A weblog for members of the Canadian Cartographic Association and other individuals interested in all things cartographic

Cartograms Again

Mark Newman, of the University of Michigan’s Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, has put together a series of cartograms of the world accompanied by a simple explanation of how they work. The maps are clear and simple and cover such themes as population, gross domestric product, energy consumption and child mortality. The maps are based on data provided by the United Nations or the World Health Organization.

More cartograms are available at Worldmapper and cover additional topics as aircraft flights and tourist destinations. Currently there are about 40 such maps. Maps are available in png format or as a pdf poster that comes with some descriptive text. There are also Excel spreadsheets containing the relevant data for each map.

The cartograms are based on a variant of the algorithm produced by Newman and Michael Gastner. There are also links to other pages that provide the algorithm in a format useable in ESRI’s ArcMap (another version is available here). If you don’t have access to ESRI products or if trying to run code is too much for you, you can also use this Java-based program that takes any appropriate shapefile and distorts it into a cartogram.

See also previous cartogram-related entries: Mapping Election Results and World Pouplation presented in a New Map.

By way of the Institute for Analytic Journalism.


Ask.com Maps and Directions

It used to be that you could ask Jeeves, the butler, a question and he would provide an answer. Jeeves, apparently, has lost his job and now all you have to do is ask. Ask.com offers, among other things, maps and directions, similar to other internet mapping sites. Navigation about the maps will be familiar to Google Local users: drag to pan with a zoom tool in the top left corner. Also familiar is the ability to toggle between a map view, a satellite / air photo view and a hybrid of the two.

Currently maps and aerial images frequently appear with tiles missing. Distances for directions are given in miles but users have an option of selecting between driving and walking directions. The maps appear simple and clean and include such data layers as major buildings and landmarks, parks and water features. The latter, however, is not very detailed and sometimes shows only a line where a lake should appear.

One (cartographic) advantage Ask.com has over Google Local is that smaller scale satellite images appear seamless, employing only Landsat imagery, instead of the patchwork of imagery that appears in Google’s maps.

In short: Looks good but is currently slow and unreliable in terms of displaying complete maps and images.


Nuclear Map of Iran

In Cotiniere’s comments on the last post on Nuclear Maps a link to LastingNew’s Google Local map of Iranian nuclear facilities is provided. There are, of course, a number of maps of Iranian nuclear facilities. Another blog, by the Intelligence Summit, posted one this past week. The Center for Non-Proliferation Studies has something similar but also provides satellite images of some of the facilities (see the sidebar on the right). GlobalSecurity.org, who are particularly fond of dredging up satellite images of anything concerning military matters, also has a number of satellite images and snippets of topographic maps of the Bushehr nuclear facility on the Persian Gulf coast.

The problem with any of these maps is that there is no meta-data attached to them. In many cases with these and other maps there is no way of telling what data sources were used for creating the map and how reliable these data sources are.


Nuclear Maps

Nuclear has always been a controversial energy source, not only because of the potential for parallel nuclear weapons development but also because of the difficulties in dealing with nuclear waste. This is reflected in the maps relating to nuclear weapons and nuclear energy - often related in the eyes of opponents to nuclear - that are available on the web.

Nuclear Berkeley - Nuclear World
presents a series of “interactive” maps, interactive here meaning that clicking on one of the options below an image map simply leads to another image. The focus here is on the world and the nuclear weapons and energy production by country. The maps are unspectacular but readable.

The Nuclear Map of Canada also combines nuclear energy and weaponry into one topic but does so in a stylish manner. The focus is, of course, Canada and the style is reminiscent of 1950s “technology will save the world”: black and white with cute graphics and circular blow ups. Clicking on the map will enlarge sections of it to a readable scale. The same map appears at a slightly different url but provides for smaller sections of the map at a larger scale.

