Monday, September 29, 2008

Follow the Money with USA Today Finance Tracker

Once again it looks like USAToday is on top of mapping innovation with a new series of maps showing the amount of contributions by party or candidate. The Campaign Finance Tracker map provides a graduated symbol map of contributions by state and by party. By clicking on a specific state the interactive map shows a bar chart that filters the information by amount or by month in which the contribution was made. A third bar chart shows which industry contributed to the party. The graduated symbol map is unusual in that in uses concentric circles to show the relative proportion of the contributions. The map is quite different that than developed by the Huffington post that drills down to individual contributors and also represents location as a graduated symbols.

Don't forget to check out the map on the independent groups that have garnered contributions. USAToday does not give their affiliation. For example, the Fund for America is affiliate with Democratic causes.

Healthy Places to Retire? How about Connected Places to Nest?

The September 26th issue of US News and World Report published an article and map of the "Healthy Places to Retire." While I applaud their efforts I feel like they were trying to appease certain areas of the country...that is, wouldn't want to leave any part of the country out of the mix. But Portland, Maine? If I wanted to retire to a cold weather climate, then Boulder would probably be better though pricier choice, as the article suggested. Not in the "first cut" of the top ten but mentioned as one of the "faves" of the readers was my current hometown of Huntsville, Alabama. It's got good golfing, great hiking trails, close to the river (if you like boating, rowing, water skiing), inexpensive housing and truly many retirees thanks to the military.

But, for those who are looking for a little more, I'd ask..."What are the best 'connected' cities in which to retire?" I will make the bold assumption that people in my generation (those 50+) will probably not retire outright but will look for communities that have a good business climate as well in addition to fine recreational facilities. They will want good transportation and telecommunications connectivity. I think Huntsville, is actually a good choice, given that criteria, but also, Knoxville, Cincinnati, and USNews choice, Asheville, NC.

Kidnap Map

International travel is anxious enough without having to worry about being kidnapped. This week's Forbes Magazine has published a map of the countries where you are susceptible to becoming a hostage for someone's or some group's cause. The weekend's past news of pirates taking an entire ship hostage off the coast of Somalia is a case in point. High on the list are some obvious places like Nigeria and Colombia but then some surprising countries like South Africa and Brazil make the list.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Real Borders; Not Lines in the Sand - Pakistan & Afghanistan

An article in the September 22nd issue of Time Magazine titled "The Central Front" that focused on the calamities of Pakistan's new government and the resurgent violence caused by terrorism got me thinking about borders. On page 38 of this issue, Time presented a map that showed the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and in particular the region in Pakistan demarcated as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). This quasi-autonomous area is suspected of harboring al-Qaida and Osama Bin laden.

I've never been to that area of Pakistan but I have been to the northern Pakistan and the areas north and west of Skardu as well as Indian Kashmir and the Ladahki Himalaya. Whether you draw a line on a piece of paper or not as the map in Time showed, there is no border. There are no fence lines or benchmarks or roads that mark these territories. These maps are so inaccurate due to the lack of cartographers willing to actually survey these areas that the borders are nearly non-existent. The regions are so vast and mostly uninhabited that it makes mapping them extremely difficult. The borders are but approximations. The recent news of U.S. military incursions into Pakistan caused a stir because there was some uncertainty that they actually crossed the border.

So, as you approach your reading of these areas of the world, know that many of these borders are disputed and sometimes inaccurately drawn. Watch out for the dashed-line in the sand as it can disappear with the next windstorm.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Boston Homicide Map

With crime maps becoming an accepted, indeed, expected resource that should be provided if not by the local government then perhaps the media, the Boston Globe is stepping up with a map of homicides in the city during 2008. The map location is linked to a description of the incident and any other victims of the crime. The online map is a Google mashup.

