Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Noisy America Map

Nearly one in ten Americans live with road and aviation noise that is as loud as a noisy garbage disposal (80 decibels or more). You can find out what noise levels are like where you live on the Department of Transportation’s new National Transportation Noise Map.

Using the National Transportation Noise Map you can view a heat map of road and aviation noise levels for your town or city. The map essentially visualizes the likely exposure of locations to aviation and highway noise. Therefore the map clearly reveals the location of the busiest roads and the location of noisy airports.

I bet you can easily pinpoint the location of  Los Angeles International Airport on the screenshot above. I bet you can even spot where the runways are and in what direction they run. If you want to check your guess you can turn off the noise layer on the National Transportation Noise Map and view the area on the map's satellite imagery layer.

The Building Age Story Map

I really like building age maps. Multi-colored building footprints nearly always make really beautiful looking maps. But building age maps don't just look good. They also have interesting stories to tell about where a city's oldest buildings still exist in the city's streets.

Most building age maps leave the users themselves to find these stories in the patterns of the colored building footprints on the city map. One way to improve a building age map therefore would be to pick out some of the implicit stories in the history of a city's buildings in the map itself. You could do this by creating a story map from a city's building age map.

This is exactly what CBC has done with their Montreal Building Age map. Using the Montreal is 375 years old, but how old are its buildings? interactive map you can view the age of all Montreal's buildings. However the map is also used to explore the architecture and history of thirty of Montreal's most emblematic buildings.

As you scroll through the Montreal Building Age story map CBC pick out some of Montreal's most interesting buildings on the city's map. The text panel is then used to show photos of the highlighted buildings and to explain each building's historical & architectural importance.

The result is that CBC's map is much more than just an aesthetically pleasing building age map of Montreal. It is also an interesting introduction to the history of Montreal itself and a guide to where you can still find that history on the city's streets.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Geography of Murder

In 2015 there were over 13,000 gun murders in the United States. Those murders weren't distributed equally throughout the country (even if you normalize the data for population). In fact 26% of gun homicides in 2015 took place in just 1,200 neighborhood census tracts, home to just 1.5% of the population.

The Guardian has used data from the Gun Violence Archive (GVA) to plot the locations of 2015 gun homicides down to the census tract level. In the article Want to fix gun violence in America? Go local The Guardian uses a series of maps to show the neighborhoods in different cities where gun homicides most frequently occur. It then uses census data to determine factors which are common to many of the 1,200 census tracts where gun homicides are most common.

The Guardian's maps show the distribution of gun homicides within cities. The city maps also show the levels of educational attainment, poverty and the percentage of the population which is black in each census tract in the city. From mapping 2015 gun homicides The Guardian says that gun violence "falls heaviest on neighborhoods already struggling with poverty, unemployment, and failing schools. The unequal burden of violence is also marked by intense racial disparities".

You can read more about the data used in The Guardian's maps in Mapping US gun murders at a micro level: new data zooms in on violence. You can also download the data if you want to try visualizing 2015 U.S. gun homicides for yourself.

Comparing New York Neighborhoods

You can learn a lot about New York's neighborhoods on DATA2GO.NYC. The DATA2GO.NYC mapping and data tool allows you to access federal, state and local data concerning the economic well-being of all of the city's neighborhoods. Using the tool you can view information in many different areas, such as educational attainment and average incomes in each New York neighborhood.

Using the DATA2GO.NYC interactive map you can view information on over 300 different indicators, in areas such as education, demographics and the economy. If you select an indicator from the map's drop-down menu you can view a choropleth view of that data on the city map. If you select any of the neighborhood's on the map you can also view how it compares to all other New York neighborhoods for the selected indicator on an accompanying chart view.

The DATA2GO.NYC mapping tool can provide a real insight into individual neighborhoods across a range of different indicators. It also allows you to compare how individual neighborhoods compare to the rest of the city across these same indicators.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Worldwide Waste Map

The University of Leeds and the International Solid Waste Association have created an interactive map which explores & visualizes issues around municipal waste management across the globe. The Waste Atlas includes information about landfills, dumpsites and waste management in 164 different countries and 1,779 different cities around the world. Using the map you can compare and contrast the amount of waste generated by different countries & cities and how well they manage that waste.

Using the atlas you can compare the waste management data of countries around the world. Select a country on the map and you can view details on its annual waste generation and data on waste collection & recycling rates. If you click on the City Data link in the map menu you can view the same data for 1,779 cities around the world. As well as the map view Waste Atlas includes a number of static maps and charts which also visualize data about waste management in countries & cities around the world.

