Friday, October 28, 2016

Mapping Trump's Wall

If Donald Trump becomes president he plans to stop Americans escaping to the free world by building a massive wall along the border of Mexico. More than 650 miles of the 1,954 mile long U.S.-Mexico border is already fenced. This means that the 'Welcome to Trumpland' Wall will need to be at least 1,300 miles long. That's a lot of Chinese steel.

You can get a good sense of the scale of construction needed to build Trump's wall in a new video from the Intercept. The Intercept downloaded and stitched together 200,000 satellite images to create a huge strip map of the U.S.-Mexican border. You can view this strip map in Visualizing the U.S.-Mexico Border, a short video which pans along the whole border.

An interactive map of Trump's proposed wall also exists. Doug McCune has used Mapbox GL to create a 3d map of Trump's wall. The wall is colored in a patriotic red, white and blue. However the scale of the wall is probably a little out (it appears to be at least 10 miles high on Doug's map).

Hunting the Loch Ness Monster in 3D

Loch Ness is Scotland's second deepest loch and, due to its large surface size, is also the most voluminous lake in the British Isles. Thanks to's new map of Loch Ness you can now explore the depth of Loch Ness in 3d.

The depths of most of Scotland's lochs were not measured until the mid-Nineteenth Century. The first real systematic survey of the lochs was started in 1897 by the oceanographer Sir John Murray. From 1897 to 1909 Murray carried out 60,000 soundings and produced the first ever detailed charts, with depth data, of Scotland's major lochs. has digitized the bathymetry data from Murray's survey for four of Scotland's lochs and created 3d bathymetry maps. These maps allow you to explore the bathymetry contours of Loch Ness, Loch Lomond, Loch Levan and Loch Morar in 3d. also allows you to view the bathymetry contours of each loch in 2d overlaid on a aerial map.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Mapping the Grid

The Esri Story Maps team has released a comprehensive guide to the American power grid. An Atlas of Electricity explores where the USA gets its electricity from and how it distributes this power across the country.

At the heart of An Atlas of Electricity is an interactive map plotting the location and size of the grid's power plants and transmission cables. This map allows you to explore the location and capacity of the country's electricity producing power plants and how they connect to the national grid.

As well as mapping the physical infrastructure of the electricity grid this story map examines the primary energy sources used to generate electricity in the USA. It maps the size and capacity of coal-fired power plants, natural gas power plants and petroleum power plants. Alongside these fossil-fuel sources of power An Atlas of Electricity plots the size and capacity of the U.S.'s nuclear power plants, hydroelectric power plants and solar & wind power plants.

The 3D Building Age Map

Building age maps have been very popular over the last couple of years (you can view a long list of city building age maps here). I predict that the next trend in building age maps will be to show building ages in 3d.

The first example of a 3d building age map that I've seen is this map of Vallvidrera in Catalonia. Edificacions dels Barris de Muntanya colors the extruded 3d buildings of Vallvidrera on the map based on the age of construction of each building. A building age map seems to me to be a very appropriate place for using Mapbox GL's new extrude property to visualize buildings in 3d. The result is that individual buildings are much more identifiable on the map from their extruded 3d shape than they would appear by simply showing individual building footprints.

Other good examples of Mapbox GL's new 3d capabilities can be seen on the Vancouver Zoning Map map and the Toronto Zoning Map. The Population Density Inspector also allows you to explore the number of people living in each census block in America in 3d, thanks to the Mapbox GL extrude property.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Find the Best Neighborhoods to Stay

Travel planning website TripHappy has developed a cluster analysis tool to help identify the best neighborhoods to stay in when visiting cities around the world. The tool analyses the neighborhood ratings from a number of hotel and homestay listing websites. It identifies the hotels in a city with the best neighborhood ratings and then finds clusters of hotels with the best neighborhood ratings based on locational proximity.

Using the results of this cluster analysis TripHappy is able to provide Google Maps for cities around the world which show you the best neighborhoods in which to stay. The maps also show you the locations of hotels within these neighborhoods and nearby points of interest that you can visit on your trip.