The International Nuclear Safety Center and Invensys Nuclear both focus primarily on nuclear nergy production and, not surprisingly, put a positive spin on it. The INSC provides a number of maps with hotlinks to details on the reactors at that location. The data, however, looks to be about 8 years old. Invensys does not post maps and data on the webiste but does have a 35 MB exe file that runs on its own (free registration required) and has much of the same information as the INSC site, except with the addition of diagrams, photos and more detail. The data is mapped on the surface of a rotatable and zoomable globe.

For those looking for a more negative view of nuclear, visit PBS’ American Experience site. A simple world map indicates nuclear bomb blasts around the world in their approximate locations with almost cheesy mushroom cloud symbols. Greenpeace has a rather tacky titled “Zoom to Doom” zoomable Flash map that is somewhat disappointing. And finally, on a website promoting the book Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe is your opportunity to blast away and see what kind of damage can be inflicted on the zip code of your choice with a 10 kiloton explosion (IE6 only).


China, the world’s largest country in terms of population and 3rd largest in terms of area, has completed a 1:50,000 topographic database for the entire country. Data layers include transportation features, topography, hydrology, boundaries and land use. Remote sensing images covering large and medium-sized images, provide resolution to 1 metre. Apparently, the State Bureau for Surveying and Mapping “will try its best to make the database available to all while taking security into consideration.” No word yet on accessing this information over the Internet.

Read the People’s Daily Online story


Social Explorer

Social Explorer is a Flash mapping tool that explores U. S. census data from 1990 and 2000. The interactive map is clear, attractive and well laid out but what makes this interactive map unique is the ability to take snapshots of the user-created maps, then have them played back in a slideshow. Though this might be of limited use when looking at just one year’s census data, it is illuminating when looking at changes over the past century (see the links under Time Series Maps).


Desktop Earth

As a cartographer / cartophile you need something on your computer desktop that screams “Maps!” Technically, Desktop Earth isn’t it since it is a compilation of remote sensing images but this will be the closest you come. Download a wallpaper generator that will display an image of the earth on your desktop according to the time of day and year. The download file is a hefty 34 MB and expands to 110 MB once installed. This only runs on Windows so Linux and Mac users will have to content themselves with an image generated from a web-interface.

By way of La Cartoteca and Very Spatial.


Ontario Historical Maps

Ontario is the most populous province of Canada and has been in existence in one form or another since 1791 when it was created and called Upper Canada. The Archives of Ontario has an online exhibit entitled “The Changing Shape of Ontario: A Guide to Boundaries, Names and Regional Governments.” The exhibit focuses on the evolution of the province’s boundaries and administrative regions as it is depicted through maps. Most of the maps are in jpeg format and are large enough to be easily legible. The collection of county maps from the early 1950s is particularly thorough.


Paper Maps or GPS Navigation?

Well, it looks like in-car GPS navigation systems aren’t the best thing since sliced bread after all. Apparently “19 percent of drivers who used their GPS lost concentration while driving, compared to 17 percent of map readers” (although, as one reader pointed out, statistically speaking a difference of 2% is negligible). More interesting is how one driver, relying on the directions provided by his in-car navigation system ended up with a flat tire in the middle of the desert. This was not, as the company - Mercedes - maintains, a result of a problem with the GPS system. However, Mercedes goes on to say that “that a GPS system is not meant to replace regular maps, or driver judgment, but is simply an enhancement to travel available to vehicle operators, which they may elect to use or not.”

Still, for the gadget obessed, the GPS navigation system has clear advantages over the paper map.


Newsweek has a story on the success of road data collectors Navteq and TeleAtlas, similar to an earlier San Fransisco Chronicle one. One of the Navteq data collectors is quoted as saying “Our goal is to get as close as possible to capturing real life.” Life is a highway, I suppose.


Bio Maps

Bio Maps is another step of taking the world as people see it and experience it and placing those thoughts and feelings on to a map. The bio-mapping tool allows the user to record their emotional arousal by way of measuring their galvanic skin response in tandem with tracking their location. What results is a very personalized emotional map of a geographic setting.

