Monday, December 18, 2017

Social Cleansing in the USA


When my neighborhood hosted the Olympics in 2012 the supposedly left-leaning local council decided it was the perfect opportunity to compulsory purchase the homes of local residents. It wanted to sell off the properties of local working-class families to property developers (for a profit), with no plans to rehouse the locals in the new private development.

This form of covert social cleansing has a long history in both the UK and the USA. In the U.S. the post-war federal Urban Renewal program, that ran from 1950-1966, provided funding to local governments to acquire and clear 'blighted' neighborhoods. Residents who were displaced under the scheme were meant to receive compensation, in the form of money, assistance in relocating or public housing. In reality "these federally guaranteed measures were often too meager, late in coming, or never delivered". People who were displaced often didn't receive a fair market rate for their compulsory purchased homes.

The University of Richmond's Renewing Inequality is a visualization of this program of urban renewal and displacement. An interactive map shows the cities where families were displaced by urban renewal. It provides information on the number of families displaced in each city and the number of families displaced in each year. It also shows the ethnicity of the displaced families. You can switch from the map view of the data to a cartogram or chart view. The chart view in particular reveals the hidden racism in the Urban Renewal program.

How Many ISP's Do You Have?


One of the main arguments that the cable companies used in their campaign to end the rules that ensure the internet remains open is that the free market will protect consumers. They argue that if they start to rip-off customers then customers will simply move elsewhere. The major problem with this argument is that a huge number of consumers don't have a choice of broadband providers. If their ISP starts charging more or throttling certain websites then they have nowhere else to go.

You can find out how many broadband providers operate in your area using a new interactive map. Mapbox has used FCC data to show FCC Providers throughout the United States. If you enter your address into the map you can view how many ISP providers there are at your address and the name of each provider. The map is color coded to show the number of ISP's in each area. If you click on the map you can view the actual names of the ISP's at that location.

Esri has also released a number of interactive maps which explore How Net Neutrality Could Affect You. These include maps that look at where Americans are most likely to engage in high-bandwidth, high-visibility behaviors (such as streaming movies or playing games online) and where people currently have the greatest access to high speed internet.

Vienna Through Time


Urban Change In Time is a great mapped visualization of how the city of Vienna has changed through time. The site uses a combination of building age data and vintage maps to show how Vienna has developed since the 1600's.

To a large extent Vienna is a modern city. 42% of current buildings in Vienna were built after World War II. However around a third of Vienna's buildings were built in the Gr├╝nderzeit period (the decades preceding the great stock market crash of 1873). You can explore the present age of Vienna's buildings for yourself by selecting the 'buildings mode' on the interactive map. Just use the timeline below the map to explore which buildings were built in which year.

You can explore the vintage maps of Vienna by selecting the 'image mode' Just click on any of the dots on the map timeline to load that year's vintage map of Vienna.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

How Net Neutrality Could Affect You

On Thursday the three Republican commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to end the rules that ensure the internet remains open. This means that cable companies and other internet providers will now be able to regulate which websites you can access and charge you more for delivering certain services over the internet.

In response to the Net Neturality vote Esri has created a number of interactive maps to illustrate the current state of internet access and behavior across the United States. The maps explore the internet connection types common in different areas of the U.S. and highlight the communities that have already been left behind in the digital divide. The maps help to provide a critical context for understanding how and where potential changes to net neutrality will most impact Americans.


The What Do Americans Do Online? map shows where Americans are most likely to engage in the type of high-bandwidth, high-visibility behaviors (such as streaming movies or playing games online) that are believed to be most impacted by potential changes to net neutrality.

The map uses a choropleth layer to highlight the areas where the potential impact of net neutrality is highest and lowest. Using the map you can check to see if you live in an area where internet providers might be tempted to start testing new, more expensive, business models.

The State of Internet Access map shows where people currently have the greatest access to high speed internet and explores which type of connection (cable, fiber optic, or DSL) is most common in each community.

The Access Addicts map uses Esri’s market potential data to identify the ZIP Code areas with the highest percentage of adults spending at least 10 hours a day online. In every one of these 10 ZIP Codes at least 10% of the adults spend more than ten hours hours a day online. The map also shows the total population and the median income in these ZIP Codes.

All of these areas, as well as having the highest internet usage, have above average median incomes. They could well be the ideal place for the cable companies to start testing pay-for-play business models.

The High Speed Internet Deserts Map shows the areas with the worst access to the internet. This map uses Esri’s market potential data to identify ZIP Codes where the lowest percentage of adults have access to high speed Internet (Esri restricted this analysis to ZIP Codes with 1,000+ people and 500+ households). This map effectively shows the communities that have already been left behind in the digital divide.

Friday, December 15, 2017

New York's Shrinking Rivers


The Changing Shoreline of New York City uses historical maps, from the New York Public Library’s collection, to explore how Manhattan has physically grown in size during its brief history. This fascinating look at the changing landscape of New York was created by Laura Blaszczak during her internship at the New York Public Library.

As you scroll through this impressive story map historical maps are used to show how Manhattan's many rivers, creeks, brooks and bays have been managed or even built over. These historical maps are overlaid on top of a modern map of New York. Each has an opacity control that allows you to directly compare the historical with the modern map of the city to illustrate how Manhattan's landscape has changed.

BTW - I really like the button (which appears on this map when you view it on a mobile device) that allows you to switch the browser's focus between the map and the scrolling content. This appears to have been achieved by adding and removing the user's ability to pan the map by creating a simple toggle map panning function.

