Hedgehogs and beyond: Introducing Londonmapper

LondonmapperGood things come to those who wait. Today we are officially launching the Londonmapper website, a project that I started working on following the completion of my PhD in 2011. Over the past 2 1/2 years we developed the scope of the project which aims to become a new Social Atlas of London, a project that has not been undertaken since Shepherd et al’s work in the 1970s. But it wouldn’t be me if this would be an ordinary mapping project. Londonmapper is a growing collection of all kinds of cartograms that map a wide range of data to give a comprehensive picture of the diversity in the city. Continue reading

Eurovision 2013 revisited

Eurovision 2013 revisited

Year after year in May Europe meets to celebrate one common guilty pleasure: the Eurovision Song Contest. More important in the outcome than watching the singing performances is the voting procedure: It sometimes appears as if points are not always related to the performance, but a reflection of European history and current events. That makes it interesting for detailed analyses (such as this detailed one by students of the Technical University of Denmark) regardless of whether one agrees with the quality and style of the contributions. The upcoming song contest takes place in Copenhagen, as Denmark was last years winner which can be seen in the following map of the total votes that each country received in the 2013 contest (see the bottom of this post):

Total Points received by each countryEurovision 2013
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But there is more to the results than the overall picture of the votes (Sidenote and warning: This blog post has a large number of maps embedded and may take longer to load up when viewing). Continue reading

China’s gender gap: Man-made problems?

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CHINET“In recent decades, the world has witnessed the enormous economic, social, cultural and political development of China. As the most populous country in the world, China’s transition process influences directly one fifth of the world’s population and indirectly almost all the rest of the world. Chinese economic activities cover the whole globe, Chinese living overseas constitute the largest diaspora, and China’s political and economic influence is significant. On the other hand, China and its government face many challenges, as Chinese society as well as the environment are affected by these massive processes.” These challenges were the theme of a Conference on the Socio-Economic Transition of China at Palacký University in Olomouc (Czech Republic) where the opportunities and potential threats for China are discussed from an interdisciplinary perspective organized by the CHINET (Forging a scientific team and international networking in the field of Chinese Studies) project.
Part of that was an invited contribution which I prepared in collaboration with Adam Horálek of Palacký University. Our talk titled ‘Mapping Perspectives of Changing China’ presented a global as well as national context to the topic, framing China’s socio-economic place in the globalised world and highlighting some of the trends that started transforming the Chinese society considerably over the past three decades. While the most recent Census is not yet available in larger detail, we focussed on an analysis of some key aspects of the previous Census in more detail (and also discussed the quality and reliability of data from official statistics there).
The following map showing the gender gap was part of our slides (see below) and stands for one of the demographic challenges and existing tensions in the contemporary society. These are not only characterized by the changing age structures (with very distinct geographic patterns of ageing populations), but also by the considerable imbalance between the male and female population in most parts of the country. According to the most recent 2010 Census, this was at 1.18 males per female, and thus increased to the already high ratio that was stated 10 years before. In some regions, there are now over 130 men for 100 woman, with the fear (and sometimes reality), “that the excess will lead to increased sexual violence, general crime and social instability” (quoted from the Guardian). It is very much a man-made problem as in the early 1980s the ratio was at 108:100 and therefore only slightly above the natural rate, after which the 1979 introduced one child policy started having an effect that we see in its full extent today. This map, showing the sex ratio on an equal population projection (a gridded cartogram transformation where each grid cell is resized according to the total number of people in an area). It reveals, that the surplus of men is common throughout the country, while the opposite (a considerable surplus of women) is true for very few of the populated spaces in China (such as in the Shenzhen area of the Pearl River Delta where female migrants are the majority of workers under precarious employment conditions).
The authorities appear to become aware of the emerging problems, and according to the Guardian article, China’s “new Five Year Plan sets an ambitious target of cutting the ratio to 112 or 113 by 2016″. For the time being, the pattern in this map remains prevalent and puts pressure on a society that is feeling the full impact of China’s transformation to a new global player over the past decades.

Male to Female Sex Ratio in China
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Europe at Night

Earth HourNASA’s night lights imagery published in the Earth Observatory provides a stunning view of our impact on the planet. The following map of Europe at night is an extract of my gridded population projection of the the Earth at night showing more detail of where the distribution of night lights is on the European continent in relation to its population distribution (the surrounding areas such as the northern tip of Africa remain unchanged, hence shows a ‘normal’ land area perspective). Europe is one of the few regions globally (alongside North America) where light pollution at night is very much a phenomenon that is ‘normal’ for the vast majority of people who see very little of the night skies (hence the dominantly bright areas in this image – dark spots are those areas where people live with very little light pollutin). Northumberland Dark Sky Park (which gained Dark Sky Status by the International Dark-Sky Association in December 2013) is now to be known as Europe’s biggest Dark Sky Park and the largest unspoilt area in this regard, squeezed in the sparsely populated bright spaces between Northern England and Southern Scotland in this cartogram:

Equal population projection map of Europe at Night
(click for larger version)

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Londonmapper goes #geomob: Visualising London with Cartograms

Today I was invited to give a presentation at the quarterly #geomob meetup for location based service developers which this time took place at the Google Campus in East London. In my talk I gave a short preview of the Londonmapper project that I am working on with my colleagues and the Trust for London. Unfortunately technology played some tricks on us and some of the animated bits and content did not show up during the presentation, so that I promised to put these on my blog alongside the slides of the talk. Here we go…
This first animation was an introduction into showing how cartograms work in general. I used a gridded population cartogram animation for Great Britain which I created years ago, demonstrating the approach of using a gridded cartogram to allow other layers being used in the transformed map. The following map (which is rather drafty as it was only a conceptual exercise) shows Great Britain overlaid with a topographic layer indicating the land elevation, as well as some key rivers and a selection of the motorway network. During the animation this map transforms from a conventional land area map into a gridded population cartogram where each grid cell is resized according to the total number of people living there. While the grid cells change their size, the other geographic layers are changed accordingly, so that the final cartogram shows these layers in relation to the population distribution, i.e. at which elevations do people live and how are people linked to major roads. The animation also demonstrates the magnifying lens effect in the most densely populated areas. Motorways and even the curvy shapes of the river Thames become visible now which at such a scale cannot be seen from a normal map. Gridded cartograms hence help to highlight details in these areas that are most relevant in the transformed space.

Gridded Cartogram Animation of Great Britain
(click for larger version)

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