Mapping the History of Latin America

HGIS de las Indias is a historical-geographical information system for Latin America. The map provides a way to explore and discover information about the historical geography of Latin America from 1701 to 1808.

HGIS de Las Indias includes a number of map layers which allow you to explore historical data on the interactive map. These layers include a collection of 19 georeferenced vintage maps of Latin America, which can be overlaid on top of the modern map of the area.

The map also includes a number of historical data layers. For example it includes data from historical censuses carried out in the region during this period. Other layers allow you to view historical shipping & mail routes in Latin America and information on eighteenth century universities and publishing companies.

Mapping China's Polluting Factories

Air pollution is a huge problem in China. Last year the American Association for the Advancement of Science reported that in 2013 air pollution killed 1.6 million people in China. One of the major causes of air pollution in the country is the large number of coal burning factories throughout China.

You can now see who the major air polluting culprits are in China on a new map of air pollution. The Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs' National Air Emissions interactive map shows the average hourly polluting rates of enterprises across China. Using the map you can find out which factories are responsible for the worst air pollution.

4,637 enterprises are being monitored in total. Each enterprise's map marker shows the latest recorded average hourly polluting value (mg/M3). You can also select a business' marker on the map to view more details, such as historical readings and how those readings relate to regulatory standards. The map's search facility includes options to filter the results shown by type of pollutant and to show only those factories exceeding or meeting regulatory air pollution standards.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Safe Walking in Melbourne

In the USA a number of cities have introduced Vision Zero projects. Vision Zero initiatives look at the causes of traffic accidents and where they most happen. They then implement policies to try to make those streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists and other road users.

In Australia the city of Melbourne has WalkSpot. In this project Victoria Walks and CrowdSpot are working together to discover where pedestrians feel safe and unsafe when walking in Melbourne. Using the WalkSpot interactive map anyone can 'Add a Spot' at any location in Melbourne where they think there are road safety issues affecting pedestrians.

The WalkSpot interactive map can then be used by local and state government to identify trouble spots and to help road management agencies improve the streets for pedestrians.

In the USA you can view examples of the Vision Zero initiatives at Vision Zero Boston, Vision Zero New York and Vision Zero San Francisco.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

City Journeys with Scrolling Street Views

A few year's ago the Swiss broadcasting company SRF created a great web documentary about the Langstrasse district in Zurich. A similar web documentary has now been created for the Bloorcourt neighborhood in Toronto. Both these web documentaries provide seamless journeys through the city streets using connected 'Street Views' and video interviews with the inhabitants of both districts.

360 Langstrasse is a truly impressive website which allows you to move up and down Langstrasse, Zurich by simply scrolling up & down within your browser. 360 Langstrasse doesn't use connected still photos of Langstrasse to achieve this scrolling presentation. The effect is actually achieved by using a video. As you scroll up and down the page you are in fact just moving between the different frames in a video of the street and surrounding district.

A similar effect is used in The World in Ten Blocks. Images and sound from the Toronto district are explored in a stop-motion like manner as you scroll up & down in your browser. As in 360 Langstrasse a number of interactive elements can be accessed from the scrolling street views, These include videos of Bloorcourt inhabitants, text introductions to the area and old & new photographs of this Toronto neighborhood.

Pregoneros de Medellín is another wonderfully immersive virtual journey. This scrolling web documentary introduces you to the colorful streets of Medellín in Colombia.

While you stroll around Medellin you can listen to the sounds of the streets and the street vendors. You can also interact with some of the characters you find on your journey. The interactive characters are indicated on screen with map markers positioned above their heads. Click on the markers and you can view short documentary type videos about the selected individual's lives.

Obviously creating these kinds of immersive journeys around city neighborhoods can be a bit of a technical challenge. You can read about how the Medellin video was captured (using a GoPro camera attached to a gimbal and fixed to a bike), how the immersive sound was added (customizing Sounds of Street View) and how the video interface was created, in this blog post.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The 3D Building Age Map

A new map of the Morningside Heights neighborhood in Manhattan shows the age of every building in the historic district. A building age map of New York isn't exactly new. In fact you can view the age of every New York City building on the New York Building Age map. However the Morningside Heights Historic District Explorer not only shows building age but also allows you to view historic photographs of the featured buildings.

The Morningside Heights Historic District Explorer interactive map provides a 3D view of New York's buildings. The actual buildings within the Morningside Heights historic district have also been colored according to the period of their construction. You can click on the individual colored buildings to find out the exact year of construction. If you select a building on the map you can also view details on the building's architect, owner and height. You can also view historic photos of the building from the tax office.