If you are hoping for a tidy map using hypsometric tints to indicate emotional response, think again. This is a very subjective marking up of the neighbourhood (e.g. “The Dreaded Crossing,” “I want ot go window shopping,” or “Didn’t realize the hosptial was so big.”) supplemented with hotlinks to photographs. A fine example of this off the cuff, community type mapping is the Greenwich Emotion Map. The site provides a kmz viewable in Google Earth.

By way of jeepx.


Counterfeit Mapping in Shanghai

Maps have been selling so well in Shanghai that counterfeiters have been producing illegal copies. Legitimate maps were scanned, printed and packaged - along with a fake anti-forgery sticker - then sold for about half the price of the legitimate maps. “‘Compared with genuine ones, those counterfeits are of inferior quality and full of printing mistakes,’ said Zhao Jing of the local Cultural Protection department.”

Read the full story on the Shanghai Daily website.


UK Emissions Maps

One of the challenges in reducing emissions and air pollutants is that individuals have a hard time seeing how their own behaviour is affecting the environment. The UK’s National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory takes a step in the direction of focusing the responsibility for emissions to a more local level. The NAEI offers a number of different maps of the UK showing emission sources for various chemicals as well as providing rather large Excel files that pinpoint the sources even further. Emissions levels can also be searched by postal code. Data is mostly from 2003.

In a related news story, the News Telegraph talks about a UK carbon map developed by the NAEI and the Carbon Trust. The map(s) reflect emission levels per square kilometre which can be deceiving as emission levels probably correlate to population density to an extent.


Magnetic North Pole Emigrating?

At a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, Joseph Stoner of Oregon State University suggested that the magnetic north pole could drift out of Canada and into Siberia within the next century. “This may be part of a normal oscillation and it will eventually migrate back toward Canada,” suggests Stoner but the magnetic poles do move around and, on rare occasions, swap places (apparently 25 times in the last 5 million years). Gone are the days of relying on compasses for direction so the impact on navigation may not be so big. Nevertheless, it might be necessary to correct the declination on all those topographic maps more often than one might suppose.

By way of jeepx


Bird's Eye View Maps

Bird’s eye view or panoramic maps were popular in the 19th century in Canada and the United States. The maps or images were usually of a town or city and drawn at low oblique angles. “Most panoramic maps were published independently, not as plates in an atlas or in a descriptive geographical book. Preparation and sale of nineteenth-century panoramas were motivated by civic pride and the desire of the city fathers to encourage commercial growth. Many views were prepared for and endorsed by chambers of commerce and other civic organizations and were used as advertisements of a city's commercial and residential potential.”

The U.S. Library of Congress’ American Memory collection has a number of these panoramic images available for viewing online, most of cities and town in the United States but also some from Canada. The Amon Carter Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, also has 4 of these available online as part of an exhibit that runs from today until 28 May 2006. Each of these 4 panoramic maps is discussed in detail and compared to photographs of the community of the time when the images were created.


Prix Carto-Québec / Carto-Québec Prize

L’ACC a le plaisir d’annoncer l’inauguration du Prix Carto-Québec. Ce concours annuel, ouvert aux étudiants postsecondaire à travers le Canada, sera décerné pour le meilleur produit cartographique créé en français. Ce prix a été établi grâce à un don de l’ancienne Association Carto-Québec pour promouvoir et reconnaître l’excellence dans la conception des cartes. Le Prix Carto-Québec comprendra deux prix de 500$, l’un pour les soumissions de niveau collégial et l’autre pour le niveau du premier cycle universitaire.

Critères d’inscription :

Les projets cartographiques comprendront une carte ou une série de cartes formant un ensemble cohérent et pourront être soumis en version imprimée ou autre. Les soumissions électroniques, qu’elles comportent des applications SIG ou de l’Internet, ne doivent pas nécessiter de logiciel spécialisé pour les visualiser. Il n’y a aucune restriction concernant la taille ou le sujet de la carte, mais le projet doit avoir été fait au cours de l’année scolaire précédant le concours. Le projet doit être produit en français.

Les soumissions seront jugées selon la créativité et la façon dont le message est présenté, ainsi que l’excellence de la préparation, la conception et la présentation du projet.

