• Stop-and-frisk hotspots mapped

    July 18, 2012  |  Mapping

    Stop and Frisk

    WNYC mapped all street stops that resulted in the recovery of a gun, based on data from the New York police department. On top of that, the green spots, they mapped areas where police search more frequently.

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly argue the main purpose of stop-and-frisk is to get guns off the street. Out of more than 685,000 stops in 2011, about 770 guns were recovered. That means about one tenth of one percent of all stops result in the seizure of a gun.

    But those guns are not showing up in the places where the police are devoting the most stop-and-frisk resources.

    I'm sure a lot of people's initial reaction to this map went something like this: "Psh. The police don't have a clue what they're doing," which was one possibility the article suggested. The other was that the stops are working as a deterrent.

    What's more likely: Police officers have managed to end up in almost every area where there are fewer guns (and missed where there are more guns), or people with guns avoid the areas where there are a lot officers? I'm gonna go with the police point of view on this one.

  • The future of maps isn’t maps

    July 12, 2012  |  Mapping

    Rebecca Rosen for The Atlantic on why maps aren't the best interface all of the time:

    Think of it this way. In the days before online trip planners and GPS, if you wanted to know how to get from point A to point B, you would look at a map and trace out a route. But these days few people would use a map that way (I still do just because I enjoy the process but I think I'm in the minority). Instead, they would plug in their request and an algorithm would spit out a route for them. The route would appear on the map, but the map is no longer the tool for finding that answer.

    In other words, just because the data has latitude and longitude attached to it, which seems like everything these days, you don't need to automatically assume that you should throw it on a map.

  • Map of the underwater Internet

    July 11, 2012  |  Mapping

    Underwater internet

    Nicolas Rapp, for Fortune Magazine, mapped the underwater cables that make the global Internet possible.

    If the internet is a global phenomenon, it's because there are fiber-optic cables underneath the ocean. Light goes in on one shore and comes out the other, making these tubes the fundamental conduit of information throughout the global village. To make the light travel enormous distances, thousands of volts of electricity are sent through the cable's copper sleeve to power repeaters, each the size and roughly the shape of a 600-pound bluefin tuna.

  • A year of global cloud coverage

    July 6, 2012  |  Mapping

    One Year of Clouds of NYT

    Jonathan Corum for the New York Times mapped cloud coverage from April 2011 to April 2012.

    At any moment, about 60 percent of the earth is covered by clouds, which have a huge influence on the climate. An animated map showing a year of cloud cover suggests the outlines of continents because land and ocean features influence cloud patterns.

    So if I'm understanding it right, the continent boundaries come straight from the cloud data, provided by NASA Earth Observations. No lines are drawn underneath, which is kinda awesome. [via @datapointed]

  • Beer versus church mapped

    July 6, 2012  |  Mapping

    beer vs church

    The geographers at Floatingsheep are at it again, this time comparing tweets that mention beer and those that mention church.

    Given the cultural content of the "church" tweets, the clustering of relatively more "church" than "beer" content in the southeast relative to the north-east suggests that this could be a good way to identify the contours of regional difference. In order to quantify these splits, we ran a Moran's I test for spatial auto-correlation which proved to be highly significant as well. Without going into too much detail, this test shows which counties with high numbers of church tweets are surrounded by counties with similar patterns (marked in red) and which counties with many beer tweets are surrounded by like-tweeting counties (marked in blue). Intriguingly there is a clear regional (largely north-south split) in tweeting topics which highlights the enduring nature of local cultural practices even when using the latest technologies for communication.

    I wonder if searches for "ate too much" or "out for a run" would match up with obesity trends. Hopefully their Data on Local Life and You (DOLLY) project comes to fruition.

  • Stars in the zodiac constellations, from Earth and space

    June 27, 2012  |  Mapping

    Close to Home

    While we're on the subject of stars, developer Riley Davis modeled the ones in the zodiac constellations and color-coded them by temperature. He also labeled the constellations and included the celestial equator (the projection of Earth's equator into space), ecliptic (path of the sun), and the sun, which moves in real-time. The interactive starts with a view from space, where the little blue dot is Earth, and when you release the camera, you see the stars from our point of view.

    I was disoriented at first with the navigation but got used to it quickly. Movement of the mouse left to right zooms in and out, and movement top to bottom rotates the perspective. Feels a lot like flying through space. Well how I imagine it to be, at least.

  • An interactive view of star constellations

    June 27, 2012  |  Mapping

    Views of the sky

    When we look up at the night sky to gaze at the stars, we see small, glowing dots that we perceive almost as if they were drawn on a flat surface. However, all these dots vary in distance from us. View of the Sky by visualization developer Santiago Ortiz shows this third dimension of depth.

    The constellations are placed on a sphere that you can zoom and rotate. This is an interesting view in itself, but select the perspective for absolute distance and magnitude, and you'll see something completely different. It's no longer a network that resembles a globe, and instead it morphs to a cloud of stars and randomness. Also see Ortiz's first view of the sky that includes stars not part of major constellations.

  • Commute times in your area, mapped

    June 26, 2012  |  Mapping

    Commute map

    When you look for a place to live, there are outside factors to consider other than price and square footage. You want to know what the area is like. How's the crime? Are the schools nearby good or bad? Housing search site Trulia provides this information with Trulia Local. Using data from OpenStreetMaps and General Transit Feed Specification feeds, it just got better with their most recent addition that maps commute times.

