Archive for the ‘Mapping’ Category

VPRO: Custom Cartography and The Netherlands From Above (Stamen)

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

[Editor's note: My first big project at Stamen is live! Team includes: Geraldine, Eric, Mike, Shawn, Sean, and Zach with Jasper and Frederik at VPRO providing the data. Pretty labels powered by Dymo in zooms 7 to 10, open source auto label power!]

Republished from Stamen.

Working closely with Dutch broadcasting heavies VPRO, yesterday we launched Nederland van Boven (“Netherlands from Above”), an interactive map of the Netherlands to accompany the forthcoming broadcast of a series of shows about this fascinating tiny country. As my friend Ben Cerveny is known to say: “New York started gentrifying in the 1970s, but Amsterdam started gentrifying in the 1790s,” and the opportunity to design custom maps for a country that’s essentially all infrastructure was one that we leapt at gladly.

The show runs in a series of episodes starting later this month, each addressing a different aspect of life in Holland. It starts with mobility, answering questions like “where can I live, if I work in Amsterdam and want to be able to finish the newspaper by the time I get to work on the train?” or “How far can I travel in two hours by public transport from Vlissingen?”

Upcoming episodes will deal with other ways of looking at the environment around you: examining the natural environment by comparing distances from buildings, open space, and the density of wild animals, the landscape of danger by examining rates of lightning strikes, flammable locations and the arrival times of ambulances, and the contours of the air around the country, looking at the density of birds, flght paths of planes and the highest places in the Netherlands.

The cartography for the project is custom-made for VPRO, designed to complement the channel’s rich visual branding. Cities fill in based on a custom compilation we derived using a combination of NaturalEarthData and GeoNames sources, and and at lower zoom levels roads become visible and are drawn using data sourced from OpenStreetMap. On the most detailed zoom all roads are drawn and the arterial streets receive names. With roads come more place labels, now from OpenStreetMap and sized by population. Water bodies (black) are drawn using data from VPRO, as are park lands (black stipple pattern), airports, farm locations, pancake restaurants, neighborhood names, and zipcode shapes (the locations of pancake restaurants being as important to the Dutch as the locations of airports and farms, apparently).

The highlight layers are orange, because that’s the national color of the Netherlands. Also, did you know that carrots are orange because that’s the national color of the Netherlands; “in the 17th century, Dutch growers are thought to have cultivated orange carrots as a tribute to William of Orange – who led the the struggle for Dutch independence.” So: orange maps over custom OpenStreetMap cartography, a client who wanted to tell a story and was willing to stretch what it means to design a map, and a country made of canals and land claimed from the sea. Hoera!

Technical bits:

We used open source software, some authored by Stamen, to draw the reference cartography and cache the data files. Web maps are made of small, 256 px by 256 px images, stacked next to each other in a grid and displayed in the browser as a slippy map, allowing the user to pan and zoom. The application logic in Flash allows us to speedily update the map (using the GPU) when the data filters are adjusted. Software utilized includes TileStache, Cascadenik, Dymo, ModestMaps, Mapnik, QGIS, OGR, and GDAL. Much of the data provided by VPRO was generated in ArcGIS in-house and and partners. The place search is powered by the Yahoo! geocoder.

Interact with project »

Betashapes for San Francisco neighborhoods

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

[Editor's note: A first for me, read this post in Romanian/Ukrainian cyrillic. Thanks Maria!]

First results in using the betashapes script from Schuyler Erle and Melissa Santos. Still some kinks for me to work out relating understanding how the script deals with donut holes and scrubbing the list of Yahoo GeoPlanet neighborhood names in the input. For the US, can just use Census block polygons and avoid OSM copyright funk. Use GeoPDFs on the iPhone and other iOS devices to see yourself in the map, get Avenza’s PDF Maps.app. More images after the jump. Click on an image to see it larger.

More background: Betashapes are based on how people tag (and only if they also geotag) their Flickr photos. The script queries Flickr for photos for specified neighborhood tags (up to 2,500 sample size each ‘hood, these SF neighborhoods calculated from ~250,000 photo locations) and counts up what neighborhood tag is dominant in any city block and then aggregates them into neighborhoods. The neighborhood names and ids are from the Yahoo! GeoPlanet database that has a mix of real and fanciful (minority report) places. If you remove the ones you don’t agree with from the input, they will be ignored on the output. Lots to refine here…

View GeoPDF »
Download betashapes shapefile for SF »
Download SF geodata ingredients »
Download Y! GeoPlanet SF files »

(below) Betashapes using Flickr images and city street grid turned into polygon blocks.
sf_neighborhoods_betashapes

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Natural Earth version 1.4 release notes

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Natural Earth has been downloaded more than 250,000 times and is closing in on 1 million page views since launching in the final month of 2009. Thanks!