Le Président de l’ACC invite tous les étudiants canadiens de niveau postsecondaire à soumettre leur projet cartographique. Toutes les soumissions doivent être accompagnées d’un formulaire officiel de participation, disponible sur le site Web de l’ACC, et faire parvenir le tout, au plus tard le 9 juin 2006, à l’adresse suivante :

Prix Carto-Québec
a/s Diane Lacasse
GeoAccess Division
Natural Resources Canada
615, Booth St. room 650
Ottawa, ON, CANADA
K1A 0E9

The CCA is pleased to announce the second offering of the Carto-Québec Prize, a special annual competition for the best student-authored cartographic product created in French. The award has been established through a gift from the former Association Carto-Québec to promote and recognize excellence in map design. The competition is open to all post-secondary students in Canada who have completed and produced a cartographic project in the preceding school year. The Carto-Québec Prize will consist of two awards of $500, one for entries from college-level or CEGEP students, and one for entries from university-level undergraduate students.

Entry Guidelines:

Cartographic projects will consist of a map or a map series forming a coherent whole and may be submitted in any finished form (on paper or other medium). Entries submitted in electronic media, whether GIS or internet mapping applications, should not require specialized software for viewing. There are no restrictions on the size of the map project or subject but the project must have been completed and produced during the school year preceding the competition. All documents must be in French.

Entries will be judged on the basis of creativity and overall effectiveness in communication as well as excellence in compilation, design, and layout.

Entries for 2006 are invited from all Canadian post-secondary students. They should be accompanied by an official entry form, found on the website of the CCA, and be submitted no later than June 9, 2006 to:

Carto-Québec Prize
c/o Diane Lacasse
GeoAccess Division
Natural Resources Canada
615, Booth St. room 650
Ottawa, ON, CANADA
K1A 0E9


The CCA President’s Prize recognizes excellence in student map design and production and is open to all post-secondary students who have completed and produced a cartographic project in the preceding school year. The 2006 President’s Prize Competition will consist of six prizes of $100, three for entries from college-level or CEGEP students, and three for entries from university-level undergraduate students in the following categories:
  1. Canadian Issues: communicating environmental, social, health, or political issues or relationships among these themes in a Canadian context.
  2. Visualization Project: geovisualization in an electronic medium with individual interface design and interactivity.
  3. À la Carte: a printed map or map series not appropriate in the Canadian Issues category. It may be, for example, a reference map, a travel or special-purpose wayfinding map, or a descriptive depiction of an area of special interest
Entry Guidelines:

Cartographic projects will consist of a map or a map series forming a coherent whole. Entries submitted in an electronic medium for the Visualization Project should not require specialized software for viewing. There are no restrictions on size but the project must have been completed and produced during the school year preceding the competition.

Entries will be judged on the basis of creativity and overall effectiveness in communication as well as excellence in compilation, design, and layout.

Entries for 2006 are invited from all Canadian post-secondary students. All entries should be accompanied by an official entry form (pdf) found on the website of the CCA, and be submitted no later than June 9, 2006 to the following address:

CCA Student Awards
c/o Diane Lacasse
GeoAccess Division
Natural Resources Canada
615, Booth St. room 650
Ottawa, ON, CANADA
K1A 0E9

Le Prix du Président de l’ACC reconnaît l’excellence dans la conception et production cartographiques par des étudiants. Tous les étudiants du niveau postsecondaire qui ont terminé et produit un projet cartographique au cours de l’année scolaire précédente sont admissibles. Le concours pour le Prix du Président décernera six prix de 100$, trois pour les soumissions de niveau collégial et trois pour celles d’étudiants du premier cycle, dans les catégories suivantes :

  1. Questions canadiennes : la communication relative aux questions environnementales, sociales, de la santé, de la politique, ou aux rapports entre ces thèmes dans un contexte canadien.
  2. Projet de visualisation : la visualisation électronique avec conception d’interface individuelle et interactivité.
  3. À la carte : une carte ou série de cartes imprimées ne faisant pas partie de la catégorie ‘Questions canadiennes’. Il peut s’agir, par exemple, d’une carte de référence, d’une carte d’orientation spécialisée ou de voyage, ou la représentation descriptive d’un aspect particulier.
Critères d’inscription :