    Commuting sucks. It’s stressful, and no amount of Sirius radio can make a traffic jam fun. Because of this, we know that commuting is an important consideration when choosing where to live, whether you’re in Los Angeles or Boston. So, launching today is Trulia’s first iteration of the Commute Map, a way to visualize driving and public transit times. With this new product, we aim to give Trulia users a better understanding of commute times to work or anywhere important, to help them find the best place to live.

    Put in your location, and the heatmap indicates areas you can get to in less than thirty minutes. If you want to see places farther away, you can use the slider to adjust the time, up to an hour away.

    I found myself just punching in addresses for fun and emphatically dragging the slider back and forth. The map is responsive, and most importantly informative, especially if you're planning a move.

  • Endangered languages project

    June 25, 2012  |  Mapping

    Endangered languages

    Google, in collaboration with Vizzuality, are trying to catalog endangered languages before they are gone forever in the Endangered Languages Project.

    Humanity today is facing a massive extinction: languages are disappearing at an unprecedented pace. And when that happens, a unique vision of the world is lost. With every language that dies we lose an enormous cultural heritage; the understanding of how humans relate to the world around us; scientific, medical and botanical knowledge; and most importantly, we lose the expression of communities’ humor, love and life. In short, we lose the testimony of centuries of life.

    A map on the homepage gets the most attention. Each small dot represents a language, and they are color-coded by endangerment risk. Click on one to get more details about the language or add information yourself to improve the records. Zoom out and the counts aggregate for an overview.

  • World sentiment mapped, based on Wikipedia

    June 20, 2012  |  Mapping

    Kalev H. Leetaru animated world sentiment over time, based on Wikipedia entries.

    See the positive or negative sentiments unfold through Wikipedia through space and time. Each location is plotted against the date referenced and cross referenced when mentioned with other locations. The sentiment of the reference is expressed from red to green to reflect negative to positive.

    Sentiment stays green for the most part, with the exception of major wars, and I'm not so sure that a world map is a good way to show the relationships. For example, when the animation hits 2000, the map is basically a green blob. It's a good start though and touches on maybe the next step of the coverage maps we've seen lately.

  • Road trip planner with weather forecasts

    June 19, 2012  |  Mapping

    Trip Planner for SF to Phoenix

    Online maps have made it easy to find directions from point A to point B, but when you're going on a long road trip, you want to know more about where you're going. What will the weather be like? What is there to do at each stopped? Design and technology studio Stamen made a travel planner in work for the Weather Channel that tells you. Put in your origin and destination and when you will leave, and you get a map with weather icons along the way.

    So let's say you're driving from New York to San Francisco, and you're trying to decide whether to go straight across or loop up or down a bit; this will give you a sense for whether it's going to be rainy or sunny when you plan to be in the middle of Nebraska. You can drag around the rainy bits if you like, and also along the way maybe you'd like to stop for a bite to eat, so we're hitting the Yelp API to give you a sense of where to go and what to see.

    Give it a try here. It's kind of awesome.

  • Toronto subway map, Super Mario 3 style

    June 18, 2012  |  Mapping


    Dave Delisle mapped the Toronto TTC Subway in the style of Super Mario Bros. 3. Adorn your walls with the print. [via Boing Boing]

  • Geography of the basketball court, interactive edition

    June 12, 2012  |  Mapping

    Miami Heat vs OKC Thunder

    Remember geographer Kirk Goldsberry's analysis of shot efficiency on the basketball court? Jeremy White, Joe Ward, and Matthew Ericson give it the New York Times treatment in this interactive version for this season's finals teams, the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder. Like Goldsberry's maps, the shooting area of the basketball court is treated as the region of interest where bin size represents shot frequency and color represents efficiency. Roll over the regions to see the exact numbers.
    Continue Reading

  • Income inequality seen in satellite images from Google Earth

    June 6, 2012  |  Mapping

    Income inequality

    Researchers Pengyu Zhua and Yaoqi Zhang noted in their 2008 paper that "the demand for urban forests is elastic with respect to price and highly responsive to changes in income." Poor neighborhoods tend to have fewer trees and the rate of forestry growth is slower than that of richer neighborhoods.

    Tim De Chant of Per Square Mile wondered if this difference could be seen through satellite images in Google Earth. It turns out that you can see the distinct difference in a lot of places. Above, for example, shows two areas in Rio de Janeiro: Rocinha on the left and Zona Sul on the right. Notice the tree-lined streets versus the not so green.

    De Chant notes:

    It's easy to see trees as a luxury when a city can barely keep its roads and sewers in working order, but that glosses over the many benefits urban trees provide. They shade houses in the summer, reducing cooling bills. They scrub the air of pollution, especially of the particulate variety, which in many poor neighborhoods is responsible for increased asthma rates and other health problems. They also reduce stress, which has its own health benefits. Large, established trees can even fight crime.

    Okay, I don't now about that last part about fighting crime. Without seeing the data, I think that sounds like a correlation more than anything else, but still. Trees. Good.

    [via Boing Boing]

  • 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


    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


    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


    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]

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