A big thank you to all of our readers. It’s been a challenging year for everyone in the world and we know it’s been hard to think of anything other than Covid-19, so we hope our content has offered you some form of distraction even if for only a few minutes.
Publishing the content you want to read is important to us, so every December we find out the most read blogs from the past 12 months. This enables us to understand what we should focus more on and it will help inform many of 2021’s projects.
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.
In the nineteenth century, it was believed that cholera was transmitted and spread by miasma (a theory that claimed epidemics were caused by bad odours emanating from rotting organic matter). In 1854 a major outbreak of cholera reached the district of Soho, London. A lack of proper sanitary services and poor drainage meant that the outbreak hit hard.
John Snow was an English physician and a sceptic of the miasma theory. By visually representing the location of each cholera case on a map, Snow was able to show evidence of a connection between the Broad Street water pump and the number of cholera cases in the immediate vicinity.
This map presented the data visually and geographically, allowing us to see a pattern and correlation between the water pump and location of cases. Not only did this insight ultimately lead to the discovery of the source of the outbreak, it forever changed how we interpret our world.
What is data visualisation?
In the months since lockdown restrictions around Great Britain began to be relaxed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Britons valued the chance to GetOutside. During that time, subscribers to OS Maps have logged almost 700,000 routes in the app, showing whereabouts in the country they’ve been outdoors.
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!
First off, thank you to everyone for your interest in the OS blog over 2019. At the end of each year, we like to find out the content you’ve enjoyed the most. Of course we always aim to publish content that you’ll find interesting, but crunching the numbers and working out the top 10 helps us understand what we should do more of. So, what has grabbed your attention the most throughout 2019? Let’s find out…
By Lucie Woellenstein, Graduate Data Scientist
Did you know that there are 50 motorways in Great Britain with over 8,300 km of roads and a whopping 666 junctions? How many junctions have you taken? Or will you be taking as you head off for the summer holidays? Ever tried to come off a motorway junction, only to find you’ve taken the wrong exit and are now heading in the wrong direction? Maybe you’ve driven through the famous ‘Spaghetti Junction’ in Birmingham, and wondered what it looks like from above? Or perhaps you’ve been perplexed at how the most complex of junctions somehow actually work?
Well here at Ordnance Survey, we’ve spent many hours over the years thinking about the interwoven laces of motorway junctions. Not from the perspective of a driver, but that of a cartographer. From data architects conceptually modelling how to capture data, to surveyors capturing the exact GPS locations of our roads, and to the cartographers that digitise the maps you use to travel along the motorways – a lot of thought goes into how to cartographically represent junctions in a way they make sense to the map reader.
Cartographically complex motorway junctions
Tableau is a data visualisation software that is used for creating a wide range of different visualisation to interactively present data and obtain insights. It has a very intuitive user interface and you don’t need any coding knowledge to work with it. For this tutorial we will be using Tableau Public which can be downloaded here.
We will be creating a spider map or origin-destination map that shows paths between our origins (RNLI stations) and destinations (call-outs). All the data you will need for this tutorial can be found here.