Google and Apple Updates

Google explains how they identify and take action against fraudulent content—fake reviews, fake listings, content vandalism—on Google Maps.

Meanwhile, the ability to pay for parking and transit fares is being integrated into the Google Maps app (Engadget, The Verge).

On the Apple Maps front, cycling directions have come to Portland, Oregon and San Diego, and turn-by-turn navigation has been expanded in the United Arab Emirates.

The Map Books of 2021 page is now live, but at the moment it has very few books listed. If there’s a book coming out in 2021 that should be on this page—basically, any and all books about cartography, maps and related subjects—please let me know. Ideally books should have a publication date (though I’m well aware that dates can move around a lot) and other details available, but I’ll work with what I can get.

Crowdsourced Incident Reporting Coming to Apple Maps

Crowdsourced incident reporting—a feature already available in Google Maps and Waze—is coming to Apple Maps: the beta release of iOS 14.5 enables users to report accidents, road hazards and speed checks, with Siri and CarPlay integration. More at CNet’s Roadshow and MacRumors, among others; the final, public release of iOS 14.5 should come out some time in the spring, I think.

One Billion Years of Continental Drift

So this animation went viral last week:

It shows the movement of Earth’s tectonic plates over the past billion years, and it was posted by one of the co-authors of this study proposing a new, single model of plate tectonic activity that covers the past billion years of Earth’s existence. (Previous models, if I understand the abstract correctly, covered shorter periods—for several-hundred-million-year values of short—and didn’t line up with each other.)

Map Projections for Babies

Map Projections for BabiesLate last year Dan Ford launched a Kickstarter to create a board book (i.e., a children’s book printed on paperboard) about map projections called Map Projections for Babies. Presumably intended to be in the same vein as other board books on surprisingly advanced science topics (Chris Ferrie has a whole series of them; Quantum Computing for Babies is a typical title), Map Projections for Babies “explains how we unwrap the round Earth to make flat maps. This guide for babies (and their loved ones) describes a complex concept in kid-friendly terms. […] This project began last year, when I was inspired threefold by my daughter’s curiosity, my love for maps, and a growing number of board books that condense complex concepts for babies.” The Kickstarter was successful, the book is now at the printing stage and is on track for delivery in April; additional orders will be accepted at some point. [Geography Realm]

COVID-19 in Los Angeles

New York Times (screenshot)

The New York Times maps the distribution of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles. “County officials recently estimated that one in three of Los Angeles County’s roughly 10 million people have been infected with Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. But even amid an uncontrolled outbreak, some Angelenos have faced higher risk than others. County data shows that Pacoima, a predominantly Latino neighborhood that has one of the highest case rates in the nation, has roughly five times the rate of Covid-19 cases as much richer and whiter Santa Monica.”

More About ‘Time in Maps’

Book cover: Time in MapsWhile you’re waiting for me to review Kären Wigen and Caroline Winterer’s Time in Maps: From the Age of Discovery to Our Digital Era, here is some more information about this collection of essays about how maps have been used to depict time. Time in Maps is the end product of a conference held at Stanford’s David Rumsey Map Center in November 2017, and the editors are history professors at Stanford, so naturally the university’s media channels are all over it: Stanford Today published a piece last week that coincided with the book launch, and there’s also a short video.

Previously: New Books from the University of Chicago Press.

 

COVID-19 in the United States: A Map Roundup

County-level map of the United States showing willingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine (MIT Technology Review)

The New York Times maps the risk of getting COVID-19 in the United States on a county-by-county basis (previously: Mapping COVID-19 Exposure Risk at Events). [Maps Mania]

Now that vaccines are available, they can be mapped as well. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s COVID Data Tracker includes this map of total doses administered in the U.S.; this NBC News county-level map showing the percentage of Americans living within 50 miles of a pharmacy expected to carry a vaccine dates from December and is probably out of date by now. [Maps Mania]

According to a survey, more than a quarter of the U.S. population would not get a COVID-19 vaccine if it was available to them. This number is not evenly distributed: this map from MIT Technology Review, presented as a map showing whether your neighbours want to get vaccinated, reveals the regional pockets of vaccine hesitancy (see above). (What the actual hell, Louisiana?)

