.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

How to Map Anti-Papal Propaganda


The Vaticinia de Summis Pontificibus are a series of prophetic manuscripts, dating from the 14th century. The manuscripts depict a succession of different popes from history, in which the popes are illustrated in various alliances with the Antichrist.

The European Union's Europeana Labs has used the Leaflet mapping platform to create an interactive presentation of the University of Fribour's copy of the manuscript. Prophesies About the Papacy allows you to use Leaflet's panning and zooming controls to explore the illustrations and text in this ancient manuscript.

Europeana Labs has written up a how-to guide on how the map was created with the Leaflet and Europeana API. Building a rich media experience with the Europeana API and IIIF explains how Leaflet can be used to display Europeana records through a simple call to the Europeana API.

Bikes in Boston Bike Lanes


In September Nathan Rosenquist released an interactive map which allows New Yorkers to submit photographs of cars parked illegally in bike lanes. carsinbikelanes.nyc displays the photos of these reported vehicles on an interactive map. It also prominently displays the licence plates of the obstructive cars.

As well as creating this interactive car-shaming map of New York Nathan also open-sourced the code behind the project on GitHub.

Cars in Bike Lanes Boston has used Nathan's code to create a similar map fo Boston cyclists. This means that cyclists in Boston can now submit details and photographs of offending vehicles to their own interactive map of cars illegally obstructing bike lanes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What's Across the Ocean?


A couple of years ago Eric Odenheimer made a very popular static map which was reported as showing you what country you would see if you stood on the beach anywhere in North, South or Central America and could see all the way across the ocean.

What Odenheimer's map actually shows you is the country across the ocean which is on an equivalent latitude. Andy Woodruff was inspired by Odenheimer's map to create a series of static maps which actually show you what is actually across the ocean if you look perpendicular to the coast.

In Beyond the Sea Andy takes into account that the coastline actually bends and turns and faces in lots of different directions and that the world is round. Therefore what country is across the ocean perpendicular to the coast depends on where you are standing on this twisting coastline. Andy's explanation about the maps goes into a lot more detail about how he calculated these great circle lines for different points from the world's coastlines.


Esri UK was in turn inspired by Andy Woodruff's maps to create an interactive map of Coastal Views from the United Kingdom. Esri's map draws lines from different points along the UK coast showing which country lies across the ocean if you look perpendicular to the coastline.

The advantage of using an interactive map is that Esri has been able to add a little more information to their map. If you click on any of the lines drawn on the map the name of the country across the ocean is revealed, as is the number of miles away the country actually is.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Printing 3D Models of Maps


The Tile Exporter helps you to make 3d models of your favorite locations around the world. Enter a location into the Tile Exporter and it will generate the OBJ file that will allow you to print out a model of the location on a 3d printer.

Tile Exporter uses OpenStreetMap data to generate the 3d models. This means that the accuracy of the model will depend on the accuracy of the map and building height data of OSM. Luckily this is pretty accurate for most locations around the world. The Mapzen powered generation tool also means that you can preview the model on your computer screen before attempting to print it out on a 3d printer.



Have you ever dreamed of owning your own 3d scale model of the Grand Canyon or the Matterhorn? Thanks to the Terrainator you now can. The Terrainator is very similar in design to Tile Exporter. The main difference is that the Terrainator is used to create 3d models of interesting terrain rather than 3d buildings.

The Terrainator uses Google Maps to help you select your favorite area of terrain. It then creates an accurate scale model and uploads it to Shapeways, ready for 3d printing. The cost of the model depends on the volume of material required to make the model. Flatter models are therefore cheaper than mountainous areas, although they are much less fun. It is also possible to purchase the created STL files from Terrainator if you want to print out your own terrain model yourself.

The Terrainator is limited to areas of the world where it has accurate terrain data.

Monday, November 28, 2016

3d Marathon Mapping


The Catalina Eco Marathon is a grueling race through some pretty tough mountainous terrain. It isn't easy to convey just how how hard the Catalina Eco Marathon can be to run but Mapbox have given it a good try with their interactive map of the course.

The Catalina Eco Marathon Map uses MapboxGL's new extrude property to overlay a 3d elevation chart over the course of the marathon route. The elevation chart visualizes just how steep parts of the course actually are. The 3d elevation route is itself interactive and you can mouse-over sections of the course to find out the elevation at any point.

The map includes an inset panel which displays a 2d elevation chart of the course. You can interactive with this chart to find out the elevation and distance of different parts of the course. The 2d chart is also synchronized to the map, which means that the map view also updates to show the location of the selected part of the marathon course.