Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Time Maps

Mapbox has created this fantastic "map" - really a diagram showing web search results from the perspective of time, in this case walking time. The map is a concentric circle diagram with geography only preserved in the direction of each result.
In their own words Mapbox has "swept the physical world away completely, in favor of the time needed to move around it." The results are from Foursquare and are somewhat dubious as I will discuss.

I chose Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, a favorite spot since childhood. One nice feature was I just put in the name of the square, no city, state or any other info and it knew exactly where to go. I searched for ice cream, often problematic in that neighborhood because places seem to come and go quickly. Click on any spot and you get a walking route with directions.
You can click "Find me" to get your location or start searching an address. The address search is overly eager. I started to enter an address where I'll be going soon in upstate New York and it took me first to Birmingham, UK and then to Toronto before I could finish typing.
Of course, a map like this is only as good as the information behind it. When I did some searches of my neighborhood, I found quite a few businesses that closed several years ago while some places that are well over five years old did not appear.

For some details on how and why see the this Mapbox blog post.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hurricane Footage from Snap Map

I don't spend much time with social media. As a result, I've been missing one of the bigger map stories of the year, the growth of Snapchat's Snap Map. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have brought Snapchat to the forefront of media coverage. 
Image via Elite Daily
According to Elite Daily, when Irma made landfall Snapchat received 250,000 submissions within 24 hours. These numbers are way higher than the already high 100,000 daily submissions from Hurricane Harvey. Major media outlets used these pictures and videos in their coverage. The map part of the app is useful to focus on what is happening in specific geographic areas.
Image via Recode
The yellow-red colors in the background show where larger concentrations of posts are geotagged. Zoom in to see more Snapchat pictures and videos. Here's an example via Recode.
Early previews of the mapping function focused on it as a fun way to send your private data to corporations.
Having fun at the club!!!
It's somewhat ironic then that it has become a way to voyeuristically watch people's lives get torn apart by natural disasters.

NOTE: I tried to get Snapchat on my old phone so I could see for myself and get my own images for this post. Unfortunately I do not have enough storage on my phone to download the app. Sorry that I have to rely on second hand images like the ones above instead of providing original content.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Disaster Mapping Help

While Hurricane Irma does some scary stuff and Houston is still bailing out, here is a reminder that anyone can help disaster responders from their desktops through Humanitarian Open Street Map. By identifying roads and buildings from aerial photography, you can help organizations like Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross find affected people and buildings. No prior mapping knowledge is needed.
In a previous blog post, I talked about my experience helping with the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.
There is not yet a mapping project for this year's hurricanes but there probably will be as places recover.

UPDATE:         Now there is!

You can also help with their Malaria Elimination Campaign.  Here is a screen shot of buildings mapped in Zimbabwe so far.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Yum Yum Maps

Yum Yum is a travel magazine from the island of Hokkaido in Japan. They make their own hand drawn maps. My favorite one is Make Your Bento in Kyoto, showing where to buy the needed ingredients for a Bento Box and then where to enjoy your lunch.
The map includes pairing advice and a checklist at the bottom of the page. Here are some details.
Another map hangs in a child's rest corner of a shop in a mall in Shihoro on Hokkaido. It shows places of interest in the town.
In nearby Obihiro, at the Hotel Nupka, you can enjoy one of these beers...
 ... on top of this coaster.
Both maps are of the surrounding parts of Hokkaido. The beer is a "caution beer"whatever that means. From an attempted Japanese translation:
A caution beer from Tokachi "beer at the beginning of travel"...Tokachi is a label that maps the east Hokkaido area, which is rich in nature, to Shiretoko Peninsula and Nemuro. Brewed using 100% of barley from Dido / Naka-Tsuzu-machi.
There are several maps of New Zealand also including this 60-day camper van travel itinerary.
and this maybe too-cute tourist map full of personal observations.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Awful Hurricane Inspires Cartographic Greatness

At the risk of minimizing an awful tragedy, Hurricane Harvey has inspired some wonderful maps, particularly from the New York Times and Washington Post. This animation from the Times is spectacular. Click the play button and watch it unfold.
The subtle dark circles indicating areas of peak rainfall create a remarkable sense of the storm's movement.

The Washington Post's cube showing the total rainfall is also pretty remarkable.
This only shows what rain had fallen as of August 27th so the situation has gotten much worse. In fact, here is an animation they just put on Twitter.
They did a nice job highlighting buildings and areas on the background map.

The total rainfall map is also quite striking. I lost the text on the image below but you almost don't need it. You can see the entire map with city labels, precipitation totals, legends and all by clicking on the picture.
Their map of rain gauges is also excellent.The arrows almost give it a three dimensional effect.
I tried to break out of the New York/Washington media to see what other maps are out there but these really are much better than anything else I've seen. The Houston Chronicle has little to offer for maps though they do have an impressive collection of photos of the devastation and rescue efforts. What is encouraging is to see many articles about cooking, sports and politics showing that life is getting back to normal for at least some people in the area.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Eclipse Map Follow Up

Before Monday's eclipse I posted some excellent maps and visualizations of it. Here are a few I missed and some post-eclipse maps.

The Washington Post made a great graphic showing the most liked images tagged #eclipse2017 on Instagram.

Hover over each image for more detail
Even filtering for the eclipse tag, not every image is eclipse-related.
The Post also posted this widely-circulated map showing how Google search results for the eclipse followed the path. I like the color choices!
From the same article, an understated graphic showing what the eclipse looked like throughout the United States.
The Canadian Space Agency has a similar map showing what the peak eclipse looked like over their major cities. Though there was not a total eclipse anywhere in Canada, the map does give an easily understandable view of what will be visible. The green-blue gradient is a little gratuitous but I like this map a lot.
This gif, an animated satellite view popped up somewhere is the social media world-I forgot where I found it. Click the image for a larger view and some animation options.
Finally I made my own screen shot that got popular (by my standards) on Twitter showing the path of the eclipse via Google Traffic.
Before the eclipse the only thing that stood out was a huge amount of traffic converging on South Carolina from the Atlanta and Charlotte areas. Otherwise there wasn't much else to see. When I looked shortly after the peak of the eclipse the pattern became pretty clear.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Tramways of Portland, Maine

I found some great old maps of the tramway system of Portland, Maine on a German Wikipedia page. Interestingly, there does not appear to be an English-language version of this page.

The city began a horse-drawn tramway in 1863. The image above highlights the tramways in yellow over a panoramic image from 1876. The details in this panorama are spectacular.

The map below shows the growth of the horse tram system from 1883 to 1896
The Portland and Forest Avenue Railroad Company was founded in 1860 and began operating a horse drawn carriage system. The first section ran between Spring Street and the Grand Trunk Railway Station (shown in the panorama detail) opened in October, 1863. The fare for the entire route was 5 cents. The following year two more lines were added. The red lines shown above represent the system by the end of 1864.

The author,  Maximilian Dörrbecker traced the tram lines over a US Geological Survey map from 1916.

The lines were electrified starting in 1891. Over the next two decades the system expanded far into the suburbs.
 A detail on the lower left side gives a good view of the extent of the system by 1902. Not shown are extensions to Lewiston, Falmouth, Saco and Old Orchard Beach.
Here is a bird's eye view from 1909.
Again the beauty is in the details.
Here is a subway style map showing the lines at the system's peak in 1916.

After World War I the system began to decline. The suburban lines were abandoned in the early 1930's and by 1941 the entire system had been replaced by buses.