Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Solar Eclipse Map


The Solar Eclipse Finder is an Esri map that displays the path of past and future solar eclipses for any location on Earth.

The tool couldn't be simpler to use. Just click on the map and past solar eclipses at the selected location are shown on the map in green and future eclipse are shown in blue. If you mouse-over the path of a solar eclipse you can view details in the map side-bar.

The details on each eclipse include the date, time and the duration of the solar eclipse. The Solar Eclipse Finder includes the paths of 905 solar eclipses from 1601 to 2200.

The Rand McNally Trip Planner


Rand McNally Trip Maker is a new interactive road trip planning tool. Using the map you can get turn-by-turn driving directions for your trip with the option to find interesting places to visit along the route.

To create a road trip with Trip Maker you just need to enter a starting location and your destination. You can add extra stops to your trip simply by selecting the 'Add Stop' button. Your new stop will then be added to your to a trip automatically, in the location that best minimizes your total driving distance.

You can adjust the route of your trip simply by dragging the route line around on the map. If you want to add a waypoint to a route you can therefore just drag and drop the line on your desired location and the the route will automatically update.

If you want to make some pit-stops along your route you can use the 'Search on My Way' option. This allows you to search for rest-stops and points of interest along your route. You can even define how far you are prepared to deviate from your route for interesting places to visit by entering the number of miles.

When you are happy with your planned road trip you can email and export your trips to any Rand McNally GPS device.

The Google Maps Virtual Post Office


The French national mail service, La Poste, is using Google Maps and Street View in its latest online marketing campaign. La Poste - Ca Envoie is a fun little postal delivery simulator which allows you to virtually post a number of silly objects to any address.

Using Ca Envoie you can virtually drop a Sumo wrestler, a mermaid, a unicorn, a lumberjack, or some goose pâté onto any address in the world which has Street View imagery. Just enter an address and pick one of the five objects and you can watch a short animation of your object falling onto your address using Google Maps satellite imagery.


Your chosen object will then be shown landing at your selected address using the Street View imagery from that location. If you are vegetarian you might want to skip the pâté animation. This little movie features a goose crashing into your street before being transformed into the goose pâté.

If you sign into Ca Envoie with your Facebook account you can post your created Google Maps postal animation to your Facebook wall.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Super Mario World


If you've ever wondered how Mario and Luigi manage to navigate so effortlessly around the Mushroom Kingdom and Dinosaur Land then you need to check out this Super Mario map from Duncan Graham. This interactive map reimagines the world as an 8-bit map in the style of Nintendo's classic game, complete with golden coins and mushrooms.

Accompanying the map is a great 'how-to' guide on how the map was created with Mapbox Studio. It's worth reading the article if you want to learn about importing land or water source files into Mapbox Studio, how to add custom elements to your map and how to order layers.


If vintage computer games don't float your boat then you might prefer this Dot Map by Saman Bemel Benrud.

You've probably seen dot maps before which visualize data on a map using differently sized or differently colored dots. This map takes that concept to the next stage by representing the underlying map features data as dots.

The result might not be much use as a map. But as a beautifully abstract interactive dot painting it works just fine.

The Rapid Beating Heart of LA


LA Metro Movement is an animated map of LA's Metro Rapid buses. The map shows the routes of LA's Rapid bus lines with the recorded locations of the city's buses being animated as they transport passengers across the city.

I don't know anything about the creation of this map so I'm guessing that the map is using the location data from one or two hours out of a single day. If you follow a single animated dot on the map it doesn't seem to travel very far in each step of the animation. So unless it takes 24 hours to cross LA by bus this map is providing a snapshot in time of the city's bus network in action.

It's still a great mapped visualization of transit data and a great demo of CartoDB's Torque library in action.

Mapping New York Taxi Data


This year there has been a number of really great mapped visualizations of New York taxi data. This latest map visualizes taxi traffic from JFK and LGA airports during the 2013 holiday season (Nov 15th to December 31st).

The NYC Taxi Holiday Visualization animates taxi journeys from New York's airports over the course of a month and half. As the animation plays you can view the animated tracks of thousands of individual cab journeys taken from JFK and LGA airports to all parts of the city.

While the animation plays out on the map the side-panel keeps a running total of the number of taxi trips taken from each of the airports' terminals. A bar graph at the bottom of the map also reveals the number of taxi journeys taken on each day. The graph reveals the drop in flights during Thanksgiving and a distinct rise in traffic after the holiday weekend as people fly back into NYC, presumably after visiting family outside of the city.


NYC Taxis: A Day in the Life is a MapBox visualization of the journey of one New York taxi over the course of 24 hours.

The map animates one New York taxi's route over the course of one day. As the animation plays the taxi's position is shown by a yellow circle map marker. All the passenger journeys are added to the map with a blue polyline. While the animation plays the map also keeps a running total of the cab's total number of passengers, fares and tips received.

