Thursday, October 23, 2014

700 Red Dots & 4,000 Holes

Clickhole has created a static map of 700 Red Dots in the USA. The map is an effective visualization of a remarkable number of red dots throughout the US. However the use of a static map does mean that the exact location of each red dot is a little hard to read. The map would be a lot more effective if you were able to zoom in and pan the map.

The 700 Red Dots map is a great example of a map which would be far more effective if it was interactive. Clickhole could have used Leaflet.js, Mapbox or the Google Maps API to create a fully interactive map.

For example here is a map I created of Four Thousand Holes in Blackburn, Lancashire. The ability to zoom in and out of the map and to be able to pan around makes the map much more useful. In fact, I'm sure you'll agree, the map would be pretty pointless without it.

Mapping the Ebola Response

The OpenStreetMap of Guéckédou before HOT mapping

The current Ebola outbreak started in Guéckédou, in southeastern Guinea. The disease soon spread to other nearby Guinea towns and then to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

One of the biggest problems for aid agencies and health organizations in responding to the crisis was the lack of good maps in the areas where Ebola has been most prevalent. This is why the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) started the 2014 West Africa Ebola Response.

HOT works to improve OpenStreetMap coverage to assist responses to disasters and crisis around the world. In West Africa HOT has been working hard to improve OpenStreetMap data in order to help aid agencies plan and co-ordinate their disaster response teams.

The OpenStreetMap of Guéckédou after the HOT 2014 West Africa Ebola Response

The result has been a huge improvement of OpenStreetMap coverage in West Africa, particularly in the areas most affected by the current Ebola outbreak. You can check out the improvements in OpenStreetMap in West Africa yourself by using Harry' Wood's Before and After OpenStreetMap tool. This tool uses a slider control which allows you to compare the current OpenStreetMap coverage to the OpenStreetMap coverage before the start of the HOT 2014 West Africa Ebola Response.

Here are links to the maps of  Guéckédou, Kissidougou and Macenta, three of the first towns to be hit by the current Ebola outbreak. You can use the Before and After OpenStreetMap tool in all three towns to view how OpenStreetMap had next to no coverage before the HOT response. Now all three towns have extensive road maps and medical and health facilitates are also mapped.

You can learn more about HOT by visiting the Ebola response wiki page.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Housing Density in Melbourne

Last week Maps Mania posted about the The Melbourne Bike Crash Map from the City Science Group at Monash University. The City Science Group has also created an interesting map of Melbourne House Density.

This map visualizes the distribution of dwelling density in Melbourne. Building plots on the map are colored by the number of dwellings per square kilometer. You can mouse-over the individual building plots to view the number of dwellings.

The map reveals that housing density is highest in the city center, presumably because of higher building density and more high-rise dwellings. Housing density becomes lower as you move out from the city center to the suburbs, where there is more low-rise housing and more space between dwellings.

A Year of Earthquakes Mapped

Last year there were over 6,000 earthquakes with a magnitude of over 4.5. A Year of Earthquakes is an interactive map plotting all the earthquakes around the world in 2013.

Not only does the map plot every earthquake that occurred last year it also includes population density and mortality risk layers. Using these layers it is possible to view where earthquakes are most likely to cause high levels of death.

The time-line control beneath the map allows you to animate through the whole year's earthquake activity. You can adjust the control to show different time intervals during the animation (for example 10, 20, or 30 days). The marker for each earthquake displayed on the map is scaled by magnitude. You can also use the map controls to filter the magnitude of quakes you want visualized on the map.

The Global Soil Map

The International Soil Reference and Information Centre has released the first in a series of global soil maps. The Centre plans to release world-wide soil maps at increasing levels of resolution. The first of these maps, the SoilGrids 1km map, uses the Leaflet map library to provide a global soil map at the relatively course resolution of 1 km.

SoilGrids 1km consists of a number of different soil layers created using 3D predictions for basic soil properties. These layers include overlays for organic carbon, pH, depth to bedrock and predictions for soil types based on the FAO's World Reference Base groups and USDA's Soil Taxonomy suborders.

Anyone can download the data in (GeoTiff format) directly from the map (limited to a maximum of 5 tiles) or by FTP (no limits).

The 10 Best Sound Maps

Recently there has been a trend to marry Google Maps Street View with sound recordings. The combination of 360 degree panoramas with recorded sound is an effective way for developers to represent both the aural and visual experience of locations around the world.  The Sound City ProjectNight Walk in Marseilles and Sounds of Street View are three good examples of websites which combine sound and imagery.

While the combination of Street View and sound recordings can be particularly evocative sometimes developers just want to represent the aural landscape of locations. Here then are some of the best Sound Maps from around the world:

From the insect chorus of the Borneo to the crooning baritone song of an Atlantic humpback whale, this map wants to serenade you with the sounds of nature. The Nature Soundmap is a map featuring the sounds of nature captured by professional nature recordists around the world.

