Sheffield – A City in Context

A City in ContextWhat happens if you lock two creative people and three geographers in a pub, pour some statistics about their city over them and let their mind work out the rest? You could find out the result at this year’s Festival of the Mind of the University of Sheffield that went on for 10 days throughout Sheffield. Nick Bax and Daniel Fleetwood of Humanstudio were the two creative minds that teamed up with Carl Lee of Sheffield College and Danny Dorling & myself from the University of Sheffield to take a look at the impact of higher education on the city in a slightly unusual way. The result of this collaboration is the short film ‘A City in Context‘ viewed during the festival and now available online. Continue reading

Mapping the global village

Changing times was the title of a session at this year’s Annual Symposium of the British Cartographic Society (not to be confused with the Society of Cartographers which will have its annual conference in September).
My contribution as a speaker in this session was titled Changing views of a changing planet. In the presentation I took a look at how changes in data and technology can provide alternative ways of mapping a globalised world, and mapping cities as the hotspots of globalisation. Continue reading

Where does it always rain on us?

Map Animation / Gridded Population Cartogram of Rainfall (Precipitation) patterns in relation to people

Does it never rain in Southern California? And can we find the rain in Spain mainly in the plain? And what does that all mean for the people living in these places? Where does rain matter most for the population? In some places, it can be a much needed scarcity, elsewhere it appears in a much dreaded surplus. Wherever it is falling, rain matters a lot where people are. Partly, the global population distribution can be explained by climate patterns, with rain being a crucial factor for the agriculture in a region. In my presentation for the delegate’s session at this year’s 47th annual meeting of the British Society of Cartographers in Plymouth I took a closer look at the weather, or to be more precise, at climate patterns and their visualisation using gridded cartograms. Part of the presentation was an animation showing the global precipitation patterns projected on a gridded population cartogram. The following map shows the annual precipitation in relation to the global population distribution. The small map inset gives the conventional view of the same data, demonstrating how the perspective changes when seeing the same topic from two different views: Continue reading

Maps for the 21st Century

499 years after Mercator’s birth we may feel that the age of discovery is long gone. We seem to have explored almost every patch of our planet, considerably supported by Mercator’s famous world map that allowed sailors for the first time to reliably navigate across the world’s oceans. His innovation was a significant contribution to the early days of globalisation. Globalisation has turned our planet into a human planet, where people have become a substantial component of the processes that influence our livelihoods – some go as far as calling this a new geological era, the anthropocene. But while we have maps and images of every spot of the earth, we do not fully understand the human environments and interrelations to the natural environment. Normal maps show where sheep and other lovely creatures of nature live but hide much of the so important populous spaces of humanity.
The maps that I created as part of my PhD research are based on a novel cartogram mapping technique, deploying Gastner/Newman’s diffusion-based cartogram algorithm in a new way. The maps give every person living on this planet the same amount of space, while reducing the least populated places to a minimum. The map projection is calculated from an equally distributed population grid so that, unlike in other cartograms, the transformed grid cells preserve an accurate geographical reference. This allows us to map a diverse range of geographical layers on top of the population projection. The new maps show the social and physical environment in relation to population and provide a fresh perspective on the complex geography of the 21st century world. The following animation shows a series of maps that demonstrate the visual capabilities of the technique (the video can be switched to HD resolution by clicking the 360p note in the bottom panel):
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