Friday, December 19, 2014

Mapping Oakland Police Killings


Over the last few years Maps Mania has featured a few maps from San Francisco's Anti-Eviction Mapping Project. These include the Ellis Act Evictions Map, an animated timeline map of Ellis Act evictions, the Ellis Acts Against Seniors and People With Disabilities map, which visualizes the number of seniors and disabled tenants evicted over the last 3 years, and the No Fault Evictions map, showing the location of all no-fault evictions filed between January 1997 and October 14, 2013.

The Anti-Evictions Mapping Project has now released a map of Killings by Law Enforcement in Oakland. This map shows the locations where 90 people have been killed by the Oakland Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, and the BART Police in Oakland since 1970.

The markers on the map indicate the race of each victim. The Anti-Evictions Mapping Project were able to identify the race of 78 of the victims. Of those 78 victims 99% of them were people of color.

Supercharging Sports Maps


One of the most popular posts on Maps Mania in 2014 looked at the heat maps generated by joggers and cyclists using wearable technology. One of these maps was Mapbox's '1.5 Million Walks, Runs, and Bike Rides', created using data from Runkeeper users.

Mapbox has now updated that map to include 150,000 additional routes and higher levels of zoom. Mapbox were able to achieve this extra detail by using Tippecanoe, a library developed by Eric Fischer for making vector tiles from large data sets. You might remember Eric's 6 Billion Tweets Map, from earliest this month, which also made great use of Tippecanoe.

The Superpowered 1.5 Million Walks, Runs, and Bike Rides map overlays Runkeeper routes on top of a Mapbox powered map of the world. The map includes some quick links to jump to the maps of a few major cities around the world and you can also pan and zoom the map to view the popular running routes at any location in the world.


If you zoom in on the map you can view the recorded tracks right down to sidewalk level. Zooming down to sidewalk level allows you to observe the inaccuracies in the GPS data. There are lots of tracks where people seem to be running through buildings or on top of rivers. However, despite the inaccurate data, roads and sidewalks still emerge from the data due to the huge number of tracks being mapped.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Green Marble


NOAA has released an interactive map of the Earth's vegetation. The Green Vegetation map was created using data from the VIIRS sensor aboard the NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP satellite.

The dark greenest areas on the map are the locations with the lushest vegetation. The map uses a pale color for the Earth's oceans. I'm guessing this is because if 75% of the planet was colored blue this would detract from the vegetation being highlighted on the map.

You can read more about the vegetation data and how the map was created on the NOAA website.

The Colbert Report on Street View


Google has immortalized the set of The Colbert Report on Street View. Comedy Central will air the last episode of the show tonight and presumably the studio set will soon be no more. Thanks to Google Maps you can now take a little tour of the studio set using Google's panoramic imagery.


Of course this isn't the first time that Google Street View has ventured inside a television studio. Fans of Dr Who can take a walk around the Tardis on Google Maps. If you are a fan of Harry Potter then you can also take a stroll down Diagon Alley on Street View.

Winter Solstice Sunset


I've just found the perfect spot for taking a photo of the sunset on the Winter Solstice. Using Stonehenge in Your City I've found a path in the Olympic Park in London which is directly aligned with the Olympic Stadium. At 3.53 p.m. this Sunday, weather permitting, I should be able to take the perfect photograph of the sun setting behind the Olympic Stadium.

If you want to take your own perfect sunset or sunrise photo this Winter Solstice (or Summer Solstice if you live in the southern hemisphere) then have a look at Stonehenge in Your City. The site has maps of hundreds of cities around the world showing streets which are aligned with the sunset or sunrise on the Winter and Summer Solstices.


If you want to find out the perfect time to take a photo on this solstice then have a look at the Golden Hour Calculator. The Golden Hour Calculator is a Google Map that displays sunrise and sunset times, the elevation and azimuth of the sun and shows users when the golden hour occurs for any location.

The Golden Hour Calculator defines the 'golden hour' as "the first and last hour of sunlight in the day when the special quality of light yields particularly beautiful photographs". Using the calculator photographers can enter the location where they are planning to take photos and the calculator will display a graph beneath the map showing when the golden hour occurs.

Users can change the date of their shoot to ensure that the calculator displays the correct times for the golden hour on a given date.

Open Addresses


OpenAddresses is a free and open collection of postal address data around the world. Currently OpenAddresses has a lot of address data in the USA, Japan, Belgium, Australia and Denmark, with patchy coverage elsewhere.

Open Addresses has visualized the current coverage of address data worldwide on a Mapbox created map. This dot map of open addresses represents each open address in the collection as a white dot. This allows you to zoom in on town and cities to see if open addresses are available to download at your location.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Maps Mania's Top Stories of 2014


This week I've been spending a bit of time going through the back catalog of Maps Mania hunting out my Best Maps of 2014. I thought it might be interesting to also have a quick look at the most popular stories on Maps Mania in 2014.

1. A Game of Thrones Mapped

This year only one subject could beat Pokemon and that was A Game of Thrones. The huge popularity of George Martin's series of fantasy novels and the HBO television series seems to be reflected in the popularity for Westeros maps. This little round-up of A Game of Thrones related maps got the most traffic on Maps Mania in 2014.

