Mapping the Damage in Puerto Rico

NASA-JPL/Caltech/ESA/Copernicus/Google

At NASA’s Earth Observatory, before and after images of Puerto Rico’s nighttime lights illustrate the extent of power outages and infrastructure damage on the island. NASA has also produced a map of likely damaged areas of eastern Puerto Rico, based on before and after radar satellite interferometry and similar to the map they produced for the Mexican earthquake. At ground level, the CrowdRescue Puerto Rico Infrastructure Map displays crowdsourced reports of damage—downed power lines, bridge collapses, floods, mudslides and other incidents.

Map Error Costs Centre $1.7 Million in Tax Credits

A map error has left a community centre in Burlington, Vermont scrambling to make up a nearly $2-million financial shortfall.

Specifically, the center had banked on equity from New Market Tax Credits to fund the final construction payment of $1.7 million. Its leaders believed the new building at 505 Lake Street fell in a qualifying U.S. Census tract for the federal program, according to the letter.

An online map based on the building address showed it within the tract, but it turned out that the building is actually just outside it.

[Bill Morris]

Sara Drake

Sara Drake

Sara Drake’s 3D maps are a vibrantly coloured, whimsical combination of model-making, painting and sculpture.

I can normally be found carving miniature buildings from balsa wood and bandaging up the resultant scalpel wounds—or with my hands buried deep in wallpaper paste, as I papier mache the map base.

The maps are all hand-built and painted with acrylics, which give great vibrancy and long-lasting colour. The making process is pretty unique and combines a number of different artistic processes. I also use a huge range of materials—both new and recycled and can frequently be found head-first in a skip digging for special treasure! I am always looking for new and exciting techniques and materials to experiment with.

[Maps on the Web]

Looking Back at Hurricane Harvey’s Impact

Here’s a CBS News gallery of before-and-after images showing the impact of flooding in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The page is undated but was published on 1 September. [Dave Smith]

And, via CityLab, here are a set of maps from the Urban Institute that show the impact of Hurricane Harvey on Houston’s neighbourhoods, based on income levels, home ownership rates, accumulated-equity rates, all of which looking at the economic impact of the storm. “Harvey’s aftermath puts an enormous hurdle in front of all homeowners and renters but will be a particular setback for low-income, minority families recovering from the 2008 housing bust.”

Previously: Mapping Hurricane Harvey’s Impact.

Atlas of the Irish Revolution

The Atlas of the Irish Revolution came out earlier this month from Cork University Press in Europe and New York University Press in North America. From the latter publisher: “Published to coincide with the centenary of the Easter Rising, this comprehensive and visually compelling volume brings together all of the current research on the revolutionary period, with contributions from leading scholars from around the world and from many disciplines.” The Irish Times’s coverage of the book’s launch focuses on the sheer size of the book: nearly 1,000 pages, more than 300 maps and 700 images—and weighing just over 5 kg. Amazon [WMS]

Related: Map Books of 2017.

‘Mildly Eccentric’ Maps of South Africa

South African cartographer Peter Slingsby, got a profile in the South African newsmagazine Financial Mail last month; his company, Slingsby Maps, produces a number of “mildly eccentric” hiking and tourist maps that contain “the idiosyncratic asides and flourishes that make Slingsby’s maps such a pleasure to consult.”

On his incredibly popular map of the Cape Peninsula, for example, there are helpful little clouds of information among the place names and contours. One such tells of the people of Brooklands, who lived on the tableland above Simon’s Town. “The Brooklands community, who farmed here and worked in Simon’s Town, were evicted under apartheid because they were not ‘white’. The ruins of their village are their monument,” says the bubble.

[WMS]

The Territory Is Not the Map

Critiques of fantasy maps have more to do with the shortcomings of fantasy worlds than the maps that depict them.

There’s something I’ve noticed about the recent round of debates about fantasy maps, something I’ve been noticing about discussions of fantasy maps in general. They don’t talk about fantasy maps in terms of their cartographic merit. That is to say, they don’t judge fantasy maps as maps.

