Behind the Scenes at the JHU Coronavirus Dashboard

JHU coronavirus dashboard screenshot
JHU CSSE (screenshot)

ArcGIS-based dashboards tracking the spread of the novel coronavirus are now reasonably common, but the first was produced by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering. As Nature Index reports in this behind-the-scenes look at the JHU coronavirus dashboard, the decision to launch was spur of the moment, but now the dashboard and its underlying data get more than a billion hits every single day, and it is now managed by a team that numbers nearly two dozen. [GIS Lounge]

Landforms of Michigan

Daniel Huffman, “Landforms of Michigan” (2020).

Daniel Huffman finally finished a map he’d been working on, off and on (though mostly off), for years. Landforms of Michigan appeared in draft form on this 2016 blog post about mapping terrain using Photoshop layers; last week, Daniel says, “I finally overcame my inertia enough to finish it.” It’s available as a large poster on Zazzle.

Mapping the Lockdown-Related Drop in Emissions

ESA

The European Space Agency maps the drop in nitrogen dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere in the wake of coronavirus lockdowns in many countries (see above). [GIS Lounge]

Meanwhile, CESBIO researcher Simon Gascoin built a map that compares NO2 concentrations over the last 30 days with the same period in 2019.

Data for these analyses generally come from the Copernicus Programme’s Sentinel-5P satellite. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service issued a warning last week about using the data improperly.

Concentrations of NO2 in the atmosphere are highly variable in space and time: they typically vary by one order of magnitude within each day and quite substantially from one day to another because of the variations in emissions (for example the impacts of commuter traffic, weekdays and weekend days) as well as changes in the weather conditions. This is why, even if observations are available on a daily (currently available from satellites) or even hourly (ground-based observations) basis, it is necessary to acquire data for a substantial period of time in order to check that a statistically robust departure from normal conditions has emerged.

Cloud cover is a factor that needs to be taken into account as well.

Previously: Emissions Drop Due to Coronavirus Outbreak.

Preorders Open for Anton Thomas’s North America Map

North America: Portrait of a Continent (Anton Thomas)It’s been years in the making, but prints of Anton Thomas’s pictorial map, North America: Portrait of a Continent, can now be pre-ordered.

Three versions are available: a 42×52-inch (107×132.5-cm) poster, a 44×54-inch (111.7×138.3-cm) giclée print in a limited edition of 1,200, and a 48×59-inch (121×149.6-cm) giclée print in a limited edition of 400. Prices will be shown in your local currency: in Canadian dollars they’re $95, $490 and $765, respectively. These are discounted prices for pre-orders. Shipping outside Australia will be by UPS (I was quoted a shipping fee of US$35 at checkout), and will begin on April 16.

My main concerns are where I’m going to put it, and how I’m going to have it framed. But I’ll worry about that later.

Previously: The North American Continent: A Pictorial Map by Anton Thomas; An Update on Anton Thomas’s Map of North America.

Van der Maarel on What It’s Like to Be a Cartographer

Cartographer Hans van der Maarel, of Red Geographics, is interviewed about what it’s like to be a cartographer for a podcast called Discover Your Talent—Do What You Want. I’ve never heard of this podcast, but seems to focus on careers and career planning, which explains some of the questions. The episode is thirty minutes long. [via]

An Interview with Margaret Pearce, Mapmaker of Indigenous Place Names

Coming Home to Indigenous Place Names in Canada (map)

Coming Home to Indigenous Place Names in Canada, a wall map of indigenous place names in Canada, came out in 2018. A few days ago Design Feminism posted an interview with the mapmaker, Dr. Margaret Pearce, in which she talks about engaging with Indigenous communities, her design decisions, and other behind-the-scenes detail. [Leventhal]

Previously: Indigenous Place Names in Canada; Indigenous Place Names and Cultural Property.

Still More Coronavirus Maps

Kera Till

Kera Till’s “Commuting in Corona Times” is a transit map of the new normal. More at Untapped New York.

On a personal level, the coronavirus map I stare at the most is the one closest to home: a dashboard that shows the regional incidence of COVID-19 in Quebec. Maintained by two geographers at Laval University, it’s extremely helpful in that it shows the per capita rate as well as the raw numbers, which highlights (for example) just how many cases there are in the Eastern Townships, and how few there are here in the Outaouais, as a percentage of the population. [Le Droit]

New York City COVID-19 mapLess helpful is New York City’s map showing the percentage of patients testing positive for COVID-19, because its neighbourhood detail is so difficult to interpret, as Patch’s Kathleen Culliton points out. “Neighborhoods are designated by numbers instead of name—408 is Jamaica, Queens, by the way—and the percentages are not connected to population data but to those tested. The number of people tested per zone? Not included. The population [per] zone? Not included.” [Kenneth Field]

It’s hard to maintain social distancing in a dense urban environment like New York, but that doesn’t mean that rural areas are inherently safer. Identifying areas that would be hit harder by the coronavirus can be a factor of age and various social vulnerability factors (such as poverty and vehicle access); John Nelson looks at the intersection of age and social vulnerability in this StoryMap and this blog post. The Washington Post’s maps of vulnerability are based on age and flu rates. A third example is Jvion’s COVID Community Vulnerability Map, which is based on anonymized health data from some 30 million Americans [ZDNet].

