Mapping Global Landslide Susceptibility

Image: Jesse Allen. Landslide susceptibility data: Thomas Stanley and Dalia Kirschbaum (NASA/GSFC). Topographic data: SRTM. (NASA Earth Observatory)

NASA Earth Observatory notes the release of a new map of global landslide susceptibility that models the risks of landslides that are triggered by heavy rain. “The map is part of a broader effort to establish a hazards monitoring system that combines satellite observations of rainfall from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission with an assessment of the underlying susceptibility of terrain.” [Geographical]

Early French Maps of the Great Lakes

On Tuesday, Jean-François Palomino of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec gave a talk on early French mapmaking efforts in the Great Lakes region at the University of Michigan. I missed being able to tell you about it in advance, but student newspaper The Michigan Daily has a writeup. [WMS]

(Palomino is one of the co-authors of Mapping a Continent: Historical Atlas of North America, 1492-1814, the French edition of which is La Mesure d’un continent.)

Burmese Maps at Cambridge

Map of the Maingnyaung region, located between the Chindwin and Mu Rivers in Upper Burma, in the present-day Sagaing Region, ca. 1860. Textile map, 209 × 204 cm. Cambridge University Library Special Collections. Creative Commons licence.

Natasha Pairaudeau: “Imagine maps as big as bedsheets, and then imagine the sheets big enough for beds made wide enough to sleep extended families. Only such a double stretch of the imagination can provide the scale of the three Burmese maps in the University Library’s collection, which have recently been made available online in digital format.” [Cartophilia]

Tube Maps of the Thames

Transport for London also operates river buses along the Thames; their maps of the London River Services are very much in the Tube map vein, in both tourist and non-tourist versions:

Of the tourist version Ollie O’Brien of Mapping London says this: “We like the pseudo-tube-map styling, although it could of course be simplified even further, with the Thames just being shown as a straight line. The inclusion of isometric squares showing the major landmarks near each pier is a nice touch. TfL has never really decided whether its river services are for tourists or commuters, but this map should satisfy both.”

The Earth at Night, Updated

NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data from Miguel Román, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

NASA has released updated global maps of the Earth at night. The so-called “black marble” maps show where human activity lights up the darkness. NASA’s page highlights some of the differences between the 2016 and 2012 versions of the map with before/after interactive sliders. John Nelson has tried something different: overlaying the 2016 map on the 2012 map with a clipping mask shows newly illuminated parts of the globe as dark patches.

John M. Nelson, “A Changing Earth at Night,” 2017.

New Google Earth Launches

A new version of Google Earth launched today. Unlike previous versions, the desktop version runs in a web browser rather than a standalone app. Also unlike previous versions, it’s no longer cross-platform: for now at least, the desktop version only runs in Chrome, and the mobile app is Android-only.

Frank Taylor has been covering the new release at the venerable Google Earth Blog and has a first review.

For my part, I’ve poked around in it in Chrome a bit and I found it fairly responsive and easy to use. If it runs this well in the browser I can see how a standalone app would be redundant; this is a better delivery method. I would much prefer it, though, if it also ran on platforms that didn’t belong to Google.

Update, 21 April: Coverage from AFP and Geoawesomeness focuses on the features, which I gave short shrift to above.

When Users Don’t Interact with Interactive Maps

Brian Timoney responds to the argument that few users actually interact with interactive infographics with some thoughts on how that might apply to online maps, with their sometimes-complicated, GIS-derived user interfaces. His suggestions? Static maps, small multiples, animated GIFs, text-based search—simpler, more user-friendly, more familiar UIs and ways to present mapped data.

Mapping Amtrak Cuts

President Trump’s proposed budget would end funding for Amtrak’s long-distance passenger routes, leaving only the Northeast Corridor and state-funded lines. Maps of the lines that would be closed share the problems of Amtrak network maps in general. Take USA Today’s map from its 12 April article on the subject:

Like electoral maps that make large, less-populated areas look more important than densely populated areas, this map is somewhat deceptive: it distorts the extent of the cutbacks because it shows lines rather than trains. There are, for example, a lot more trains in the Northeast Corridor than run between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest (the daily Empire Builder). State-run services tend to have lots of lines and trains over short distances that are too small to see clearly on this map. Adding connecting services (which are usually bus routes) adds even more detail, and clutter, to a small map.

Cameron Booth, for his part, visualizes the proposed cuts by starting with his Amtrak Subway Map and greying out the lines that would be cut. This doesn’t solve the number-of-trains problem, but it does provide a clearer sense of what’s happening to the network.

Previously: Cameron Booth’s Amtrak Subway Map.

Drawing in Windows Maps

“Windows 10’s stock Maps app has a drawing tool that’s quite useful, especially if you have a Windows 10 touchscreen PC,” writes Matt Elliott at CNet. In addition to scribbling notes, you can draw a line between two points to get directions and measure the distance of a drawn route. My household is all-Apple so I miss out on things like this on other platforms. [Gretchen Peterson]

The 74 on Boston Schools and the Peters Map

Education news website The 74 has its own coverage of the Boston schools/Peters map controversy (is it safe to call it a controversy?), with extensive quotes from Matthew Edney, who does not mince words. (Comparing both projections to Comic Sans? Ouch.) [Caitlin Dempsey]

Previously: More on Boston Schools and the Peters MapThe Peters Map Is Fighting the Last WarThe Peters Projection Comes to Boston’s Public SchoolsIn Defence of the Mercator ProjectionHow the Mercator Projection Won the Internet.

How Many Fake Business Listings Are There on Google Maps?

Bogus business listings on Google Maps have been a thing for a while; a new research paper, authored by researchers at Google and the University of San Diego, tries to quantify the scale and scope of the problem. The New Scientist reports:

To analyse the scope of this abuse, the group looked at over 100,000 listings that the Google Maps team had identified as abusive between June 2014 and September 2015. The fraudulent listings most often belonged to services like locksmiths, plumbers and electricians.

Overall, less than one per cent of Google Maps listings were fraudulent, but pockets of fake listings emerged. In West Harrison, New York, for example, more than 80 per cent of locksmiths listed were scams. The U.S. was home to over half of the fraudulent listings, followed by India with 17.5 per cent.

[Cartophilia]

Travel Times in Helsinki

Lauri Vanhala wanted to figure out the best place to buy an apartment in Helsinki, so he built an interactive sort-of-isochrone map of the city. He explains: “I calculated the travel time from every address to every other address in Helsinki around 7:30-8:00am (about 30 billion searches total!). Then I calculated the (weighted) average travel time to anywhere in the city, using amount of jobs in the target area as weight.” [OSM]