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


e_Perimetron is “a new international journal on sciences and technologies affined to history of cartography and maps.” What that awkwardly phrased byline means to say is that this new journal focuses on harnessing new technologies for the purpose of furthering the study of the history of cartography. The quarterly journal has so far published one issue, available, appropriately, online in html or pdf format. Papers in the first issue cover such topics as georeferencing of early maps and assigning map projections to portolan maps. The editorial board appears to come mostly from Italy and Greece. The journal is available only in English though English is not the primary language of many of the editors and contributors (to date, at least).

By way of Great Map.


Listening to Maps

There are multimedia maps that include sounds (see earlier posting on Sound Maps). Then there are maps that rely on sound to convey the data, meant for use by the visually impaired. The Human Computer Interaction Lab has a story about how geographic data is listened to.

“Earlier digital map exploration combined tactile feedback and sound to convey spatial information. While tactile feedback is potentially useful, it limits interfaces’ accessibility and portability because of dependence on special devices or hard-to-find tactile maps. The standard computer keyboard is widely used by blind users. Its arrow keys are natural means for relative movement in up/down/left/right directions; the numeric keypad supports movement in eight directions.And with remapping, the 3x3 numeric keypad can be a low-resolution 2-D pointing device; users can track grid recursion for three levels, providing resolution of 27x27 grid cells.”

It is difficult to compare a large set of numbers by simply listening to one after another; it is easier to do so by using music or pitch to represent the numbers. Said one user: “Tones help me do things I used to do with graphs.”

Definitely worth looking at or listening to are the examples posted on the Lab’s website. Instructions and links to various demos are listed near the bottom of the page. Clicking on a link will launch a Java applet.

By way of Connotea


Terrorism Mapping

MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base has both an interactive and a static map showing terrorism incidents. The static map comes in pdf format and shows 2005 terrorism incidents. The interactive map is more interesting. Users can zoom in to an area of the world or a country and display terrorism activity along with population densities, transportation densities, satellite imagery, location of power plants, factories and mineral resources. Clicking on a terrorist incident point brings up a listing of incidents. The inclusion of incidents seems to go back to 1968 and is based on the RAND Incident Database. No word on data sources for any of the other data layers.

By way of ResourceShelf.


GPS Tracks as Artwork

. . . or something. Not content with merely tracking one’s every day movements on the surface of the planet, Jeremy Wood has gone ahead to spell out messages using GPS tracks or draw interesting patterns or shapes. Even cutting the grass can be tracked, of course, using a GPS receiver and the result clearly helps the ground maintenance person in determining missed spots. Jeremy Wood’s work has been featured in Elsewhere: Mapping (review coming soon) and will be at a festival of music and multimedia in June in Barcelona called SONAR.

By way of Pruned.


Indonesian Earthquake Maps

UNOSAT has a couple of maps and satellite images of the May 27th earthquake in Indonesia. Included are Ikonos before and after photos of the most damaged areas and a map of the larger area sourrounding the earthquake epicentre and the rumbling Mount Merapi volcano. Images are in jpeg format.


Forbes On ESRI

Forbes has an article about the mapping industry today, specifically about ESRI and Jack Dangermond and its response to Google. “Dangermond doesn't see Google as a competitor (‘We like those guys’), but he admits his software needed to be prettier and quicker.” To that end, Dangermond is suggesting that the upcoming release of ArcGIS 9.2 is the software’s biggest upgrade (see the Directionsmag article for a listing of the new features).

It is interesting to see how non-technical people describe GIS: like a club sandwich.

By way of slashgeo and a few other places.


Workshop on Ubiquitous, Pervasive and Internet Mapping

The University of Seoul
Center for Spatial Information Science, The University of Tokyo

Call for Participation
Second International Joint Workshop on Ubiquitous, Pervasive and Internet Mapping (UPIMap2006), Seoul, Korea, October 23 - 25, 2006

The ICA Commissions on Ubiquitous Mapping and Maps and the Internet announce a workshop in Seoul at the end of October 2006. The workshop is sponsored by the Commission on Ubiquitous Mapping, the Commission on Maps and the Internet, the University of Seoul, the Center for Spatial Information Science (CSIS) of the University of Tokyo. The ICA commissions were formed in 1999 and 2003 respectively in response to the rapid growth in the use of electronic networks to make and distribute maps and spatial data, and rapid diffusion of new mobile devices. The purpose of the workshop is to bring together international specialists in the field of Mobile Mapping, Location Based Services and Internet Mapping, and to disseminate information to a broader audience on new developments and major areas of research. UPIMap2004 in Tokyo included on site demonstrations of commercial human and car navigation systems and visits to the Tokyo metropolitan traffic control center and the VICS (Vehicles Information Control System) center for car navigation. UPIMap2006 in Korea will present another opportunity to see the latest in mapping technology. Demonstrations in Seoul will highlight new developments in ubiquitous and Internet mapping. A visit will also be included to the digital city simulation center at Seoul University.

