Thursday, September 18, 2014

Breaking Down Mortgages by Race & Location

A new map from the Urban Institute shows that minorities in the USA are being priced out of the housing market.

A New View of the Housing Boom and Bust plots 100 million mortgages from 2000 to 2012 across the United States. The map shows each owner-occupied mortgage origination for twelve years, in which the borrower’s race and ethnicity were fully recorded.

Using the timeline feature you can make direct comparisons over time anywhere in the USA. Zoom in on just about any city on the map and you can see a clear pattern. In 2012 African American and Hispanic households are being disproportionately affected by constrained mortgage lending.

As well as the large interactive map the Urban Institute takes a closer look at a number of cities. This city level analysis is accompanied by a number of animated gif maps. These maps show a zoomed in view of the data in each city over the whole twelve years.

The War of Scottish Independence

Scotland Decides is an Esri StoryMap exploring the relations between Scotland and England over the last 700 years.

The map starts with a look at the Wars of Scottish Independence (starring Mel Gibson as William Wallace). It progresses through other important events, such as the Union of the Crowns, the Act of Union and the Battle of Culloden.

My favorite chapter in this StoryMap is on that greatest of Scotsmen, Keir Hardie. I've always had a strange fondness for this radical Scot (I blame it on my parents). However you might be more interested in the map of the 2011 Scottish Parliament Election.

This map allows you to view the number of votes cast for the major parties (the number of votes cast for the Scottish National Party in each area might provide some clues as to how today's vote might go in each region).

Health in the Amazon

In the Amazon a large proportion of Brazilians don't have access to the mains water supply and only have the most rudimentary of sewage systems. The combination of no easy access to clean drinking water and poor sewage means that the region suffers higher incidence rates than the rest of Brazil for a number of diseases.

Infoamazonia has released an interactive map, Visaguas, which examines the availability of clean drinking water & sewage in Amazon municipalities and the incident rates of a number of diseases. If you use the tabs, above the map, you can select to view Water Supply, Diseases or Access to Sewage on the map.

When you selecting either of the three main categories you can then select from a number of subcategories. For example, if you select diseases you can then select the incident rates, per municipality, for a number of different diseases, including Cholera, Dengue Fever and Typhoid.

Via: Visual Loop

Scottish Independence Maps

A static map has been doing the rounds on social media during the last week showing countries around the world which have gained independence from the United Kingdom. There is now an interactive map of the same data, Countries that Have Gained Independence from the United Kingdom.

The map shows the 62 countries around the globe who used to be a part of the British Empire but are now independent. 21 of those countries have gained Independence in the last 50 years. With Scotland going to the polls today to vote on Independence the map may just have another blue country added to it tomorrow.

As the results come in tomorrow I'm sure we will begin to see a lot of maps breaking down the votes by electoral ward. Oliver O'Brien has created an interesting map which shows when we can expect the results from the different councils and which way each area might vote.

The Scottish Referendum Data Map shows the estimated declaration times of 32 councils. The numbers in the circular map markers show the estimated time of declaration. The size of the circles is proportional to the electoral population. The color of the markers provides an indication of which way the area might vote, based on an analysis of votes cast for the Scottish National Party in 2012, carried out by the Credit Suisse Economics Research Unit.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mapbox Studio, More Kadinsky than Matisse

Last week Mapbox released the successor to TileMill, Mapbox Studio. Studio allows you to fully control the design of your base-map layers and create your own beautifully designed custom maps.

Today I managed to have my first proper look at Mapbox Studio and I have to say it is a very impressive and powerful design tool.

For my first map design I thought I would use Mapbox Studio to try and create a map in the style of a Matisse cut-out painting, using the color palette from his painting 'The Snail'. I was helped greatly in this task by a post today on the Mapbox blog, Design Control with Regular Expressions in Mapbox Studio. This post helped me understand how I could color different building types by using their OpenStreetMap id.

The resulting map is a little more Kadinsky than Matisse, but I like it anyway.

I haven't had time to explore all of Mapbox Studio's features yet, But color me impressed - using a Matisse color scheme.The Mapbox Studio is a joy to use. I'd never used TileMill before, yet I managed to create the above map style in less than 30 minutes.

The Mapbox Studio homepage has all the documentation that you need to get started designing your own custom maps. So far I've only completed the 'Style Quickstart' tutorial. It is very easy to follow and provides a great introduction to getting started with Studio. It has certainly whetted my appetite and I can't wait to start really exploring all the features of Mapbox Studio in a little more depth.

The Boston Bike Network Map

The Boston Bike Network Plan map shows the current bike network in Boston and also allows you to see how the Boston cycling map will hopefully develop over the next 30 years.

The map shows Boston's current bike routes. The routes are color-coded to show dedicated off-road bike paths, shared bike paths, and road based bike lanes. The map also includes a time-line control which allows you to view the projected future of Boston's bike network based on the Bike Network Plan.

