In 2013 German public broadcaster ARD made a documentary film about my work for their science programme W wie Wissen. This also features a range of cartogram visualisations that I produced for them. The following clip shows a compilation of the map animations that were shown in the feature, giving an impression of some of the cartographic works and visualisations that I have been working on over the past couple of years: Continue reading
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.
The 2015 UK general election is history and it seems as all stories have been told about the unexpected victory of the Conservative party. But the picture of the election is far more diverse than it seems and the political landscapes are more polarised than a conventional map of the first votes can show.
This poster, submitted as an entry to the joint BCS-SoC ‘Mapping Together’ Conference starting tomorrow in York, presents the electoral doctrine of the 2015 election. It is a cartographic roundup of the beliefs of the electorate in thirty-nine images that tell the full story of a shift in political paradigms that will shape the debates for the elections to come:
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:
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 http://www.viewsoftheworld.net/?p=4541). 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):
The effects of humans on the global environment are perceived to be so significant by some scientists that they argue humans have become a major driving force in environmental change on a par with the forces of nature. It is this rapid impact that has led some geologists to unofficially name (but not, as yet, officially recognise) this very recent period of the earth’s history as the Anthropocene.
Putting criticism and disputes over the geologic validity of this idea aside, the effects of human population and economic development as part of the processes of globalisation influence the natural environment as much as the natural environment previously determined the existence of human life across the globe. One part of our footprint are the major communication and transport infrastructure links that shape the human planet.
The UNHCR Global Trends 2014 Report released earlier this week by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees finds that “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“.
Commemorating World Refugee Day, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres declared in a statement that “around the world, almost 60 million have been displaced by conflict and persecution. Nearly 20 million of them are refugees, and more than half are children. Their numbers are growing and accelerating, every single day, on every continent.” But while the ‘western’ media takes an often embarrassingly western-centric view, and European politicians struggling to find solutions to this global crisis, the report also shows how big this human crisis really has become.
The following two cartograms show the most recent picture of global refugee trends in 2014 as published in the 2015 UNHCR report. The two maps use the total numbers for ‘refugees and people in refugee-like situations’ according to their country of origin and destination and resizes each country according to its absolute number of refugees. Excluded in these maps are those refugees whose origin is unknown or who are stateless or cannot be assigned to a specific country:
A M7.8 earthquake has occurred in Nepal “as the result of thrust faulting on or near the main frontal thrust between the subducting India plate and the overriding Eurasia plate to the north.” As the USGS summarises, “although a major plate boundary with a history of large-to-great sized earthquakes, large earthquakes on the Himalayan thrust are rare in the documented historical era. Just four events of M6 or larger have occurred within 250 km of the April 25, 2015 earthquake over the past century”.
In a paper for the Journal of Maps published in 2014 I have analysed and visualised data documenting earthquakes that have occurred since 2150 BC. The following map was part of the material supplementing the publication showing the results of the analysis shown on an equal population projection. The gridded cartogram gives every person on the planet an equal amount of space while highlighting the most densely populated spaces in relation to the earthquake risk (calculated via the intensity of earthquakes recorded since 2150 BC). Also shown are the world’s megacities (over 5 million population). The map shows the large populations that make even Nepal (with its almost 28 million people) much more visible than it would be on a conventional map, highlighting why this event turns out to be quite disastrous. The map also shows what the USGS statement above mentions that Nepal is amongst the areas in the region which are far less subject to major earthquakes (as indicated by the yellow to blue shading in the map there – Nepal is the rather large spot squeezed on top between the areas that represent the large populations of India and China):
The Calbuco volcano in southern Chile erupted for the first time in more than five decades, which in the global media was covered more for its visual spectacle rather than its perception as a major catastrophe. This can be partly explained with the low threat that Calbuco poses to larger numbers of people. As reported by the BBC, “authorities have declared a red alert and evacuated more than 4,000 people within a 20km (12 mile) radius”. This is a relatively low number as the volcano is situated in a sparsely populated, mountainous area. Natural events usually turn into natural disasters when they happen in more densely populated areas. The following map shows how human settlement patterns and the global distribution of volcanoes correlate by drawing a 100km radius around each of the world’s volcanoes and then projecting this data onto a gridded population cartogram. This equal-population projection results in some of these 100km risk zones around the volcanoes to become hugely visible, because there are large populations living in this area, while other volcanoes and their risk-radius become almost invisible due to the low number of people living there. Very often, these are the decisive differences between a volcanic eruption being a natural event (or even spectacle) and a natural disaster, which these events can become in the red-shaded areas of this map:
“Life expectancy equals the average number of years a person born in a given country would live if mortality rates at each age were to remain constant in the future.” (Wikipedia)
Depending on the exact sources, global life expectancy currently lies at approximately 71 years although a global estimate tells very little about the differences between the countries. What applies to every country is the fact that women, on average, live longer than men.