The New York Times maps the number of cases at the global level and for the United States. It’s also making available county-level coronavirus data assembled from various states and counties, since there seems to be no single agency tracking this at the national level.

Failing to observe social distancing makes the pandemic worse. You might have seeen Tectonix’s video on Twitter, drawn from the location data of mobile devices that were active at a single beach in Florida over spring break, and followed them home. As CTV News reports, the video has drawn fire from privacy advocates, though Tectonix asserts that the data was anonymized and collected with user consent. Meanwhile, the New York Times explores several scenarios of coronavirus spread, comparing what might happen with some control measures, more severe control measures, and no action taken at all.

For mapmakers: Matthew Edney on how and how not to map the COVID-19 pandemic. Kenneth Field on using coxcomb charts (memory-intenstive example here) and waffle grids to map the pandemic.

Can GPS Be Used on the Moon?

More on the question of whether GPS can be used for navigation on the lunar surface—that is to say the existing constellations of Earth-orbiting GNSS satellites, not a new constellation of satellites around the moon. A new study suggests that the answer is yes: GPS and other navigation systems could be used.

Cheung and Lee plotted the orbits of navigation satellites from the United States’s Global Positioning System and two of its counterparts, Europe’s Galileo and Russia’s GLONASS system—81 satellites in all. Most of them have directional antennas transmitting toward Earth’s surface, but their signals also radiate into space. Those signals, say the researchers, are strong enough to be read by spacecraft with fairly compact receivers near the moon. Cheung, Lee and their team calculated that a spacecraft in lunar orbit would be able to “see” between five and 13 satellites’ signals at any given time—enough to accurately determine its position in space to within 200 to 300 meters. In computer simulations, they were able to implement various methods for improving the accuracy substantially from there.

A mini-network of relays—a couple of satellites in lunar orbit, say—could improve accuracy further. [Geography Realm]

Previously: Many Moon Maps.

Alternate Geographies on the Imaginary Maps Reddit Group

Gizmodo takes a look at the Imaginary Maps group on Reddit, where members mostly post imagined maps from alternate timelines—countries that never existed, the aftermath of wars that went the other way, that sort of thing. The bulk of the piece is an interview with frequent contributor xpNc, who talks about their own motivations for creating such maps. Some, of course, are controversial—a good way to pick a fight, apparently, is to draw a map of the Balkans with alternate borders. And, as xpNc tells Gizmodo, “Some people are just a little bit too enthusiastic about scenarios where Germany takes over the world, and I really don’t want to attract that crowd”—fortunately the wave of “Germany wins the Second World War” maps that I saw on the group a while back (last year?) seems to have abated.

Fuller’s Quarantine Maps

Gareth Fuller: Quarantine Maps: Day 4
Gareth Fuller

Gareth Fuller, whom we first heard about thanks to his masterpiece London Town, is in the news again. Now based in Beijing, he found himself forced to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning from a trip to Kuala Lumpur. Fuller has mapped every place he has lived, so he spent his two weeks of isolation creating quarantine maps—one for each day. The maps are claustrophobic—his apartment is 590 square feet—metaphorical, even fantastical. They’re very much on-point in this age of self-isolation and social distancing. They’re available as a set of postcards for £14, which is considerably cheaper than his other limited edition prints.

Last fall Fuller released a tourist map of Pyongyang (BBC News). I seem to have missed his map of Beijing when it came out.

Previously: Fuller: London Town; Fuller Update.

Antique Globes, Virtual and Real

British Library digital globes
British Library

The British Library is digitizing its collection of globes, with the first seven virtual globes scheduled to be released online next week.

The digital globes will be available to view on the British Library website—www.bl.uk/collection-items—from 26 March, via a viewing platform which includes an augmented reality function (available on phone or tablet via the Sketchfab app). This online access will allow unprecedented up-close interaction with the globes from anywhere in the world and means that for the first time, a variety of previously illegible surface features on the globes can be read.

A total of 30 globes are being scanned this way. [The Guardian]

Meanwhile, in Russia, the Grabar Art Conservation Center is restoring the State Historical Museum’s badly dilapidated pair of Blaue globes. Work on the terrestrial globe has been completed; the celestial globe is next. This video (in Russian) documents the process. See also TVC Moscow (also in Russian). [WMS]

Some More Coronavirus Maps

Washington Post

The Washington Post maps COVID-19 cases by U.S. state and country (above).

Animated maps from HealthMap and NBC New York trace the spread of the coronavirus over time. [Maps Mania]

Maps Mania also has a list of official government coronavirus maps.

Via Geography Realm, a collection of “responsible” live visualizations, some of which are maps, that can be embedded on other websites.

(See my other posts about COVID-19 for maps I’ve already linked to.)