Les projets cartographiques comprendront une carte ou une série de cartes constituant un ensemble cohérent. Les soumissions électroniques dans la catégorie ‘Projet de visualisation’ ne devraient pas nécessiter de logiciel spécialisé aux fins de visionnement. Il n’y a pas de restrictions quant à la taille de la carte mais il faut que le projet ait été terminé et produit au cours de l’année scolaire précédant le concours.

Les soumissions seront jugées selon la créativité et la façon dont le message est présenté ainsi que l’excellence de la préparation, la conception et la présentation du projet.

Le Président de l’ACC invite tous les étudiants canadiens de niveau postsecondaire à soumettre leur projet cartographique. Toutes les soumissions doivent être accompagnées d’un formulaire officiel de participation, disponible sur le site Web de l’ACC, et faire parvenir le tout, au plus tard le 9 juin 2006, à l’adresse suivante :

Prix du Président de l’ACC
a/s Diane Lacasse
GeoAccess Division
Natural Resources Canada
615, Booth St. room 650
Ottawa, ON, CANADA
K1A 0E9


The Democratization of Cartography

Schulyer over at Mapping Hacks provided a talk at a Norwegian conference entitled “The Democratization of Cartography.” The slides from the presentation are posted online. Though the speaking notes are absent, one can still infer from the slides what the talk was about. The trend of cartography - or, shall we say, map-making - away from being a slow and specialized process to one that almost anyone can engage in is nothing new (something, I’d like to say, I indicated in my talk at the Canadian Cartographic Association’s annual conference in 2004).

Coming from a European perspective, Schulyer suggests that geo-spatial data should be viewed as other physical infrastructure is: necessary, expensive and something the marketplace might not be able to completely provide. Instead, like roads and streets, the majority of geospatial data should be provided free to all. Only the really good stuff would cost - similar to accessing toll roads. It’s an interesting concept and one worth exploring.


Mapping While You Sleep

The BBC is looking to use thousands of computers to map climate changes. People can volunteer the use of their computers when they are not using them to run a particular climate change model. Volunteers have the option of displaying a climate change model globe as a screensaver. The BBC is looking to put about 10,000 computers to work on this experiment - currently they seem to be about half way there - and will publish the results in the summer of 2006 on BBC4.

Thanks Jan


UK Love Map

In honour of Valentine’s Day, I suppose, the BBC will be hosting a show entitled “UK Love Map” to be shown on Wednesday the 15th. A look at UK census data reveals some mildly interesting facts about the UK (e.g. Manchester has the highest proportion of singles in the country) but the title is misleading. The topic may be love but the maps are few and far between. The actual program site offers one “interactive” map - clicking on an area of the country brings up a textual description of romantic life for that area. Perhaps the television program will be more cartographically rewarding.


ArcWeb Explorer

ESRI has come out with a beta version of what it called ArcWeb Explorer. There’s no mention of it anywhere on its website but DirectionsMag has a review of it. At present it seems to be a standard web mapping site that allows users to pan, zoom and find locations. Panning and zooming now appears a little awkward compared to something like Google Local. The site allows the user to find a number of locations at once using an Excel xls file but the geocoder doesn’t seem to work for Canada yet. The maps seem to use a geographic projection. Map styles can be changed - although the choice is limited. This being a beta version, let’s hope that more is coming.


Google Earth Graffiti

A few weeks ago a number of bloggers pointed out that some Target stores in the U. S. wised up and painted their store symbols on their roofs so that they would be clearly visible in Google Earth. Now The Register points out that others have taken to making their mark on Google Earth by writing their names or - so creatively - expressing profanities in 40 m letters. These can also be viewed in Google Local. I guess cartographers will have to put this on the map now.

Thanks Ted.


What's Up?