The following map shows the distribution of life expectancies based on national-level data as documented in the 2014 revision of the Human Development Report displayed on a gridded population cartogram in which every human gets an equal amount of space:
The ocean is the last frontier that has not been discovered by cartogram techniques before. As such, it was an inevitable step in my PhD research some years ago to test the creation of a gridded ocean cartogram, a cartogram that is limited to the extent of the world’s oceans (also linking nicely to my past research on coastal ecosystems).
Chlorophyll concentrations in the world’s oceans are important indicators for the presence of algae and other plant-like organisms that carry out photosynthesis. As such, phytoplankton (which contains the chlorophyll) is an essential element of the food chain in the seas as it provides the food for numerous animals. Variations and changes in the chlorophyll levels are also relevant for the study of the ecology of the sea. Changing chlorophyll levels can indicate changing sea temperatures and other conditions in the oceans that cover about 72 percent of the planet’s surface.
Geographic visualization in social sciences – or draw more maps! Continue reading
The debate about the relevance and impact of the super-rich on society has gained greater currency as evidence continues to grow that the widening gap between the poor and the rich has a negative impact on societies as a whole. In otherwise affluent countries where the richest one per cent owns the most, child poverty is common, school attainment is lower and medium household incomes are depressed. Along with reduced average living standards, housing is of poorer quality, and health suffers as anxiety rises.
In an article for the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (December 2014, Volume 5, Issue 3) Danny Dorling and I looked beyond the economic, social, educational and medical implications, focussing on the geographical lessons to learn when wealth concentrates. Where the richest of the rich live, work and where they keep their assets is even more imbalanced than the wider and growing underlying inequalities between rich and poor. In societies where the rich have less they tend to be more spread out across a country, but when the wealth of those at the top rises greatly there is a tendency to congregate – with London a prime example.
The 20th session of the Conference of the Parties and the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol is held from 1 to 12 December. For COP 20 / CPM 10 delegates from around the world increased their carbon footprint by heading to Lima, Peru, to hopefully produce more than just hot air. So again it is time to speak about the weather…or climate.
“A population pyramid, also called an age pyramid or age picture diagram, is a graphical illustration that shows the distribution of various age groups in a population (typically that of a country or region of the world), which forms the shape of a pyramid when the population is growing.” (Wikipedia)
This week I joined the Department of Asian Studies at Palacký University Olomouc (Czech Republic) as a visiting lecturer by invitation of the CHINET project. In my lecture about New Geographies of China I built on the work I have presented earlier this year at the Conference on the Socio-Economic Transition of China at the same place, teaching the students not only how China’s position is in the global context of demographic, social and economic change, but also how we can visualise this in novel ways. The following three maps are an extract from my presentation that gave an overview of this lecture.
The maps show the distribution of the different age groups in the country divided into children (age 0 to 14), working age (age 15 to 64) and elderly (above age 64) as they are counted in the official Chinese Census released by the National Bureau of Statistics. As the most recent Census figures have not been released at the same level of detail, the following three maps show the state of 2000. Here is an animated version of the three maps showing all three groups one after another (the individual maps are displayed below):
In an article for the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (December 2013, Volume 4, Issue 3) Jan Fichtner of the University of Frankfurt a.M. and I analysed the size of the foreign assets in the world’s largest offshore financial centres. All ‘offshore financial centres’ (OFCs) have one characteristic feature in common; they offer very low tax rates and lax regulations to non-residents with the aim to attract foreign financial assets. OFCs essentially undercut ‘onshore’ jurisdictions at their expense. The main beneficiaries are high-net-worth individuals and large multinational corporations that have the capital and expertise required to utilise OFCs. Beyond its geographical connotation the phenomenon of ‘offshore’ represents a withdrawal of public regulation and control, primarily over finance. Some important OFCs are in fact located ‘onshore’, e.g. Delaware in the USA and the City of London in the UK. However, historically many OFCs have literally developed ‘off-shore’, mostly on small islands.
