Posts Tagged ‘google maps’

First Look at Natural Earth Vector

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Tom Patterson and I collaborated on the precursor to his first Natural Earth Raster project several years ago and we now preview Natural Earth Raster + Vector, a new free product due Fall 2009 that complements and expands on the previous work by providing detailed GIS linework at the 1:15,000,000 (1:15 million) scale and new versions of the raster product (including cross-blended hyspometric tints). The Washington Post, where I work, is contributing 2 more vector GIS base maps at the 1:50m and 1:110m scales and new versions of Natural Earth Raster will be released for those scales. This is a NACIS and mapgiving co-branded product with assistance from the University of Wisconson-Madison cartography lab, Florida State University, and others.

Please attend the October NACIS 2009 map conference in Sacramento, California for the unveiling.

More description and preview images after the jump.


Shapefiles, Actionscript 3.0, and Google Maps (Box Shaped World)

Monday, June 8th, 2009

[Editor's note: Tutorial for using the vanrikom classes to read in shapefiles in Flash and Flex AS3 and display them on a Google Maps mashup.]

Republished from the Box Shaped World blog. 28 April 2009.

I’m working an Adobe AIR application and I wanted to be able to have the user select a shapefile, and then parse it to create a KML file.  I didn’t want to have the user be responsible for creating a KML file.  I thought I might try and crack the shapefile enigma since it is a well documented format, but that would have taken time and I suddenly realized I’m not actually a developer :).  Instead, I found this set of Actionscript Classes to parse a shapefile in Flash.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find a very good tutorial on how to work with the classes.  The example is a little confusing (at least for me) and also uses a far file.  I’d never heard of far compressed files.  So I took the classes and created my own parser.  I thought I would post a tutorial on how to use these shapefile classes in conjunction with AIR and the Google Maps API for flash.  This technique would work with flex as well, I just didn’t want to have to write the code to upload a file.  I presume a few things with this.  The shapefile you are using for this should already have a geographic projection (e.g. latitude and longitude Geographic NAD 83).  In order to use the Google Maps API with AIR, you need a URL with a key associated with it.  Below are two zipfiles available for download.  The is the shapefile I was using.  The is the downloaded actionscript classes from the Google Code repository.  I had trouble downloading the using an svn so I did it manually.  I’ll save you the time by making it available here…unless the original author asks me to remove them.  There are parts that I find confusing with the way the reader was set up.  For some reason polyline inherits from polygon.  Intuitively to me it should be the other way around…but like I said, I’m not a developer.

This was all done using FlashDevelop and the Flex SDK 3.  There are 4 custom classes in addition to the mxml file.  Each are shown here.

Continue reading at Box Shaped World . . .

INTERACTIVE MAP: Impacted U.S. GM Plants (Kelso via Wash Post)

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

[Editor's note: This interactive from Tuesday shows plants set to close under G.M.'s restructuring plan in the context of all of G.M.'s manufacturing facilities. Checkboxes allow different types of facilities to be filtered and zoom presets make it easier to zoom into clusters of markers. A reset button allows the display to return to it's original state. A table below the map contains some of the same information.]

Republished from The Washington Post.

Under GM’s restructuring plan, the automakers’s manufacturing facilities will be reduced to 33 by 2012. Three distribution centers will also be eliminated.

Click on map icons for plant name, location, number of employees and more. Screenshot below.

Interact with original version at The Washington Post . . .


Mapping Foreclosures in the New York Region (NY Times)

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

[Editor's note: The interactive Google Maps mashup in Flash AS3 from the New  York times shows vector overlay of choropleth mapping by census tract and at the street level via dot distribution. As the user zooms in, the dots are revealed, as is a street map. At all levels the census tract summary statistics are available with a mouse over. Zooms are preset for some areas, and the user can type in their own address to zoom to that area. Multiple years add time dimension. Spatial brushing on the map is accomplished by outlining the geography's stroke, not changing the fill color. Thanks Laris!]

Republished from the New York Times. May 15, 2009

A New York Times analysis found that foreclosure rates in the region were highest in areas with high minority populations. Zoom in to see foreclosures at the street level. Screenshot below.

Interact with the original at New York Times . . .