What’s Up is another (almost) real-time news feed that uses a map interface to display news events and stories from around the world. Green dots turn yellow when a story is released and story bubbles appear providing headlines of selected stories, all taken from RSS news feeds. The offering is not quite real-time due to technical issues but plans are afoot to make a version that sits on a computer desktop. Similar to Buzztracker, Vanishing Point and Global Attention Profiles. A clean and simple interface.

By way of information aesthetics


Hypermedia Berlin

Vectors has a number of projects viewable online, the most interesting from a mapping perspective being Hypermedia Berlin. The user can select from a number of historical and urban development maps of Berlin to zoom and pan around the city. As well, a number of geographic locations are hotlinked to pop-up windows that provide images and historical information on the feature of interest. Unfortunately, the project takes a long time to load and seems a little sluggish when switching maps.

By way of Great Map.


Turin Olympics Maps

The selection of maps for the Turin Olympics is pretty limited. Either the Olympic Organizing Committee has managed to keep a tight lid on the unofficial maps or I just haven’t seen them yet. In any case, as one might expect, the Turin Olympic website has a number of maps of the city and the Olympic venues. The maps are attractive (though a touch blocky-looking) and clear and are available in pdf format.

Update: Google Maps Mania has a number of links to less interesting but possible still useful Olympic - Google Maps mashups.

Update (14 February 2006): Radio-Canada has an interactive map of the Turin area, preceded by a short video clip. Click on location to see a short video on the site. En français. By way of CMRES.


Humourous Thematic Maps of Canada

Geist, a Canadian magazine of ideas and culture, has been running a feature entitled Caught Mapping for quite some time. Until recently I hadn’t realized that the feature was also available online. Caught Mapping takes a map of Canada and labels locations related to odd-ball themes such as hockey, doughnuts, beer, philosophers and even menstruation. Some of the maps focus on a uniquely Canadian theme (e.g. the Stan Rogers map, the CBC map). all the maps are available in pdf format.

There are also links on the site to a couple of radio interviews with Melissa Edwards, the creator of the maps, that are worth a listen to. In the CBC interview (wma file) in particular, she speaks of the process she goes through when she creates the maps.

Canadian Geographic, another Canadian magazine, has done similar maps on similar themes but only the latest - one on the theme of music - seems to be available online.

By way of CartoTalk.


New Zealand Elevation Data

Geographx, a New Zealand mapping company, has a number of free downloads available on its site, including hillshaded relief maps, digital elevation models and flyby videos of various New Zealand mountains. All data is for New Zealand only and comes in 100 to 500 metre resolutions. (SRTM might have higher resolution digital elevation models available.) Geographx has also worked on the newly released The Geographic Atlas of New Zealand. The atlas has 264 pages of maps and sells for $79.99 NZD (or about $62.50 CAD or $54.26 USD).

By way of CartoTalk


Real Estate Mapping

A new company called Zillow.com is set to open the doors to its site and its collection of property assessment data today. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “With an assessment known as a Zestimate, Zillow.com takes into consideration historical property information, square footage, number of bedrooms, neighboring homes and other factors to determine estimated values of 42 million of the 85 million residences in the United States. It then overlays that information on aerial and satellite maps, so home shoppers from Miami to Seattle can get a better idea of the market value of homes in those cities.” The site, apparently, is similar to the already existing New York City-based PropertyShark, mentioned in an earlier post, but covers the entire United States. No word on the exact release time but expect the site to see heavy traffic for the first days at least.

Update (9 February 2006): Getting up at 6 AM EST helps when you need to check a busy site. The Zillow site is up and running and allows users to find the value of a house at an address or street block. It also allows you to find comparably valued houses in the same neighbourhood. Clicking on a house icon provides you with the specifics on the house. The site seems to run on Javascript and employs a version of technology developed by GlobeXplorer. Very nice site with a clean interface that’s simple to use. The map itself is either can be a street map, a satellite image or a combination of both.


