San Francisco crime mapped as elevation
Jun 9th, 2010 by Tom Johnson

Once again, FlowingData points us to an example for first-rate mapping.

San Francisco crime mapped as elevation

By Nathan Yau – Jun 7, 2010 – MappingPost on Twitter

Doug McCune maps San Francisco crime in 2009 as if it were elevation. Peaks and valleys emerge with the rolling terrains of crime. The above is the map for prostitution:

My favorite map is the one for prostitution (maybe “favorite” is the wrong choice of words there). Nearly all the arrests for prostitution in San Francisco occur along what I’m calling the “Mission Mountain Ridge”, which runs up Mission St between 24th and 16th. I love the way the mountain range casts a shadow over much of the city. There’s also a second peak in the Tenderloin (which I’m dubbing Mt. Loin).

I love how realistic the 3-dimensional models look. They could almost pass for clay figures. Doug notes that the series of maps are more an art piece than they are information visualization, but these would be a great complement to your standard choropleth.

GIS and Twitter mash-up
May 28th, 2010 by Tom Johnson

 From GISUser at

Social Media and Geo-Services – A Fabulous ArcGIS Explorer, Twitter mashup

Modeling real-time situations… This video goes back a few months to the Haiti disaster response, however, its a great example and reminder of how geo technology (ArcGIS Explorer in this case) and social media (Twitter) can be combined to result in a very useful application. Enter the video showing Real-time modeling of the disaster situation in Haiti. Viewing Twitter updates on the map in real-time really puts the situation in context and provides the responders with much needed situational awareness. No doubt these forms of Geo services and mashups will be useful in the near future with the Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill response and cleanup efforts.

Trafficing in Maps
Apr 15th, 2010 by analyticjournalism

Nathan at posts a nice collection of traffic mapping examples.

Explorations of real-world traffic

Posted by Nathan on Apr 15, 2010 to Mapping / 8 comments

Explorations of real-world traffic

Traffic visualizations, mostly in the form of geographic maps, have been popular lately. Governments and organizations have been releasing lots of GPS data, and as a result, we get to see some impressive animations and explore some slick interactives.

We don't often get to see how cars, trains, subways, airplanes, etc move in physical space, because, well, we're usually in them, so it's always interesting to see the big picture. The activity feels very organic as traffic peaks during rush hours and slows down during the night, taxis provide service to and from the airport, and air traffic continues into the late hours. The maps pulsate with energy.

Let's take a look at some of these great traffic visualizations, some new and some old.

Traffic in Lisbon

Pedro Cruz's maps showing traffic in Lisbon (above) are the most recent on the list. They're another take on the ghostly trails aesthetic. Areas turn bright when there's more activity. Watch the animations play out over time.

NYC MTA Ridership

Sha Hwang, now a part of Stamen Design, spun off of the fruminator's subway sparklines with a Modest Maps rendition of NYC MTA Ridership. Tracks get thicker with amount of estimated riders. Obviously, there's some interpolation going on.

Tracking Taxi Flow

We saw this one by The New York Times fairly recently, made possible by a collaboration between Sense Networks and New York City’s Taxi & Limousine Commission.

UK Traffic Flow

With the launch of came a bunch of visualizations and applications. Ito World put together several maps that show car, bus, bicycle, and motorcycle traffic.

San Francisco Buses and Trains

Taco Lab had some fun with public transit data. The animation looks a lot like ants scurrying around in the dark.

Cascade on Wheels

Cascade on Wheels by Steph Thirion and team was an effort during the Visualizar workshop to show traffic in Madrid's city center. In a bit of a different approach that we've seen, traffic was represented with rising “walls.”

AirTraffic Worldwide

AirTraffic Worldwide by Zhaw shows just that. Each yellow dot represents an airplane, and air traffic dies down as the cloud of darkness called night passes over the region.

Britain from Above

Britain from Above by 422 South was created for a special segment on BBC. The series of videos revealed the ebb and flow of land and air traffic using GPS data.


