Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cloud free base map image from MapBox

Cloud free, near real time, seamlessly integrated scenes of imagery acquired by various satellites orbiting the Earth is a holy grail of remote sensing community. However, achieving this result is not a trivial task due to volume of data and computational capacity required to process it. So, for now, we only have one-off attempts to create such mosaic with lower resolution imagery.

You may be well familiar with Blue Marble seasonal mosaics of MODIS imagery (~500m resolution) that appeared on many versions of online maps but the latest version created by MapBox is a great improvement on the previous, dated by now version, which deserve a mention.

The goal was to make the most beautiful image of an idealized, cloudless planet, “trapped in eternal summer”. As described by the creator, “It’s a completely natural product. Every pixel is a real pixel captured by a camera in the sky. But it’s also completely synthetic.”

You can preview the entire globe of cloud free imagery on MapBox’s tour page and the whole process of generating that image was well explained in Wired article in 2013.

Now the race is on to produce a higher resolution version (possibly based on Landsat 7 and Landsat 8 data) as well as to utilise all the possible band combinations to extract information, in near-real time, on glaciers, wildfires, crops, droughts and floods, cities and forests, surface temperature, plankton blooms, seasonal dynamics, smog, and myriad of other earth surface, near surface and shallow water objects. And most importantly – observe changes over time.

It is interesting to note that, yet again, innovation is driven by a relative newcomer to the spatial industry. As I pointed out in my 2013 end of year reflection, this is a very common pattern in the last couple of decades, where “old hands” just can’t recognise all the opportunities that technological advancement and computational capacity bring to this industry, and it takes outsiders to “spot the obvious”.

MapBox is definitely one of the more innovative companies that emerged in recent years and is worth watching - we can all learn from their fresh approach to old problems…

Related Posts:
New approach to satellite imagery analysis
Landsat 8 data explained
Google unlocks Landsat archives
Free high resolution imagery

Thursday, March 27, 2014

San Francisco crime map

The ability to filter results according to user preferences, to bring meaning to complex information, is an indispensable functionality of any great data analysis and visualisation tool. The San Francisco Crimespotting map provides a good example of how well designed controls can enhance user ability to visualise only a subset of available information, specific for the problem under investigation.

In particular, the map uses coloured map markers to show the location of different types of crime. Users can filter the types of crime displayed by simply selecting the items from a list. A click on individual marker brings up information about a particular event. The 'date' and 'time of day' controls allows to filer the results shown on the map by any date range or for any period, or combination of periods during the day.

The 24 hour clock (literary!) takes a few moments to get used to but is a very nifty idea. I have seen various approaches so far, for example using sliders or day-time matrix, but this one takes the prize.

For other examples of visualisation of crime statistics please refer to my previous posts:

Mapping crime in Queensland
Crime maps - complex stats visualisation
Victorian version of crime stats 
UK crime statistics revisited
Mapping Crime in Canberra
MashupAustralia highlights

First spotted on Google Maps Mania

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fun with maps

What will you get when you combine Google Map with Google Search? Autocomplete Map! This fun application from Map Channels can deliver tonnes of laughter – just try these couple of examples for Australia:

The “Why is Australia…” map shows the Google autocomplete results for Australian states and major cities that appear in Google search when you type in 'Why is (state) so ...'. According to Google, everybody is in a state of constant surprise about how hot this country is. Unless they visit Canberra – then they only want to know why it is so cold. No surprises here!

Australia Needs…” is a similar map, only this time the map shows the autocomplete search results returned by Google when you type in '(state) needs ...'.  According to Google, Australia is in need of a major construction drive, because Melbourne needs a theme park, Adelaide needs taller buildings and Brisbane needs more bridges, Sydney needs a metro and Canberra needs more schools...

On a serious note, the collective wisdom of the crowd captured by Google can be quite a powerful information resource on issues of concern to local communities. For example, the second map demonstrates that infrastructure investment objectives of the current government may be just what the electorate needs…

First spotted on Google Maps Mania

Monday, February 24, 2014

Maps of UK property prices

Illustreets has released a new Google Map that visualizes house price growth rates in England over the last 10 years. Users can click on each county to examine the growth in house prices from 2004 to 2013. Additional information such as, the total number of houses sold within each period, as well as the number of new houses started are also provided. The primary information for thematic map is derived from Land Registry’s House Price Index data.

This is the second property related map from Illustreets. The first one was a very handy guide to discovering information about local neighbourhoods in England. Topics covered include standard of living, employment and crime rates, asking and sale prices, schools by performance rank, as well as vital statistics about people and dwellings. This is map is one of the best presentations of property related data I have seen so far.