Odds and Ends

Some notes on items that probably don’t warrant their own blog entry but are still worth noting:

The Bostonist compares Microsoft’s Live Local with Google Earth and finds that LiveLocal comes out on top, at least from a Boston perspective with regards to the oblique imagery available in both geographic viewers. It seems to help to have images of the Boston Red Sox playing in Fenway Park (no indication if they were winning).

South Korea is creating its own national atlas by the end of 2007. A short article on the project seems to indicate that having a national atlas is indicative of reaching the club of developed nations.


Mapping the Media in the Americas

A partnership between the Carter Center, the University of Calgary and the Canadian Foundation for the Americas has produced an interactive web mapping tool designed to map and display media locations and ownership and electoral reform. The site focuses specifically on 12 countries in the westenr hemisphere and displays socio-economic data as well voting patterns and media locations (e.g. radio antennaes, newspaper offices, etc.). The site still seems to be in its infancy as the interactive mapping tool seems to work only for Canada. The maps themselves are reminscent of CAD drawings and could benefit from a better cartographic design. (Currently it seems a little difficult to access, probably because of traffic.)

Read the press release on GISUser.com.


BC Early Childhood Development Mapping Portal

British Columbia has an Early Childhood Development Mapping Portal that provides numerous maps of the province showing various socio-economic and childhood development factors. Maps are available by communities or school districts in pdf format. Users can also create their own maps either online with ESRI’s ArcIMS or offline using ArcReader 9.1, a standalone application.

The ECD Mapping Portal has also produced the BC Atlas of Childhood Development, available for download in pdf format (33 MB). The atlas seems to follow a format used in the previously mentioned British Columbia RX Atlas, also available in pdf format. Read the recent Globe and Mail article on the atlas.

By way of the Map Room.


With the current push towards integrated surveys, issues concerning Datums and Reference Frames come to the forefront as never before. NAD27, NAD83, NAD83(CSRS), ITRF, WGS84, local datums, CGVD28 published elevation vs GPS/Geoid models. Confusing enough? This talk aims at setting the story straight on horizontal and vertical datums. It will also present some little-known but serious shortcomings in today's GPS equipment, techniques and standards and the resulting practical implications for GPS users.

Date: Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Time: Cash bar: 19:00 hrs, Meeting: 20:00 hrs
Location: Control Tower, Airforce Mess 158 Gloucester Street, Ottawa, Canada

David Broscoe, Algonquin College 727-4723, x 3350
Paul Mrstik, Terrapoint Canada 820-5131 x 222
Dave Boal 731-4301
Costas Armenakis, Geomatics Canada 992-4487
John Donner, Geomatics Canada 995-7673
Roger Shreenan, Terrapoint Canada 820-5131 x 242

Presented by the Canadian Institute of Geomatics, Ottawa Branch


Military Situation Maps

The Library of Congress: American Memory site has numerous historical documents, including old maps. Some military situation maps from the Second World War have been posted, most notably those from December 16, 1944 to January 18, 1945, the time period covering what is known as the Battle of the Bulge, These maps have been put together in a Flash presentation so that users can see the movements of the front line during that time.

By way of Plep.


Blogspot Issues

Everyone on Blogspot seems to have had a few issues over the weekend. This blog was temporarily unavailable on Friday and Saturday afternoons (EST) and will be again this evening around 10 PM EST.


Climate Analysis Indicator Tool

The World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank, has developed a Climate Analysis Indicator Tool (CAIT) that “provides a comprehensive and comparable database of greenhouse gas emissions data (including all major sources and sinks) and other climate-relevant indicators.” Free registration is required to access the data and maps. As well as providing data on greenhouse gas emissions in tabular and csv format, CAIT also provides socio-economic data, fossil fuel reserves, land mass, and heating needs based on climate. All tables also come accompanied with a zoomable world map. Data can also be displayed in the maps on a per captia basis.

By way of La Cartoteca.



ColorBlender is a free online tool that automatically creates a matching palette of 6 colours based on the values entered in for the first. Not as cartographically minded as ColorBrewer but still useful if you are looking to produce a consistent colour scheme. The nice feature about this site is that you can save your color scheme and return to it later or you can export the colours to a Photoshop Color Table or as a eps file for use in Illustrator (just load up the colours as a swatch file).