Of course we can't talk about traffic visualization and maps without mentioning Stamen Design's Cabspotting. Launched way back in 2006, previous cab trails are drawn in the background, with current cabs driving around the city.

Flight Patterns

Finally, we can't forget Aaron Koblin's Flight Patterns, which (obviously) shows a day of flights in the United States according to an FAA dataset. It won a first place prize in the 2006 NSF visualization challenge.

See, I told you there was a lot of great stuff. Did I miss anything obvious? Leave a link in the comments below.



Great — and helpful — interaction between data and newspapers
Apr 5th, 2010 by analyticjournalism

 We have long been critical of newspapers' failure to marry data with real-time readers' interests.  Interests like finding a cab in New York City.  It's great to see the gang from the NYTimes doing some innovative mapping to truly present added-value to their product.

Tracking Taxi Flow Across the City

Information from millions of taxi trips provides a telling record of the city's vital signs. The map shows the average number of pickups for different times of the day and days of week, Jan. – March, 2009. comment icon Comments (41) | Related Article »


Open Source Maps Are Helping the World Bank Save Lives in Haiti
Feb 20th, 2010 by analyticjournalism

From FastCompany:

Open Source Maps Are Helping the World Bank Save Lives in Haiti BY ANYA KAMENETZFri Feb 19, 2010


An aid worker from the European Commission holds a PDF printout from OpenStreetMaps.

The humanitarian relief effort underway in Haiti is proving the true potential of open source map building. Don't take my word for it, follow the Tweets and blogs of my friend Schuyler Erle. He's on the ground in Port-au-Prince along with Tom Buckley, a developer of mapmaking program GeoCommons Maker. The pair are advising the World Bank on the use of crowd-sourced mapping, primarily through the open-source programOpenStreetMap, in the relief and recovery effort in Haiti. They are also dealing with rain, illness, PowerBar meals, World Bank contacts snowbound back in DC, and bureaucratic alphabet soup.

“Since mid-January, we've seen a whole set of interlocking technical communities swung into gear to piece together geographic information to help relief efforts after the earthquake in Haiti: OpenStreetMap, Ushahidi, CrisisMappers, and so on,” Erle writes. He's an open-source smart maps ninja–cofounder of OpenLayers, author of the books Mapping Hacksand Google Maps Hacks, and creator of a program that allowed for historians to make crowdsourced improvements to the New York Public Library's digital maps archive.

“The most amazing thing to me about this global response to the disaster is the degree to which volunteers have been able to make a significant impact on the relief situation while sitting at their own desks, thousands of miles away. OpenStreetMap, particularly, has been a model of distributed collaboration, with basically no one calling the shots, while a thousand people painstakingly build a map database of Haiti drawn from aerial and satellite imagery that's so detailed that the Ushahidi volunteers have to ask for a simpler version.”

Erle says the humanitarian applications of Geographic Information Systems may truly comes of age as a result of this disaster. “OpenStreetMap really *has* become the gold standard for base map data in the relief and recovery effort in Haiti.”


Photos by Schuyler Erle via Twitpic


New book: "GIS for Public Safety"
Feb 16th, 2010 by analyticjournalism

This looks to be a good book on backgrounding how police use — or do not use — GIS so a reporter can ask informed questions. Oh, did I mention that it's free?

“From the BACK COVER

This book, GIS for Public Safety, focuses on ESRI’s ArcGIS functionality (the most popular GIS software, worldwide) and presents many of the tools and techniques that are commonly used by public safety researchers, analysts, and practitioners. It gives simple steps for descriptive, exploratory, and explanatory mapping tasks and includes concise but meaningful discussions to let you critically assess and accurately apply the software to your own unique specialty. This provides a solid foundation for advanced spatial thinking and permits you to utilize GIS technology in your own innovative ways. Its comprehensive content makes it the perfect coursebook or reference manual for students, researchers, crime analysts, and other GIS users at all skill levels. To use a construction metaphor, this book is intended to teach a carpenter what tools are in his toolbox and how to use them. This instills confidence in his ability to apply these tools to any job when needed. Other books teach the carpenter specifically how to build a house. However, skills needed to build a house might fail the carpenter when he needs to build furniture instead. GIS for Public Safety focuses on a complete working knowledge of the toolbox to let the carpenter accurately apply the tools to his or her own unique specialty.”