Sparkmaps? (Cartogrammar)

Monday, June 1st, 2009


Andy Woodruff has a neat post over at Cartogrammar about Sparkmaps, a riff on Tufte’s sparkline concept (1, 2).In essence: “Tiny, non-intrusive supplemental maps … As a sparkline provides at a glance a reasonably clear picture of numerical data, so can a small map provide context and clarify otherwise confusing or vague text.” We’ve started to include small Google Maps mashups in the sidebar of some Washington Post articles the last month. We occationally use another tool that allows a Google Maps mashup to appear on hover of a hyperlinked placename. Less discoverable, so effective only when the geography is completely anciliary to the story.

Read his post at Cartogrammar . . .

How Can You Tell What Map Scales Are Shown For Online Maps? (ESRI)

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009


[Editor's note: I'm working on a group base map project that will be released in October that is for mapping at the 1:10,000,000 (1:10m) scale and smaller (regional continental to global at small print dimensions). I want this data to be easily used with online mapping services, but converting Google map tile set "levels" to natural scale equivelants isn't obvious. I remembered seeing this table at last year's NACIS conference in Missoula, Montana. Charlie Frye was kind enough to remind me where to find it on the ESRI site.]

Republished from ESRI Mapping Center.

As you zoom in (or out) of the online maps you see on Virtual Earth (VE) or Google Maps (GM), you are actually seeing a series of different maps with slightly different information displayed at each zoom level. Zoom level is indicated and controlled in an online map by the vertical zoom slider, like the one shown at the left in the image here. Whenever the zoom level is changed, a different map is shown.

Of course, these maps are well designed so that viewers are largely unaware that they are seeing these different maps. The foundation for good design of an “online map” hinges on understanding how to design for each of the zoom level represented in the entire online map. Colors, fonts, number of and types of features, etc. are all seriously considered when each of the maps is created for each of the zoom levels.

When authoring this kind of online map with ArcGIS, a map document containing group layers, one for each zoom level, is a good approach. (The Working with layers and scale ranges blog entry provides a good overview of how to organize a map document this way.) Each zoom level in the online map is represented by your work at a specific map scale in the ArcMap document. The hard part is to figure out which zoom level matches to which map scale. There are twenty zoom levels for Virtual Earth or Google Maps. The corresponding map scales that you would design and create your maps at if you wanted them to mash up on VE or GM are:

Continue reading at ESRI Mapping Center . . .

MAP: Track Swine Flu Cases (Kelso via Wash Post)

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

[Editor's note: This is my mashup for The Washington Post tracking the H1N1 swine flu outbreak. It is custom built using the Google Maps for Flash API. Reporting is by Washington Post staff and is updated several times each day. Zoom in and out of the map to see more detail and different symbolization approaches.]

Screenshots below:

Interact with the original at The Washington Post . . .

Use our interactive mashup to track the distribution of swine flu (H1N1) cases around the world. Click on the map markers to learn more about cases at each location. 

SOURCES: Staff reports; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and World Health Organization. Interactive by Nathaniel V. Kelso; Research by Madonna Lebling, Robert Thomason, Mary Kate Cannistra and April Umminger – The Washington Post. First published April 27, 2009 at 10 p.m.

World Map of Swine Flu Outbreak

World Map of Swine Flu Outbreak

World Map of Swine Flu Outbreak

Interact with the original at The Washington Post . . .

Density Mapping in Google Maps with HeatMapAPI (GeoChalkboard)

Monday, April 27th, 2009

[Editor's note: Heat maps are a useful way to qualitatively represent densely clustered point locations on a map. This post from GeoChalkboard walks thru how to create using the Google Maps API and the HeatMap API.]

Republished from GeoChalkboard, there on March 11, 2009.

In the GIS world heat maps are a graphical representation of point data on a map through the use of colors that indicate the density of some variable such as crime incidents or traffic accidents.  Heat maps let users quickly visualize the density of locations. Being able to understand the density of point locations makes it much easier to see patterns in your data, especially when using colors. In this post we’re going to examine the HeatMapAPI, a JavaScript API for creating heat maps in Google Maps.

(Above) 2009 Starbucks Store Closures

HeatMapAPI can be used over the Internet or as a .NET DLL that runs in a local environment and allows you to integrate heat map images into Google Maps or other GIS systems.  In this post we’re going to use HeatMapAPI to visualize the density of recent Starbucks store closures.  In a recent statement, Starbucks announced the closure of 600+ stores in the United States due to economic conditions.

