Swiss Leaks: A world of secret money and bank accounts

Last week the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a team of journalists from 45 countries, published leaked information about secret bank accounts at the Swiss branch of HSBC Private Bank.
The over 60,000 files relate to accounts holding more than $100 billion in total and provide information about more than 100,000 clients, their accounts and the amounts of money hidden in Switzerland, far away from their national tax authorities. The data was first given to the French government and the newspaper ‘Le Monde’ in 2008 already by a whistle-blower from HSBC and later shared with the ICIJ.
The two cartograms shown on this page reveal the global picture that emerges from the leaked data: They show the countries of the world resized according to the total number of clients and the absolute value of their accounts allocated to their respective country of origin:

Cartogram of the money held in secret Swiss HSBC bank accounts
(click for larger version)

Continue reading

Hyperspectral remote sensing and analysis of intertidal zones: A contribution to monitor coastal biodiversity

The growing amount of remotely sensed data and the ongoing developments in the improvement of spatial and spectral resolutions lead to high expectations. These often inflated expectations are usually not fulfilled. I explored these expectations and aimed to make a contribution to bring them to a more accurate level in research in the field of hyperspectral image analysis of small scale and heterogeneous biotopes in the intertidal zones of coastal areas which I undertook back at my time at the University of Cologne and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research Bremerhaven. Here are some insights from my work.

Map overview of the Study Areas on Helgoland and Sylt
Overview of the study area on the islands of Helgoland and Sylt, Germany
(click for larger version)

Continue reading

Geographic visualization in social sciences: Draw more maps!

Featured

Wordle Data Visualisation
Geographic visualization in social sciences – or draw more maps! Continue reading

20’s not so plenty: Road safety in Britain

“20’s Plenty for Us is a voluntary organisation that campaigns for the introduction of a default 20 mph (32 km/h) speed limit for residential streets and urban streets. By seeking to obtain implementation across a complete local authority or community then the organisation believes that worthwhile speed reductions can be achieved without the usual physical calming features.” (Wikipedia) In collaboration with Rod King of 20’s Plenty and Danny Dorling of Oxford University we looked at how far the campaign has gotten so far with convincing local authorities to implement a speed limit of 20 mph in residential areas. Today 12.5 million people live in areas where cars travel more slowly. Although nationally pedestrian deaths on the road are still rising, it marks a first step towards more road safety by a very simple measure. Looking at the spatial patterns, the implementation can be observed all across the United Kingdom, though there appear to be very little on a conventional map. Looking at the issue through an equal-population projection reveals the real extent and puts a spotlight on these areas that really matter for this measure: the most densely populated areas. Here it can be seen that the majority of Scottish people live in areas where 20 mph zones are prevalent, just as the Liverpool-Manchester region (and Sheffield) have seen very successful campaigns, while in other parts of the country the red patches are still covering very large shares of the population:

Cartogram visualisations global forest production, consumption and trade
(click for larger version)

Continue reading

Global tree cover

Featured

There is a long tradition in the emotional relationship between people and forests. We can get an understanding of the extent of the global tree cover from satellite sensors such as NASA’s MODIS
Calculating the average tree cover in an area allows us to estimate the extent of the world’s forests. Forest landscapes can be mapped in various ways and is often done in conventional maps. However, much of the land area is not covered by forest and the few remaining untouched forest landscapes keep shrinking while deforestation continues.

Gridded cartogram visualisation of global tree cover
(click for larger version)

Continue reading

Wood-works: Mapping the world’s commercial forestry

While ‘sustainability’ is in everyone’s mouth – from academia to politics – few are aware that the term was originally shaped in relation to the early days of modern forestry: In the early 18th century, Hans Carl von Carlowitz coined the German word ‘Nachhaltigkeit’ which in a simplified way meant to ensure that enough trees were replanted to ensure the long-term existence of wood supplies (from where the term found its way into its broader meaning that we use it for today). While wood has for a long time been an important resource, it todays is also an important global trade product. In 2007 the FAO stated that “over the last 20 years international trade of forest products […] increased from US$60 billion to US$257 billion, an average annual growth of 6.6%.”
The following cartograms show different aspects related to forestry, including the production of wood for economic activity, the consumption of wood and wood-related products (such as paper), as well as global exports and imports of this (using data for 2011 by FAOstat):

Cartogram visualisations global forest production, consumption and trade
(click for larger version)

Continue reading