OFCs as defined by Zoromé (2007) are jurisdictions that provide financial services to non-residents on a scale that is excessive compared to the size and the financing of their domestic economies. The graphic shows combined data on securities (Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey by the IMF) and on deposits/loans (Locational Banking Statistics by the BIS) at the end of 2011. Capturing the two by far most important components of financial centres allows a reasonable approximation of the real size of OFCs while avoiding double counting. The larger the size of the circles on the map, the more foreign financial assets have been attracted to the particular jurisdiction. The vast majority of the almost US$70 trillion foreign financial assets are concentrated in North America, Europe and Japan. Areas with assets below $US50bn are not shown for their relative insignificance in the global context.
“A mappa mundi […] is any medieval European map of the world. […] To modern eyes, mappae mundi can look superficially primitive and inaccurate. However, mappae mundi were never meant to be used as navigational charts and they make no pretence of showing the relative areas of land and water. Rather, mappae mundi were schematic and were meant to illustrate different principles. The simplest mappae mundi were diagrams meant to preserve and illustrate classical learning easily. The zonal maps should be viewed as a kind of teaching aid—easily reproduced and designed to reinforce the idea of the Earth’s sphericity and climate zones” (cited from Wikipedia).
What would a mappa mundi of our times look like? A modern equivalent of such a map would have to focus on those spaces of our planet that we have a less vivid imagination of than the physical shape of the world that in medieval times was a much less familiar view than it is today. The following gridded population cartogram generated over the whole surface of Earth could be such a contemporary depiction of the world. It divides the world into equal spaces of population realigning the map view to show the human planet in a similar way as mappae mundi showed the world centuries ago:
In the year 2000 there were approximately 15 million square km of cropland and 28 million square km of pasture which are represented in the two main maps. These are equal to 12% respectively 22% of the ice-free land surface. This is according to estimates of a study on the geographic distribution of global agricultural lands by Ramankutty et al (published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 2008) who used a methodology of combining agricultural inventory data and satellite-derived land cover data to come to these figures (data can be accessed via Columbia University’s SEDAC). Continue reading
Map projections are a crucial issue for the worldmapper project because the maps (respectively cartograms) are basically some sort of reprojection of the world, although in a different way than the usual projections used in cartography. Rather than trying to solve the conflicts of distortion when drawing a three dimensional surface on to a two dimensional area (be it a screen or a paper map), the worldmapper cartograms distort our image of the world on purpose and show each country in proportion to a specific topic.
“Eye care for all” is the motto of this year’s World Sight Day. But there are stark global inequalities in access to eye care. In 1971, Hart described the, ‘Inverse Care Law’ as the availability of good medical care varying inversely with the need for it in the population served. Hart was describing the situation in the National Health Service in Great Britain at the time in which he practiced as both a General Practitioner and an epidemiologist.
Two recently published articles demonstrate the ‘Inverse Care Law’ on a global level. The prevalence of blindness worldwide in 2010 was reported by the WHO and verified that low- and middle-income countries, as expected, have the highest prevalence of blindness and visual impairment. In stark contrast to this, a more recent report describes the,“Number of ophthalmologists in training and practice worldwide” providing global data for the number of ophthalmologists per county and demonstrates that despite a growing number in practice the gap between need and supply is widening.
The situation is also magnified within individual countries of high, middle and low-income. For example, in France, an inverse correlation was found between the number of ophthalmologists and the prevalence of low vision for subjects of similar age and socio-professional category and another example is in Kenya where of the 86 practicing ophthalmologists, 43 are based in Nairobi (personal correspondence). That equates to 50% of the countries ophthalmologists serving 8% of an already underserved population.
We have developed two cartograms to depict the data from these two papers using Gastner & Newman diffusion-based method. This allowed us to create density-equalised maps based on the absolute values provided in the papers. In the maps, each of the reference areas (WHO regions and countries) is resized according to these values. Larger areas represent higher numbers and smaller areas proportionally smaller data values:
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:
This is a German-language poster contribution looking at processes of change in the major urban agglomerations in Germany and novel ways of visualising these using cartogram visualisation techniques. Continue reading
Following the full cartographic roundup of this year’s general election earlier this week, here comes a related piece of research. In an article for the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (September 2015, Volume 6, Issue 2) Danny Dorling and I plotted the geography of an unexpected Conservative General Election victory.
What happened of most importance in 2015 was the rapid acceleration of a trend that has been underway in UK voting since 1979 and can be seen as having its origins in the 1960s: the increasingly uneven spread of Tory voters. The graph shows the minimal proportion of Conservative voters who would have to move seat within Britain if the Conservatives were to have an even distribution of the vote in that part of the UK at each and every General Election held between 1915 and 2015. In 2015 that proportion peaked at 19.9 per cent. When the UK becomes more polarised social pressures rise, people begin to separate more and more in their views, incomes and locations.