Wired's Exacto Knife and Mainframe-style Maps Lend Zest to their Smart List

In what I can only describe as a pre-desktop mapping, quasi-mainframe generated, exacto-knife wielding style, Wired Magazine punctuated its article on "The 15 People the Next President Should Listen To" with wonderfully classic maps. The prism and thematic maps that support the article are excellently conceived and presented. The maps have a kind of 1970's-ish quality; very pixelated and reminds me of the early computer-generated map styles of mainframes. The article appears in the October issue.

Economic Globalization on the Move...Follow the BBC Box


The BBC has set about to uniquely watch the globalization of the world's economy. They've set about tracking a container box around the world for one year. Readers can track the box via a map that the publication has created that shows the current location of the container. The container was launched on its journey on September 8th and contains a GPS device and transmitter.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

WSJ Combines Imagery, Surge Maps for Ike Predictions


The Wall Street Journal exhibited one of the best illustrations of how a publication can segment its news for both its audience and medium. The weekend print edition of the WSJ (Sept. 13/14) showed a map sourced from both the National Hurricane Center and the National Coastal Development Center (NCDC) of Hurricane Ike's storm surge along the Texas Gulf Coast. The black and white thematic map showed a great deal of detail of the stricken areas and the shade gradation used in the maps was certainly adequate to differentiate the most afflicted regions. But online, the WSJ integrated imagery with these storm projects to illustrate just how much flooding would occur to the low-lying areas. (See graphic at right)

So, while in print, they decided to use just a thematic, the online version provided them a better medium to display imagery. Good choice because imagery never fares as well in black and white. And they surpased the NCDC website because after several tries to find the sourced map, I gave up.

Kudos to the WSJ on several fronts.

Zip Codes Rule-Huntsville's Mayoral Race Shows Why

What a coincidence that my own Huntsville Times (Sunday, Sept. 14) should provide fodder to support our poll results by publishing a map of the results of our mayoral election, which will eventually result in a runoff election this October. The map shows how each of the city's zip codes voted in the August elections. The analysis by writer Challen Stephens zeroed in on, of all place, my zip code (35803) as the key battleground in the runoff between incumbent Loretta Spencer and challenger Tommy Battle. The maps shows which zip codes were won by each candidate and a pie chart showing the margin of victory. In 35803, the race was a dead heat and could decide the election as each of the other zips seem to have chosen their candidate by fairly wide margins. Even more interesting, Stephens describes the race by precinct.

Now, in a mayoral elections, perhaps zip codes are the essential geographic level by which each candidate must understand their situation. At the presidential election, maybe not has much. However, as the Huntsville election has showed, it is possible to narrow the race by precinct and swaying the vote by targeting a specific neighborhoods. Would a presidential election have as much success at this geographic level? I submit that a good, grass roots campaign would be able to grasp the opportunities and selectively target precincts and neighborhoods and that wide margin of victory in key demographics could potentially sway an entire zip code.

Poll #1 Results-CNN Needs Zip Codes

The results of our first poll are in and the consensus is clear: CNN needs to augment election coverage by going to better spatial resolution. We asked in our poll if readers believed that CNN needed to use zip codes instead of just counties to report election results. Now, granted, our readers are a bit more conscious of spatial details but in a nearby blog post you will find out why. It's not so much that we like the added spatial detail so much as we get a better understanding of the demographic composition of the electorate. Counties can only allow the viewer to drill down so much an probably for CNN's John King, who controls the large flat panel display on which his maps are reproduced, that may be all the general, mostly geographically illiterate electorate, can tolerate.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wasilla on the Map?