Over 65 files have changed in version 1.4 of Natural Earth. The most significant edits reflect the July 2011 independence of South Sudan. That country’s administrative level-1 units have also been refreshed, and the disputed area of Abyei is retained.

Mea culpa: A major correction fixes a coding error introduced in version 1.3 that incorrectly merged Panama and Papua New Guinea into a super country in some admin-0 files. Version 1.4 reestablishes them as separate countries.

Because of South Sudan, the admin-0 (sovereign, country, map units, map subunits, scale ranks, scale ranks with minor islands), boundary lines land, disputed areas and boundaries, etc. have all been updated in the 10m, 50m, 110m scale sets.

50m admin-1 states and provinces now includes a version with the lakes punched out, like the 10m has enjoyed since version 1.3.

The 10m admin-1 file now includes a “scale rank” exploded version that will import into a wider range of GIS and CAD software packages that cannot import polygons over a certain vertex count.

Other changes and corrections are detailed below and credited to the correction request author.

Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso and Tom Patterson 19 August 2011
Read full release notes at NaturalEarthData.com »

Does your city have a nickname?

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

I’m collecting nicknames for big cities, want to help? From the Windy City (Chicago) to Hotlanta (Atlanta), LND (London) to SF (San Francisco). We should be able to type these nicknames into a place search and have the right result come back without fuss. And nicknames are fun. Results will be rolled back into Natural Earth in a future update.

Add your city to the Google Doc: kelso.it/x/18s

WhereCampDC ignite spatial videos

Friday, June 24th, 2011

wherecampdc_video_start

I helped organize WhereCampDC in Washington, DC, earlier this month on the 10th and 11th of June, 2011. Hosted at National Geographic and The Washington Post, around 275 geo nerds came together to talk about the latest technology and techniques to build maps and engaging spatial storytelling. Big thanks to both organizations for sponsoring, as well as our many other sponsors including the USGIF.

The key to the event’s success, like Practical Cartography Day during the NACIS annual meeting, was focusing on practical tools and workflows to help solve everyday problems; bringing people looking for solutions together with the programmers who build them in a social environment where making lasting personal and professional connections is emphasized to grow the community.

All told, we had 375 attendees (some overlap between Friday and Saturday but still ~275 uniques). That’s $60 a head for costs, all paid thru sponsorships and in-kind donations. We had generous sponsors and splurged on a few budget items. My guess is you could hold one of these for as cheap as $30 a head. The attendance and sponsorship logistics was managed thru EventBrite. The president of NACIS (my professional association), Tanya Buckingham (U. Wisc. at Madison), attended and it looks like we’ll hold another of these where camps in Madison with our annual meeting and in Portland in 2012.

Playing the spirit of WhereCampDC forward, a new DC meetup has formed and already has 85+ members who plan to meet regularly the upcoming year. Since both Kate Chapman and I are now moved out of the DC area, it’ll be up to the meetup folks to organize the next unconference ;) Check them out at: http://www.meetup.com/GeoNerds-DC

Powerpoint and keynote slides from the Ignite Spatial are up, as well as short video clips: http://www.wherecampdc.org/2011/04/friday-ignite-spatial/

Pictures from Saturday’s unconference are here: http://www.wherecampdc.org/2011/04/saturday-unconference-scene/

Here’s one of the videos featuring Javier de la Torre of Vizzuality talking about crowd sourcing “Old Weather”:

Donate your iPhone location logs anonymously

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

[Editor's note: Apple and the other big smart phone players have been harvesting your location data to help your phone's GPS locate you faster. There was a big hubub a couple weeks ago about the insecure nature of the iPhone log database. A new website, CrowdFlow.net is crowd sourcing the federation of individual users location files so we get a complete picture. By pooling our logs, we can visualize patterns among these location beacons. Act now as the next update from Apple will remove this 'functionality'. Image above shows the locations around the world so far. Want to view your own tracks without sharing them? Check out Pete Warden's original iPhoneTracker.]

What’s the idea?

You probably know by now that your iPhone collects the position data of wifi and cell networks near by. Google Android devices as well. More background info herehere and here.

We would like to combine as many of these log files as possible, create an open database of wifi and cell networks and thus visualize how these networks are distributed all over the world.

So please contribute your iPhone log files and help us to create an open wifi und cell database.

You can find out more on this project on [their] blog.

How can I contribute?

We are starting with the iPhone.
If you would like to contribute your log file – and you can do that entirely anonymously -
follow these two simple steps:

Continue reading at CrowdFlow.net . . .