Important Dates
June 20, 2006 - Abstracts Due (300-600 words)
July 10, 2006 - Notification of Acceptance
August 31, 2006 - Working Papers due for Paper Sessions
October 23 - 25, 2006 - Workshop in Seoul


Cartography in Canada


For the June 2007 Special Issue of Geomatica
Focusing on


Deadline: September 15, 2006

This special issue of Geomatica will highlight recent developments and achievements in Canadian cartography. Researchers or practitioners in geomatics are invited to contribute to this issue by submitting a paper related to any aspect of the mapping sciences. Topics may include, but are not limited to, those listed below. This special cartographic issue of Geomatica will be included as part of Canada’s National Report at the 2007 International Cartographic Conference in Moscow.
  • Map Design and Production
  • Education and Training in Geomatics
  • Mapping and GIS for Sustainable Development
  • Spatial Data Infrastructures and Standards
  • Spatial Database Management and Incremental Updating
  • Generalization and Multiple Representation
  • Satellite Imagery for Natural Resource Management
  • Mobile Mapping and Navigation Systems
  • National and Regional Atlases
  • Copyright and Spatial Data Access
  • Animation and Multimedia Cartography
  • History of Cartography
  • Digital Elevation Models and Mountain Cartography
  • Cartography and Children
  • Interactive Web-based Data Visualization
  • Planetary Mapping
  • Map Projections, GPS and Geodesy
  • Maps for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Medical and Health Services Mapping
  • Advertising and Tourist Mapping
  • Research and Development: New Products
  • Semiotics and Cartographic Theory
  • Gender and Cartography
  • Census Cartography
  • Hydrographic and Marine Cartography
  • Participatory and Community Mapping
  • Indigenous Mapping
  • Ubiquitous, Pervasive and Internet Mapping
  • Spatial Data Quality and Uncertainty
  • Cybercartography
  • Aeronautical Cartography
  • Military Mapping
  • Toponymy
  • Mapping Time
  • Emergency Response Systems and Disaster Mapping
  • Recreational Mapping and Orienteering
Up to six papers will be selected for this special cartography issue. Manuscripts should be prepared according to the Instructions to Authors of Geomatica. Papers will be selected and reviewed based upon their suitability for this special issue and with reference to the current Reviewer’s Guide for Geomatica. Please submit papers to:
Dr. Janet E. Mersey, Guest Editor
Department of Geography
University of Guelph
Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1
Tel: 519-824-4120 (ext. 53528); Fax: 519-837-2940


Island Mapping

EVS-Islands is looking to map the shorelines of the world - “one island, one coastline, one river and one lake at a time.” The best existing vector shoreline data is at a scale of 1:250,000; Mr. Minton decided that this needed to be improved upon and so began digitizing island shorelines (and a few other features) using Landsat ETM+ 2000. He describes in detail the process he follows, using Global Mapper and Marplot. The completed enhanced vector shoreline data layer is patchy - there are many islands in the world, after all - but a listing of what has been finished is available by clicking on a geographical area on the right side of the blog. Data can be requested but don’t expect Mr. Minton to be too chatty.


With the advent of in-car navigation systems, Japanese map publishers have noticed a significant drop in sales of road maps. One publisher, Jinbun-sha has chosen to produce wht it calls “value-added” maps. Such maps include historical maps placed sid-by-side with a regular street map, maps showing the best route home in the event of an earthquake, and development maps. Though the expansion into producing paper maps showing more than just streets is admirable, none of these “valued-added” features seem to exclusive to paper-based products. In fact, sseem more appropriate for use in digital maps. Are paper map publishers fighting a losing battle?

Read the story on asahi.com.

By way of Great Map.


