• Geography of incarceration

    June 6, 2012  |  Mapping

    Geography of incarceration

    New York University graduate student Josh Begley grabbed 4,916 satellite images of prisons via the Google Maps API and put them all in one place. It's called Prison Map.

    The United States is the prison capital of the world. This is not news to most people. When discussing the idea of mass incarceration, we often trot out numbers and dates and charts to explain the growth of imprisonment as both a historical phenomenon and a present-day reality.

    But what does the geography of incarceration in the US actually look like? Prison Map is my attempt to answer that question.

    Most are isolated boxes surrounded by a lot of field, but oddly there are some in close proximity to residential. There's one towards the bottom that actually does look like a residential area. Either it's a blip or grandma is running a prison in the basement. Probably the former.

  • Political allegiance via wireless network SSIDs, mapped

    June 5, 2012  |  Mapping

    Obama and SSIDs

    Wireless network SSIDs in residential areas are typically left on default router names like Belkin or LinkSys, but some people use them as a subtle way to broadcast a message. Sometimes it's simple like "DontStealMyInternet" or "Big Bob's playhouse." Others use their SSIDs to make a political statement. With that in mind, James Robinson, a developer for OpenSignalMaps, wondered if political allegiance could be inferred from assigning sentiment to SSIDs.

    According to this eccentric measure of sentiment Obama is much more popular outside of the US than within. Why is this? It may be that Obama is genuinely more popular in the rest of the world but maybe it is because outside of the US people are less likely to express negative sentiments towards politicians in this manner. We can't answer this definitively but looking at Argentina, at least, does suggest this is the case.

    I'm surprised it was so evenly split in the US between negative and positive since in a way it's like putting a sign up on your lawn. Usually you see signs in support of a candidate rather than one that says an opposing candidate sucks.

    Anonymity probably plays the main role in this case. You can't put up a mean sign in front of your house and pretend it's not yours, but you can make an insulting SSID, and no one would be the wiser.

  • America Revealed on PBS

    May 30, 2012  |  Mapping

    I'm not sure how I missed this, but PBS's America Revealed, which has apparently been running since last month, is the American version of the popular Britain From Above. Four episodes have aired so far on transportation, electricity, and manufacturing, along with a making-of episode. Here's a clip from the transportation episode.

    The series airs on Wednesdays at 10/9c. Although it looks like the full series ran already. It wouldn't make much sense to go over the making-of in the middle. On the upside, four episodes are available online.

    Had I known this existed, maybe I wouldn't have subjected myself to the monstrosity of a show in United Stats of America.

  • Sky map

    May 29, 2012  |  Mapping  |  Kim Rees

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    I'm a little dense when it comes to astronomy, but I think I understand this image. Simply entitled "Sky Map," it was created by Polish designer, Paulina Urbańska. It shows various constellations and where their stars begin in the early evening. It then follows the path created by the earth's rotation, illustrating where the same stars end up in the morning. Colored areas of the paths are daylight hours.

    This map is just begging for some interaction to make it more useful, but it's beautiful as is. Be sure to check out all of Paulina's other lovely works.

    [via @visualloop]

  • Tornado tracks

    May 26, 2012  |  Mapping  |  Kim Rees

    TornadoTracks

    John Nelson of IDV Solutions put 56 years worth of tornadoes on a map. John plotted each tornado's path and used brightness for its F-scale (level of intensity). He also added secondary charts for deaths and injuries and frequency by F-scale.

    It makes a gorgeous map. I would love to see the data incorporated into the wind map.

    So... practically speaking, if you live in the Midwest or Southern US, you should probably put this on your reading list.

  • Image compositing in TileMill

    May 24, 2012  |  Mapping  |  Kim Rees

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    TileMill is a tool that makes it easy to create interactive maps. Soon they will be adding some new features that will treat maps more like images in terms of modifying the look and feel. This will allow you to apply blending to polygons and GIS data.

    AJ Ashton made these examples that are quite compelling, beautiful, and just touch on the possibilities. I can envision many different types of data being drawn with blending techniques as opposed to simply flow diagrams and the like. It will be interesting to see what comes out of these new features.

    [via @bonnie]

  • Montana can’t sleep

    May 17, 2012  |  Mapping  |  Kim Rees

    What's Wrong US?

    Help is a drug company that offers you less. Less active ingredients, less waste, less confusion, less greed. Its tongue-in-cheek website has a map of its latest sales data called "What's wrong U.S.?" A bar chart for each state shows how many people are buying products for particular maladies.

    So why are the inner northwest states having problems sleeping? My guess they're up late worrying about gay marriage.

  • What is missing?