Maps have always been a fascinating way to explore the globe. Satellite imagery and Street View imagery have made armchair exploring even more immersive. Add in the sounds of the monsoon in Borneo and the soundscape of the Brazilian rain-forest and you can almost imagine that you really have been transported to the other side of the world.

One of the most popular uses of interactive maps is to show how locations have changed over time. The wonderful Historypin has been mapping old vintage photographs for a few years and I've even had a go myself at mapping vintage films on my There and Then map.

The Historical London Sounds map is the first attempt I've seen at mapping vintage sound recordings. Using original BBC Radio actuality recordings the Historical London Sounds map allows you to listen to life on the street in London in the 1920's, 1930's, 1940's and 1950's.

The Audio and Acoustic Engineering Research Centre at the University of Salford wants to build a sound map of the world. To achieve this the Centre is crowd-sourcing the process of mapping the aural landscape.

Sound Around You allows users to upload sound clips to a Google Map either from the Sound Around You iPhone app or from a recording stored on your computer. One really nice feature of the Sound Around You map is the use of Google Street View. When you select a marker on the map, to listen to a submitted sound clip, where available a Street View window also opens.

Radio Aporee is another crowd-sourced map of sound recordings. Since 2006 the project has been creating a sound map allowing you to listen to sound recordings from locations around the world.

Soundcities is yet another crowd-sourced database of sounds and sound maps from around the world, using found sounds and field recordings. It is possible to browse the submitted sounds by location on a Google Map. It is also possible to browse by mood. The Google Map includes a number of sound recordings made in lots of cities around the world and all the sounds can be listened to directly from the map.

The British Library Sound Maps is a nice collection of Google Maps featuring audio recordings in a number of different categories.

Users can explore traditional music on the Music from India and Traditional English Music maps. The Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust map features a number of first hand oral accounts from survivors of the Holocaust.

The British Library collection also includes sound maps of wildlife recordings and British regional accents and dialects.

If all this noise is giving you a headache then you might want to listen to the sound of silence recorded at locations around the world. The Museum of Modern Art, New York created a sound map to accompany an exhibition celebrating John Cage’s 4’33” ( commonly known as Cage's 'silent' piece).

MoMa's Share Your Silence map is a sound map of user contributed recordings of 'silence' around the world. If you want to hear how silence sounds in different locations around the world you can simply click on the map markers and listen to the submitted recordings directly from the map.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

America's Greatest Drives

The US Secretary of Transportation used to have a website, called, which provided detailed information on over 850 scenic roads in the United States, including maps, sample trips and points of interest along the way. Unfortunately the website was taken off-line in September 2013.

America's Scenic Byways is an open-sourced project to provide an alternative to the now long departed The site uses data taken from, before it disappeared, and information provided by the new site's users.

America's Scenic Byways includes a Google Map of all the scenic featured drives in the US. You can search for drives near you by location. Selecting a drive on the map will take you to a map of the route with information on its length and the likely time it would take to drive.

All of the featured drives on America's Scenic Byways include photos and information about the landscape and topography you can see on the route and details about points of interest along the way.

Bogotá in 3d

Bogotá en 3d is a beautiful looking CartoDB created map of the El Chicó neighborhood of Bogotá.

The map shows the footprints of thousands of buildings in the neighborhood, alongside information about the number of flats contained in each individual building. If you select a building on the map you can view details on the building's usage and also a photo of the building.

I'm not sure how useful you will find the map's functionality but it is definitely worth a look just for the beautiful 3d representation of the neighborhood's buildings.

Jane Goodall Street View

Google has added Street View imagery to Google Maps from the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. The park is where the famous anthropologist Jane Goodall has for 45 years been studying the social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees.

Now you can also explore the shores of Lake Tanganyika and the rain forests of the Gombe Stream National Park using Google's interactive panoramic imagery.

Google has also added new Street View imagery in Japan. Google used a boat to capture Street View imagery along hundreds of kilometers of the Tohoku coast. The coast in this region of Japan was devastated by the March 2011 tsunami. The new imagery covers 400 km of the coast in the Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.

The House Sharing Map

Unfortunately, unless you are a Russian oligarch, it is likely that you will never be able to afford to buy a home in London. This means, that if you do want to live in London, you will probably have to rent.

Unfortunately, unless you are a member of a Saudi royal family, you will never be able to afford to rent a house on your own in London. This means, that if you do want to live in London, you will probably have to house-share.

Sharing vs. Affordability is a Google Map which can help you find the areas in London where you can afford to rent a property. The map uses data from Find Property to visualize where you can afford to live on your own in London and where you would have to house-share.

Just use the slide control to enter how much rent you can afford to pay and the map shows the areas of London which are too expensive, where you could afford to rent on your own and where you would have to share with one, two or three other people.