Posts Tagged ‘visualization’

Time Awareness in ArcGIS 9.4 Leads to Better Understanding of Complex Geographies (ESRI)

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

[Editor's note: In the next release of ArcMap, due this summer, ESRI takes cues from Google Earth and adds a "time slider" to easily visualize time series in GIS.]

Republished from ArcNews (Winter 2009/2010).

Visualizing Time in GIS

In his First Law of Geography, noted geographer and cartographer Waldo Tobler states, “Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things.”

GIS professionals are well versed in visualization of spatial relationships and dependencies, of the proximity of near things and distant things, as in things you can measure with a ruler or with mile markers. But often when studying geography and looking for relationships and dependencies, equally important is proximity in time, as in something that can be measured with a watch or calendar.

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You can control visualization of temporal data in ArcGIS 9.4 using the new “time slider.”

Pioneering environmental planner Ian McHarg is widely known in the GIS community as the “discoverer” of overlay theory, the base theory behind GIS. Another of McHarg’s discoveries—perhaps lesser known, but equally important—is chronology, or the placing of geographic layers in chronological sequence to show relationships, dependencies, and causation through time. “We found the earliest events, mainly of geological history, had pervasive and influential effects, not only on physiography, soils, and vegetation, but also on the availability of resources,” McHarg states, describing an environmental planning study in the 1960s, in A Quest for Life. He calls his discovery of chronology—the order or sequence of features through time—”. . . a most revelatory instrument for understanding the environment, diagnosing, and prescribing,” a construct that leads to a deeper understanding of structure and meaning in the landscape.

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Charles Joseph Minard’s 1869 flow map of Napoleon’s 1812 Russian campaign is a classic example of spatiotemporal visualization (Image Source: Wikimedia Commons).

Chronology is enabled by temporal data. Temporal data is data that specifically refers to times or dates. Temporal data may refer to discrete events, such as lightning strikes; moving objects, such as trains; or repeated observations, such as counts from traffic sensors.

Depicting spatial change over time is a four-dimensional problem, and visualizing temporal phenomena on a two-dimensional map has always been a challenge. The simplest approach is the map series, where individual maps of geographic conditions at certain points in time are presented individually, in chronological order.

Other inventive methods of visualizing change over time and space include creative symbolization, such as in Charles Joseph Minard’s famous map of Napoleon’s march across Russia.

Temporal GIS is an emerging capability for integrating temporal data with location and attribute data, enabling temporal visualization and ultimately temporal analysis. Visualizing change on a computer screen in a GIS environment may give the viewer more options, but it is still a challenge. A simple yet highly effective method of visualizing time in GIS is through animation—displaying a series of maps in rapid succession on the screen.

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A creative method of representing temporal datasets in GIS developed by the Earth and Environmental Science Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory (ESRI Map Book, Volume 19).

“The eye and brain are enormously efficient at detecting patterns and finding anomalies in maps and other visual displays,” says Michael Goodchild of the University of California, Santa Barbara. “GIS works best when the computer and the brain combine forces and when GIS is used to augment human intuition by manipulating and displaying data in ways that reveal things that would otherwise be invisible.” Building a robust temporal capability into GIS provides the human eye and brain with powerful visual tools to help determine the reasons why things happened in space-time. It is also key to modeling and predicting things that might happen in the future.

The new time-aware functionality in ArcGIS 9.4 lets you

  • Create and manage time-based data.
  • Display and animate temporal datasets.
  • Publish and query temporal map services.

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The user interface in ArcGIS 9.4 lets you set time properties for one or more layers.

ArcGIS 9.4 makes temporal mapping simple and easy; enables temporal data management, exploration, and visualization; and creates a strong foundation upon which sophisticated temporal geoprocessing tools and workflows can be built in the future. As McHarg states in To Heal the Earth, “Processes, laws, and time reveal the present.” And once we have the tools and techniques in place to fully grasp how the past has created the present, we can use these same tools and techniques to shape our future.

More Information

For more information, visit www.esri.com/whatscoming.