Cartography 2.0
Dec 11th, 2009 by analyticjournalism

From Internet Scout </a>:

Cartography 2.0

“Professor Mark Harrower at the University of Wisconsin Madison's Department of Geography was frustrated with the “inability of traditional textbooks to keep pace with Web technologies.” So he and his colleagues set out to create Cartography 2.0, which is a “free knowledge base and e-textbook for students and professionals interested in interactive and animated maps.” First-time visitors might want to look over the “Purpose” section before diving into the separate “Chapters” of the book. All of the chapters can be found on the homepage, and they cover topics such as map animation, virtual globes, elements of design, and map interaction techniques. Each chapter contains descriptive essays, along with maps and diagrams that illustrate key principles. The “New Content” section on the homepage features the latest additions to the site, and overall this work is a model for educators who might be interested in crafting an engaging and dynamic online textbook.”


Suicides by Location on the Golden Gate Bridge
Jul 28th, 2009 by analyticjournalism

For those of us familiar with San Franciso, its bay and its famous bridge, The Golden Gate, this is a compelling infographic. Fundamental in its data and a fine mix of data and representation of geography. Once again, thanks to Nathan at Flowing Data.


Suicides by Location on the Golden Gate Bridge

Posted by Nathan / Jul 28, 2009 to Infographics / 3 comments

Suicides by Location on the Golden Gate Bridge

This graphic from SF Gate is a good four years old, well before I knew what an infographic was, but just because it's old doesn't mean it's not interesting. Here we see San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and the “sad tally” of 1,218 known suicides by location. Each black square represents a person who has taken his or her life and 128 light poles are used as reference points.

The east side of the bridge, where most of the suicides occurred, has a pedestrian walkway. The first suicide was just 10 weeks after the bridge opened in 1937.

A nice piece of coding here — Google Maps to Heat Maps
Jul 27th, 2009 by analyticjournalism

gheat is, as its promo line says, a nifty tool to turn a Google pin map into a heat map.  (Or should we be calling that a “Heat” map?)

Here's what the page looks like, but drill down into the examples.  I especially like the map of Davis, Calif. bike accidents.



Google Maps gives you API for adding additional map layers. This software implements a map tile server for a heatmap layer.


Please tell me ( if you'd like a link here.

The Anglican Church in North America is using gheat on their homepage to show their parishes.

VisTrac is using gheat to visualize clicks on web pages.

Russell Neches is using gheat to visualize auto and bike accidents in Davis, CA. The data is parsed from about 10,000 raw police reports.

The Australian Honeynet Project is using gheat to visualize the origin of spam that gets caught in their SensorNET honeypots.

The Conficker Working Group is using gheat to track the spread of the Conficker worm.

This is an animated heatmap of the conficker botnet as found in Australia (one frame a day, unique IPs per frame, with data from the end of January through June, 2009). This was produced using a heavily modified gheat. Here's a Flash example.


Cool site for finding geodata
Jul 24th, 2009 by analyticjournalism

Thanks to Michael Corey over on NICAR-L

Random find today for the geographically inclined:
Library of spatial data, and the ability to convert it all to and from
Shapefile, KML and CSV.

They also produce, a quick way to build
visually appealing maps with all that data. Haven't experimented with it
much yet to know the limitations/features

Sidenote: Anyone using QGIS? How intimidating is installing all the
necessary frameworks if you don't already have them?


Michael Corey
Digital Projects Editor

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