Monday, June 26, 2017

Great Journeys in Time

In 1768 it took Captain Cook 1 year and 8 months to sail from Plymouth to Botany Bay, Australia. Today he could complete the journey by car and plane in 26 hours and 7 minutes.

Travelbag has created a series of interactive maps of some of the world's most famous explorations and journeys. The maps plot these historical journeys over time and then allow you to see how these same journeys could be completed today. Each map of the equivalent modern journey also shows you how much quicker the journey could be completed today.

A Race of Discovery features such famous journeys as Christopher Columbus' first voyage to the New World and Lewis & Clark's Corps of Discovery Expedition. There are 13 famous journeys to explore in all, each featuring both past and present interactive maps.

How to Make an RPG Game with Google Maps

Badass Quest is a new RPG game engine built on top of the Google Maps API. The engine makes it relatively easy to create your own map based game featuring real world places, Street View images, sound effects and music.

You can see the type of map based game you can create with Badass Quest by playing the demo game, Badass for President. In this game you play the part of a very dodgy businessman who has to take over control over the city by extorting businessmen and buying up local businesses (any similarity to Donald Trump is intentional).

At the beginning of the game you can choose where in the world you want play. The game then features real world locations which you can interact with and try to take over in the game. The map also features local restaurants, which you need to visit periodically in order to maintain your health.

Insects in the City

There are over 560 species of insect living in Melbourne. The most common species is the Minute Brown Scavenger Beetle Cortinicara. All these insects play a very important role in maintaining the bio-diversity of Melbourne. They pollinate flowers, transform biomass, regulate pest populations, recycle nutrients, disperse seeds and provide food for other animals and birds.

Between January 6th and March 10th 2015 insect surveys were undertaken in parks and gardens throughout the City of Melbourne. Each insect survey recorded the number and types of insects that live in each habitat. You can explore the results of Melbourne's insect survey on Insects - The Little Things that Run Our City.

You can view which areas of the city were studied using the Insect Biodiversity in the City of Melbourne interactive map. If you select the individual survey sites displayed on the map you can view a scatter-plot, beneath the map, showing the number of insects and the number of different insect species found in the site's insect survey.

If you scroll down to the 'Interaction' section you can view more details of the individual surveys carried out at each park and garden. An interactive graph breaks down the survey results for each site to show the number of different insects of each species, the number found in each type of habitat and the number of insects in each function group.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

City Cycling Stress Scores

Moovel Lab's What the Street? provides an interesting analysis of how much space is dedicated to cars, to cycling and to trains in cities around the world. According to What the Street cyclists in most cities around the world can typically expect much less than ten percent of the physical space that is dedicated to cars.

The quality of a city's cycling network however is far more than just a reflection of the amount of physical space dedicated to bikes. It also relies on how well a cycling network connects people to the places that they want to go and to the levels of stress that they experience while on their bikes. PlacesForBikes has therefore carried out a detailed analysis of local bike networks across the United States and ranked its towns and cities on how good they are for cycling.

The PlacesForBikes Bicycle Network Analysis allows you to view the results of this cycling network census in 299 towns and cities. You can view an interactive map for each town and city. The maps show the selected city's street colored according to their cycling stress score. Each map also includes the town or city's overall Bicycle Network Analysis score and individual scores for how easy it is for the population to access different places (e.g. parks, stores and health services) by bike.

You can read more about how the Bicycle Network Analysis scores are calculated on the PlacesForBikes Methodology page. The methodology partly relies on how streets are tagged on OpenStreetMap in terms of the roadway characteristics important to bikes and cyclists.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Sonnets on the Streets of Seattle

Seattle is a city 'full of cannabis craving lovers ... and power hungry sharks'. It is also a city full of poets and bards. Some of whom can be found on this Seattle poetry map.

For two years Claudia Castro Luna has been Seattle's Civic Poet. To mark the end of her residency as Civic Poet Claudia has launched an interactive map of Seattle poetry. The Seattle Poetic Grid is a collection of poems by Seattle residents who took part in poetry writing sessions during Claudia's residence program at the Seattle Public Library.

The map features both established poets and those who are new to the art. Each of the featured poems on the map provides an insight into how Seattle locations can infuse and inspire. You can inspire yourself simply by clicking on the markers on the map and reading that location's featured poem.

If you don't live in Seattle you might still be able to find poems written about places nearby. The Representative Poetry Online (RPO) from the University of Toronto Libraries has created a Google Map called Places of Poems & Poets. This map allows you to search the RPO poetry collection by location

Alternatively you could search the Poetry Atlas. The Poetry Atlas is a Google Map that is trying to map poems that mention specific locations around the world.

The Rent in Spain Falls Mainly Down the Drain

Renting an apartment in Madrid or Barcelona is becoming very difficult for anyone who isn't already rich or a high earner. Like many other cites in the developed world a number of factors have combined to price many people out of being able to afford to rent an apartment in Spain's two most populous cities.

