Archive for the ‘Interactive’ 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 »

Live election results map from The Washington Post

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Looking for live results and post-election wrap up? Look no further than The Washington Post »

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Map: Top Secret America, A Washington Post Investigation (Kelso via WaPo)

Monday, July 19th, 2010

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[Editor's note: The government has built a national security and intelligence system so big, so complex, and so hard to manage, no one really knows if it's fulfilling its most important purpose: keeping citizens safe. Discover the top-secret work being done in your community via our map and search relationships within this complex world on our network diagram. Monday's story focuses on the growth in Top Secret America since 9/11. Next up we cover the government's increasing dependence on contractors and delve into the Top Secret America neighborhood around Ft. Meade, Maryland. The map is constructed in Flash using the Google Maps API with custom map tiles for zooms 0 to 5. The government and company locations and work relationships are gathered from publicly available records. This project has been in the works for over a year, I hope you enjoy!]

Republished from The Washington Post.

A hidden world, growing beyond control

By Dana Priest and William M. Arkin

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

Watch the intro video at The Washington Post . . .

Read the article . . .

Interact with the map . . .

Knight News Challenge 2010 Knight News Challenge: TileMapping wants to bring the mashup mentality to local maps

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

[Editor's note: Hyperlocal maps mashing up with local news are about to get much more interesting. If you create city street maps, you should read this article and start researching web Mercator and how to cut your custom cartography into image tiles. Might make a good topic at this year's NACIS meeting in St. Pete.]

Republished from the Nieman Journalism Lab.
By Megan Garber
June 2410 a.m.

Two primary concerns when it comes to news innovation have to do with information itself: harnessing it and investing communities in it. One of this year’s Knight News Challenge winners wants to tackle both of those concerns — at the same time, through the same platform.

Tilemapping aims to empower residents of local communities to explore those communities through mapping. “A lot of great stories can be told using maps and some of the new data that’s become available,” says Eric Gunderson, the project’s coordinator. And the Tilemapping project wants to leverage the narrative power of new technologies to help media — community media, in particular — create hyper-local, data-filled maps that can be easily embedded and shared. The tool is aimed at both journalists and community members more broadly; the idea is to help anyone with investment in a given location “tell more textured stories” about that location — and to help visualize (and discover) connections that might not otherwise be clear.

Tilemapping does what its name suggests: It provides “a tool that basically glues together a bunch of tiles,” Gunderson says, to create a layered map. (Map tiles are the small, square images that comprise maps — think of the squares you see when zooming in on a Google Map.) The project works through TileMill, a MapBox tool that, in turn, “glues together a bunch of other open-source tools to make it easier to generate map tiles.” Users customize both their data and the particular style of their map — and TileMill generates a custom, composite rendering, hosted on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Essentially, the platform is a modular system that allows users to customize the data they want to represent — and to layer them upon other representations to create targeted, contextual maps.

Continue reading at Nieman Journalism Lab . . .

“A super sophisticated mashup”: The semantic web’s promise and peril (Nieman Lab)

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

[Editor's note: Journalism, and the web in general, is finally catching up to GIScience and the transition from static paper maps to rich, digital maps that included data attributes (rather than graphically encoded attributes) and, more importantly, linking attributes. From Nieman Report's latest issue focusing on digital journalism.]

Republished from Nieman Journalism Lab.
By Andrew Finlayson
. June 17

In the movie Terminator, humanity started down the path to destruction when a supercomputer called Skynet started to become smarter on its own. I was reminded of that possibility during my research about the semantic web.

Never heard of the semantic web? I don’t blame you. Much of it is still in the lab, the plaything of academics and computer scientists. To hear some of them debate it, the semantic web will evolve, like Skynet, into an all powerful thing that can help us understand our world or create various crises when it starts to develop a form of connected intelligence.

Intrigued? I was. Particularly when I asked computer scientists about how this concept could change journalism in the next five years. The true believers say the semantic web could help journalists report complex ever-changing stories and reach new audiences. The critics doubt the semantic web will be anything but a high-tech fantasy. But even some of the doubters are willing to speculate that computers using pieces of the semantic Web will increasingly report much of the news in the not too distant future.

Continue reading at Nieman Reports . . .

Preview of Natural Earth version 1.2 populated places

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Version 1.1 brought Natural Earth up to ~7,000 populated places (purple hollow circle icons with labels). Version 1.2 will increase that by 25 times to about 175,000 populated places. It will be available as a supplement to the 1.1 version selection. What does this get you? A 1:1 million scale map of cities around the world and a 1:250,000 scale map of the United States and other select countries. There’s still basic selection work to be accomplished (Santiago Chile has duplicate points now, as does London) and scale ranks need refining (boosting blue 10 million, 5 million and 2 million selections from the 1:1 million black dots on these preview maps).

