World Population Cube


World Population CubeLast November’s theme of the Super Science Saturday at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History was Planet Earth. As part of the activities I contributed a map cube which I created a few years ago.
Cubic globes are not a new idea. They put a nice twist to showing just a simple map, and more importantly, they allow for some activity which get the kids involved just as much as adults. A cube is much less work than creating a spheric version of Earth, and (as said by Carlos Furuti on his online cube globe collection) the cube is an ideal introduction to folding one’s own pseudoglobes.
At last November’s Super Science Saturday I displayed some of my work and offered a ‘Map Cube Activity’ where children (and adults) could cut, fold and glue their own globes. My version of a map cube does not display a normal world map, but a gridded population cartogram (hence the name ‘World Population Cube’). You can create your own cube by using the following template: Continue reading

The Growth and Decline of Urban Agglomerations in Germany

Innovative maps that illustrate the most recent socio-demographic urban changes in the major city urban agglomerations in Germany have very recently been produced in a joint project of the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford and the Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development Dortmund (Germany).
The Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development (Institut für Landes und Stadtentwicklungsforschung, ILS) investigates new social processes, especially those involving urbanisation in Germany and Europe. This includes economic, social and structural processes that are compared and monitored over time to gain a better understanding of the underlying developments. Testing state-of-the-art visualisation techniques are a significant part of this effort. This was the focus of a collaboration between researchers of the University of Oxford and the ILS Dortmund which resulted in the development of a series of highly effective maps called “cartograms” that provide new insights in the changing geographies of city regions in Germany.

Mapping the Growth and Decline of Urban Agglomerations in Germany
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“Calling Abidjan” – estimating population distribution through analysis of mobile phone call data records

Big data, big challenge? Together with Harald Sterly of the University of Cologne I presented a little piece of research in the Extended Spatial Analytics session of the German Geography Congress (Deutscher Kongress für Geographie) in Berlin. The project “Calling Abidjan” that we worked on with Kouassi Dongo of Université de Cocody-Abidjan was started after we successfully applied for participation of the D4D Challenge. According to the initiator Orange telecommunications ‘Data for Development’ is “an innovation challenge open on ICT Big Data for the purposes of societal development”. The project allowed us to work with anonymised mobile phone data from individual call records by Orange in the country of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).
We were interested in investigating, what non-computer scientists with a social science and urban planning background can do with such data in a more contextual rather that technically driven way and therefore explored how mobile phone call records can be used to better estimate population distribution.
For our analysis we used anonymised call data records consisting of information about the base station, timestamp, and caller ID produced by the approximately 500.000 Orange Télecom users in the country. There were 1079 base stations at the time the data was generated and we were able to work with data covering 183 days. The dataset consisted of 13GB of raw data which some would perhaps call ‘Big Data’ (though I personally do not like this term for many reasons).
The following two (draft) maps give an insight into the results. The purple circles show the distribution and density of population estimates that we derived using only mobile phone call records dataset. To better see the correlation with what other population data tells us about where people live, we did not only produce a normal land area map (on the left, also displaying some basic idea of the topography in the country) but also showed the data on a gridded population cartogram which we generated from the LandScan population grid, the perhaps most detailed population dataset currently available on a globally consistent high-resolution basis:

Population maps of Ivory Coast / Côte d'Ivoire created using Mobile Phone Call Records
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Asylum seekers in Europe 2014/15

2,500 people are believed to have died or gone missing on their way to Europe this year already, according to estimates by UNHCR. But it was the image of a young boy found dead on the shores of Turkey which changed the tone in the debate about the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. While the response to the crisis varies strongly, Campaign groups are calling for a European-wide approach to the crisis. While Germany suspended the Dublin regulation to allow regugees into the country and claim asylum regardless of where they entered the European Union, the country also calls for a more equitable system of sharing refugees across the EU similar to Germany’s domestic approach of distributing refugees.
The following cartogram shows the current situation in Europe using Eurostat’s latest statistics about the number of asylum applicants in each country. The data covers the first half of 2015 (January to June) and adds up to 417,430 officially recorded claims in that period in the EU member states. The following map also includes those European countries which are not member of the European Union but part of the Schengen area and it shows each country resized according to the absolute number of asylum applications in that country from January to June 2015:

Asylum Applicants in Europe 2015
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Refugees in Germany

As stated in a report earlier this year, “wars, conflict and persecution have forced more people than at any other time since records began to flee their homes and seek refuge and safety elsewhere” (see more details and a global map series at In Europe, this has lead to a human crisis with many refugees seeking to get to the continent via sea and land. Beyond the human tragedy, the political debate has become ever more heated over who is willing to host the migrants.
Unlike the debate in the UK, where the government is more concerned about closing the borders into Britain at the most vulnerable entry point in France, Germany’s government is looking into ways how an expected 800,000 migrants can be accommodated this year. Using data from the most recent official statistics the following cartogram shows where refugees and asylum seekers are allocated in Germany showing the states (or Laender) rezised according to the absolute number of asylum seekers and refugees living there (the colours merely distinguish the different Laender and do not represent any further data):

Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Germany 2014/2015
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Global Gender Inequality

The unequal treatment of individuals based on their gender is a deeply rooted problem in most societies. It started becoming an important part of academic research in the 1980s. The issue of gender inequality also became in various measures part of the Human Development Index (HDI), the annual report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and was eventually integrated as the Gender Inequality Index (GII) in the 2010 report. It is designed to measure the loss of achievement within a country caused by gender inequality.

Map of Global Gender Inequality as shown in the Gender Inequality Index
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