Posts Tagged ‘Mapping’

“Bizarre Map Challenge” (BMC): A National Map Design Competition

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

bmc

As seen in the NACIS newsletter, a contest for the students in your life.

Announcing the Bizarre Map Challenge (BMC): A Nationwide Map Design Competition. This map design competition is hosted by the National GeoTech Center www.geotechcenter.org (funded by National Science Foundation) and San Diego State University. The goal of this event is to promote spatial thinking and geospatial technology awareness in high schools, community colleges, and universities in the United States and to inspire curiosity about  geographic patterns and map representation for students and the broader public. The Award for the 1st prize will be $5000 cash, 2nd prize: $1000 cash, 3rd prize: $600 cash, 4th - 10th prizes: $200 cash for each. If you have any questions or suggestions regarding this event, please email Ming-Hsiang (Ming) Tsou (mtsou@mail.sdsu.edu) or to the dedicated email address (bmc@geography.sdsu.edu).

* March 1st – March 22nd, 2010 : Accepting map entries (on-line form) from the BMC website (see the URL, to be published March 1, for more details and rules)

Carto Tourism? St. Kitts and Nevis Marine Mapping Project

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

skn_tracks_all_s sdsc_2838 sdsc_1866

[Editor’s note: A friend of mine who works for The Nature Conservancy down in the Caribbean put me onto this web log. With mapping ascending as a cultural meme, why not capitalize on the trend by creating meaningful survey expedition “vacations” that partner GIS and cartography professionals with local project coordinators in beautiful locales? Thanks Ruth!]

A team from TNC travels to St. Kitts and Nevis for ten days to collect field data that will be used to create the country’s first detailed map of marine habitats. This work is being funded by USAID to help protect and restore biodiversity in the Caribbean.

Ten Days to Map 260 Sq Kilometers

Most of the time when I tell someone I am traveling to St. Kitts and Nevis, they say Huh? Where? What did you say? I go on explaining that these two sister islands are located near Antigua and Barbuda and I get more intense blank looks. With only 104 sq kilometers of land area, St Kitts and Nevis is the smallest and youngest country in the western hemisphere, home to only 40,000 people. The land and the population may be small, but the people and the culture more than make up for it with their vibrant Caribbean spirit. However, like other small Caribbean countries, these fragile islands, located in one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world, are facing increasing pressures on limited resources, and are coming to an important crossroad in their short history since independence. One road goes down the path of continued unsustainable development, habitat destruction, and overfishing. The other path leads towards a sustainable future and smart growth – complete with well managed and healthy ecosystems, contributing to improvements in human well-being.

Continue reading at St. Kitts and Nevis Marine Mapping blog . . .

How to Make a US County Thematic Map Using Free Tools (FlowingData)

Friday, November 20th, 2009

[Editor's note: If you don't have an expensive GIS license but still want to make pretty maps, Flowing Data has a tutorial to get you started. They even use ColorBrewer when setting up the data classes!]

Republished from Flowing Data.
Posted by Nathan / Nov 12, 2009.

There are about a million ways to make a choropleth map. You know, the maps that color regions by some metric. The problem is that a lot of solutions require expensive software or have a high learning curve…or both. What if you just want a simple map without all the GIS stuff? In this post, I’ll show you how to make a county-specific choropleth map using only free tools.

The Result

Here’s what we’re after. It’s the most recent unemployment map from last week.

Unemployment in the United States

Step 0. System requirements

Just as a heads up, you’ll need Python installed on your computer. Python comes pre-installed on the Mac. I’m not sure about Windows. If you’re on Linux, well, I’m sure you’re a big enough nerd to already be fluent in Python.

We’re going to make good use of the Python library Beautiful Soup, so you’ll need that too. It’s a super easy, super useful HTML/XML parser that you should come to know and love.

Continue reading at Flowing Data . . .

read-write mapping: NACIS Conference Keynote by Michal Migurski of Stamen Design

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

[Editor's note: I'm just getting back from the annual NACIS conference and decompressing from backpacking, family and friends in the Golden State. Our great keynote speaker this year was Michal Migurski of Stamen Design who talked up the OpenStreetMap project. Mike has also been kind enough to help out with the Natural Earth Data site which will go live in another couple weeks once Tom and I have polished the data. Without further ado, the keynote...]

Republished from tecznotes.