Once you have viewed a day in the life of this New York taxi you can choose from another one of thirty cab journeys mapped over 24 hours.


Hubcab is a mapped visualization of 170 million taxi trips over one year in New York City. Using the map it is possible to view all pickup and drop-off points in the city and to view the number of trips taken between two separate locations.

Locations that were used as taxi pickup points in the city are shown as yellow dots on the map and drop-off points are shown as blue dots. It is also possible to refine the results displayed on the map by time of day.

You can view the number of taxi journeys between two different locations  by dropping two markers on the map. After you place the markers on the map you can see the number of taxi journeys taken in one year in both directions between the two locations. You can even refine the results by time of day to explore when the most journeys between the two points are made at different times of the day.

Wikipedia Heat Maps


Frankenplace is a 'thematic map search engine.' Which means that you can use the map to create instant heat-maps for a range of words based on the words' frequency in over 1.6 million articles on Wikipedia and online travel blog entries.

For example the heat map above is the result of typing 'mosque' into Frankenplace. If you enter 'mountain' instead then you will get a heat map that roughly resembles the location of mountain ranges around the world.

Frankenplace can therefore be used to get an understanding of the spatial dynamics of a topic by providing a heat map of the topic as featured in Wikipedia and travel blogs. The site can also be used as a search engine to find relevant documents that march your search query.

For example, in my search for 'mosques' I might only be interested in French mosques. I can therefore use the map to zoom in on France. If I then mouse-over Paris on the map the side-panel shows me a link to the Grand Mosque of Évry. I can even read the Wikipedia for the Grand Mosque of Évry directly from the map.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Maps of the Week


My favorite map this week was this fun game from Esri. GeoJigsaw is an inspired interactive map jigsaw puzzle. The game allows you to select jumbled up maps from around the world. All you have to do is to put all the jigsaw pieces back together to complete the map.

You can select jigsaw map puzzles to play by location or by difficulty level. If you can't find a map that you like don't worry. You can just zoom in on any location in the world and create your own jigsaw map puzzle.


This week Google released a really nice story map exploring Jane Goodall's research on chimps in Gombe Park, Tanzania. The map takes great advantage of Google's recent Street View imagery captured in the national park.

The Gombe Park Street View Trek follows a now familiar format for story maps. To progress through the interactive you just keep scrolling down the page. As you scroll through the Trek you can view highlights from Google's Street View imagery in the park and learn more about Goodall's groundbreaking research.


This Google Maps based 2014 Toronto Municipal Election map is a really nicely designed visualization of the recent Toronto elections. The map allows you to explore how each electoral ward voted and also provides information on a range of socio-economic data about each ward and subdivision.

If you mouse-over a ward subdivision on the map you can view a breakdown of the percentage of votes cast for each candidate. The voting breakdown also includes the percentage of votes cast for each candidate in the whole election ward and in the whole city. This means you can easily compare the voting record of each sub-division with the whole ward and with the overall results,

When you mouse-over a sub-division on the map you can also view data, beneath the map, on the education, income and occupation of voters in the selected ward.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Bumps of New York City


Many years ago I briefly worked as a road surveyor. The job involved walking five to ten miles of road a day, painstakingly measuring every road irregularity (e.g. potholes) and recording the data on a handheld computer. The data was then used by the local authority to identify the most damaged roads and schedule road repairs.

This was in the days before the availability of commercial GPS units so everything had to be measured by hand and measuring wheel. These days I imagine the job could be done at one hundred times the speed with cars fitted with a GPS unit and an accelerometer. Or you could even do it by bike.

Varun Adibhatla has created an interesting visualization of this kind of road surface survey carried out using a bicycle and an iPhone's accelerometer. Bumpiness in NYC shows the trail of a bike journey in New York. The bike's track on the map is colored by 'bumpiness', with the most bumpy sections colored in red.


Many laptops these days also have built-in accelerometers. The Quake-Catcher Network realized that they could create the world’s largest and densest earthquake monitoring system simply by using the data from accelerometers in the world's laptop computers.

The Quake-Catcher Network links participating laptops into a single coordinated network that can detect and analyze earthquakes faster and better than ever before. QCN uses Google Maps to show the data collected from participating laptops and from participating desktop computers with USB sensors. The map also shows the latest USGS reported earthquakes.

Friday, November 21, 2014

United States Arrest Rates


To illustrate a report on the Racial Gap in U.S. Arrest Rates USA Today has created an interactive map which compares the arrest rates of black and white Americans across the USA.

You can use the Compare Arrest Rates map to discover the arrest rates of white and black Americans by police departments throughout the United States. The markers on the map are colored blue where there is a larger disparity in the rate of black arrests and green where there is a larger disparity in the rate of white arrests.

The data for the map comes from 2011 and 2012 FBI arrest records.