Maybe I don't get all the newspapers that I should but I have yet to see any news outlet show a map of where exactly Wasilla, Alaska is located. Given the popularity of the Republican choice for vice president, Sarah Palin, I've yet to see of map of her hometown. So, here it is. In the map at right, Anchorage is in the lower center left and Wasilla is indicated by the pin. Click for larger view

Friday, September 5, 2008

Perhaps Location and Luck are Related-Buffalo News Maps the Lottery

Whoever said that sometimes you have to be in the right place at the right time wasn't kidding. Back in June, the Buffalo News obtained data from the New York Lottery which showed the relationship of winners to losers in Erie County. The interactive map displays the county by neighborhood. Mousing over the neighborhoods shows the number of retailers, lottery sales, and their winning rank. So, out of 217 neighborhoods where do you want to buy your lottery ticket? Head to the East of Belmont area of the Ellwood section of the Kenmore neighborhood--it was ranked #1 (see the red arrow-click on map to go to interactive website). (Source - Investigative Reports and Editors (IRE).

Thursday, September 4, 2008

NPR Offers Predictions; Gives You the Chance to Pick Your Own

Like several other interactive maps, National Public Radio (NPR) is also offering up a map to "play" with to choose how the electoral vote will stack up. It too has races for House and Senate and will show you the results of past years but only until 1996. Mousing over the state will show you how NPR is calling the race as well as the results of the "Real Clear Politics" (RCP) results which looks to be an average of some of the other polling firms such as Rasmussen and Gallup.

PLEASE...Make A Map You Can READ-WSJ Should Provide Glasses to Readers

Perhaps its my 50-year old eyes but it drives me crazy when I see a newspaper, especially one as reputable as the Wall Street Journal, publish a map that is barely legible. Page A12 today of the WSJ has a map of Indonesia showing the distribution of the predominant religions as a color-coded thematic. Now given that many of the Indonesian Islands are barely spits of land to begin with, a map thereof with various denominations confined to areas no bigger than a postal code is particularly straining to the eyes. The use of color themes was fine but the map was TOO SMALL. I'm squinting to see where each faith group was located. And in some area, the color bled into another area. Either make the map bigger or point the reader to an online version where the reader can zoom into these smaller areas.

Britain From Above-BBC Offers Gazetteer

Thanks to Jesper Ishoj, a Danish geospatial professional and author of the blog GeoJournalist, a blog similar to Map Hawk, I am able to report on the BBC's "Britain From Above" that I would describe as a gazetteer of the country's unique geographic regions, industries, and culture. The BBC's Andrew Marr hosts the online portal which is based on Google Maps. The portal provides an array of maps, photos, videos, and articles on Britain. It's equisitely designed and you can even download a KML file to overlay similar information onto Google Earth. The BBC itself describes the project as, "a multi-platform project for the BBC...to celebrate their rich collection of programming BBC Archive has gathered together over 60 years of broadcasting from the air." Sharing of videos provided on the portal is encouraged.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Inc. Magazine's Impossible (To Read) Top 500 Map

Inc. Magazine (print version) made a valiant but failed attempt to display the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies on a map. A prism map of the highest average 3-year growth rates coupled with a pin map of the 500 top companies truly confused me. I get the pin maps but the improperly developed prism map (accredited to L-Dopa Design + Illustration) was terribly hard to read. The pins in the map for Tennessee looked like they were in Alabama. They simply made the perspective in the wrong direction. They tilted the map and prisms southward when typical prism maps show the "elevated" or extruded graphic in a northward or "up" position. This double + flip out page spread had a poor choice of colors; most of the states were gray and the prisms in lime green. The map also contained a complicated legend with small icons that indicated specific industries that were just plain difficult to understand. The online version of the article contained a Google Maps mashup of the top 100 companies by growth but the map did not display because of a database query failure. The online map of the top 100 companies by revenue was simple and uninformative.

With Gustav, It's All About the Levees; Fox TV Provides Details

As of this morning, I've been monitoring the TV coverage of Hurricane Gustav on both CNN and Fox TV. While CNN is showing only live coverage of the encroaching storm with standard radar views, Fox has enhanced what viewers see by showing detailed maps of the levees. Both cable news networks are keeping their eyes on any breaches but Fox has in place the maps that show the location of levees in greater detail. The Washington Post produced a map of the levees during coverage of Katrina and shows even better detail.