Please join me in June for WhereCampDC

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

picture-8

WhereCampDC is an unconference on June 10th and 11th, 2011 for people fascinated by place and the intersection of geography and technology. Please join us for our first event in the nation’s capital hosted at National Geographic and The Washington Post! We are an eclectic crowd ranging from geospatial professionals, open source developers, imagery analysts, urban cartographers, open data/gov hackers, locative media artists, augmented reality developers, and modeling theorists. The event is free to attend and participation is strongly encouraged.

Please RSVP your attendance to one or both days:

An unconference is a conference planned by the participants and created on the spot. It’s about having a low threshold for participation, bringing ideas into the open, and hearing all voices. It is like the 20% of a traditional conference where the best parts happen. You meet people, make relationships, and get down to what’s important to you. Please share your ideas!

Friday’s evening’s Ignite Spatial lightening talk session is an open-mic style opportunity to share your latest work and interests. We will also announce a special keynote speaker.

Saturday morning we’ll gather at 10 am to plan the day’s topics, demos, activities and start having fun. Sessions are held in multiple breakout rooms simultaneously. Lunch is provided thanks to our sponsors.

Find out more over at WhereCampDC.org . . .

A recap of Where 2.0: The conference for all things location-aware

Friday, April 29th, 2011

[Editor's note: Expanded version of my post for The Washington Post's @innovations blog.]

We use maps to show readers the “where” in our stories. But beyond simply locating the places mentioned in text, maps can create a larger narrative by adding context and showing trends (or animating the path of Friday’s royal wedding parade).

Krissy Clark, a reporter for KQED Public Radio in Los Angeles, summed up the “where” from the journalist’s perspective in her plenary talk at the Where 2.0 Conference last week in Santa Clara, Calif., “Stories Everywhere”:

The Where 2.0 Conference bills itself as a source for all things location-aware, or geo. Sessions explored the intersection of location technologies and trends in software development, business strategies and marketing.

The buzzword this year was “serendipity” — using customers’ locations, especially with mobile apps, to create experiences that delight them by providing them with relevant, unexpected information based on their locations (to paraphrase Jeff Jarvis).

More nerdy details after the jump.

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Natural Earth version 1.3 released

Monday, January 31st, 2011

When Natural Earth relaunched in December 2009 with updated raster and new vector data our aim was two fold: First, to give cartographers an off-the-shelf solution for creating small-scale world, regional and country maps from scratch. Second, we included a wealth of features both large and small in hopes of improving the overall geographic literacy of map readers. Since then, we’ve taken Natural Earth on an around-the-world road show and January 2011 saw our 150,000th direct download and 500,000th pageview. We even made it into Wikipedia, were featured in PrettyMaps, and power some of the goodness behind Google Fusion Tables. With today’s 1.3 release, we add a couple newly independent countries, better delineate the world’s states and provinces, and make a whole host of corrections and additions to the original dataset, detailed below. Please continue to use these fine map ingredients to make great web and print geo mashups. Bon appetit.

Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso and Tom Patterson

Continue reading and download the updated files at NaturalEarthData.com »

    New Flickr shapefile public dataset 2.0 (find the esri type .shp here)

    Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

    2971287541_27e6a06a21

    An updated version of the Flickr shapefile public dataset (2.0) was released last week. From nils official post:

    … We haven’t completely forgotten about shapefiles and have finally gotten around to generating a new batch (read about Alpha Shapes to find out how it’s done). When Aaron did the first run we had somewhere around ninety million (90M) geotagged photos. Today we have over one hundred and ninety million (190M) and that number is growing rapidly. Of course lots of those will fall within the boundaries of the existing shapes and won’t give us any new information, but some of them will improve the boundaries of old shapes, and others will help create new shapes where there weren’t any before. Version 1 of the dataset had shapes for around one hundred and eighty thousand (180K) WOE IDs, and now we have shapes for roughly two hundred and seventy thousand (270K) WOE IDs. Woo. The dataset is available for download today, available for use under the Creative Commons Zero Waiver.

    True to it’s claim, the version 2.0 release brings added fidelity on existing shapes (they are becoming more conformal to the features’ true geographic shape as more human sensors perambulate) and surveys some more cities and significantly more neighborhoods. From a data analytics perspective, I wish the new version had the summary photo count and centroid XY per feature of the 1.0 version. But very excited to see a new version released! Image above by Aaron Straup CopeMore coverage of things Flickr on Kelso’s Corner »

    While the dataset is distributed in GeoJSON format, that isn’t accessible to everyone so I’ve mirrored an ESRI Shapefile version of the Flickr Shapefile Public Dataset 2.0 with this blog post (~60 mb). Details on how I did the conversion after the jump.

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