Friday, January 8, 2010

London Data Store, Snow Icons and Isle of White

London Data Store: A lot of map related news has caught my eye over the last couple of days. Last night the mayor of London promised a data store for London: my neogeographer friends everywhere cheered at the thought of all the new shiny mashups they'll make and went to sleep dreaming of being buried in £10 notes rather than snow.

Snow Volunteered Geographic Information:
Talking of snow, there have been a slew of UK snow maps that deserve a look. A trending topic on twitter has been #uksnow, (explanation) where people publish the snowfall conditions in their postcode. There are a number of terms for this kicking around including Volunteered Geograpic Information (VGI) and crowd sourced maps but the best way of describing it as a map wiki: people add their own data to a map and we all benefit from the result.

Ben Marsh has a lovely map website where he takes these tweets and maps them as clickable items. To the right of the main screen (which I've grabbed above) is a list of latest tweets by people and on the left is an explanation and key. Its a lovely implementation, pulling in real time tweets but I think his icons could be improved. You get a choice of an icon made up of white spots showing snow intensity by number of dots (shown outside red box above) or red snowflake icons illustrating snow intensity by size of icon (in red box above). The white icons are difficult to see over the background and you can't really tell the difference between multiple icons showing small snow falls and a few blizzard icons. The red icons stand out well but the smallest of them are not really visible despite being red. A possible solution would be to fade out the google maps background (white translucent layer behind), increase the size of the smallest icon and make the red snowflakes white but with black borders, similar to the beige circles I discuss in another post.

Steven Gray has done a similar experiment using old BBC snow icons (which I was talking about on Tuesday). The one in the screen shot shows snow tweets from the last hour. You can see from the northern most cloud just off the East coast that there are snow icons beneath the black clouds. These get lost against the pale map and could also do with black borders. Steven hasn't sized the icons to illustrate snow intensity which gives the map a different look.

Steven's also produced a thematic map on MapTube where he's colored postcodes by the average snow report over 24 hours. This is my favourite of the three, I think it gets around the problems of icons by combining them into a thematic layer. As with the icon examples though, it would benefit if the background data was paled out to enhance the blue shading.

Finally Ed Parson's had a nice visualization that I thought I'd publish as a KMZ. I've emphasised the SW of England in this view as snow there is really rare.

1 comment:

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