The Bike Network Plan is the city's development scheme for expanding bike lanes and paths throughout Boston. You can use the time-line control to view how the envisioned bike network will hopefully look in 5 years time and in 30 years time.

UK Bike Routing

Cycle.Travel is a UK bike directions map, designed to get you from A to B using the most cycle friendly route.

Enter a starting point and a destination (or just click on the map) and Cycle.Travel will show you a route with turn-by-turn directions. Where possible the route will take in available bike paths and avoid the roads with the most traffic. Probably the cleverest and most useful feature of Cycle.Travel is it actually uses real road traffic data to help you avoid the busiest roads.

Cycle.Travel also includes a number of other useful features. You can view an altitude chart of suggested routes, so you can see where those big climbs will be. You can view photos (from ) simple by clicking on a section of the route. You can also download a route to a GPS device (GPX & TCX formats supported).

Google My Maps

The future of online mapping - colored markers

It has been an exciting couple of years for online map developers, what with the incredible development of Leaflet.js, the emergence of great narative mapping platforms, such as Esri Story Maps and the recent release of Mapbox GL and Mapbox Studio.

The emergence of so many great mapping platforms has challenged Google's once almost monopolistic position in online map development. In fact these days it is becoming increasingly rare to actually see a great online map which was developed with the Google Maps API. Nearly all the great, cutting edge maps that I see these days are developed on other platforms.

I've actually been waiting two years to see how Google would respond to this dwindling market position in map development. The answer has finally arrived:

Google has renamed Google Maps Engine Lite - My Maps!

All joking aside, this is probably a sensible move by Google. Google seem to have made the decision to let the Google Maps JavaScript API slowly die from neglect. Their energies have instead gone into developing mapping for mobile platforms and trying to monetize Google Maps through Google Maps Engine.

Google Maps Engine Lite was obviously meant to be a free entry level mapping platform that might hook some users into upgrading to Google Maps Engine. The problem is Google Maps Engine Lite is very basic and creates fairly ugly maps. I'm sure a lot of potential customers for Google Maps Engine (which is itself a very good and powerful mapping platform)  looked at Google Maps Engine Lite and thought 'Why would I pay for this?'

It therefore makes sense for Google to disassociate Google Maps Engine Lite from Google Maps Engine and rebrand it as My Maps. My Maps is an effective entry level, tool for non-developers to quickly create simple maps. It really isn't a stepping-stone to Google Maps Engine.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Opening Hours on Google Maps

One of my biggest first world problems is never being able to find an open cafe late at night. After going out for a meal or visiting a pub in the evening I often feel like a decent cup of coffee before heading home. However for some reason in London most cafes shut between 6-9 pm. This makes it very difficult to find a good cup of coffee late at night.

When the Google Places API was released I created a little personal app, to help me find cafes around my location that were currently open. When I share my location on my Places app I can view all the nearby open cafes on a Google Map. It is probably the most used app on my phone.

Over the years I've wondered about adding other options, for example to find bars nearby which are currently open. However I've never really felt the need for these other options and because the application has only one user (me) I've never bothered developing it further.

If you live in the USA, Australia, Ireland or the United Kingdom then you have no need to build your own application. Instead you can use Localmint. Localmint is an application to find the opening hours and place details of nearby businesses. Enter a search term (e.g. 'coffee') and an address into Localmint and you can view a Google Map showing all the nearby local businesses.

All the results are plotted on a Google Map and also listed in the map sidebar. The sidebar results show the opening-hours for each business and you can also select a business' marker to view the hours that it is open.

If you are interested in building your own opening hours application it is very easy to do using the Google Maps API. You can use this Google Maps documentation Geolocation demo to get the user's current location. You can then use the returned location with the Google Places API.

The Places API allows you to return only places which are currently open ('openNow: true'). Using this option it possible therefore to create a simple application which only shows businesses nearby which are currently open.

Mapping Temporal Patterns in Data

CartoDB's Torque library often seems to be used just to show lots of activity on a map. For example, lots of the Torque powered maps of Twitter data seem to be designed only to prove that lots of people use Twitter.

However the Torque library is a powerful tool and when used well it is able to clearly visualize temporal and geographical patterns in huge data-sets. A good example of this is a new map from The Strait Times which shows the patterns of air pollution in Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo since November 2000.

The map uses data from Nasa's EODIS database to show the monthly distribution of air pollution hot-spots since 2000. When you play the map you can clearly see a pattern of high pollution levels during the dry season every year, between June and September. One of the causes of this high level of pollution is forest and plantation fires during the dry season.

The Regional Air Pollution Map therefore seems to prove a link between the dry season and high pollution levels. It also allows the authorities to clearly identify the areas affected by these dangerous levels of pollution every year.