By way of TANTO


LIDAR to the Rescue

Wired has a story on the use of LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) in mapping damage to levees in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Completed in two days, the job would normally have taken months to complete using non-LIDAR technologies. Not only that but “scientists are taking LIDAR a step further -- they hope to forecast potential hurricane damage. ‘We can play the “what if” game,’ said Bob Morton, a coastal geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards. Scientists can now fly over coastlines in the days before hurricanes and compare their data with expected storm surges.”


The iconic London Underground map is perhaps one of the most recognizable map designs in the world. The Guardian has taken the basic design and layout and provided a tube map of a different sort: a map of 100 years of music. Each station is given a name of a band or musician and each underground line represents a different type of music. The result is a fun, familiar but unusual map of music. The map is available in pdf format; read about its creation in the accompanying Guardian article or the news story on the London Transport site.

This isn’t, of course, the first time an “alternative” Tube map was produced. There is a Dr. Who version of the map with the ubiquitous Tardis in its centre. Or Simon Patterson’s The Great Bear who takes the names of philosophers, scientists and other famous people and attaches them to stations (see a legible detail). Then there is the version that might have come into being if the Germans had won the war (reminiscent of Neu-York which was blogged about earlier).

By way of Going Underground’s Blog


Point and Click on the Real World

Cellphones have recently come equipped with maps and GPS capabilities. Now cellphones users in Japan can point their cellphone cameras at buildings in the real world and click on them to get information about what’s happening there. According to a press release, “With Mapion Local Search, users can walk down virtually any street in Japan and point at over 700,000 buildings, retailers, restaurants, banks, or historical sites to instantly retrieve information on what they are looking at, or find what they are looking for just by pointing their phone.” Visit the GeoVector site for a demo of the product.

Another indication of the way things are moving: the real world becomes a virtual world.

By way of engadget


MapQuest Turns 10

MapQuest, apparently, turns 10 on February 5th (coincidentally, the same as mine). Launched by GeoSystems Global Corporation but since acquired by America Online for $1.1 billion U.S., the Denver-based company is still the supposed leader in the online mapping business. Mapquest, according to Westword, “logged 41 million visitors to its site in December 2005, a tenfold increase in traffic from six years ago. According to comScore, a marketing company that measures web-browsing in much the same way Nielsen measures TV viewing, MapQuest commands more than two-thirds of all visits to mapping sites, easily outdistancing its nearest competitor.” With this kind of traffic, it’s no surprise that other Internet giants such as Amazon and Google have jumped into the onlnie mapping fray.

The article - obviously written by someone not immersed in the geospatial industry - has some curious turns of phrase: “Google and Yahoo have drawn attention by releasing map-programming code to hobbyists” or “geospace junkies.”

Read the entire article.


Light Pollution Atlas

The Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute has produced what it calls a World Atlas of Light Pollution. The website is not so much an atlas but a patchwork collection of maps derived from satellite data indicating various measures of light pollution. Lengthy explanations are offered for the 7 different maps but perhaps that best and easiest to understand map is the world map of artificial night sky brightness. The map is an incomplete incomplete picture of the world (some northern areas are missing) and comes in a variety of sizes and extents. Other maps, such as the total night sky brightness map, focus on a specific part of the world. All of the maps could benefit from a graphic legend instead of a written (e.g. “white indicates . . .” or “green indicates . . .”) one.


The Greening of the Planet

The European Space Agency, through its Globcarbon project, has produced an animated gif showing the vegetation cycle of the planet from 1999 to 2002. Spring never looked so green! This is part of ESA’s attempt to chart ten years of the Earth's vegetation. Half way through the project, the work already relies on a stupendous amount of data and processing: “In processing terms we had about 45 terabytes of input data and 18 terabytes of output data, and within the process generated about one petabyte of intermediate data. We developed the necessary software and had about 25 computers and 25 terabytes of disks continuously running for one year from start to finish.”

By way of WorldChanging


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