Pandemic Atlas

Pandemic Atlas banner illustration

Alejandro Polanco’s latest Kickstarter project is the Pandemic Atlas. The idea, he says, “is to gather the most relevant information about the pandemics and major epidemics that have hit humanity throughout history to create an atlas in the visual style of my Minimal Geography project.” In 130 pages, the Pandemic Atlas explores major epidemics throughout history, and includes general chapters on heath subjects. The project’s inception actually predates the COVID-19 pandemic; it was initally inspired by the 100th anniversary of the 1918 pandemic, but at the time there was not much interest in the topic. Fast forward today, when an atlas about historical pandemics is just a little too topical.

The Pandemic Atlas Kickstarter runs through 24 February (it’s already met its goal). €20 gets you a digital copy of the atlas, €60 adds the hardcover.

Previously: The Minimal Geography Atlas.

Michael T. Jones, 1960-2021

Keyhole co-founder Michael T. Jones died January 18th at the age of 60. He’d been undergoing cancer treatment. Geospatial World: “Words can’t describe the contribution and impact of Michael Jones’s work on democratizing and personalizing maps. He is to be credited for not only launching Keyhole in 2000—the original version of Google Earth, quite accidentally as he put it in a conversation with Geospatial World—but also for his years of work on improving on it as the Chief Technology Advocate of Google after its acquisition by the IT giant.” Last year the Royal Geographic Society awarded him the 2020 Patron’s Medal.

(To be honest, between Jones, John Hanke and Brian McClendon I’m not sure who did what at Keyhole and Google Earth: the company history isn’t quite as ingrained in computer lore as, say, Apple’s is.)

Atlas Obscura Interviews James Niehues

In an interview with Atlas Obscura’s Max Ufberg, legendary ski resort map artist James Niehues (no stranger to us here at The Map Room: previously) discusses some of the challenges involved in creating his paintings. For example:

What’s the most challenging aspect of the work?
Showing all the trails in the most understandable and navigational way. It may not always be in one view, but I strive for the single view because it leaves no doubt about any trail connections or direction. Many mountains have slopes on more than one face, which requires manipulating the features to show the back side with the front on a flat sheet of paper. This has to be done with care since skiers will be referring to the image to choose their way down; all elements have to be relative to what they are experiencing on the mountain.

[via]

More on Marie Tharp

A new article on the life and career of Marie Tharp, written by our friend Betsy Mason, was published by Science News earlier this month. Plenty has been written about Tharp, whose work mapping the ocean floor helped provide the evidence for continental drift: numerous articles, a 2012 biography, two books for children just last year. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still people who still haven’t heard of her, and should.

America’s Overdependence on GPS

GPS signals are relied upon by critical parts of our infrastructure, from transportation to communications to agriculture to financial markets. But those signals are easily spoofed or jammed and, at least in the United States, have no real backup (despite legislation mandating one by last year). Kate Murphy’s opinion piece in the New York Times not only serves as a summary of the problem, and a warning, it also does so in the most mainstream of newspapers: most of what I’ve read on the subject has been in the business, tech and science media. More people will see this. [MAPS-L]

Previously: GPS Is Easy to Disrupt, and the Consequences of Disruption Are Serious; A GPS Spoofing Mystery in Shanghai; The Economic Impact of GPS—and GPS Outages; The Russians Are Spoofing! The Russians Are Spoofing!

Maps at Year’s End

Kenneth Field has posted his favourite maps from the past year—something he’s been doing since 2013. Quite a diverse set, from the Johns Hopkins coronavirus dashboard to a Lego model of Manhattan: you won’t have seen all of them.

CityLab has posted a selection of reader maps that explore how their lives were affected by 2020. Coronavirus, change and disruption are recurring themes. “We hope these maps offer readers a sense of solace and solidarity, a chance for reflection or provocation, and perhaps even a breath of creative inspiration.” (Previously: CityLab Wants Your Homemade Map of 2020.)