You can test how closely you agree with TripHappy's results by seeing which neighborhoods it identifies as the best - in locations that you are familiar with. For example in London it identities areas in Westminster and West London as the best neighborhoods (which if you are a tourist probably are good neighborhoods to be based in). In New York many of the best neighborhoods identified by TripHappy are in Mid Town (again neighborhoods which make a good central base for tourists).

You can read more about the TripHappy clustering analysis tool on the TripHappy Blog. This form of clustering analysis could be applied to other types of interactive maps. For example a real-estate map could identify the best neighborhoods in which to live (based on crime, school ratings, restaurant ratings etc,) If you want to get started building your own clustering analysis the TripHappy blog post provides a little information on the clustering algorithm they used to identify the best neighborhoods for tourists to stay.

Murder & Mayhem in London

In London you are never more than three feet from a ghost. The streets of London are haunted by the memories of ghastly murders, bloody executions, plague pits and other fiendish enterprises.

Just in time for Halloween creative agency Imperio has launched an interactive map plotting and recounting the history of some of London's most spine-chilling events. Enter a London borough or postcode into Grim London  and you can explore some of the nearby locations which have witnessed gruesome scenes over the years. Click on any of the haunted marked locations on the map and the fiendish story of that location will slide into view.

Are you brave enough to explore the foggy night-time streets of Grim London?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

3D Population Towers

There have been quite a few examples recently of interactive maps created using Mapbox GL's extrusion property to make 3d buildings (including buildings with light and shade, the Vancouver Zoning Map map and the Toronto Zoning Map). All of these maps use the height data in the buildings layer of the map style to visualize buildings in 3d.

The new extrusion property can also be used with your own data layers in Mapbox GL. For example Mapbox has released a map of US population density which visualizes the population density of each census block as a 3d tower. The Population Density Inspector allows you to explore the number of people living in each census block in America. The height of each census block on the map represents the population density (based on census block population counts).

You can read about how Mapbox created the map (with a little help from Turf.js and Tippecanoe) on the Mapbox blog.

Death by Location

Diabetes is more common in the German speaking regions of Switzerland. Liver disease is more common in the French speaking regions.

The Tages Anzeiger newspaper has used data from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute to map the mortality rates in Sweden from diabetes and liver disease. In Schüpfheim is the Diabetic Capital of Switzerland the newspaper examines the prevalence of diabetes and liver disease in different Swiss regions and examines some of the cultural, nutritional and economic reasons why the death rate from the two diseases should have such marked geographical variations.

The interactive maps show the deviation of death rates for the different diseases in each Swiss municipality - in relation to the rate of deaths in the whole of Switzerland. If a municipality is above the Swiss average for the mortality rate from the disease, it is colored red on the map. If it is under the Swiss average it is colored blue. The red areas therefore show municipalities where the death rate for the visualized disease is above the Swiss average.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Mapping Civilian Deaths in Syria

Middle East Monitor has released an interactive map to visualize the number of civilian deaths in each region of Syria. The map is accompanied by charts showing how many civilian deaths have been caused by the various forces operating in the country and how many attacks these forces are responsible for on medical facilities and personnel.

The Middle East Monitor Interactive Map of Syria uses data from the Syrian Network for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, the United Nations, the SAMS Foundation and As well as showing the number of civilian deaths in each region in Syria the map allows you to view the locations of chemical attacks, where medical workers have been killed, the number of internally displaced people and the locations & numbers of coalition airstrike attacks.

Vintage Maps of the Hudson River

The New York Public Library's collection of geo-rectified vintage maps is a great resource for exploring old maps from around the world. If you want to search for old maps by location then you can use the map interface on the NYPL Map Warper page.

Bert Spaan, of NYPL Labs, has also created an interesting interactive strip map which allows you to find and explore vintage maps from the NYPL's Digital Collection along the Hudson River. Along the Hudson River from Glenn Falls to New York City uses the Leaflet.js mapping library to provide a map search tool for finding vintage maps, of places along the river, by location.

To explore and find maps from the NYPL you simply need to pan the map down the Hudson River. When you hover over a location on the map the available vintage maps at that location are loaded into the map sidebars. Each of the available maps include links to view the map on the NYPL's Map Warper and Digital Collections websites.