Because the world’s geo infrastructure sucks, not all the new features will have population counts in the 1.2 version. But most should have areal extent bounds and nesting to indicate if the town is part of a larger metro area. At the 1:250,000 scale (gmaps zoom 11), we start to see actual incorporated towns and unincorporated suburbs, but at the 1:1m scale we’re still dealing primarily in metropolitan and micropolitan features (urban areas that host multiple “cities”).

The names of the feature will also need work, but that will occur after the 1.2 release (India, China, and Central Asia mostly). The version 1.1 locations will be shifted over to use the more accurate geoNames lngLats for about 6,000 features (note Oakland below). Locations were fine at 1:10,000,000 scale but don’t always hold up on zoom in. A later update will incorporate an additional 100,000 places to flesh out the 1:1m scale and maybe a few extra for closer in. Combine these populated places with roads and they start looking like atlas plates :)

More preview images after the jump.

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More preview maps after the jump.

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UK election map and swingometer (Guardian)

Friday, April 30th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Cartograms (1, 2) are all the storm in the UK in the lead up to the general election later this month. I first noted them via the Financial Times's print edition graphic and then came across this interactive version done by the Guardian (screenshot above). It combines the geography view typical in the US with a cartogram of the same. The cartogram does better at showing overall trends since each enumeration unit (election district) is the same size, where on the geography view some districts are super large and some (around London) are tiny as they are sized by area rather than population / electors. The Guardian's online version has search function as well as mouse over and the geography view zooms in to reveal those tiny districts. What's super amazing is the swingometer. It allows the user to see what would happen if the electorate "swings" towards one party or another both in numbers and on the maps. This would be fabulous to see in the US for our midterms. Quibbles with their map: I can't click and drag in the geography view to move the map, nor can I click and drag the detail box in the UK context map in the geography view. Overall A+ effort. And yet another reason why Steve Jobs, bless his heart, is crazy for thinking HTML5 should be the only game in town. These types of maps excel in Flash's compiled plugin runtime.]

Republished from the Guardian. Monday 5 April 2010.
By Mark McCormick, Jenny Ridley, Alastair Dant, Martin Shuttleworth

Browse the 2010 constituencies and use the three-way swingometer to see how different scenarios affect the outcome. This map is based on 2005 figures, notional or actual, and does not take account of byelection results. Full explanation here

Interact with the original at the Guardian . . .

MAP: Campaign 2010 – Congressional Races, a closer look at the 435 House races (WaPo)

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Just in time for the midterms, The Washington Post has relaunched our online politics section, including a nifty interactive map by Kat Downs (lead), Dan Keating, Karen Yourish and Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso. The map starts off on House races but also tracks Senate and Governor races. It's zoomable, panable, has a time slider for past election results. The original linework was generalized using MapShaper.org with manual adjustments to blend in detailed urban districts with more generalized rural districts, resulting in smaller file size, quicker load time, and less ambiguity on which district is which. Please email us with questions or suggestions.]

Republished from The Washington Post.

Will Republicans take control of the house in 2010? Use this map to track all 435 House races, analyse past election results, and drill down to district level data. Post reporters Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza will weigh in regularly on the 25 races you need to know about. SOURCES: Federal Election Commission, U.S. Census Bureau.

Interact with the original at The Washington Post . . .

Two more screenshots, showing generalized urban area linework in the Washington, DC, metro area with thematic attribute “details” panel open and then the advanced filtering options, in this case to pull out swing districts that have rate more than 21% uninsured.

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Colorado Road Conditions Mashup (CDOT)

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Check out the snowy road conditions in Colorado with this mashup that includes current road open/close as well as surface status (icy, blowing snow, etc). One of the best I've seen. Traffic cameras are overlayed with auto clustering of nearby markers. Includes a searchable list and good legend below the map. Hard to scroll wheal up and down on the page due to the map and list view. And resizing makes it hard to get the legend on the same viewable window area as the map. Thanks Curt!]

Continue onto Colorado Road Conditions . . .

Google Public Data Explorer (information aesthetics)

Monday, March 15th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Summary of data visualization web apps with focus on the new Google Public Data Explorer which has a good mix of charting and mapping. Interesting Google has approached the visualization space with their Flash API. Some offer private data but most take a shared-data (public) storage system.]

Republished from Information Aesthetics.

Google Public Data Explorer [google.com] is yet the latest entry in the ongoing race to democratize data access and its representation for lay people. Similar to Many Eyes, Swivel, Tableau Public and many others, Google Public aims to make large datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate. As a unique feature, the charts and maps are able to animate over time, so that any meaningful time-varying data changes become easier to understand. The goal is for students, journalists, policy makers and everyone else to play with the tool to create visualizations of public data, link to them, or embed them in their own webpages. Embedded charts are also updated automatically, so they always show the latest available data.

Continue reading at Information Aesthetics . . .