Analysing property price information and presenting results on maps is a topic of a particular interest to me. However, the availability of adequate data for Australia makes it very difficult to explore. used to publish quite a detailed online map in the past but unfortunately, it has been discontinued a few years ago. It is possible to access raw sales statistics for postcodes for a hefty fee but this information is rather inadequate for temporal analysis. For now, Australian property owners and prospective buyers will have to be kept in the dark…

First spotted on: Google Maps Mania

Related Posts:
Presenting property prices on maps
WA housing affordability index
AllHomes Property Map  
REIV maps auctions statistics
Map of Melbourne house prices
Sydney house prices
Aircraft noise maps
Mapping sun position anywhere 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Map of Victorian emergency alerts

The State of Victoria has recently launched VicEmergency, a single all-emergencies website that provides information and advice to help people prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies. It consolidates information from various state and interstate authorities, including Australian Bureau of Meteorology as well as NSW and SA emergency response agencies.

The list of available data layers is impressive. For example, fire related layers include current fires by alert status, planned burns, satellite detected fires, regions with total fire ban, safe places, and cross border events for SA and NSW.

Available for display are also flood and storm related events, earthquake and tsunami information, weather observations, traffic accidents, hazardous materials and medical emergencies, power outages and more. The developers created a unique set of icons to represent each of those events.

Information can be viewed on a map or as a list. The entire application is built with Google Map API and is optimised for display in mobile devices. Android and iPhone app versions are also available.

First spotted on: Google Maps Mania

Related Posts:
New attempt to build disaster management platform
Disasters and maps
Google public alerts map
Australian bushfire alerts maps

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mapping crime in Queensland is a simple Google Map application that allows searching for crimes committed in Queensland by address. The data is sourced from the Queensland Police Service and is presented as a cluster of makers with numbers indicating how many crimes were recorded in the proximity of a given location. Click on the marker opens a detailed list of events by the type of crime, time and date of the offense, as well as whether it has been solved or remains unsolved.

Queensland Police released its own official version of crime map in 2012. It is a fully featured online application enabling analysis of crime statistics for a nominated area of interest, nominated time frame as well as the type of offence. Information can be summarised by the day of the week and hour which is very handy for identifying crime trends.

The application was developed in Silverlight hence, requires a special plug-in to view in other than Internet Explorer browsers.

First spotted on: Google Maps Mania

Related Posts:
Crime maps - complex stats visualisation
Victorian version of crime stats 
UK crime statistics revisited
Mapping Crime in Canberra
MashupAustralia highlights

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sales Area Management Tool with Postcodes

# A Common Problem...

Defining and managing sales, franchise or dealership areas and territories is quite a tedious task without access to specialised GIS software. However, the cost of deploying such software within a business, or employing external consultants to help in creating hardcopy maps of territories, may be prohibitive for many.

# The Solution

Sales Area Management Tool from is an online application that will make the process of creating and managing sales territories much, much easier and it costs only a fraction of the other options.

# Content

Postcodes are the most popular spatial unit used for defining sales territories hence postal boundaries are included as a default option. They are small enough to allow quite precise definition of local neighbourhoods yet, there is a manageable quantity of them covering entire Australia. More administrative boundaries for Australia, as well as other countries, will be added progressively.

# Functionality

The tool is very simple to use and does not require any specialised knowledge.

Sale territories can be created by adding individual polygons to the list either by clicking on the desired polygons or by drawing shapes that approximate areas of interest on the map (drawing options include rectangle, circle or irregular polygon).

Alternatively, a comma delimited list of postcodes can be pasted into a text area under the map or postcode numbers can be typed in one by one.

Advanced conflict resolution process is implemented in this application to prevent creating areas with invalid postal codes or allocating a polygon to more than a single sales area.

For ease of identification, sales territories are coloured in random colours. Colour settings, including transparency, can be adjusted as required.

Each sales territory can be identified with a unique id and name. Individual sales areas can be edited or removed from the map if required. The result can be saved for reuse as a csv file or in JSON format, which preserves colour schema selected for individual sales areas. JSON version can be uploaded back to the application to continue with editing at a later time.

A convenient by-product of “radius select” function is ability to identify polygons that intersect with a circle of predefined radius from a selected point.

# Access

Version 1 of Sales Area Management Tools is available for customers as an advanced beta release. To arrange access, please email your request to with relevant contact details.

# Reselling Opportunities

There are attractive revenue sharing opportunities for affiliates co-marketing Sales Area Management Tool. Please, email your expression of interest to for additional details.