Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mapping the Crisis in Ukraine

Liveuamap is a Google Map reporting incidents from the crisis in Ukraine. The map is a nonprofit, volunteer run project with a mission to inform the world about the on-going conflict in Ukraine.

The latest events in the country are plotted on the map using categorized map markers and are also listed in a map side-panel. The blue map markers relate to Ukrainian government actions and the red markers show the actions of the pro-Russian rebels.

The map includes a date picker so that you can select to view reported incidents from any date during the conflict. It also includes dynamic URL's so that you directly link to any incident reported on the map.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tracking Flight 17

I've seen a number of impressive images maps showing the location where Malaysia Airlines flight M17 was shot down over Ukraine. Now the Wall Street Journal has released the first decent interactive map that I've seen.

Tracking Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shows the flight path of flight 17 on July 17th, the date of the crash. The map also allows you to view flight paths of flight 17 in the months preceding the crash and the paths taken since the plane was fatally shot down.

The map shows that Flight M17 was flying within the usual flight path. You can also see how Flight 17 since the crash is making a wide berth of Ukrainian air space.

The WWI Mapped Interactive

The Guardian has released a very impressive mapped interactive about the history of World War I. A Global Guide to the First World War uses maps, audio, historical film and archive newspaper reports to examine the causes, struggles and effects of the first truly world-wide armed conflict.

The introductory map is particularly stunning with a number of small videos playing within the country outlines of a global map.

The first chapter of the interactive is a tour of the world highlighting when individual countries entered the First World War. Let's hear it for plucky Andorra, who, with an army of just 10 soldiers, declared war on Germany in 1914.

The other chapters in the narrative use audio narratives, archive film footage and excerpts from The Guardian's own newspaper reports during the war. These chapters deal with life in the trenches, the experiences of soldiers around the world and the aftermath of the war.

Introducing Wikia Maps

There's a new interactive mapping platform in town! Wikia Maps is a new easy to use map creation tool from Wikia, the free web wiki creation and hosting website.

The first thing to note is that Wikia Maps is not a fully fledged online mapping platform. It has similar functionality to Google Maps Engine Lite, in that it allows you to quickly add a few pins to a map and then grab the embed code to add a map to your webpage. However Wikia Maps does have an option to quickly create a map from any image. This option could make Wikia Maps a very popular amateur mapping tool indeed.

At the moment Wikia Maps provides two main user options. The first option, 'real map', allows you to add map pins to a Mapquest base map layer. You can create categories for your added map markers and you can also use your own images for the map pins. This easily allows you to add groups of markers and to select a different map pin marker for each of your categories.

The second option is where Wikia Maps excels. Using Wikia Maps you can easily create maps from your own images. So if you want to create a map of Westeros all you need to do is upload a Westoros image map and start adding pins to the map of your fantasy world.

This option should prove very popular. It allows computer game players to quickly create maps of game worlds. It allows fantasy fiction fans to quickly create maps of fictional worlds. It allows photographers to upload photos and add map pins to highlight people and other features in a picture. I can truly see this option being used by lots of people in lots of exciting ways.

If you look at the Featured Maps you can see the fun users are already having with this option to create maps with your own images. There is already a map of the Millennium Falcon, Westeros and a photo map from the Oscars.

If you want to start creating your own Wikia Map then you might find the Wikia Maps How-to Guide a useful place to begin.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Incredible Cat Stalking Map

One of the earliest popular uses of the Google Maps API was Gawker Stalker. The now defunct Gawker Stalker allowed you to track the movements of your favorite celebrities thanks to the detailed stalking carried out by Gawker and their readers.

If there is one thing more popular than celebrities on the internet then that is pictures of cats. It is therefore surprising that we have had to wait seven years for someone to finally get around to releasing I Know Where Your Cat Lives.

I Know Where Your Cat Lives displays pictures of cats on a Google Map. The pictures of the cats come from popular photo sharing websites and the locations are based on the data hidden in cat photo metadata.  I'm guessing that the map is partly intended as a warning about sharing your personal information online (or maybe its just a warning about sharing your cat's personal data online).

Weather on the Route

If you are planning a leisurely hike or a nice road-trip then you probably want to know what the weather will be like. WeatherTrip is a very easy to use map which can show you what weather conditions to expect along your planned route.

Just enter your starting point and destination into the application and a route will instantly be shown on a Google Map with a number of weather symbols showing you the current weather conditions along your planned walk or drive.