2. The Google Maps Pokemon Challenge

Google Map's annual April Fool joke never fails in driving huge traffic to Maps Mania. This year was no different. The fact that Google this year made their April Fool's map into a fun challenge probably ensured that this seemed to be Google's most popular April Fool's joke yet.

3. Where the World Runs

Strava, Runkeeper and Nike all created some great maps this year. This little round-up of jogging & cycling heat-maps seemed to prove popular with Maps Mania readers. It also contained some great looking maps.

4. The Slow Death of the Google Maps API

Over the last couple of years I've become increasingly frustrated by the very slow pace of development of the Google Maps API. In January I finally vented my spleen. It seems I'm not the only one getting frustrated at the Google Maps API Development team, at least judging by the traffic that this post generated.

5. Building the World Cup on Street View

Wow! One of my own maps made it to the top 5. I'm not really sure why. This post looked at how you can hack Google's historic Street View imagery. I guess it was the use of the World Cup in the title that generated most of the traffic.

Unfortunately it looks like my hack has run into some gremlins and some of the historic Street Views seem to have gone missing (my hack depends on using the PanoID for each Street View - which is always dangerous because Google often change the ID's).

6. The London Bike Video Map

Cylodeo's idea of providing cycling directions with video previews is pretty inspired. The launch of new coverage in London this year seemed to attract the attention of Maps Mania readers.

7. The 2014 Tour de France Live Tracking

Real-time maps always seem to be popular on Maps Mania. It looks like pairing a real-time map with the World's greatest cycle race is a guaranteed winner.

I'm stopping there! A list of seven seems a bit arbitrary (a listicle of 10 would probably get more traffic) however these seven posts got far more traffic than any other post on Maps Mania this year. The eight, nine and ten posts on my traffic list got less than 50% of The 2014 Tour de France Live Tracking post. So this seems like the natural cutting-off point.

I'm not sure I can draw any conclusions from the most popular stories on Maps Mania. Although it does seem that sports related maps (& cycling in particular) do generate a lot of traffic.

The History of Edinburgh Map


Edinburgh Library has created a wonderful map featuring historical stories, photos and maps about life in the Scottish capital.

Our Town Stories - Edinburgh is a great showcase for some of Edinburgh Library's collection of historical documents, photographs and maps. My favorite aspect of Our Town is that you can view historical photos of the city actually overlaid on your choice of historical maps of the city.

The map includes a handy time-line feature which allows you to search through the stories, photos and maps by date. Enter a date range on the time-line and all the documents for that period are shown on the map using categorized markers.


If you select a 'history map' marker you can view the map overlaid on top of the Google Map base layer. You can then select an 'image' marker to view the historical image and the location that it depicts.

If you select a 'story' marker a story map opens. The story map guides you through an historical event from Edinburgh's past highlighting all the relevant locations on a Google Map. For example, the 'Robert Louis Stevenson’s Edinburgh' story recounts the author's life in Edinburgh, featuring family portraits and historical photos, and a mapped guide to some of the Edinburgh locations important in his life.

Your Human Google Maps Assistant

Diane Rabreau is your personal Google Maps search assistant. If you ever come across anything strange on Google Maps or want to know more about a certain location - just ask Diane. She will visit the location in person and report back on what she finds.

Diane Goes for You - A Living Search Engine for Unknown Destinations reports back on the destinations which Diane has visited. For example, Gino wanted to know about these scratches on the water in a Norway fjord.


Diane visited the fjord and discovered that the scratches are actually tubes holding nets for catching mussels. Like all Diane's answers that isn't all Gino got. Diane also takes pictures and videos on her visits and interviews local people and, if necessary, contacts experts to explain what she finds.

So, if you ever find something strange on Google Map's satellite view, contact Diane and she just might visit the location and report back on what she saw and experienced.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The 2014 Maps of the Year


It's that Maps of the Year time again. Each December I look back and celebrate some of my favorite interactive maps of the year. This year I've split my annual round-up into two parts. Maps of the Year - Part One covers the months of January through June, with the last six months of the year to come before the New Year.

The Maps of the Year doesn't appear to work on Internet Explorer. Try Chrome or Firefox instead!

This year you can filter my round-up by map provider. This is really handy for anyone who wants to find great examples of maps by specific mapping libraries. However, regrettably, it does mean I've had to leave out two or three maps which weren't made with one of the main mapping API's.

If you are a fan of great maps you should also check-out Cartonerd's Favorite Maps of the Year. As well as highlighting some of his favorite maps Kenneth Field has picked out some of the mapping trends and movements that he has spotted in cartography over the last year. With his usual honesty Kenneth is not afraid to highlight some of the mapping trends and map reporting which he finds not as useful or informative.

Some of the maps I've chosen would probably never make it into a Cartonerd round-up. However, whether you love them or hate them, I hope you have as much fun exploring them as I had in compiling this list of the Maps Mania's Maps of the Year (Part One).