[clip] I used the opportunity to talk about the fascinating OpenStreetMap project, specifically the ways in which it’s useful to a cartography audience and how that audience could benefit the project. This last thing in particular is what I closed with: I think the online face of OSM’s rendered tiles could use serious input from the NACIS community, particularly at the kinds of medium scales where the highly-detailed data blurs into “features”. Much of this happens by-hand in tools like Adobe Illustrator from what I can tell, a very different workflow from the industrial automation offered by my favorite stand-by, Mapnik.

This is a talk about a new awareness of maps and geography, and a change in attitudes toward maps.

I’m going start with a small detour here to tell you about an online phenomenon that’s going on four or so years now, called Unboxing. Unboxing is a kind of geek striptease, described in one site’s tagline as a “vicarious thrill from opening new gear”.

Unboxing is a response to the meticulous packaging of modern electronics gear, most notably Apple’s range of iPods, iPhones, and Mac computers – careful design is invested in the packaging, and careful appreciation is invested in its removal.

Why unboxing? Two aspects of the trend seem relevant here.

First, it’s a new kind of visibility into the fan club culture around popular electronics, allowing users to elevate their own appreciation of a mass-market good into a social experience. I remember bicycling past the Apple Store and the Cingular store on San Francisco’s Market St. on the day the iPhone was released. There were enormous lines in front of each, and as customers picked up their new iPhones they’d walk out the door, break into a jog, and high-five the remainder of the line. The division between fan and star here evaporates.

Second, the delivery mechanism for this fan-produced culture tends to be online sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube. Both are examples of the phenomenon of the “Read Write Web”, the now-familiar pattern of web-based communities formed around the creation and sharing of social objects like photos and videos.

One effect of these online communities is a new and durable awareness of the process behind creative production. Pages on Flickr or YouTube follow a pattern you’re probably familiar with: title in the upper-left, main “thing” just below that, and to the right at the same level of importance, the person who made it for you. Responsibility and provenance along with all the messiness and point-of-view are built-in assumptions.

In the world of text, we see this same pattern on Wikipedia.

This is the History Flow project from Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Viegas at IBM, which shows edits to a single Wikipedia article over time as threads and contributions from a group of editors.

Like this one, each article has been beaten into shape over time by a group of people following loose rules of cooperation, so each page has an associated “Talk” page where you can peek into the arguments and negotiations connected to the particular set of facts represented there. You can see the sausage being made. You can also cause the sausage to be made, as we saw with Stephen Colbert’s parody of consensual reality he called “wikiality” and used to make occasional, abusive, hilarious forays into Wikipedia.

This is where we segue into geography.

Around 2004 or so, UK developer Steve Coast started a project called OpenStreetMap, the Wiki world map. Steve was connecting a few emerging threads: the falling cost of GPS hardware since it was made available for civilian use in 1996, the dismal copyright layer wrapped around Ordnance Survey maps, and the lack of a viable crappy-but-free alternative in the UK. It’s hard to overstate how crazy this idea was at the time; everyone knows that collecting worldwide geographic data at the street level is a massive undertaking, out of reach of an enthusiast community like the OSM of the time.

What was the state of online mapping at the time? Not terrible, but not great.

Continue reading at tecznotes  . . .

Using SVG to Create Interactive Maps on the Apple iPhone (James Fee)

Monday, October 27th, 2008

[Editor’s note: Republished from James Fee’s GIS Blog on Sept. 18th 2008. Hopefully Apple and Adobe will figure out their differences.]

So you can’t have Silverlight, Java or Flash to develop interactive mapping on the iPhone and have to “resort” to using JavaScript. Well maybe not, could SVG be the way forward to creating mapping websites on the iPhone?  My 2G iPhone seems to support SVG fairly well, but many SVG sites aren’t optimized for the iPhone.  Take ESRI’s abandoned (?) SVG Viewer:

ESRIs ArcWeb SVG Viewer

ESRI’s ArcWeb SVG Viewer

It loads and you can turn on and off the “widgets” with ease.  But navigating it was impossible.  I know zero about developing with SVG so I suppose someone else will have to comment on if it is possible to create iPhone compatible navigation for SVG apps.  Heck if ESRI were to make a ArcGIS Server SVG API compatible for the iPhone, every ArcGIS Server implementation would be viewable on the iPhone.