The History of Data Visualization

The magnificent David Rumsey Collection has a new 'data visualization' subject field which allows you to search and explore some wonderful examples of early data visualizations. It features data visualizations by pioneers of information graphics, such as Charles Minard, Henry Beck and John  B.Sparks.


One of my personal favorites in this data visualization collection is Levi W. Yaggy's Geographical Definitions Illustrated. This vividly colorful educational chart was designed to be displayed in a classroom. The chart depicts examples of a wide range of geographical features, such as deltas, estuaries and harbors.


Charles Minard was a pioneer of the use of graphics in engineering and statistics. His most famous visualization was his flow-map of Napoleon's disastrous Russian campaign. Minard's flow-map of Napoleon's 1812 Russian campaign isn't in the David Rumsey collection but the collection does have Minard flow-maps showing global emigration in 1858, the Atlantic trade in wool and cotton and the movements of mineral fuels on railways and waterways.

In each of these maps scaled arrows are used to show the direction and scale of the movement of goods and/or people.


John B. Sparks' Histomap of Evolution is a logarithmic timeline which visualizes ten thousand million years of evolution. The chart was an accompaniment to John B. Sparks equally ambitious Histomap, which condensed 4000 years of human activity into one chart. The Histomap was 5 feet long and was sold in 1931, by Rand McNally, for $1.

This history of the world starts at the top of the Histomap in 2000 BC and progresses forward in time as you travel down the chart. The width of the various 'states, nations and empires' equates to their 'relative power' through history.

These are just a few examples which I found while browsing the David Rumsey Collection. If you are interested in data visualizations, information graphics or design then you will enjoy browsing the 'data visualization' subject field for yourself. I haven't even got around to discussing Henry Beck's early London Underground maps or Charles Booth's map of London poverty.


You might have noticed that all of these examples from the David Rumsey Collection are displayed using the LUNA viewer. In other words IIIF has been used to display each of these data visualizations. This means that you can display any of these visualizations yourself in a Leaflet map using the Leaflet-IIIF plug-in. If you are interested in mapping any of these examples with Leaflet then you need to click on the 'share' link on its visualization page on the David Rumsey Collection. You can then click on the IIIF link to grab the URL for the IIIF manifest.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The MP's Expenses Map


Members of Parliament representing the Scottish National Party tend to claim more in expenses than MP's from other political parties. 8 out of the top 10 biggest expenses claims made by Members of Parliament last year were by MP's from the SNP. The SNP would probably be keen to point out that their MP's have the furthest to travel from their constituencies to Westminster and therefore have the highest travel costs.

Voters can access information about their Member of Parliament's expenses on IPSA's Interactive Map. The map is colored to show which political party holds each UK constituency. The map can also be used to view the expenses of each Member of Parliament for every year since 2010. If you click on a constituency on the map you can view the name of the local MP (under the map). If you then click on the MP's name you can view their expenses for each year. The expense for each year are broken down to show how much they have claimed for office costs, accommodation, staffing, travel and other costs.

The UK's Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) was established in response to the parliamentary expenses scandal. In 2009 a series of revelations were published about extortionate expenses claims made by a large number of Members of Parliament over the previous years. IPSA is now responsible for monitoring MP's expenses and for paying their salaries & expenses.

Interactive Map of the Southern Sky


The Australian National University has released the most detailed interactive map of the southern sky. The Southern Sky Viewer allows you to explore nearly 300 million stars and galaxies that can be seen from the southern hemisphere.

The map is made from images captured by a specially-built, wide-field survey telescope at Siding Spring Observatory near Coonabarabran. The basemap is made up of 70,000 ultra-high-resolution images, which means that you can zoom-in on the map to examine stars, nebula and galaxies in close detail.

The map doesn't appear to include an option to link to specific views on the map. However the map does include a search option which allows you to search for features by name or by position. Try searching for these:

Centaurus A
Horsehead Nebula
Carina Nebula
Alpha Carinae
Helix Nebula

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dreaming of a White Christmas


One of NOAA's most popular interactive maps is the First Snow Map, which provides a nationwide guide to when you can expect the first snow of the winter. The map shows the date at your location when the chance of snow is at least 50%, based on historical weather records. NOAA have also created a similar looking map which shows the historical predictability of whether you can expect a white Christmas.

The Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? map uses historical weather data to provide a prediction of the chance of experiencing at least 1 inch of snow at your location on Christmas Day. The whiter the map at your location then the more chance you have of having a white Christmas. The chances of you experiencing a white Christmas are based on the last three decades of weather records at your location.

150 Years of Mountain Photography


Between 1861 and 1958 land surveyors took thousands of photographs of Canadian mountains. These photos provide a wonderful resource of Canada's environmental history. A resource which scientists can use to observe how the environment has changed since the photos were taken.

The Mountain Legacy Project (MLP) has spent the last nine years working out where each of the original land surveyor photos were taken. They have then traveled to each location to capture the exact same views with brand new photographs. By comparing the new photographs with the originals the Mountain Legacy Project can then document how the landscape and environment has changed over the years.

You can examine how Canada's mountains have changed for yourself using the MLP's Explorer. This interactive map allows you to explore the MLP collection of historical photographs by location and directly compare the historical view with the same view today, as depicted in MLP's modern photos.

While exploring the MLP collection of historical and modern photos you can use the Image Analysis Toolkit to directly compare the historical and modern photos of the same view. The Image Analysis Toolkit includes a number of visualization tools for comparing any two photos side-by-side. If you want to spot signs of global warming between the historical and modern views then you might want to look out for glacial change, changes in tree cover (tree lines creeping higher), vegetation change and retreating snowcaps.