Thursday, March 25, 2010

Telegraph's Map Shows Political Battlegrounds in Upcoming UK General Election

The Telegraph has developed a unique thematic map that displays the political landscape for the upcoming general election in the UK. Each constituency is displayed as a single hexagon and color-coded according to the predominant party results from the 2005 election. It is an unusual way of thematically mapping political tendencies since it totally removes any inherent political and geographic boundaries that might otherwise confine an interpretation of the spatial underpinnings. Selecting any single hexagon will review the voting results as well as some selective stats on crime, health and education.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

USA Today/USGS Maps of Chilean Earthquake Aftershocks Use Thematics Improperly

The map of aftershocks from the Chilean earthquake last week reveals the incredible number of strong quakes that continue to jolt the region. Unfortunately, maps produced by the USGS and picked up by USA Today are inappropriately thematicized. The map shows the location of aftershocks marked by large circular symbols that are color-coded according to their most recent occurrence. Those that have been felt within the last hour are red; within the last day are orange; and those within the last week are yellow. It is a totally confusing way to map mainly because the idea should be to recognize both the location and severity. As they are portrayed, the symbols are all the same size and completely obscure most of the information.

Here's my suggestion: Keep the color-coding but use a graduated symbol to represent the aftershock's magnitude. this would help cut down on what is now a very cluttered map. And it would have been a nice addition if it showed the major fault lines as well.

Monday, March 1, 2010

New York Times Map of Chilean Earthquake Area Highly Confusing

Where to start? The New York Times badly bungled the map showing the region devastated by the massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Chile late last week. The Times shows two maps, side-by-side, as an illustration of the region that felt the most impact of the temblor. The map on the left has region names declared disaster areas and their political boundary. The right hand map shows the region of severe shaking. The map on the right is NOT an inset map but that's the assumption I made. As I look at the map, the shake boundaries are delineated giving the reader the impression that this is an enlarged view of the left hand map. Looking closely, you can see that the shake area does not extend to the country's eastern border with Argentina. However, you would misinterpret the east boundary of the shake area as the border because of the delineation. In fact, a "shake" area should be graphically portrayed as a "heat map" with graduations of severity by color. The fact that a boundary is used misrepresents the geological impact of the quake. In addition, the Times added population data per square mile and for that they used a density (dot density?) map that could have been misinterpreted for map of shake severity. The smaller inset map in the right hand map just serves to further confuse the reader.

Usually, the New York Times has excellent cartographic quality to support their news stories. This time they tried to do too much at the same time and did not use the correct thematic map symbology to support their data.