Tell Me How Much You Can Afford and I'll Tell You Where to Live explains the problems of renting in Madrid and Barcelona. It also explores the reasons behind the high rents and then suggests some possible solutions. The article includes an interactive map which allows you to explore how much salary you need to rent in different neighborhoods in both cities. The map allows you to enter your monthly salary and the size of the apartment that you want to rent. The city's neighborhoods are then colored on the map to show the percentage of your salary that you would need to be able to rent in that area of the city.

The map also includes a timeline control which allows you to compare the current situation to previous years. Therefore if you are depressed by the current situation you can depress yourself further by sliding the years back to see how far back in time you would have to travel before you could afford to rent in Barcelona or Madrid.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Degradation of the Amazon Rainforests

Most people are aware of the devastating effect of deforestation on the Amazon Rainforest. Not so many people are aware of the equally worrying 'degradation' of forests. With deforestation the forest is completely cleared and left for pasture, monoculture or simply abandoned. Forest degradation is the thinning of tree density which leads to the removal of important biodiversity. It is often caused by logging, fire, drought or hunting.

The extensive forest clearance caused by deforestation can be relatively easy to spot using aerial surveys or even satellite imagery. Forest degradation on the other hand can be a lot harder to monitor from the air as the tree canopy can still exist above the thinning tree density.

The Silent Forest project has been started by a team of Brazilian and foreign scientists to assess the extent and impact of forest degradation in the Amazon Rainforest. As part of this monitoring the project has released an interactive map to show Contributing Factors to Degradation in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest. The map shows the extent to which fire, logging, hunting and fragmentation are leading to forest degradation.

The Silent Forest website also includes a hexagon grid map of the Brazilian state of ParĂ¡. The grid map shows the percentage loss of biodiversity across the whole state.

Where Cars Rule the City Streets

Do you know how much physical space in your town or city is dedicated to cars, to bikes and to trains? Moovel Lab has been analyzing OpenStreetMap data to answer this question and to provide a Mobility Space Report for major cities around the world. What the Street? allows you to explore these Mobility Space Reports and to view the amount of space dedicated to the three different modes of transport in your favorite cities.

Before exploring a city on What the Street? you are asked to enter your own guess as to how much city space you think is allocated to cars, trains and bikes. After you have made your guess you can then explore the results.

The results for each mode of transport is presented in a long scrollable visualization of all the individual spaces dedicated to each form of transit. For example for cars you get to scroll through all of the city's streets and parking lots. As you scroll through the visualization a total is kept of the amount of space dedicated to cars. Don't worry - you don't have to scroll through the whole city and a link allows you to skip to the end of the visualization.

After you have finished scrolling through all the city's streets, rails and bike lanes you can see how good your initial guess was. Your guess is compared to the actual results and to the guesses made by other users. The results page also includes some useful information about the city, such as the longest street and street name.

The city is then compared to the other cities around the world. This comparison includes its ranking as a city for driving, biking or taking the train.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Name the City from its Bike Lanes

The Guardian has a fun map game which requires you to guess cities around the world based solely on maps of their bike lanes. The maps were created by Bike Citizens using their bike mapping data. Each city map consists of just protected bike lanes (blue lines) and painted lanes (grey lines).

There are twelve city maps in all in Can you guess the city from its bike lane maps. All you have to do is choose the correct answer for each city map from a choice of three possible answers.

I got 10 out of 12 of the questions correct. I won't tell you which cities I got wrong as that would give you the answer to two of the trickier cities. I was amazed by how many cities I could recognize just from their bike lanes. I obviously spend far too much time looking at maps.

The UK Election Dot Map

The Colours of the Election is a dot map which provides a view of the geographical distribution of votes cast in the 2017 UK election. Each dot on the map represents 250 votes for one of the political parties. The dots are randomly distributed within each electoral area.

At the electoral ward level a random distribution of colored dots is obviously not the best way to present the number of votes cast for each political party. This data would be much more legible visualized as a bar graph. In fact randomizing the numbers within each constituency could be confusing as it suggests that the data is shown geographically - when in fact the data is just randomly distributed.

When you view the data at a regional level the data does begin to make more sense and the geographical distribution of votes for each political party can begin to emerge from the map. For example the regional view of London shows the dominance of Labour in inner London. The Conservatives voters are more concentrated in a ring in the suburbs outside of the center. This ring is broken in the south-west where the Liberal Democrats have a small pocket of support.

The question remains about whether this dot map view shows a more detailed picture of the number of votes cast for each party than a traditional election map. Here's the Evening Standard's static map of the 2017 election results in London.

I would argue that the Evening Standard map is at least as good, if not better, at showing where the different parties have the most support in London. In fact you could easily add a more refined analysis to the Evening Standard map by adding pop-up bar charts showing the total number of votes cast for each party in each electoral district.

What I do like about the Colours of the Election map is the responsive bar chart. This graph shows the total number of votes cast for each party for the current map view. This means that you can zoom and pan the map to explore the number of votes cast for each of the political parties in different parts of the UK. The date control also allows you to make a useful comparison between the support for each of the parties in this election and in previous elections.