The Map as Art: Contemporary Artist Explore Cartographically (Katharine Harmon)

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

[Editor's note: I picked up this fascinating read while in San Francisco earlier this month and devoured the artwork and critical essays by Gayle Clemans on the flight back to DC. Features pieces by Maya Lin and Paula Scher previously mentioned here. Thanks Jag!]

Artists & designers using the map medium for experimental art & innovation http://su.pr/2sijN4

Republished from BrainPickings.

What tattoo art has to do with fashion, vintage atlases and Nazi concentration camps.

We’ve always been fascinated by maps — through various elements of design, from typography to color theory to data visualization, they brilliantly condense and capture complex notions about space, scale, topography, politics and more. But where things get most interesting is that elusive intersection of the traditional and the experimental, where artists explore the map medium as a conceptual tool of abstract representation. And that’s exactly what The Map of the Art, a fantastic Morning News piece by Katharine Harmon, examines.

Corriette Schoenaerts, ‘Europe,’ 2005

Schoenaerts, a conceptual photographer living in Amsterdam, constructs countries and continents out of clothing.

Qin Ga, ‘Site 22: Mao Zedong Temple,’ 2005

In 2002, China’s Long March Project embarked upon a ‘Walking Visual Display’ along the route of the 1934-1936 historic 6000-mile Long March, and Beijing-based artist Qin kept tracked the group’s route in a tattooed map on his back. Three years later, Qin continued the trek where the original marchers had left off, accompanied by a camera crew and a tattoo artist, who continually updated the map on Qin’s back.

Continue reading at BrainPickings . . .

Visualizing Indieprojector (AxisMaps)

Friday, September 18th, 2009

indieprojector_poster_small

[Editor's note: IndieProjector lets users approach map projection as a Web 2.0 task. Anyone can upload data and reproject into a number of useful presets. This visualization shows the geographies popular with users, their data coverage. Most users are mapping the US and parts there of. But a few things stand out to me. Iran, a couple places in Africa, and the surprising number of people who think the world ends at the Rio de la Plata, Capetown, Melbourne, and Fairbanks. Are people using a cylindrical projection for their world maps, ahem, and it's just getting too tall for the page? None the less, a neat tool. Keep up the good work!]

Republished from IndieMapper / AxisMaps.

After a few months of indieprojector, we thought it’d be interesting to see how it’s being used. Two questions sounded particularly fun to visualize: what geographic areas being mapped with indieprojector, and what projections are the most/least popular? So I grabbed some data and generated some maps, which Mark turned into snazzy visualizations.

Continue reading at IndieMapper . . .

News Dots (Slate)

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

slatenewsdots

[Editor's note: This is one of the first tools I've seen that links topics, people & places into a network of graduated circles based on their ranking in the news. The circles are arranged based on their edge connections within the overall topology using the Flare visualization package in Flash AS3. As seen in the above screenshot, Germany is linked to Afghanistan, NATO, the Taliban, The Washington Post, and 20 other nodes. This project is one step forward in the vision I outlined in Topology and Projections: 21st Century Cartography. Disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Company, my employer, but I was not involved in this project.]

Republished from Slate.

Introducing News DotsAn interactive map of how every story in the news is related, updated daily.

Like Kevin Bacon’s co-stars, topics in the news are all connected by degrees of separation. To examine how every story fits together, News Dots visualizes the most recent topics in the news as a giant social network. Subjects—represented by the circles below—are connected to one another if they appear together in at least two stories, and the size of the dot is proportional to the total number of times the subject is mentioned.

Like a human social network, the news tends to cluster around popular topics. One clump of dots might relate to a flavor-of-the-week tabloid story (the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping) while another might center on Afghanistan, Iraq, and the military. Most stories are more closely related that you think. The Dugard kidnapping, for example, connects to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who connects to the White House, which connects to Afghanistan.

To use this interactive tool, just click on a circle to see which stories mention that topic and which other topics it connects to in the network. You can use the magnifying glass icons to zoom in and out. You can also drag the dots around if they overlap. A more detailed description of how News Dots works is available below the graphic.

Interact with the original and learn more at Slate . . .

Scientific Visualizations from Hillside Pictures, CA

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

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(above) Vegetation Removal: Removing vegetation from a LiDAR dataset reveals the highly detailed bare-earth topography.