Russian Forestry Maps

Alexei Karimov has an online collection of Russian forestry maps dating mosts from the 1700s and 1800s. The images are regretably too small too read but there are descriptions of each on the website. Karimov has also includes some of his own papers on the topics of Russian forestry maps, cadastral mapping at the time of Peter the Great and the history of Russian administrative boundaries.

By way of MapHist.


NASA Imagery Sites

NASA’s Earth Observatory has been around for some time (at least in terms of Internet time) and is a great resource for remote sensing and mapping images. The Daily Images section is interesting enough on its own and include such recent items as a map of sulfur dioxide emissions of the Soufriere Hills volcano on Montserrat, and before and after satellite images of the Three Gorges Dam. Images and maps are usually topical and come with an interesting explanation.
Other features of the site include a table listing available data sets according to month. Data sets include sea surface temperatures, rainfall and chlorophyll. Unfortunately, there are only small world maps of each dataset on the site.

On a similar theme but updated less frequently is NASA’’s Visible Earth. It provides various thematic and remote sensing images of the planet. This site also provides detailed explanations of the imagery but provides higher resolution images. Images here can be searched by sensor or theme.


Time Travel Maps

mySociety has a number of interesting and colourful time travel maps - maps that indicate how long it takes to trasvel from one point to another. Using publicly accessbile data and with the support of the U. K.’s Department of Transport, Chris Lightfoot and Tom Steinberg calculated travel times for all of the Great Britain to Edinburgh and Cambridge. Other maps look closer at the local Cambridge area and the Greater London area. One map compares travel times between rail and road travel (but doesn’t take into consideration traffic slowdowns on either mode of transportation). Interestingly, it takes about the same amount of time to travel to the north of Scotland from either Edinburgh or Cambridge.

By way of Boing Boing.


Two Flash Maps

Jim Regan writes in The Christian Science Monitor about how maps have changed over the past few years. “Remember that it was only a few years ago that the height of cartographic interactivity came from sticking a pin through a map, and the definition of ‘user friendly’ was a chart that was easy to fold.” To highlight the advances in maps, he points out two interesting and nicely put together interactive map sites.

Curating the City looks at Los Angeles Wiltshire Boulevard and employs a map interface to showcase the architecture and sights along the street. The Flash map is pannable and zoomable and provides thumbnails of the buildings of interest. Clicking on an image will bring up more images and information about the building. The map also allows searches for specific buildings, building types or architect.

Folk Songs for the Five Points is part of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Again, a Flash map interface is used that allows users to access sound files tied to specific locations. The map allows the user to control which sound the user listens to and the balance and volume of each. Sounds include songs, conversations and every day street noise.


Animated Map of FedEx Aircraft

Airline Pilot Central has a 45 second animation showing the arrival of Fed Ex aircraft at its Memphis, Tennessee hub as a thunderstorm approaches. Not the best map but certainly effective.


Canada on the Map

The map that is thought to be the first to name Canada is set to be auctioned by Christie’s next month. The Ottawa Citizen reports that Paolo Forlani’s map of the world of 1562 will be be sold on June 9th; Library and Archives Canada, understandably, is looking to purchase the map. The prixe of the map is expected to be around $200,000.

The map is considered very rare as it was printed by itself instead of as part of an atlas. “Until the printing of Forlani's maps in the 1560s, the name Canada had appeared on only a few manuscript depictions of the country, none of which was reproduced for the public. The Forlani maps would have popularized use of the name Canada in 16th-century Europe. Created just a few decades after French explorer Jacques Cartier's historic voyages up the St. Lawrence River, the 1562 map also includes landmark references to the Arctic Ocean (‘Oceano Settentrionale’), ‘Tiera de Laborador,’ ‘Stadacone’ (the Iroquois settlement at the future Quebec City), and ‘Saguenai.’”

(The image above is either Forlani’s 1560 world map or the 1562 map in question. Feel free to direct me to the correct one.)


Dispensing with the Dragons

In his column in the Times Online, Bob MacIntyre laments the advent of the satellite navigation system that are, in his words, “are gradually killing off maps, the charts that have revealed the changing contours of our world and minds since the birth of culture . . . . With a GPS embedded in dashboard, wristwatch or mobile telephone, we will never be lost again.”
“The paper map will soon die, and with it something central to human experience. There is a joy is not knowing exactly where you are. The electronic gizmo takes you from A to Z, but it does not show you the place you never knew about, off at the side of the map, the road less travelled. The joy of exploration lies in not knowing exactly where you are, or where you are going, in trying to match the visual world outside with the one-dimensional world represented by the map. Wherever you go now, the machine has got there first.”


Virtual Globes

Any one who thinks that Google Earth and World Wind are it for virtual globes had better think again. Over at Georgraphy 2.0 Virtual Globes an extensive listing of such things was provided back in November, 2005 and recently updated. Some of these have been discussed in this blog (see ArcWeb Explorer and Global-i, for instance). An extensive set of reviews may be in order . . . .


Watershed Boundary Data

The World Wildlife Fund is working on producing watershed boundary data for the world, called HydroSHEDS that is based on SRTM elevation data. Currently only South America is available for download (through the USGS). Data for other continents will become available over the course of the year. Boundaries are available in ESRI shapefile format.
“HydroSHEDS offers a suite of geo-referenced data sets, including stream networks, watershed boundaries, drainage directions, and ancillary data layers such as flow accumulations, distances, and river topology information. The goal of developing HydroSHEDS was to generate key data layers to support regional and global watershed analyses, hydrological modeling, and freshwater conservation planning at a quality, resolution and extent that had previously been unachievable. Available resolutions range from 3 arc-second (approx. 90 meters at the equator) to 5 minute (approx. 10 km at the equator) with seamless near-global extent.”

“HydroSHEDS is derived from elevation data of the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) at 3 arc-second resolution. The original SRTM data have been hydrologically conditioned using a sequence of automated procedures. Existing methods of data improvement and newly developed algorithms have been applied, including void filling, filtering, stream burning, and upscaling techniques. Manual corrections were made where necessary. Preliminary quality assessments indicate that the accuracy of HydroSHEDS significantly exceeds that of existing global watershed and river maps.”
Data is available in tiled format through the USGS.

By way of CartoTalk


Mapping Discussion

Topix.net, a news and forum site, has a map of the United States that shows the online discussions taking place across the country. Each location is symbolized by a circle. The size of the circle indicates the size of the forum and the colour indicates the recency of the latest posting. Clicking on a dot draws up a list of the current ongoing disucssions. Users can also enter a zip code to find discussions in a particular location. Simple and effective.

By way of information aesthetics


Critical Geographies

ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies seeks “to provide a forum for the publication of critical and radical work about space in the social sciences - including anarchist, anti-racist, environmentalist, feminist, marxist, postcolonial, poststructuralist, queer, situationist and socialist perspectives.” It is a relatively new journal and all of its 7 issues to date are available online. The journal is based at the University of British Columbia but has a fairly international collection of editors and is available in German, Italian, French and Spanish.

The latest issue focuses on critical cartography and includes a paper (pdf) entitled “An Introduction to Critical Cartography.” In it, the authors Jeremy Crampton and John Krygier define critical cartography “as a one-two punch of new mapping practices and theoretical critique. Critical cartography challenges academic cartography by linking geographic knowledge with power, and thus is political.” The paper places the development of critical cartography in the 1990s within the broader context of the development of cartography - specifically the movement of mapmaking away from a small group of professionals towards a more broad based user group (think Google Earth, etc.).

Thanks John.


Find the Nearest Billionaire

Forbes has a Flash map of the world that displays the locations of the world’s billionaires. The map is pannable, zoomable and queryable. It also has an odd classification and an odd way of symbolizing the data that, strangely, does seem to work.

By way of Moon River


Mapping Internet Networks

I recently received a copy of Elsewhere:Mapping New Cartographies of Networks and Territories, a collection of essays about mapping. Janet Abrams and Peter Hall, the book’s editors write in their introduction: “Mapping has emerged in the information age as a means to make the complex accessible, the hidden visible, the unmappable mappable. As we struggle to steer through the torrent of data unleashed by the Internet, and to situate ourselves in a world in which commerce and community have been redefined in terms of networks, mapping has become a way of making sense of things.”

Certainly mapping has been applied to many non-geographic spheres, some more successfully than others. One such area is that of the Internet. Network backbones and servers all have some geographic location but in the world of the Internet where these things are is less important than the network connections being made. the Cooperative Association of Internet Data Analysis has attempted to map the Internet’s topology. Using what it calls a skitter graph, CAIDA plots locations of servers and backbones using only their longitudinal coordinate. All such locations are plotted along the edge of a circle and connections between sites are made within the circle. There are 156 MB animations showing the development of the Internet using skitter graphs over an 18 month period but expect a long wait the file to download. Also available on the site are more traditional looking maps, animated to show the world wide spread of vairous Internet viruses, as well as links to a number of applets and programs for mapping Internet related networks (see the visualization section).


Views of the Earth

Chistoph Hormann has been creating numerous views of the earth using RayTracer POV-Ray. The result are stunning and slightly eerie images of various parts of the earth - eerie in that there are no clouds anywhere. Hormann is short on technical details (What data was used? What pocesses were followed? How much are elevations enhanced?) but the final product is beautiful - even viewers used to the easy manipulations of Google Earth and World Wind. Images are browseable via a map or a simple listing. A nice touch is a map showing the field of view of each image.

By way of Tecnomaps.


Los Angeles Mapped

The U. S. Library of Congress and the Ira Gershwin Gallery has an online exhibit of maps of Los Angeles, most dating from the first half of the 20th century. Maps are zoomable and downloadable in Jpeg2000 format. There are still a few maps that are awaiting approval to be placed on the website, including a Soviet topographic one of Los Angeles produed in 1961.

By way of MapHistory


Sound Maps

Maps are generally a visual phenomena and don’t lend themselves easily to non-visual media. There are some maps called sound maps available on the Internet that manage to combine sounds with maps, some more successfully than others.

Tony Round has produced a sound map of the Kitchener-Waterloo area of Ontario, Canada using Flash. The “map” is actually a collection of black and white air photos stitched together and is zoomable and pannable. Sounds are tied to a specific location and as the cursor is moved about the map, different sounds come to the foreground, providing the visitor with a sense of what the ambient sounds at a particular location are like.

SoundTransit is not so much a sound map as a collection of sounds that can be placed on a map. The user can select a departure and destination city, specifying the number of stopovers they would like, much how one would book a flight. The result is cobbled together, depending on the stopovers chosen, and provided to the user as an mp3 file. The iternary of the sound transit can also be mapped to a world map.

The Berlin SoundMap takes a slightly more artistic approach to its sound choices and is typical of sound maps in that clicking on the map in a specific location provides a new sound. NYSoundMap operates in a similar manner (click on the sound seeker image to view) but uses the format of a Google Maps mashup. The sounds available here are more intentional than ambient (e.g. carousel at Central Park). The map icons indicating available sounds are, however, difficult to see. The Puget Soundscape also provides a Google Mashup but it focuses on the underwater sounds of orcas.


Mapa de Mexico 1550

A map of Mexico City, created in 1550 and thought to be the work of Spanish cosmographer Alonso de Santa Cruz, is available for viewing. As well as being able to navigate and zoom about the map, registered users can also annotate locations, adding in pieces of background information to enable the map to become more understandable. The map is one of only two such maps from the time period that depicts Mexico City and is painted on parchment.

By way of Geospatial Semantic Web Blog


How to Host a Mapping Party

OpenStreetMap hosted a Isle of Wight mapping party last weekend to which 40 volunteers showed up. The event managed to map about 90% of the island’s roads, according to a story in the Guardian Unlimited.

Largely in a response to the stringent copyright rules of the UK’s Ordinance Survey, OpenStreetMap is seeking to map the country’s roads in 5 years, drawing on volunteers armed with old maps and GPS units. Rather than push the OS to loosen its copyright restrictions, OpenStreetMap feels that building a freely accessible roads database is the way to go as it feels that it “can do a superior job, for example by avoiding the deliberate inaccuracies made by professional cartographers to catch those abusing their copyright.” The trick, of course, is main the collected data and ensure that it is kept up to date. However, having volunteers with GPS units in all parts of the country that know the local neighbourhood well will help to ease that concern.

By way of Boing Boing.

See related posting on the upcoming Mapchester event.


ArcWeb Exlporer

ESRI has a beta version of ArcWeb Explorer available for use. It runs using Flash (which seems like an odd choice for a prominent GIS software company). Similar to so many other mapping sites out there these days, it offers a street /road map, satellite map and a combination of the two. Unlike Google Maps, however, ArcWeb Explorer presents a seamless looking Landsat image that changes only at the higher zoom levels to a more detailed image where these are available. Where detailed imagery is not available ArcWeb Explorer serves up an odd mosaic of the Landsat image that is repeated to fill up the screen.

Data layers displayed include roads and streets, urban areas, parks, railroads and drainage. The last three are suspect in Canada, at least - detailed drainage features are non-existent, urban areas are far too generalized and the railroads are astonishingly out of date.

ArcWeb Explorer has a find feature and a directions feature. Finding a feature only seemed to work on place names (in Canada, at least), not addresses. Finding directions between two points works but fails to zoom to the extent of the route indicated. A nice feature that I haven’t seen anywhere else is the ability to import coordinate data in an XLS format - sadly, however, it did not work when I tried it.

In short: This is a beta version so there are obvious places where improvements can be made - namely, in the workings of some of the features and the responsiveness of the application. However, with improvements in these areas ArcWeb Explorer could be a worthy tool.


Growth of WalMart

Thomas Holmes, a professor of economics at the University of Minnesota, has put together a 26 second video (wmv format, 1.31 MB) showing the growth of WalMart in the United States from its beginnings in Arkansas in 1962 up until 2004. Very simple and effective.

By way of Future Feeder


Real Time Mapping

Technology Review has a story about one of Microsoft’s latest projects called Senseweb that allows users to access maps with reasl-time data. “By tracking real-life conditions, which are supplied directly by people or automated sensor equipment, and correlating that data with a searchable map, people could have a better idea of the activities going on in their local areas . . . and make more informed decisions.” Such mapping would be useful for tracking temperatures, traffic conditions, gas prices and a host of other things - even resturant wait times.
“SenseWeb is composed of three basic parts: sensors (or data-collecting units), Microsoft’s database indexing scheme that sorts through the information, and the online map that lets users interact with the data. The sensors used in the project can vary in form and function, and can include thermometers, light sensors, cameras, and restaurant computers. SenseWeb puts baseline sensor information, such as location and function, into a database that's searchable by location and type of sensor information.”
The plan is to eventually incorporate such real time data into LiveLocal.

Thanks Tracey!


Mapping Middle Earth

The Map Room gives the tip to a Middle Earth mapping site called The Middle Earth DEM Project. Relying on a number of different sources, including The Atlas of Middle Earth (at one time posted entirely online, probably illegally), Lord of the Rings role playing games maps and Tolkien’s own maps (available in a zipped pdf format), the intent is to produce a digital elevation model of all known lands in Tolkien’s world.

The tools and participants are many but the one that is being promoted by the site is one called Wilbur, a free 3-dimensional modeling software that looks worthy of exploration itself. The Middle Earth DEM site provides a lengthy description on its use.

The project is very much a collabrative one. Perhaps because of that it is a little confusing navigating about the site. Nevertheless, the project holds promise, if the collection of development images is anything to go by (the image above is a 3-dimensional view of Isengard).

See also Geo-referencing Middle Earth.


Internet Censorship

The May 2006 issue of The Atlantic Monthly has a subscriber accessible only article on Internet censorship around the world. Fortunately, the accompanying map in pdf format is freely available. The cartography isn’t so great but the content and message are interesting. Countries like the United States get a less than best rating because companies based in there have cooperated with repressive regimes in restricting Internet access.

By way of Coming Anarchy


Back in 1898 sought to colour code every street in London, England according to seven different social classes, ranging from “wealthy” to “vicious, semi-criminal.” The resultant map is browseable online (alongside a modern companion street map).

Interestingly, as The Economist points out, many of the neighbourhoods have not changed much in their classification. Those slum houses that were destroyed and replaced with well meaning socila housing projects often retained their less desirable status. Slum houses that were spared the wrecking ball have often improved (at least of late). A companion article talks in some detail about how the 1898 map was compared to census results from 2001.

By way of Cartotalk.


Make Your Own Cartogram

MAPresso is a free Java applet that creates cartograms and choropleth maps. Provided you can make sense of the somewhat confusing documentation, you can employ shapefiles converted to psc files (using the convertor tool supplied on the website) and export the resultant map to an eps file (supplied in code, of all things). This is not the most user-friendly tool about and didn’t quite make sense to me until I had a look at some of the examples of the tool in use.

The world map is perhaps the most illustrative of the examples and comes in two sizes. It allows you to enter in your own data (with very little indication as to how that should be done or in what order) and to specify the number of “passes” or how much distortion should occur when the cartogram is being created. It also allows you to specify the colours that are be used on the map and how the classes should be divided.

All in all, an interesting tool made for the technical person. This is not a very user-friendly applet.


GHG Emissions by Household

Travel Matters has a series of maps that compares greenhouse gas emissions by county and greenhouse gas emissions per household by county. The maps are for the United States only and are available in pdf format. Also available are maps of some U. S. cities that show the same data but in a more detail. It is an interesting juxtaposition of data that helps to challenge traditional views of greenhouse gas emissions.

By way of WorldChanging


The Flooded World

Alex Tingle has put together a Google Maps mashup in which the user can see what land areas would be flooded with an increase in sea water levels. Places like the Netherlands are suddenly inundated but so are places like the Dead Sea valley between Israel and Jordan. The premise behind Tingle’s mashup assumes that anything currently below sea level will be flooded with a rise in water levels which, of course, isn’t necessarily the case. The Dead Sea won’t automatically expand and neither will the Netherlands necessarily be flooded - it all depends on how high the barriers to the oceans are.

Ask.com has a physical map of the world that unintentionally does what Tingle’s map does - that is, show areas that are below sea level as flooded. The cartographers (?) who put together Ask.com’s elevation map forgot to include a hypsometric tint for areas below sea level. The result is an unfamiliar map of the world, especially in places such as the Netherlands, the Dead Sea, North Africa and Death Valley.

By way of webmapper


Some More Data Sources

The Virtual Terrain Project is an open source three dimensional modeling software that is available for download upon request. I can’t speak for any of its features since I haven’t used it yet but the project’s site has a number of useful links for data sources that even non-3d modelers would find useful, particularly remote sensing and digital elevation data. Much of the focus is on the United States but there are extensive links to data from the rest of the world.

By way of Cartotalk


The "Geography" Survey

National Geographic has completed another assessment of young Americans geographic literacy. Some of the findings include
  • Only 37% of young Americans can find Iraq on a map—though U.S. troops have been there since 2003.
  • 6 in 10 young Americans don't speak a foreign language fluently.
  • 20% of young Americans think Sudan is in Asia.
  • 48% of young Americans believe the majority population in India is Muslim.
  • Half of young Americans can't find New York on a map.
To which National Geographic would all like us to respond: “Atrocious!” or something along those lines. Twenty of the survey questions are available on line and it is worth looking, if only because it raises some questions about the survey’s legitimacy. Questions such as “Which of these cities is the setting for the original television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation?” are more a reflection of televison viewing habits than geography (I admit I got that one wrong). Others deal with current events or knowledge of trade and population figures. Arguably, this is all geography-related but it would be interesting to compare this age group with other, older age groups. It is doubtful if Canadians (or any other nationality) would fare much better.

On the map reading side, the survey concludes that most young Americans lack the basic practical map-reading and direction-finding skills “necessary for safety and employment in today’s world.”

The complete survey - which includes some map reading exercises - and the results are available in pdf format.


U. S. Military Deployment

PBS, as part of its Frontline program entitled “Rumsfeld’s War” has 9 maps of the world that highlight countries in which U. S. troops have been deployed since 1969. The maps are broken out by presidential administration. By the looks of these maps, the U. S. has most of the world covered, although there is no indication as to the number of troops stationed in each country - although if you hover over an area it will provide you a breakdown by region. To view that you’ll need to refer to the U. S. Department of Defense Military Personnel Statistics.



The Spring 2006 issue of the Canadian Cartographic Association’s scholarly journal, Cartographica, is now out. It focuses on cybercartography and in particular looks at the work that the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre in Ottawa. In fact, all of the contributors to this particular issue of Cartographica have some association with the GCRC.

The GCRC’s self proclaimed focus is “cybercartography and high resolution remote sensing for surveying and mapping and natural resources applications.” Cybercartography it defines as “the organization, presentation, analysis and communication of spatially referenced information on a wide variety of topics of interest and use to society in an interactive, dynamic, multimedia, multisensory and multidisciplinary format.” The centre takes a very scholarly and theoretical approach to this topic and provides a breakdown of the elements in cybercartography. Lest you think that the GCRC is only talking about web mapping, think again. When it speaks of cybercartography it is talking about “multisensory” maps that employ a wide range of multimedia, is highly interactive and covers a wide range of topics.

The GCRC has a number of what look like interesting examples of cybercartography, including the Cybercartographic Atlas of Antarctica (links to documents and presentations but not the actual atlas) and the Cybercartographic Atlas of Canada’s Trade with the World. Sadly, a couple of screenshots are all there seems to be at the moment.


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