Way to go? Mapping looks to be the web’s next big thing (Financial Times)

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Reprinted from the Financial Times. By Richard Waters in San Francisco. Published: May 21 2008.

When European regulators last week cleared the €2.9bn ($4.5bn, £2.3bn) purchase of TeleAtlas, a digital mapping company, by TomTom, the maker of navigation devices, they were giving a nudge along to one of the hottest business fads on the internet.

Approval for that deal makes it almost certain that a bigger transaction will also get the nod: Nokia’s proposed $8.1bn purchase of Navteq, the largest acquisition undertaken by the mobile handset maker.

Navteq’s database of maps covers more than 70 countries. Yet as a source for the next world-changing online idea, digital maps might appear a distinctly unpromising place to start. These basic graphical representations of the world seem a rather humdrum commodity, hardly a key to unlocking the riches of the internet.

That is not how it appears to Nokia. Anssi Vanjoki, a senior executive of the Finnish company, recently summed up the reason for its acquisition: “We can locate our experiences, our history, on the map. It’s a very concrete expression of a context.” Displayed on the bigger, higher-resolution screens that are becoming more common on mobile handsets, maps can become “a user interface to many things”.

This is turning into a prevailing view in the internet industry – partly because mapping does not stop at simple two-dimensional representations. Mike Liebhold, a veteran technologist who is now a fellow at Silicon Valley’s Institute for the Future, calls it a “3D data arms race”, with some of the biggest technology companies rushing to amass vast libraries of information describing the world in painstaking detail.

Erik Jorgensen, a senior executive in Microsoft’s online operations, says the software company is building a “digital representation of the globe to a high degree of accuracy” that will bring about “a change in how you think about the internet”. He adds: “We’re very much betting on a paradigm shift. We believe it will be a way that people can socialise, shop and share information.”

The bet, in short, is that the map is about to become the interface to many of the things people do on the internet – and that the company that controls this interface could one day own something as prevalent and powerful as Google’s simple search box. This proposition takes on added power when applied to the mobile world. Displayed on location-aware handsets, digital maps can be used to order information around the user. The information that matters most is information about things that are closest.

That explains why a car navigation company and a maker of mobile phones are leading the charge. A collision with established internet powers such as Google, which has itself identified the mobile internet as its next big money-making opportunity, is inevitable.

Reordering the internet around this new geographic interface is a project that has been under way for some time. It starts with what engineers at Google call the “base canvas” – a detailed digital representation of the physical world on to which other information can be “hung”. Thanks to the plunging costs of technologies such as digital imaging and geolocation equipment, the world is being mapped, measured, plotted and photographed in almost unimaginable detail.

At one end of the spectrum are people like Steve Coast, a British amateur who is hoping to create a communal map of the world as comprehensive as Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. Volunteers who contribute to Mr Coast’s OpenStreetMap.org literally redraw the map. “You buy a GPS [global positioning system] unit and cycle around the roads,” he says. “It drops a data point every second, like Hansel and Gretel dropping breadcrumbs.” Collecting those data points and joining the dots is the first step in sketching a map of the road network.

At the other extreme are the likes of Google, which is approaching the task with its usual unbounded ambition. “Our goal is to make a kind of mirror world, a replica world,” declares John Hanke, head of its Google Earth unit. Many of these data are being gathered through painstaking methods and put into private databases. For instance, Navteq and TeleAtlas each use their own fleets of vehicles to collect a mass of street-level information useful to motorists but not shown on official maps – covering everything from speed limits and one-way streets to big construction projects.

These are not the only trucks and vans crawling the kerbsides of cities to suck up information. Google is there too. “Every five feet or so, we’re capturing a 360-degree image that is many megapixels,” says Mr Hanke. Those pictures add a detailed street-level view. Microsoft, not to be outdone, has taken to the air. It has gone as far as designing and building specialised cameras, flying them around to collect three-dimensional images using a technology called Lidar, a variant of radar.

This is about more than mapping and photographing the planet. It also involves modelling it, collecting enough geographic and spatial data points to be able to render a detailed digital version. With a service called Sketch-up, for instance, Google lets users draw their own digital models of real-world buildings and add them to its 3D “warehouse”.

These are expensive undertakings and are based on an untested proposition: that the resulting digital representations will form the new backdrop for a whole range of money-making online activities. Also, with several companies all racing to create what are essentially the same basic geo-spatial frameworks, the costs have been multiplied across a number of rivals.