If you aren't setting off right now then you can use a date picker to select the date of your planned trip. Pick a new date and the weather symbols automatically update to display the weather on your planned trip date.

The Dark Sky: Weather Along a Traffic Route is another map which can show you the weather along your planned route. The app lets users request directions and then displays the route on a Google Map.

The first 60-minutes of your requested route will include a rain forecast from Dark Sky, showing where (and how hard) you’ll get rained on if you left right now. One feature that is missing is the ability to check the weather for a specific time. However the map could still be useful if you are heading out for a walk and you want to know if it is going to rain any time soon along your planned route.

The Endonym Map

The Endonym Map is a neat little Leaflet powered map which labels the countries of the world in their official or national languages.

The map includes four informative map insets in each corner of the map. These inset maps highlight the countries of the world grouped by the four most common languages, English, French, Arabic and Spanish.

The map itself was obviously designed as a static map and you can purchase a poster of the printed map. The interactive version of the map uses the Leaflet.Zoomify JavaScript library, which can create base map tiles for the Leaflet mapping platform from Zoomify images.

Test Your Local Knowledge

In recent years the UK's Office for National Statistics has been very creative in its use of interactive maps to help visualize census and other government data. Their new online map game is proving to be the most popular yet.

How Well Do You Now Your Area? is an online quiz which tests your knowledge of your local area, using data from the 2011 UK census. Enter a postcode into the quiz and a Google Map will highlight your local electoral ward area. You are then asked seven questions about the area and its population to test your local knowledge.

The questions concern information from the UK census, such as the median age of the local population and the percentage of Christians. The quiz is a great way to learn about the the demographics of your local area. For example, I learned that an astonishing 56% of households in my neighbourhood don't own a car.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tour de France Winners

Tour de France: Where Have the Winners Come From? is an interactive map showing the home countries of all the winners of the Tour de France. Using the map you can view the geographical spread of all the Tour winners since 1903.

I found the results a little surprising. Having grown-up during the period when Lance Armstong seemed to dominate the race almost every year (his wins are obviously now expunged from the records) I was expecting the race winners to be a bit more global. However apart from the American Greg LeMond (winner 1986) all the winners of the race have been born in Europe.

France dominates the map, although Belgium seems to produce a disproportionate number of great cyclists. Another surprise to me was that the great cycling friendly country of the Netherlands has only produced two winners of the Tour de France.

The map itself was created with the underused jVectorMap library.

Isochrone API's

Route360 has released an API to provide developer access to their isochrone library. The API has been designed to provide simple access to the Route360 isochrone travel time library from the Leaflet.js mapping platform.

Using the Route360 JavaScript API you can add a travel time isochrone layer to a Leaflet map. The API allows for users to view bike, car or walking travel-time isochrone layers on a Leaflet map. The API includes options to add a time control, so that the transit isochrone travel times will adjust to a transit network's schedule of operations.

You can see the Route360 isochrone library in action on SONA's map of apartments to rent in Berlin by travel time.

This apartment search map allows you to search for available apartments within a defined travel time of your workplace or other location. All the areas you can travel to on public transit in your commute time are shown on the map with an isochrone layer.

The isochrone layer is colored in ten minute segments, so you can easily tell at a glance how long it would take to travel to each of the displayed properties. If you select an apartment's marker on the map you can view all the details about the apartment. A transit route is also automatically displayed on the map showing your route from work to the apartment and how long the journey would take.

The Nokia Here Map API also includes a calculate isoline option. Nokia provide a neat demo map which uses the resulting isochrone polygon from a calculate isoline travel time search as the bounding box for a places search. The Isoline Bounding Box Search map is a nice demonstration of how you could use Nokia's isoline calculator to refine searches on a map, for example you could create a map that allowed users to search for cafes within a ten minute walk of their current location.

You can see the Nokia calculate isoline function in use at Isoscope. Isocope provides a beautiful mapped visualization of how far you can travel by car in a chosen time from any location in the world. You can even select the day and time to view an isochrone view of your time restricted travel extent.

If you prefer to use the Google Maps API then you can use the Mapnificent API to add isochrone layers to you maps. The API only works where Mapnificent has transit time coverage but this includes major cities in the US and other world-wide cities (you can check out the current coverage of the API on the Mapnificent coverage map).