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(above) Gabilan Mesa: Landscape renderings based on high resolution LiDAR data for Gabilan Mesa, an old erosional surface featuring gently sloping plateaus strongly aligned with each other along the eastern side of the Salinas Valley, CA.

[Editor's note: Scientific data visualizations and presentations using GIS data from Dorel Iordache, a northern California visual designer. Check out the videos. Thanks Sebastian!]

Republished from Hillside Pictures, Calif.

Hillside Pictures was born out of the desire to blend my lifelong passion for moving pictures and graphic design with my background in computer science and remote sensing. The results are complex visualizations of landscapes and natural environments with emphasis on both scientific accuracy and visual aesthetics. My work is grounded in broad technical expertise, highest attention to detail and years of work experience in the academic environment. Stepping outside the field of data visualization, I enjoy working on motion graphics and visual effects projects, including animated DVD menus, titles or intros.

Continue to Hillside Pictures artwork gallery . . .

Using Data Visualization as a Reporting Tool Can Reveal Story’s Shape (Poynter)

Friday, June 26th, 2009

[Editor's note: My colleague Sarah Cohen at The Washington Post was recently interviewed by Poynter about creating data visualizations to help readers understand and reporters research complicated stories. Sarah is on her way to a big new gig at Duke University.]

Republished from Poynter.
By Steve Myers at 6:12 AM on Apr. 14, 2009

Readers have come to rely on interactive presentations to understand complicated stories, using them to zoom in on periods of time and highlight areas of interest. Yet to investigate these stories, reporters often create what amounts to handcrafted investigative art: flow charts with circles and arrows, maps shaded with highlighters and stuck with pins.

More and more, though, some reporters are using data visualization tools to find the story hidden in the data. Those tools help them discover patterns and focus their reporting on particular places and times. Many of the presentations, which can have rough interfaces or less-than-sleek design, are never published.

At the recent National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) conference, Sarah Cohen, database editor for The Washington Post‘s investigative team — and recently named professor of computational journalism at Duke University — showed how reporters can use interactive graphics for their exploratory reporting. [PDF]

Cohen described this approach to me via e-mail. Here’s an edited version of our exchange.

Steve Myers: How would creating a digital, visual representation of data help a reporter? What does it tell you that you wouldn’t be able to find otherwise?

Sarah Cohen
Sarah Cohen

Sarah Cohen: The same way that visualizations and graphics help readers cut through a lot of clutter and display dense information in an efficient way. The most common things that early visualizations help with are place and time — two of the most important elements in reporting a complex story. Those two things are really hard to see in text. They’re really, really hard to see in combination. So the graphics can show you where to go to find your subjects or where to go to find the most typical subjects. They can also show you when the story you are trying to find peaked. Put them together, and you can start finding the very best examples for your story.

That’s pretty general, so let me give you a couple of examples. During a story on disaster payments in the farm subsidy system, we wanted to make sure that we went to places that had received the payments year after year after year. Using a database, we could find farms that had received multiple payments pretty easily. But looking at repeated images of density maps that I made of the payments, it was really obvious where to go — specific areas of North Dakota and Kansas.

Crop payments
Sarah Cohen/Poynter illustration
Cohen used density maps to figure out what areas of the country had received disaster payments year after year.


In another example, we were working last year on a story on practices used by landlords to empty their buildings, partly in order to avoid strict laws on condo conversions (visualizations: research version, published version. We knew one neighborhood of the city was Ground Zero — an area called Columbia Heights, in Northwest D.C. But making an interactive map with a slider that showed the timing, we could see that it was moving into other areas of the city, especially in Southeast. We could also quickly see that the most affluent areas of the city had none of them.

Continue reading at Poynter . . .

Visualization: Geomap (Google)

Friday, June 19th, 2009

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[Editor's note: Google has made freely available the curious choropleth (colors by country) and graduated symbol (bubble) maps found in their Google Analytics tools as part of their charting - visualization kit. You set-up a HTML JavaScript object with the map parameters (country-value pairs or city-value pairs) and the colors and Google will make you an interactive Flash map (data brushing reveals country value on mouseOver) color coded via uninformative class breaks and terrible cartography linework (look at the US, Canada border) and a terrible world map projection (cylindrical with gross distortions in the higher latitudes). But it is free and fast and several regional base map are also available. There is certainly an oportunity for someone else to come up with a better API that uses the same function calls but draws better maps with meaningful data classes. Screenshot above is static, click on it to go to interactive version.]

