The Power of Comparison: Just How Big Is It?

  If I said a country was 1594719800 metres squared it would mean a lot less to you than if I said it was about the size of Greater London (so long as you know about how big Greater London is). For this reason the media tend to report the extent of a flood in …

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Coming of Age: R and Spatial Data Visualisation

I have been using R (a free statistics and graphics software package) now for the past four years or so and I have seen it become an increasingly powerful method of both analysing and visualising spatial data. Crucially, more and more people are writing accessible tutorials (see here) for beginners and intermediate users and the development …

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My Academic Research: What’s in a Name?

I have spent the last few years investigating the geography of family names (also called surnames). I work with the team who assembled the UCL Department of Geography Worldnames Database that contains the names and geographic locations of over 300 million people in nearly 30 countries (a few of these are yet to be added to the website). My research has …

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The Best of 2011

As 2011 draws to a close it is worth reflecting on what, I think, has been a defining year for mapping and spatial analysis. Geographic data have become open, big, and widely available, leading to the production of new and interesting maps on an almost daily basis. The increasing utilisation of technology such as Google Fusion Tables has …

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Just how far can the Tube take you?

Transport for London have just released their performance data (link here) for the London Underground network. It is in the form of a really detailed file that contains, amongst other things, the “Peak Operated Kilometres” and “Peak Passenger Journeys” for the past 6 years or so. If you total the distances covered by the Tube …

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Interview for the Global Lab Podcast

This week I feature on the 4th Episode of the Global Lab podcast. The podcast is a great new initiative led by Martin and Steve from CASA where they talk about cities, global connectivity and the impact of technology on people’s lives. Episode four features some horrendous physics jokes, Einstein’s Garden at the Green Man festival …

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QMRG Best Undergraduate Dissertation Prize 2011

We are pleased to announce that Tadas Nikonovas from the Department of Geography at Swansea University is the winner of this year’s QMRG Undergraduate Dissertation Prize. Tadas’ dissertation entitled “Artificial light emissions in Europe. Trends from a DMSP satellite fifteen year record” was applauded for its interesting and relevant topic, its use of complex quantitative […]

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Naming Rivers and Places

A map doing the rounds at the moment (thanks to a plug from flowingdata) is Derek Watkin’s brilliant map of “generic” terms for rivers in the United States (above).The map shows how different cultural and linguistic factors have influenced the naming of geographic features in the US. For example French settlers named the streams they encountered “bayous”.

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Improved Tree Maps with R

“Treemaps display hierarchical (tree-structured) data as a set of nested rectangles. Each branch of the tree is given a rectangle, which is then tiled with smaller rectangles representing sub-branches. A leaf node’s rectangle has an area proportional to a specified dimension on the data. Often the leaf nodes are colored to show a separate dimension of …

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Mapping GCSE Scores

In the UK, August is exam results month for 16-18 year olds. Every year, photos of leaping teenagers clutching their results are accompanied by reports of record attainment rates, debates around how challenging modern exams are and, more so recently than ever, concerns for the number of sixth form and university places. Back in March …

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England Riots: Offences Committed and Offenders Age

The Guardian have been keeping track of the magistrate cases and convictions resulting from the recent rioting in England. Using this data I have produced the “tree map” below. For each magistrate I have grouped each offence committed and represented it as a square. The size of the square represents the number of people who …

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Global Migration Maps

Migrations of people have existed for millennia and occur at a range of scales and time-periods (from small-scale journeys to work through to intercontinental resettlement). As a geographer I have long been interested in these and thought it was about time I mapped them! Using data from the Global Migrant Origin Database (thanks Adam for the tip) …

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Flattening the Earth

Flattening the Earth so that it can be easily drawn on a 2-dimensional surface is complicated. Over many years map projections have been developed to aid in this process, but they can only really estimate (albeit very accurately) the shape and dimensions of things on the Earth’s round surface. Whilst it is important to understand …

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World Transport Links and US Climate from The National Geographic over a Century ago

Following my previous post I have been digging around archive.org for interesting spatial/ geographical related resources. A search for “geographic” yielded a number of back issues of the National Geographic Magazine. They date back as far as 1888 and contain some great images and maps. There are some real gems to be had, such as …

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Automated Cartography: The urban expansion of Lansing

I hadn’t seen this video before. It demonstrates one of the earliest attempts at automated cartography for the display of time with spatial data. Truly ground breaking,  the video shows the urban growth of Lansing at 5 yearly intervals from between 1850 and 1965 and was produced by Allan Schmidt at the Michigan State University Urban …

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ESRI (UK) Case Study

Buried deep in the ESRI (UK) website is a case study I helped put together showcasing some of the ways we use GIS (specifically ESRI products) within UCL Department of Geography and Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. ESRI (UK) co-sponsor my PhD research and I have had a very positive and productive relationship with the company. I …

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Mapping London’s Population Change 1801-2030

Buried in the London Datastore are the population estimates for each of the London Boroughs between 2001 – 2030. They predict a declining population for most boroughs with the exception of a few to the east. I was surprised by this general decline and also the numbers involved- I expected larger changes from one year to …

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Using R to Map with Google Chart Tools

The release of the R package “googleVis” has made the production of interactive maps through Google’s Chart Tools a simple task. Ignoring the some basic data manipulation the below map was produced with these two lines of code: library(googleVis) Geo=gvisGeoMap(Map, locationvar=”Country”, numvar=”Percentage”, options=list(height=350, dataMode=’regions’)) plot(Geo) This map, although simple to produce, is nontrivial as it …

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Brilliant Boris Bikes Animation

Some of us at CASA can’t get enough of the Barclay’s Cycle Hire data. We have had Ollie‘s hugely successful flow maps, journey time heat maps, and now the the Sociable Physicist himself, Martin Austwick has created this stunning animation of the bikes. The TFL data release contained the start point, end point, and duration for around …

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