Continue reading at GeoChalkboard . . .

Reviewing the Nokia 6210. An iPhone competitor? No.

Monday, April 20th, 2009


Nokia’s WOM World was kind enough to loan me a Nokia 6210 Navigator (full specs) with the new Nokia Maps 3.0 beta to test in March. I was excited to use this phone because on the surface it has a similar feature set to my iPhone in a smaller profile with potentially less costly carrier subscription and not being tied to ATT. The phone has a GPS, camera, video phone capabilities, and better navigation software with 3d and walking modes via their OVI Nokia-branded maps service which came preloaded on my testing unit.

It took me a while to figure out that I could access the mapping functionality via a dedicated map “compass” button on the main button area (blue button on the bottom of top (LCD part) slider unit in photo above). The mapping functionality is not visible in the phone’s home screen of GUI buttons. After a while I figured out how to use the “Menu” key to get more than top level menus and then choose the map icon there, too. Maps are preloaded onto the phone, no need for net connection for basic functionality, a plus over the iPhone.

Compared to the iPhone, the Nokia 6210 has several great 3d map views more akin to GPS car navigaion systems (an app is available for the iPhone that brings some of this functionality over). The Nokia 6210 has better integrated search for POI around you (I have downloaded several 3rd party apps for my iPhone that do the same thing). The 6210 also does walking directions (and allows straight line walking, not just along roads).

It is strange this phone ships with the GPS turned off. When I pulled up the map application for the first time it did not ask me if it should turn on the GPS receiver. I had to go into the settings area and manual enable. While I can understand the goal of reducing the drain on the battery, this was inconvienent and confusing to turn on. During normal usage, the GPS would take a very long time to engage. The maps app would crash often (it was beta, after all). The 6210 doesn’t seem to use cell phone tower triangulation to get the fast fix (and GPS later to refine position), a serious downside compared to the iPhone’s rapid location display and then refinement. Route planning on the phone required a license code, compared to the free Google Maps routing on the iPhone. This adds potentially $100 extra per year for the same functionality.

The Nokia 6210 Navigator is a slider phone, but the slider functionality did not always engage the phone’s OS to unlock, or there would be a extremely long delay. The keypad interface instead of my iPhone’s touch screen was infuriating. I should note the phone has the old 3 abc-per numeric keypad layout, not a blackberry qwerty keypad.

Phone call quality seemed on par or slightly poorer than my iPhone. Same locations, same SIM, same carrier. Data connections were notably slower due to reliance on 2G (Edge) service. Web page rendering was terrible compared to the iPhone. Nokia has announced several new phones with 3G speeds.

I wanted to test the video conf. capability since this phone has two cameras, one pointed towards your face and the other at the back of the phone. But I didn’t know anyone else with a video conf. capable phone. It is rumored the summer 2009 iPhone hardware update will enable this.

The camera was okay, not as good as iPhone in low light. The 6210 does have a flash, though! and the battery is easily replaced. Just pop off the back of the case. The SIM card is located behind the battery and easy to swap out.

All in all I prefered my iPhone 3G over the Nokia 6210 Navigator. I see that Nokia is prepping a new touch screen version and has introduced the Ovi store to compete with the iTunes app store. But by the time that is released, we’ll have a new version of the iPhone.

Watch this YouTube video for views of the phone; Maps application shown at the very end.

Transit Time Maps from Walk Score (via Google Maps Mania)

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

[Editor's note: Detailed maps help understand transportation time between point A and B. Network topology routing provided by open source software and then pushed out as a Google Maps mashup. WalkScore was previously featured here for their "walkability" maps which both help people figure out where to live.]

Republished from Google Maps Mania and Walk Score.

WalkScore have produced a Google Map mashup that can show you how far you can travel in San Francisco, Portland or Seattle on public transport in 15, 30 and 45 minutes. The map can show you how far you can travel on public transit from a given location and at any time of day.

How it Works

Transit schedules are downloaded in GTFS format and the XML street data is fetched from OpenStreetMap. These are compiled into a graph for use by the Graphserver trip planner. Street intersections are graph vertices and streets are graph edges.

Graphserver calculates the shortest path tree for a given location. The time of arrival at all street intersections is cross-referenced with a table of street intersection locations to create the contours for different travel times.

Go to Walk Score to try out the Transit Time map . . .