    May 16, 2012  |  Mapping  |  Kim Rees

    What is missing

    What is Missing? by Maya Lin seeks to raise awareness about the mass extinction of species. It has a beautiful interface. The world map is black on a sea of black. Your mouse acts as a sort of flashlight layered between land and water, showing you glimpses of familiar coastlines and allowing you to select dots that tell the stories of extinction.
    Continue Reading

  • Global shipping network

    May 14, 2012  |  Mapping

    Shipping arcs

    Nicolas Rapp dives into the patterns and growth of worldwide shipping in a six-page spread for Fortune Magazine.

    Nearly 90% of all goods traded across borders travel, in part, by sea. Typically a ship will undertake six voyages a year. The fastest-growing routes are between ports in Asia, while goods moving out of that continent account for 43% of all maritime trade, according to IHS Global, an economic forecasting firm. Today the most heavily trafficked sea route is between China and the West Coast of the U.S. The total value of goods that travel from China to the U.S. is four times that of those on the return trip—a clear symbol of America's trade deficit.

    Despite a gap of a few centuries, the routes today still look a lot like the ones from the 18th century.

  • Neighborhood boundaries based on social media activity

    May 8, 2012  |  Mapping

    livehoods

    Researchers at the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University investigate the structure of cities in Livehoods, using foursquare check-ins.

    The hypothesis underlying our work is that the character of an urban area is defined not just by the the types of places found there, but also by the people who make the area part of their daily routine. To explore this hypothesis, given data from over 18 million foursquare check-ins, we introduce a model that groups nearby venues into areas based on patterns in the set of people who check-in to them. By examining patterns in these check-ins, we can learn about the different areas that comprise the city, allowing us to study the social dynamics, structure, and character of cities on a large scale.

    It's most interesting when you click on location dots. A Livehood is highlighted and a panel on the top right tells you what the neighborhood is like, related neighborhoods, and provides stats like hourly and daily pulse and a breakdown location categories (for example, food and nightlife). Does foursquare have anything like this tied into their system? They should if they don't.

    There's only maps for San Francisco, New York City, and Pittsburgh right now, but I'm sure there are more to come.

    Want more on the clustering behind the maps? Here's the paper [pdf].

  • An era of human-affected Earth

    May 7, 2012  |  Mapping

    Welcome to Anthropocene:

    Scientific concepts like the Anthropocene, planetary boundaries and planetary stewardship have heralded a profound shift in perception of our place in the world: a growing evidence base of scientific observations show we have become the prime driver of global environmental change. These new concepts are powerful communication tools as we move towards global sustainability.

    There's also a non-narrated version, but I like the narration. It helps you better appreciate what you're seeing. Oh yeah, and ooohh, purdy.

    [via infosthetics]

  • Minecraft server connections

    May 7, 2012  |  Mapping

    Minecraft server connections

    I've never played Minecraft, but maybe this map showing live server connections means something to those who do. "A dot is a server or a client. Lines are traced from clients connecting to servers. Lone dots are local servers." They also have raw hardware data available for download. [Thanks, Erik]

  • Extreme ice time-lapse

    May 2, 2012  |  Mapping

    Glaciers are big, slow-moving objects, and it might seem that not much is happening if you stare at one for a while. The Extreme Ice Survey, founded by James Balog in 2007, aims to provide the ice with a "visual voice" using time-lapse photography.

    One aspect of EIS is an extensive portfolio of single-frame photos celebrating the beauty–the art and architecture–of ice. The other aspect of EIS is time-lapse photography; currently, 27 cameras are deployed at 18 glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, the Nepalese Himalaya, Alaska and the Rocky Mountains of the U.S. These cameras record changes in the glaciers every half hour, year-round during daylight, yielding approximately 8,000 frames per camera per year. We edit the time-lapse images into stunning videos that reveal how fast climate change is transforming large regions of the planet.

    Some of the videos span four years, from 2007 to 2011, and it's amazing to see the sped-up dynamic of the ice. I like this one, which Balog refers to as the cat's paw. It looks like a big paw of ice reaching into the ocean.

    [via Boing Boing]

  • Easter spending patterns in Spain, animated

    April 30, 2012  |  Mapping

    The MIT SENSEable City Lab, in partnership with BBVA, visualizes spending in Spain during Easter of 2011. The animation shows the activity of 1.4 million people and 374,220 businesses, over 4 million transactions.

    The map is less interesting to me since I'm a non-Spaniard (population density?), but the categorizations and spending volume over time is fun to see. Groceries are shown in blue, gas stations in yellow, fashion in pink, and red in bars and restaurants. During the day, you see people filling up the tank, and then as evening comes, the city centers and coast lights up red.