Republished from Google Visualization.

Overview: A geomap is a map of a country, continent, or region map, with colors and values assigned to specific regions. Values are displayed as a color scale, and you can specify optional hovertext for regions. The map is rendered in the browser using an embedded Flash player. Note that the map is not scrollable or draggable, but can be configured to allow zooming.

We have two examples here: one that uses the regions display style, and another that uses the markers display style.

Regions Example

The regions style fills entire regions (typically countries) with colors corresponding to the values that you assign. Specify the regions style by assigning options['dataMode'] = ‘regions’ in your code.

Markers Example

The “markers” style displays a circle, sized and colored to indicate a value, over the regions that you specify. To use markers, you must include the following Google Maps API script with a key, unless you specify locations using latitude and longitude values.

Continue reading at Google . . .

Newsmap 2.0: Google News Treemap Visualization

Monday, May 11th, 2009

[Editor's note: A new version of the venerable NewsMap app, the Google News treemap visualization. Refreshed for it's 5 year birthday.]

Republished from Newsmap.jp.

Background: Newsmap is an application that visually reflects the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator. A treemap visualization algorithm helps display the enormous amount of information gathered by the aggregator. Treemaps are traditionally space-constrained visualizations of information. Newsmap’s objective takes that goal a step further and provides a tool to divide information into quickly recognizable bands which, when presented together, reveal underlying patterns in news reporting across cultures and within news segments in constant change around the globe.

Long time overdue, here comes newsmap 2.0

The new url is at http://newsmap.jp
Still working on a couple of bugs and really trying to push some features I still think as essential.

Before:

After:

New in 2.0 is:

  • rectangularized treemap layout: To accommodate text properly, cells are as rectangular as possible, this there’s more room for headlines without chopping them off in several lines.
  • search as you type: try the new search on the top right, see how newsmap updates.
  • deep linking: you can now deep link to any state of the app. just try updating your view, and notice how the url changes. You can grab and share that url with anyone.

More to come:

  • custom tabs: save your search query as a new tab
  • custom feeds: add your own RSS feeds to the map
  • stats: learn more about your news and how you consume them!

And much, much more!

Flickr Geotagged Photos as Cartogram Map

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

flickerdistribution

[Editor's note: As more cameras and users tag their photos on upload into the Flickr pool, we can visualize where users are contributing via the above cartogram and below as 3d globe map. The cartogram source isn't attributed, but I like how it breaks out high and medium contribution areas in blue and pink, and then shows largly unpopulated areas (but still popular to photograph in the Amazon's case) in green, and then ocean areas in grey. Or thats my take on it ;) Thanks Lynda!]

Republished from Flickr user Straup and RevDanCatt.

Play movie at original site, screenshot below.

flickrprocessing
So, here it is, 24 hours worth of geotagged photos (64,410) from last Monday, March 23rd. Our numbers say that around 30% are normally private, giving us a total of around 92,000 geotagged photos for that day, which is just over 1 photo geotagged per second.

All the data was pulled down (using Processing, of all things) via the API, and probably took around 12 minutes (when it’s behaving itself) as I was being a) gentle with the servers b) was getting it as JSON which takes a while for Processing to parse each page (more information here: blog.blprnt.com/blog/blprnt/processing-json-the-new-york-…. And then written to a flat file.

Continue reading and view video at Flickr . . .

Jump Starting the Global Economy (Wash Post)

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

globaleconver_040209

[Editor's note: Find the trends, group them together, and use that hierarchy (topology) as an access metaphor. And remember geography doesn't always need to mean map.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
Original publication date: March 29th, 2009.
By Karen Yourish And Todd Lindeman — The Washington Post.

The total amount of the stimulus packages approved by the G-20 countries amounts to $1.6 trillion. More than half of that comes from the United States.

Other maps and graphics that use grouping: