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

Mapping the Universe

The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, or WMAP, was sent into space by NASA to record the background cosmic microwave radiation of the universe. Last month the mission released “the first detailed full-sky map of the oldest light in the universe.” Detailed, perhaps, but you won’t be finding the earth or even the solar system on this one. WMAP’s website has a number of interesting maps of the universe and animated globes as well as a simple explanation of what the map means.


Parents can purchase cell phones with a Global Positioning System tracking chip and software that allows them to track the cellphone user’s exact location. Says one parent: “I can watch [my child’s] path minute by minute and see if he deviates from the path,” says Garcia, who lives in San Jacinto, Calif. “If he calls and says he’s home, I can look on the map and see he isn’t and say, ‘Ah ha. I know you’re lying.’” Read the entire news story.


Did you leave without a map?

The Map India 2006 conference is currently taking place in New Delhi. A news story notes how a change in mapping policy (no mention of what that policy is for those who are not familiar with it) will change daily life, including finding a hair dresser and a prospective life partner. One of the conference participants suggested that “Worldwide nobody moves out of houses without studying a map. However, in India one can find people sitting in cars standing on the middle of the road asking for location details.” Read the entire news story.


Reader Feedback

A couple of readers emailed me with some interesting information.

The first, from Thomas, pointed me to Mathgrad.com. Mathgrad has started a podcast on math where everyday math for everyday people is discussed. The first topic is about the mathematics of maps and is about 9 minutes long. Nothing new or too technical here but interesting nonetheless. Thanks Thomas!

The second, from Claus, pointed me to the mythical Starbucks Avoidance Map. Ian Dallas has posted a brief description of the application and a couple of screenshots. I’m hoping he’ll provide me with a link to the actual application. Thanks, Claus.


German Bombing Maps

Wartime Leicestershire has a couple of maps used by the Germans during their bombing of England in 1940 - 1941. The two maps of Leicestershire are at a scale of 1:10,000 and appear to be copies of Ordinance Survey maps of the time. Also on the site is a map of the county indicating the location of bomb drops.

According to the news.telegraph, some of these 65 year old maps are still being used to locate unexploded bombs by building consultants.


Online Mapping Meets SimCity

edushi.com is an interactive Chinese site that displays maps of various Chinese cities. The interface is much like the interface found on Google Local with a zoom toolbar in the upper right and a drag and pan functionality. Nothing unusual there. What makes this site interesting is how the maps look. Instead of a standard map or satellite image, an oblique representation of the street layout, along with 3 (technically 2.5) dimensional looking buildings, is provided, lending the site a rather SimCity-like feel.

Not being able to read any Chinese makes navigating the site a little difficult, even with the aid of online translation services. according to Geography 2.0: Virtual Globes, the site employs the following data:
  • buildings/landmarks: footprints, heights, idealized appearance, photographs
  • street map data (including 3D data for overpasses)
  • street addresses
  • a business database
  • land cover (parks, water, sidewalks, etc.)
  • smoothed terrain
  • bus stops
  • construction data (cranes are seen around some buildings under construction)
Only a small number of Chinese cities are included but what exists is impressive, clean and attractive. Expect more of this sort of internet mapping to come.

By way of Geography 2.0: Virtual Globes


Mexican Migrant Map On Hold

In an earlier post, it was indicated that the Mexican government planned to hand out 70,000 copies of a map showing people who were seeking to cross the border illegally where to go and what to avoid. The plan was controversial and the Mexican government decided to put a stop to it, primarily because, according to CBS, it would show U. S. anti-immigrant groups where the migrants would likely gather.


Canada Election Map 2006 (2)

Perhaps a little patience was required before seeing the election results maps start to roll out. The Wikipedia entry on the 2006 Canadian election (was Encyclopedia Britannica ever updated so quickly?) has a number of maps of the election results, perhaps a little more polished than the one posted here. These also follow the “colour intensity reflecting the strength of the party vote” model that I employed.

Elections Canada also has a draft map of the election results available on its site. It's a hefty-sized pdf and includes a listing of all the elected representatives.


Shortcuts to Being a GIS Pro

Over at DirectionsMag, Adena Schutzberg has written a short opinion piece on the dumbing down of GIS and its acceptance by wider section of the pulbic. She names a few shortcuts to looking like a GIS professional, including receiving a certification from the GIS Certification Institute and developing mashups.

From the piece: “Those in the geospatial arena certainly see these mashups as skipping over some key parts of the cartographic/GIS process of selecting a projection, scale and quality background data set, creating a data layer and then tweaking the presentation parameters such as color, annotation and marker symbols. These mashups are the ultimate shortcut to an online map; nearly everything is decided for you.”


Canada Election Map 2006

Over on the GISuser weblog, Glenn complains about the lack of maps showing the results of Monday’s election results in Canada. I took up the challenge and produced a couple of maps, showing the winning parties and the percentage of the vote the winners garnered (image at left). For comparison sake, I've included a similar map for the 2004 election (image at right). Not the greatest maps but a quick indication of the changes in the political landscape in Canada. Higher resolution images are available on request (ccablog@yahoo.ca).


Mexican Migrant Maps

According to CNN, a Mexican government commission will distribute 70,000 maps “showing highways, rescue beacons and water tanks in the Arizona desert to curb the death toll among illegal border crossers.” The commission is denying that such a move would encourage illegal immigration to the United States but others are not so convinced. The maps were designed by Tuscon, Arizona-based Humane Borders whose site hosts a number of border-related maps, including ones that mark the location of water stations and migrant deaths.


UNEP Maps and Graphics

The United Nations Environment Programme / GRID-Arendal has a nextensive library of maps produced in the past 15 years. Maps are browseable via region or environment-related themes. Also included are some small scale topographic maps. Currently most maps are available in jpeg format but scaleable pdf versions are to be released later this year. Also included are a number of interactive maps, including an Arctic Environmental Atlas and a Baltic Environmental Atlas, both which seem to employ ArcIMS.

A short review of some of the maps indicate high cartographic standards. A site worth visiting and exploring on a regular basis.

By way of Cartotalk.


Thai Cloth Maps

Bangkok’s Jim Thompson Thai House Museum will be displaying a number of cloth maps from the latest 18th, early 19th centuries. “The two largest of the 17 [maps] are topographic maps focusing on the Siamese-Burmese border zone at Muang Thawai. The rest are general topographic charts, illustrating Cambodia’s Tonle Sap, estuaries, lowlands, and important routes linking land and sea. These contain the habitats of different ethnic groups as well as the position of royal palaces and military barracks. They show signs of industry and trade: silk-weaving houses; go-downs with junks in harbors.”

Read the ThaiDay story on the maps.


Canada Election Maps (4)

Tomorrow is Election Day here in Canada. The rest of the world might not notice but to us Canadians, the event holds much interest. If the polls are any indication, it looks like there will be a change in government, if only from one minority government to another.

The Globe and Mail website has an extensive election tracking site that includes an interactive map. Simple colour-coding of a regular map to indicate the success of the various parties presents its own difficulties since the 308 consitituencies, ridings or seats that are up for grabs vary greatly in geographic size. To provide a more accurate picture of party success the Globe has also provided what it calls a Riding Grid. Each seat is represented by a small rectangle, broken down by province and territory.

Results will start becoming available after 10 PM EST.

See previous entries on this topic: (1) (2) (3)


Flu Maps

If you live in the United States and feel paranoid enough about catching the flu, Roche has made available a desktop flu tracker (downloadable exe) that displays flu activity levels on a map of the continental U. S. in three broad and undefined classes. There is also the option of seeing the flu spread over the past few weeks. There is a certain sense of inevitability to watching the entire country become engulfed in a flu epidemic. Which, of course, is the intention. Roche, after all, is the making of the recently popular anti-flu drug Tamiflu.

Compare to other flu maps from the U. S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (simple and without embellishments), the National Flu Surveillance Network (pseudo-technological / scientific), or InteliHealth’s Flu-O-Meter (someone’s been playing too many video games).

By way of Connotea.


Chinese World Map of 1418 Revisited

The Chinese world map of 1418 / 1763 has generated much discussion attention on the Internet since The Economist ran a story on it last week. The excitement and the potential of having to rewrite history as a result if the document was proved to be true eventually started giving way to questions about its authenticity. Several writers have come out to say that the map is clearly a hoax, including Simon Jenkins of the Guardian Unlimited. The map is making the rounds on discussion groups and now is the subject of a broader analysis of modern politics and attitudes to China.

Undoubttedly, the discussion of the map’s authenticity will continue for sometime. What the discussion does do is highlight the nature of the Internet: a source of information and misinformation - on any topic. How to differentiate between the two can at times be a challenge and requires a critical mind. The veracity of a map or the accuracy of a dataset on the Internet should always be questioned, probed and judged for oneself.

The Chinese map of the world probably is a fake. I am leaving that to the experts to decide. Nevertheless, the possibility of its authenticity shakes up our views of reality. And that’s one of the things I appreciate about maps.


Canada Election Maps (3)

Since the last posting on the Canadian election on December 22th, the campaign has gotten much more interesting. The election is to be held on January 23rd and, of course, the outcome is still unknown. Pollstr.ca takes a crack at predicting the outcome based on various polls and uses a Google Map to display the result. What makes this map interesting is that, if you disagree with the polls, you can submit your own prediction of how the popular vote will be distributed among the parties and see how that affects who gets elected where. Sadly, no word on the methodology used.


NGS Maps

The canyoncourier has a story on National Geographic Maps based in Floyd Hill, Colorado. An independent company called Trails Illustrated was bought up by National Geographic in 1997, “the society’s first-ever outside acquisition and one of very few agencies it maintains outside of Washington, D.C.” The article goes on to describe the process of mapping wilderness and recreation areas.

A couple of interesting quotes from the article:

“A good map is a dream device.”

Since its first map in 1915, “National Geographic has become one of the world’s three leading private cartographic institutions, alongside American Maps and Rand McNally.” Well, I’ve heard of Rand McNally, but American Maps is a new one to me.


Mercator Atlas Online

The British Library has posted a number of historical documents for viewing online, including Mercator’s Atlas of Europe. The atlas is a compilation of a number of maps produced by Mercator from the 1560s and 1570s. It is presented in a Flash format that allows the user to turn and magnify pages. It is also accompanied by an audio guide.

By way of La Cartoteca


Surname Mapping

Ed Parsons points to Spatial-Literacy.org, a site that maps surname distribution in the U. K. The site just become operational yesterday and is experiencing high traffic volumes but it's worth a look, particularly if you have an English, Welsh or Scottish ancestry. It provides a distribution map of a selected surname for 1881 or 1998.

Spatial-Literacy.org “is hosted by University College London to provide resources and information on a variety of teaching, research and outreach activities, and to act as a portal to guide best practice across a range of public sector geographic information system (GIS) activities.” Currently, other than the surname search, it’s offerings appear rather slim.

Read the BBC story on the site.


San Fransisco Quake Map

This April will mark the 100th anniversary of the famous San Fransisco earthquake of 1906. The Bancroft Library at Berkeley has an online photo exhibit of the event and the fire that followed, including a stylishly done interactive map. Users can click on an area of the city to display photos of that area.

Read a news story about the site.


Starbucks Center of Gravity

. . . for Manhattan only, that is. Cory has taken the time not only to map all the Starbucks locations in Manhattan but to calculate the location where one would be closest to all the Starbucks in Manhattan, the Starbucks Center of Gravity. See the map and a brief description of how the center of gravity was calculated.

Now if someone can only find the mythical Starbucks Avoidance Map to go with it.

By way of information aesthetics


Call for Nominations

As noted in Cartouche, nominations are sought for the following positions in the Canadian Cartographic Association for election in 2006:
  • Vice-President
  • Secretary
  • Interest Group Chair, Analytical Cartography and GIS
  • Interest Group Chair, Map Use and Design
  • Interest Group Chair, History of Cartography
Please send nominations and suggestions to Christine Earl, Chair of the Nominations Committee by January 31, 2006: christine_earl@carleton.ca

Les postes suivants seront à combler lors des élections de 2006:
  • Vice-Président
  • Secrétaire
  • Président du group d’Intérêt Cartographie analytique et SIG
  • Président du group d’Intérêt de Conception et utilisation des cartes
  • Président du group d’Intérêt Histoire de la cartographie
Nous vous invitons à soumettre des candidatures pour ces postes de l’exécutif, avant le 31 janvier 2006, à Christine Earl, Présidente ducomité de candidatures : christine_earl@carleton.ca


Advertising, Imagery and Privacy

An AP Wire story on found on a number of newspaper websites talks about the expanding inventory of searchable imagery available from a number of the big name mapping sites such as LiveLocal, Google Local and A9. This, combined with a growing interest in local advertising makes the mapping sites a great tool for local businesses. The article fails to clarify adequately the connection between the issue of privacy concerns with the availability of sharper imagery and the desire for localized advertising.


Population and Environment Data

Socioeconomic Dataand Applications Centre, or SEDAC, is a branch of NASA that offers geospatial on human interactions with the environment. World datasets that are available for download include population and urban development and wilderness areas. Other data focus on a specific area of the world. Most of the datasets seem to be in some sort of grid or e00 format. Some of the sites also offer maps of the data.

By way of Connotea


Chinese World Map of 1418

A map depicting the world as the Chinese knew it in 1418 indicates that perhaps Coulmbus wasn’t the first explorer to set eyes on North and South America. A 1763 copy of a 1418 map is set to go on display in Beijing and at the National Martime Museum in Greenwich, U. K. next week.

Between 1405 and 1435 Admiral Zheng He went on a bit on an exploratory spree, documented in a book entitled 1421: The Year the Chinese Discovered the World. The map seems to reflect this - the continents of the Western Hemisphere are clearly visible as are the shape of Africa and Europe. Still, questions remain about the map and the extent of Zheng He’s travels around the globe.

The map was discovered in 2001 by Liu Gang and bought for $500. He suspected that the map might have been a modern fake but an inspection by a number of map collectors indicate that the map was at least 100 years old.

From The Economist story on the map: “The consequences of the discovery of this map could be considerable. If it does indeed prove to be the first map of the world, ‘the history of New World discovery will have to be rewritten,’ claims Mr Menzies. How much does this matter? Showing that the world was first explored by Chinese rather than European seamen would be a major piece of historical revisionism. But there is more to history than that. It is no less interesting that the Chinese, having discovered the extent of the world, did not exploit it, politically or commercially. After all, Columbus's discovery of America led to exploitation and then development by Europeans which, 500 years later, made the United States more powerful than China had ever been.”


The Prejudice Map

Not great cartography but an interesting subject to map. The Pejudice Map shows a map of the world with a number of labels attached to various countries indicating what those countries are known for. Someone has gone through the trouble of searching the Internet using Google to find out what various nationalities are known for. Who knew Kenyans were known for their metaphors, Americans for their dislike of walking or Swedes for their carving of Viking longboats?

By way of The Map Room


Changing the World Through Maps

Anyone who has used online mapping services for directions probably has encountered the occasional odd set of directions for commonly travelled paths. Perhaps the most direct route wasn’t suggested to get to a destination. The Register has noted a number of such oddities in Microsoft’s MapPoint - the latest being the placement of a hotel in the middle of the English Channel. Other cartographic aberations include driving directions from Norway to the U. K. via the North Sea, and Wales to Ireland via the Celtic Sea. Other curiosities are listed by The Register but the most interesting one is the ad by Microsoft’s Windows Server System that moves Switzerland to Russia.

Update (9:44 AM): NPR has a related story of errors in online mapping services. gisuser apparently thinks this is a little too much. However, speaking with experience, it’s generally the cartographer that gets blamed for mapping errors, not the data creator or provider.


Mapping Sound

Digital Acoustic Cartography has attempted to map noise patterns of everyday objects and events - e.g. the closing of a car door. Essentially, the acoustic pattern resulting from an event is turned into a relief model of sound; this is combined with a photographic overlay of the noise maker. The result is a three-dimensional map of the object and its sound. The process is still experimental and, if nothing else, produces interesting images. The website offers a very short explanation of the process.

By way of landkartentisch


Rolla Mapping Office to Close

The decision to close the U. S. Interior Department’s mapping offices in Rolla, Missouri and consolidate them in Denver, Colorado has been going on for a while. The decision is a controversial one and has even sparked staff at Rolla to start a blog to allow others to know of what is really going on. The plan to close the office was first announced in September, 2005; complaints were lodged that the move“was not justified because it ignored internal data showing that Rolla had cheaper wages and operating costs.” However, “an internal review found the decision-making process to be fair.” The move will affect about 200 jobs. No response yet from the Topo Employees’ blog yet.

Read the news story in the ContraCostaTimes.


Soils Maps

The European Digital Archive on Soil Maps of the World has taken it upon itself to scan and make available soil maps from around the world. According to the site, “less and less new, fundamental soil data are being produced these days; the older data and information are being pumped around more and more. Therefore it is vital to preserve the older data (in this case maps) as they are building blocks of most current soil information. The user of present-day, derived information should have easy access to the source material, if only to assess the reliability of the derived material. ”

To that end, the site hosts more than 3,000 scanned maps, many of which (but not all) are soils maps. Maps are available for all parts of the world - most countries seem represented - and are available in large jpeg files which are best saved (rather than viewing them through a web browser). The site seems to work best with Internet Explorer. A worthwhile treasure trove of maps.


World-wide Health Data

globalhealthfacts.org has a small interactive Java-script map of the world that displays health facts about each country. Move the cursor over a country and a little table displays statistics for that country, including the number of people living with HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. Clicking on a country provides a more detailed table of information, including demographic and economic data. Data is also available for download in MapInfo TAB format.


Book Review: Making Maps

Making Maps: A Visual Guide to Map Design for GIS
By John Krygier and Denis Wood
2005, The Guilford Press
303 pages

“You cartographers are so picky,” a colleague once said to me. “You have so many rules.”

And it’s true: there are rules for how text should be placed, how colour should be used, what elements should be included in the map and how they should be laid out, how data should be symbolized, what projections should be used, and on and on. Sometimes I feel that I should apologize to my GIS colleagues for all these rules.

But only sometimes. These rules, the pickiness of cartographers are what make maps work (and what makes us cartographers). John Krygier and Denis Wood have taken all of these rules and guidelines and laid them out in Making Maps. It is a book meant for use by non-cartographers who are called upon to make maps. These days there are many such people.

The book is essentially a resource, a listing of rules and guidelines that should be considered when making a map. These cartographic principles are broken down into a number of broad categories, with one chapter for each category: layout, intellectual and visual hierarchies, map generalization and classification, map symbolization, text, and colour. Nothing unusual there.

What makes the book unique is that on each page illustrations highlight the idea under discussion, the text merely works in a supportive, explanatory role. Cartography is a visual craft and the many illustrations – 2 or more per page – are essential to the success of this book. The text might introduce an idea, for example, generalization (“the systematic reduction of detail to enhance the point of your map”), the illustrations are the exemplar of what works and what doesn’t and users can immediately grasp it.

This goes on for each picky cartographer rule: use of color values, symbol classification, type weight and form, symmetry in map layout, map projections. Each rule or guideline is simply explained and illustrated; collectively, if followed, good maps can result.

Scattered throughout the book and in between chapters are examples of interesting maps whose content or purpose are not immediately obvious but which are explained at a later point. For example, the map of “areas crossed by two or more radioactive clouds during the era of nuclear testing in the American Southwest, 1951 – 1962” shows up in the first few pages of the book without a legend or any text describing the map’s contents. Without a context, the reader dwells on the map’s geographic pattern; the explanation, given later in the book, turns on a light bulb in the reader’s head which the map itself put there, in a most satisfying manner.

If there is one fault with the book it is that on occasion, it simplifies matters almost too much. Such statements as “the earth is really big and complex” harken to a “Cartography for Dummies” approach.

A book that is heavy on example and short on theory, Making Maps is a worthwhile investment for any who are looking to produce better maps without having to take a Cartography 101 course.

Visit the Making Maps website


The GeoSpatial Web

This past week both the BBC and NPR had radio programs on the expanding role of geographic data in the world. Thanks to the beauty of the Internet, I was able to listen to both. NPR’s OnPoint program was entitled “The New Sense of the Web” and discussed the coming geospatial web where the boundaries between the physical and the digital worlds would be blurred. One of the guests on the program was Mike Liebhold who has recently posted a longer discussion of the geospatial web over at the O’Reilly Network.

“The geospatial web,“ says Liebhold in the program, “is a combination of digital map data, combined with web-like hyper media – web pages, video, audio objects, graphic objects that are tagged with location coordinates in addition to a url.” The blurring of the digital and the physical worlds comes with devices that can detect location and connect to the Internet, such as cellphones. Liedhold goes on to say: “As you move through the world, if your deivce knows where it is, if it is location sensitive, it can retrieve information about the area, the place and the objects around you.” Any object or place or even person can be tagged with information. That information can be as simple as someone relating a story about a place - sort of a world-wide accessible electronic travel guide.

The BBC’s ShopTalk radio program - available until Tuesday, January 10 - looked at what changes are currently taking place with geospatial data: the democratization of data, the uses of GPS tracking, and so on.

Both programs are worth listening to and thought provoking. As one caller in the NPR program commented, there may eventually be an overabundance of information tagged to any number of objects or places: “do we want all this data yammering at us ?” Cartographers have traditionally weeded out information that distracts from the purpose of the map so as to make the map more understandable. The democratization of data collection and map making will only serve to reinforce our role in making the information that is out there understandable and useful.


Mapping Hawai'i

Spirit of Aloha, Aloha Airlines in-flight magazine, has a cover story on the mapping of the Hawaiian Islands in its January / February issue, available online. Included are a number of small images of various historical maps, generally from the late 1700s on. This history seems to begin with Captain James Cook. “Not only was [Cook] the first European to chart the Hawaiian Islands, between 1778 and 1779, he was also the first to outline the extent of the southern ice mass, the coastline of Australia and New Caledonia, and chart many features on the northwestern coast of North America and various parts of the North Pacific.” An interesting article, though not as interesting as its companion article mentioned earlier in this blog.


Changes on the Map

In a variation of a top ten list for the past year, Ben Keene of the Oxford University Press lists a number of changes in the world that would require modifications to existing maps or the creation of new ones. Some of the items on his informal list include:
  • expansion of the European Union
  • Israeli withdrawl from the Gaza Strip
  • the ongoing conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region
  • name changes to South African provinces
  • addition of five major new airports
  • Myanmar’s relocation of its seat of government
and others. No mention of all those new streets and subdivisions being built throughout Canadian and the United States that seem to keep Navtec and TeleAtlas so busy.


Mapping the Eternal Ocean

Spirit of Aloha has a short story on the mapping of the Pacific Ocean that provides an interesting contrast between European / Western approaches to mapping and Pacific Islanders’ approaches. From the article: “Islanders’ maps were, with rare exceptions, ephemeral, typically shells or stones set upon the ground. They generally quantified distance by travel time, relating the number of days’ sailing around and between islands. Islanders’ knowledge of the heavens was of little value to European navigational techniques, and the Europeans’ knowledge of map making was of no use to the islanders until they adopted Western navigational equipment and theory.”


Mapping Virus and Spam Sources

Postini, a service that provides email and information management protection, has a couple of dynamic world maps that display sources of email spam and viruses. No legends accompany that maps but a note in the downloadable data file indicates “that intensity should be considered an arbitrary measure of event size; an intensity of zero does not mean that nothing happened.” The maps are not pretty nor is the process by which the data is mapped explained but they do display an interesting phenomenon.

By way of aneiou, le blog de flu


Newspaper Map

Newseum provides a Flash-based interactive map that shows an area of the world. Pan, zoom or hover over a point on the map to see the day’s front page for that newspaper. An interesting concept that has an attractive interface.

By way of Great Map


Preserving Digital Maps

Digital maps are generally the norm these days but the preservation of older digital maps presents a problem. Jani Stenvall has written a short paper on the subject that might be of interest. The paper provides a broad overview of some of the issues rather than providing a specific set ofd solutions.

From the paper: “The wide range of different digital products and their special characteristics impose a great new challenge to libraries. The file formats, software needed to render the publication, and hardware requirements are developing rapidly and this means obsolete environments for older digital materials. The fast moving computer technology is providing us new updated software and 'improvements' all the time. This development is leaving a trace of obsolete systems, formats and above all those important documents that we used in those obsolete environments. The computer industry that is creating our digital world today is also erasing our digital yesterday.”

By way of Great Map


Real Estate Mapping in New York City

Looking for some property in New York City? PropertyShark has a searchable database of properties that displays maps, images of properties and relevant property information. The database is searchable by address or you can simply click on a map to select a property. As well, a number of different layers can be displayed in the map, including flod zones, proposed developments, and tax value. Finally, any map you make can be easily exported to Word as a png file. According to an Inman.com news story, PropertyShark has photographed all 40,000 buildings in Manhattan. Is the direction web mapping will be heading in the near future?


Worldwide Topographic Data

Tom Patterson of the U. S. National Parks Service, has produced a digital elevation set of the world using SRTM30 Plus and publicly available bathymetry data. The result is a dataset that he’s called CleanTopo2. “In CleanTOPO2, manual editing to the elevation data itself has removed many of the bathymetry artifacts. Until the day arrives that improved bathymetric data are released by the scientific community, CleanTOPO2 offers a stopgap solution for those creating maps and related graphics.” Patterson goes on to explain some of the edits and provides examples of before and after edit images. Data is in tif format, is about 68 MB in size and is available to download for free.

By way of CartoTalk.


Thai Earth

Digital Thailand is hoping to distribute satellite images of Thailand similar in resolution to that offered by Google Earth. The images will be accessible by disc and the Internet. “ Digital Thailand would do what Google Earth was doing, but the maps were more customised to the needs of local users,” writes the bangkokpost.com in a very short story. Not surprisingly, areas deemed to be a security risk will not be available.


Zurich Maps, Movies & FlyBys

SeemyRoad has put together an impressive site showing a satellite image of Zurich and a number of other features. The satellite image is zoomable, pannable and labelled with significant features, making it similar to Google Maps. However, SeemyRoad has also included movies of various routes in the city that are shot from ground level as well as what it calls flybys of tramline routes, essentially moving satellite images. Next to the image is a transit map that moves in tandem with the flyby (at least when the flyby is playing). Unfortunately, it’s still hard to tell exact where you are in the flyby with this map. There is still room for improvements but the satellite image, the flybys and the movies all help the user become familiar with the layout of the city.

SeemyRoad has also completed similar sites for other local cities but the Zurich effort is the most impressive. I can see this sort of set up being picked up by others.

By way of digitally distributed environments.


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