When Alex Acks vents about fantasy maps, it’s because the mountain ranges in Middle-earth don’t make sense, not because the cartography of Pauline Baynes or Christopher Tolkien wasn’t up to the task. It’s more that the territory is shaped to fit the story rather than the other way around, less that the maps of said territory frequently lack a scale. When Boing Boing’s Rob Beschizza says that “Game of Thrones has such a terrible map it could be presented as a parody of bad fantasy maps,” he’s not saying that the cartography of the various Song of Ice and Fire mapmakers, such as Jonathan Roberts (The Lands of Ice and Fire), James Sinclair (books one through four) or Jeffrey L. Ward (A Dance with Dragons), is deficient. He’s saying that the Game of Thrones geography is terrible.

Continue reading “The Territory Is Not the Map”

New York Nautical

Last month the New York Times had a profile of New York Nautical, a store specializing in nautical charts, publications, instruments and related goodies in Manhattan’s Tribeca district. If you’re wondering how they stay in business—because that’s inevitable when talking about a store that’s in the business of selling paper maps today—it turns out that most of their business comes from commercial ships buying charts required by the Coast Guard. [WMS]

A Humanitarian Crisis, Observed from Orbit

Earlier this month Human Rights Watch released satellite imagery of burning buildings in minority Rohingya villages in Myanmar’s Rakhine State—evidence, human rights observers say, of a government-led campaign against the Rohingya, four hundred thousand of whom have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh. Amnesty International has collated on-the-ground and satellite evidence and has produced a map showing active fires in Rakhine State. The Washington Post’s coverage also features maps, before-and-after satellite images and infographics.

More Maps of the 2017 German Federal Election

Benjamin Hennig, Views of the World.

Cartogrammer extraordinaire Benjamin Hennig has produced cartograms of the 2017 German federal election results. A second set of cartograms looks at voter turnout and each party’s share of the vote. These cartograms distort for population to compensate for densely populated areas, so that the choropleth maps used for election results are proportionate.

The German data visualization studio webkid worked on a number of election maps; they have a roundup of election maps and infographics they worked on as well as from other media organizations.

CityLab on Where the Animals Go

Now that Where the Animals Go, a book that maps tracking data from field biologists’ research projects, is available in a U.S. edition (previously), it’s getting another round of media attention on this side of the pond. This CityLab piece interviews the authors and highlights several of the maps (and the studies behind them).

Previously: Where the Animals Go.

Stuart Arnett’s Artistic Cartography

Stuart Arnett, “Hooked.”

Ottawa-based artist Stuart Arnett creates works of art by drawing and painting directly on topo maps and nautical charts—“a mixed medium art form that I have named ‘Artistic Cartography,’” he says. “This combines a geographical map with graphite, Staedtler Marker and paint. This art form allows the subject matter to be paired with its natural habitat.” Giclée prints and originals are available via his website. [World of Maps]

Mapping with Microsoft Paint

The Washington State Department of Transportation is clearly run by sadists. They held a contest to create a map of road closures and special events in the Seattle area over the busy 29 September to 1 October weekend. But because they’re sadists (or because it’s Washington State, home of Microsoft), the map had to be created using Microsoft Paint, with entrants drawing on a supplied base layer.

In the end, there were four entries, which can be viewed at this Flickr album. Voting is by likes on Flickr or via Twitter. [Sarah Bell]

Tissot’s Indicatrix

Tissot’s indicatrices superimposed on the Robinson projection. Map by Eric Gaba. Wikimedia Commons.

Geo Lounge’s Elizabeth Borneman has a piece on Tissot’s indicatrix, which tends to turn up in discussions of map projections. (See, for example, this piece from Vox’s Johnny Harris, and the accompanying video.) And for good reason: it’s a useful visualization tool. All maps distort—representing a curved surface on a flat plane, et cetera, et cetera—but a grid of Tissot’s indicatrices superimposed on a world map will measure the distortion—linear, angular, by area—produced by that map’s projection. On the Mercator projection, the indicatrices remain perfect circles, but grow larger toward the poles; on equal-area equatorial projections, they maintain their size but squish into ellipses; on other projections they also angle left or right depending on how close they are to the edge. On compromise projections like the Robinson (see above), they do all three.