    [via @pkedrosky]

  • Eating healthiness mapped over 24 hours

    April 26, 2012  |  Mapping

    Eating healthiness

    The Eatery app by Massive Health lets people snap pictures of their food and rate the healthiness. The premise is that you don't have to carefully count calories to lose weight. You just need to be more aware of what you eat. Using 7.68 million ratings over a five-month span, Massive Health maps eating healthiness over an aggregated 24-hour time window.

    Mouse back and forth over the map slowly to see the changes. It's interesting that as night falls, desserts and midnight snacks make themselves known and then the green comes back in the morning.

    [Thanks, Thomas]

  • Live flight tracking site shows crash of circling plane

    April 19, 2012  |  Mapping

    Plane crash

    Live flight tracking site FlightAware shows destinations and current routes. It's everyday stuff for the most part, but around noon time today, a plane was circling above the ocean and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.

    CNN reports:

    The Air Force, which had dispatched fighter jets to monitor the twin-engine Cessna 421, reported it crashed about 12:10 p.m., said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher O'Neil, a Coast Guard spokesman. The aircraft had been circling over the Gulf about 200 miles south of Panama City, Florida, another spokesman, Chief Petty Officer John Edwards, told CNN.

    The plane took off from Slidell, Louisiana, en route to Sarasota, Florida, with a single pilot on board, a Federal Aviation Administration source told CNN. It had been circling at an altitude of about 28,000 feet.

    Whoa.

    [via @DataJunkie]

  • Tracking drought in the US

    April 18, 2012  |  Mapping

    Drought map

    NPR has a look at weekly drought figures over the past couple of years. The focus is on Texas, a state that's been hit hard the past few months. In 2011, there was an estimated agricultural loss of $7.62 billion.

    The current drought began in October 2010. Though the situation has improved recently, the drought is far from over — and the conditions that caused it aren’t going away anytime soon.

    Texas is a place susceptible to extreme weather, and the last year was no exception. Thousands of square miles were burned in wildfires, billions were lost in agriculture, and its impact could still linger in years to come.

    Hit the play button, and the string of images runs like a flip book. Low tech, but effective.

    [via Matt Stiles]

  • Explore the Solar System like your backyard

    April 17, 2012  |  Mapping

    Game developer Christopher Albeluhn found himself unemployed, so he started to work on a model of Earth in a video game engine to add to his portfolio. He finished that, and thought, hey, might as well keep on going. He eventually created the Solar System.

    Before i knew it, i had all 8 planets (I am SO sorry Pluto), the sun and the Asteroid belt. They all had correct rotations, orbits, locations and speeds; their moons, information regarding the planets and their facts. All of these were fine, but i wanted something more, so i added in the constellations, all 88 of them.

    Still though, this was portfolio work — until a link to the video went up on reddit. With some momentum, Albeluhn hopes to turn his side project into a full-fledged application. Fingers crossed for completion.

  • Interactive Islands of Mankind

    April 16, 2012  |  Mapping

    Squinty-eyed population

    Geography graduate student Derek Watkins has some fun with population densities in an interactive version of William Bunge's The Continents and Islands of Mankind. The above shows areas in the world where there are at least 15 people per square kilometer. In the interactive, a slider lets you shift that number up to 500 where only a few spots in the world remain.

    An interesting thing about this map is that each layer is contained in one 23,000 pixel tall spritesheet to reduce load time. An uninteresting thing is that my workflow was to export black and white density images from QGIS (which I've been working with more lately), generalize in Illustrator, export each slice and then stitch them together into one image with ImageMagick. I grabbed the population data from here.

    [via Derek Watkins]

  • A century of ocean shipping animated

    April 12, 2012  |  Mapping

    Using hand-recorded shipping data from the Climatological Database for the World's Oceans, history graduate student Ben Schmidt mapped a century of ocean shipping, between 1750 and 1850. The above map animates a seasonal aggregate.

    There aren't many truly seasonal events, but a few stand out. There are regular summer voyages from Scotland to Hudson's Bay, and from Holland up towards Spitsbergen, for example: both these appear as huge convoys moving in sync. (What were those about?) Trips around Cape Horn, on the other hand, are extremely rare in July and August. More interestingly, the winds in the Arabian sea seem to shift directions in November or so. I also really like the way this one brings across the conveyor belt nature of trade with the East.

    The bobbing month label is distracting, but its position actually does mean something. Since seasonality (i.e. weather) plays a role in travels, the label represents noontime location of the sun in Africa. Okay, I'm still not sure if that's actually useful.

    If you really must, you can also watch the century of individual shipments during a 12-minute video.

    By the way, Schmidt used R to make this, relying heavily on the mapproj and ggplot2 packages. (Bet you didn't see that coming.) I think he created a bunch of images and then strung them together to make the animation.

    [via Revolutions]

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