Yet it is not hard to see how these companies justify the costs to themselves: gross profit margins on internet search are above 80 per cent and, for any company that can generate scale, these development costs are likely to pale by comparison. In addition, as the acquisitions of TeleAtlas and Navteq show, companies that have created parts of what could become the web’s next compelling interface already command high values.

(more…)

KML: Now An Open OGC Standard For Sharing GeoData

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

(Reprinted from Google’s Lat-Long Blog, view here)

Google Earth and other similar tools have done much to bring mapping into the digital age. Nowadays we all take for granted that you can easily go online and map search results for pizza in your zip code or zoom into satellite imagery of a small town on the other side of the world.

However, the internet is about much more than just searching and viewing information. It’s also about publishing. It wouldn’t be what it is today without blogs, wikis, social networking sites, and other forms of user-generated content. The web is what makes all of this possible, and HTML is what makes the web possible — a standard format that enables any web browser to view any web page. HTML’s standardization was a very powerful thing. Rather than being locked up in a proprietary format, or only viewable using one specific vendor’s product, web pages can be viewed and shared without encumbrance, for free.

This brings me to today’s wonderful news: KML is now an international standard!

Continue reading at Google.com . . .

Script: Find and Replace Graphics version 2

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

ai cs3 logoToday’s script installment is Find and Replace Graphics version 2.

Download script (13k file size).

Please give this script a whirl. Email me with bugs or feature enhancements.

find and replace graphics version 2 demo movie screenshot

Watch a movie demo of the script with voiceover! (2.2 mb)

Important Enhancements:

  1. The find-replace objects now remain on their original layer. No more error alerts about locked layers.
  2. The find-replace object are now in the same z-stacking (object stacking) order as the original.
  3. "Replacing" master object is now deleted once it has replaced all the find objects. Turn this off by changing line 43: var deleteReplaceWithObj = false;
  4. Centered, non-scaled XY placement is default.
  5. If non-proportional scaling is desired change line 37 to: var scaledObject = true;

Future Work:

  1. Proportional scaling in X, Y, or weighted XY that is still centered on the original object’s center point.

To install new scripts you need to:

  • Quit Illustrator
  • Copy the files into the Illustrator application folder’s “Presets” » “Scripts” subfolder
  • After restarting Illustrator you can find the scripts in the menu “File” » “Scripts”;
  • TIP: You can create subfolders in the scripts folder to organize your scripts

Script: Make Point Type version 3

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

ai cs3 logoToday’s script installment is Make Point Type version 3. Version 2 was never released widely.

Download script (10k file size).

Please give this script a whirl. Email me with bugs or feature enhancements.

make point type demo movie image

Watch a movie demo of the script with voiceover! (2.1 mb)

Important Enhancements:

  1. The text objects now remains on their parent layer that it was found in. No more error alerts about locked layers.
  2. The type is EXACTLY in the same X-Y position it was as area type. No more small jump in Y layout.
  3. Rotated type is fully supported, even upside down type (must be a rectangular area).
  4. Type on a path now reflects the original XY position and the former curve is approximated with rotation.
  5. Type on a path conversion can be turned on by changing line 19 to true: var convertPathType = true;

Continuing Issues:

  1. In some rare cases the type will be flipped 180° (upside down).

To install new scripts you need to:

  • Quit Illustrator
  • Copy the files into the Illustrator application folder’s “Presets” » “Scripts” subfolder
  • After restarting Illustrator you can find the scripts in the menu “File” » “Scripts”;
  • TIP: You can create subfolders in the scripts folder to organize your scripts

Iowa Caucuses – Graphics

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

Part 1: How do the Democrats and Republicans “caucus” and what is the difference between that and a “primary”? This interactive graphic from The Des Moines Register explains.

How causeses work


Part 2:
Most maps of tonights elections results will be choropleth (by area). This is not always the best solution as equal looking areas do not in-fact represent equal number of voters / delegates. Read about another solution from Style.org’s Jonathan Corum called “Scaling Counties in a Checkerboard State“:

Scaling counties

Part 3: Iowa by the Numbers — I created this typographical map illustration for The Washington Post’s op-ed (opposite editorial, i.e. facing) page. Click image below for slightly larger view.

iowa by numbers