Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The CIA is Watching Elephants Too

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recently declassified a bunch of their maps. You can see them on their flickr page. The most strikingly unusual one is this map of elephant populations in Africa.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ciagov/30249979363/in/album-72157674854391962/
The map is dense with information, yet fairly easy to interpret. Each country is given a 2013 population estimate with an elephant sized accordingly. Elephant range is shaded in gray and places where dead elephants have been found are color coded by the 2011 CITES index-a ratio of natural deaths to deaths by poaching. Areas with heavy poaching have red dots. However, the map might benefit from proportional dots  - below the dot for the 31 deaths is the same size as the dots representing 1.
They also have a well done map showing ivory smuggling figures and destinations based on seizures.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ciagov/30885483595/in/album-72157674854391962/



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Under a Black Cloud!

https://www.loc.gov/resource/g4281p.ct000267/
This map is part of a paper addressed to the Republican National Convention of 1884. The purpose was to complain about the Northern Pacific Railroad holding title to "unearned" lands. These lands were granted to the railroad company for the purpose of constructing rail and telegraph links from Lake Superior to Puget Sound. The grants were made in 1869-70. By this date (1883) the company had only built a few small trunk lines, possibly just to keep their hold on the land in black above.

These lands were unavailable to homesteaders as long as the railroad held them. The company was accused of using stealth tactics to hang onto huge amounts of valuable coal and timber lands.
"The head of every true American should hang in shame that hair-splitting Congressmen have been found who, regardless of the duties of their office, have, at the command of their corporation masters, supported this contention by their arguments, their votes and their obstructive tactics."
The paper seeks a clear position of the party. "They do not want meaningless phrases or equivocal expressions, but earnest, honest words and work."
The map shows 40 and 50-mile limits from the proposed main and trunk lines in black as land unavailable to the public-"the crooked, tortuous and angular course of the railroad lines being only parallel by conduct of the Company itself."
Here is the edge of the "black cloud."

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tribal Nations Map

Thanksgiving is a time to honor Native Americans, who were here before most of us came over as undocumented immigrants. Aaron Carapella, a self-taught mapmaker from Oklahoma created Tribal Nations Maps. They feature the original names of hundreds of indigenous tribes throughout North America.
In many cases commonly known names of tribes, though in native languages, were given by European settlers. Sometimes these are derogatory names given by rival tribes such as Comanche, a Ute word meaning “anyone who wants to fight me all the time.*”  Carapella  researched the original names and added then to the maps.
There are maps for the continental United States, Canada, Mexico and Alaska. The level of detail varies quite a bit among regions. The Pacific Northwest is one of the most detailed areas.
The maps can be purchased on Carapella's web site. There is a also a high-resolution image on NPR's website.



* source - Encyclopedia Brittanica


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Hate Trumps Love

Racist incidents have spiked significantly since last week's election. An article in Time Magazine documents many of these. The Trump Hate Map shows that this is not a regional thing but a nationwide phenomenon.
http://americasvoice.org/trumphatemap/
From Time:
“Since the election, we’ve seen a big uptick in incidents of vandalism, threats, intimidation spurred by the rhetoric surrounding Mr. Trump’s election,” Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center told USA Today. “The white supremacists out there are celebrating his victory and many are feeling their oats.”
I don't normally like to spout off about politics on a map blog but anyone who cares about basic decency ought to be concerned.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Here's an Interesting Election Map

I'll be honest - I've been very sick of election maps for quite some time now. For the last four years we (maybe I see this more than non-mappers) have been exposed to constant re-hashes of the 2012 Presidential Election - cartograms, hexagons, county-level, even more detailed, should we make the close results purple, gray or black? 3D? It's kind of a shame because there are interesting cartographic problems and ways to solve them here but the overexposure kills it for me.

Anyway, I saw this map in the Washington Post and it's pretty cool. 
The presentation is a bit complex because there are numerous variables being shown. Each triangle is a county. The height represents the total votes cast while the width at the base is the margin of victory. Bold triangles represent landslides, defined as "50%" - I think this means 50% vote differential. These are most common in the largest cities and smallest rural counties, particularly ones in the rust belt where the election was decided. The typical red and blue color scheme is used.* The rotation with east up was probably done for better web presentation and causes momentary confusion because it looks "wrong".

I like that the red and blue states are subtly colored so they don't overwhelm the important data here. I don't expect this type of map will become popular - the message takes some reading to decode but it's a nice break from the usual maps and mapping debates that we'll be seeing for years to come.
The full map is here - it's the second map, the first one is worth a look too.

* When I first began making election maps in the 1980's, we had blue for Republican and red for Democrat. I think television news flipped this and now we all take these colors for granted.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Portland's Floor Plan

My wife recently bought me Portlandness: A Cultural Atlas for our anniversary. Maps were created by students and at least in one case, children. As a result there is plenty of creative cartography to see. One of my favorites is this floor plan, titled "Putting Our House In Order"
https://www.pdx.edu/insidepsu/mapping-portlandness
In order to not run afoul of copyright restrictions, I will only show what is available on the book's web pages. The map is full of clever metaphors - the river dividing the city is the front hallway, industrial zones are bathrooms, Pioneer Courthouse is the living room, downtown the office, and bedroom communities are bedrooms. It is easy to guess the nature of less familiar areas like Alberta (craft room) and Gresham (garage) - I also like that the bluffs are the balcony.

The map also shows up on the cover
You can see the entire map using the "look inside" feature on Amazon.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Torontonian Map of Toronto

Next week the GIS-Pro conference opens in Toronto. To help people navigate their way to and around the area, here is a map from the locals.
http://imgur.com/r/TOmaps/4rTqyxx
Judging from this zoomed in view of the area, you can now take the subway all the way to Lake Simcoe for some weekend foliage viewing. It's also helpful that they built a diagonal road from NYC to Buffalo.
Also, they move the British Isles much closer for your convenience.
Hope this map helps you enjoy your stay!