In terms of news, 2020 has been an interesting year to say the least. We have seen a lot of maps, charts and data visualisations to support these news stories and, as you’d expect, the most common topics covered have been Covid-19 and the US Presidential race.
Here in the OS GeoDataViz team, we love how maps can draw you into a news story and keep you engaged as you scroll through the narrative. For the second year in a row, we’ve compiled our favourite geo data visualisations of 2020 (please note this list is not exhaustive!).
The first 3 entries to this year’s list include maps and visualisations that have been made to report on a news item. Each story is important, but they are not related to Covid-19 or the Presidential race. We think it’s fair to say these have been covered enough already this year, so for this reason we have chosen not to include any in today’s list.
Time is running out to save the last of the world’s rainforest, Bloomberg
This news story from the team at Bloomberg uses a range of maps to support its narrative. It’s a chilling tale that charts tree loss in Brazil between 2000 and 2019 and the animated maps that are used to highlight the problem work magnificently. They are subtle and impactful with some beautiful labelling and annotation.
Do you know what an AONB is? Or an NSA? Most of us have heard of Britain’s National Parks (see all 15 here), but did you know that England and Wales also have 38 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Scotland has 40 National Scenic Areas (NSAs)?
These scenic areas cover over 34,000 km2 of Great Britain (larger than the 23,000 km2 covered by our National Parks) and cover a huge variety of mountain, coastal and countryside landscapes. Our GeoDataViz team have been virtually exploring and comparing the landscapes with OS data and created a poster to showcase the AONB and NSAs.
In a world where we have access to an abundance of information, good data visualisation is more important now than ever before. Our GeoDataViz team here at OS know this better than anyone. Here they talk us through their thematic mapping techniques and explain when and how these techniques should be used…
Mappy New Year! 2019 was a great year for cartography, especially geo data visualisation. We loved seeing such amazing maps and visuals being produced by some very talented people, and the standard just seems to be getting better and better. Inspired by all the brilliant work we’ve seen, we thought we’d pull together some of our favourites. There are too many to include so this list is by no means exhaustive, but we hope you enjoy our picks.
Surfing Saco Bay, Margot Carpenter
Created by independent cartographer Margot Carpenter, this stunning map depicts Maine’s Saco Bay. The detail is incredible, and we love how the map focuses on the bay’s underwater topography and wave dynamics and how they fuel the bays amazing surfing conditions. There is also a beautiful compass rose that illustrates wave height and a visualisation depicting how bathymetry and waves create surf!
We’re looking for your feedback on our new styles for OS Open Zoomstack. They’re aimed at making our data more accessible to those with colour vision deficiency (CVD). Find out about the work that Jessica Baker, Graduate Data Scientist, has been doing on the styles and try them out for yourself.
Unless you’re colour blind, you are unlikely to be aware of the problems which cartographic styles and colour schemes cause for those affected by CVD. Colours usually easily distinguishable to the human eye, such as red and green, appear very similar and can make elements of map reading more difficult. The issue is often overlooked, with traditional spectral rainbow colour schemes kicking up several difficulties for those with colour blindness.
During my first few weeks at OS on the Graduate Development Programme, I’ve been learning how we can improve the accessibility of data. I decided to start by developing free downloadable styles for our popular OS Open Zoomstack product – an exciting project to work on.
This year marks the 50th year anniversary of the Moon landing, and to celebrate the occasion the OS GeoDataViz team decided to create a map of Apollo 11’s lunar landing site in our unique map style (available to buy in our OS map shop). Find out how Paul Naylor approached the task.
On 20 July 1969 at 20:17 GMT, Apollo 11 touched down on the moon. Six hours later Neil Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface. It was a monumental achievement for humanity.
We were delighted to have two entries shortlisted for the inaugural Geography in Government Awards this year. We were even more pleased to win one as OS Open Zoomstack scooped the prize for ‘Excellence in geo-visualisation and cartography’, up against tough competition from the Defence Geographic Centre (DGC).
Some of the OS team attended the awards ceremony on 25 April at Scotland House in London and enjoyed a great evening which celebrated the best of geography across Government. OS Open Zoomstack is our latest open data product which we launched in January after a successful trial throughout summer 2018. For this award we owe a huge thank you to everyone who took part in the trial and made this product a success. Without your feedback and support it wouldn’t have been possible.
What’s happened since the launch?
On 28 February 1823, Sir William Hillary made an impassioned appeal to the nation, calling for a service dedicated to saving lives at sea. That service was to become the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
Did you know?
- There are 238 lifeboat stations around the coasts of Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands.
- Tower Lifeboat Station on the River Thames in London is the RNLI’s busiest.
- There are 349 lifeboats in the RNLI fleet.
- The RNLI have 4,966 volunteers.
- It cost £176.5m to run the RNLI in 2017.
Last week we looked at using QGIS to create some visualisations using data from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Ordnance Survey. This week we will be taking the same datasets and working with them within Kepler, Uber’s new open source geospatial analysis tool.
KEPLER (Pt 1)
Kepler is great for creating a range of different visualisations easily and quickly, and to begin with we are going to look at creating a visualisation depicting where in the UK most emergency call-outs are made. To do this we will need to download the RNLI Return of Service data.
In an emergency the importance of location is critical. Knowing the precise whereabouts of an incident can be the difference between life and death.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) are the charity that saves lives at sea. Responsible for saving over 140,000 lives since their formation in 1824 they work with a dedicated team of volunteers, staff and community fundraisers. They allow us to enjoy our shorelines and water, safe in the knowledge that in an emergency they will be there to assist us.
There is a lot of data behind the lifesaving and in 2017 RNLI teamed up with ESRI to create an open data portal to help share some of this data.
We’ve had such a great response to the trial and received a huge amount of feedback from the users, that we’re going to invest in making OS Open Zoomstack a supported product.
For both the downloads and the API we’ll be developing Alpha versions and continue to make changes based on your feedback. We’ll be doing an alpha release shortly for the various downloads. We’ll also continue supporting the API, and will update this with the new data from the Alpha while we plan the release of a fully supported version in the future. Please note that this may involve changes in the API URL at a minimum.
At this point we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped us to make this exciting step!