Featured Maps

Where are those FAA-approved Unmanned Drones?

In an article released last week it was reported that the Federal Aviation Administration has released the names and locations of Organizations approved for flying drones within the U.S. Drones have become infamous over the past several years due to their use for military purposes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and many other places. The use of the military technology for domestic purposes should not be unexpected as we have seen many military technologies cross-over for domestic purposes. Many argue that the use of such Military technology in local police agencies may be problematic and seen as an increase in domestic law enforcement power. Many argue that the use of these types of technology against the citizenry represents an unnecessary use of military strength.  However, it can also be argued that use of military technology in civilian life has been beneficial. One glaring example is the use of GPS. Did you know that GPS was originally a military development? 

In the article liked above a map is shown that can be quickly and easily reproduced in Cartographica. If you click on the map in the article it will take you to Google Maps which then allows you to explore the data. However, we can also download the data and import it into Cartographica. To download the data click on the KML link on the left side of the Google Maps window. This will automatically download the data. I provide an image below of the Google Maps page and highlight where the KML link is located. 


Next, open Cartographica and then import the KML file by choosing File > Import Vector Data. This will automatically import the KML file into Cartographica. You can also add a base map for context by choosing File > Add Live Map. I provide an image below of the data. 


Next, we can use Cartographica for more than just viewing the points. We can also create interesting additions to the map. To create a Kernel Density Map use the identify tool to select only the locations in the lower 48 states (notice there is one location in Alaska, we will ignore that location for now). Next, hold down the option button and choose Tools > Make Kernel Density for Selection... Next, you can select the type of Kernel you would like to use. For the map below I used the Negative Exponential kernel. To make the map more transparent you can double click on the KDM layer in the layer stack and change the opacity. Also you can change the color palette by choosing Window > Show Color Palettes. Choose the color palette and then drag it to the KDM layer in the layer stack. The color palette I used was downloaded from Color Brewer. For more information on how to use Color Brewer with Cartographica see this previous blog post.  My KDM map is shown below. 


Mapping Al'Qaida and Taliban Areas of Operation

Building off of the last post I decided to incorporate Google Earth and some analysis to show where Al'Qaida and Taliban forces have been concentrating in Afghanistan. To determine the areas of operation of both of these terrorist organizations I compiled information from various sources to create a basic map of where these groups are operating and where the U.S ground forces are focusing their attention.

Mapping Afghanistan

The war is Afghanistan is currently an important issue for many people. Many families have loved ones serving our country in an attempt to fight global terrorism. Generally, speaking most of us know very little about the landscape of Afghanistan, including topographical, infrastructural, and political, layout of the country. In an attempt to provide a little spatial information about Afghanistan I have put together a blog post highlighting some of these issues related to this war torn county.

New York City Crime Article

I recently came across an interesting New York Times article about crime in New York City. The article mentions that crime in NYC is highest during the summer months, which is a common finding among criminologists and others interested in crime trends. The article includes an interesting use of mapping by including an interactive map where victims, offenders, motive, and weapon can be viewed.

Using GIS with Google Earth/Google Sketch Up

This post is an extension of the last Google Sketch Up/Google Earth example. In this post we are going to do a similar process except we are going to import a large structure on a larger plot of land. This posting is using an example that I developed after the city of Lexington, Kentucky announced that a new 40 story hotel would be built downtown. I used this opportunity to design what I thought would be an interesting building for the city.

Mapping the United States Capital

Building off of Gaige's May 2009 post ([story:20090505051949852]) regarding data available online from the city of Washington D.C. I decided to create a few interesting maps just to show some of the analytic capabilities of Cartographica. The city of Washington D.C. provides a large range of data regarding practically anything that can be spatially analyzed within the city. For this example I decided to collect several demographic, infrastructure, and other social data to create a few interesting maps. Compiling a large amount of data from an online source such as D.C. GIS is a valuable skill to learn because obtaining free data can work to benefit any research or professional endeavor using GIS. Taking advantage of free data can greatly offset the cost of large scale research projects, and being able to quickly add them into programs like Cartographica is extremely beneficial.

Mapping U.S. Oil Basins

I read an interesting article on Bloomberg.com about a "Giant" oil discovery made recently by U.S. Oil Giant BP in the Gulf of Mexico. One estimate in the article is that the newest find is somewhere in the area of one billion barrels of oil. The article mentions that Oil companies are going to greater lengths to reach oil once thought to be impossible to obtain. The reasons mentioned for this are dwindling supplies of domestically produced oil, and reluctance of other counties in the Middle East and South America to allow U.S. oil producers to tap their reserves. Reading this article made me wonder "where" U.S. Oil basins are located, and how many of them there are.

Mapping Wildfires

There have been numerous reports coming out of California about problems the state is facing in dealing with wildfires. An article on CNN mentioned that hundreds have been evacuated from their homes because of threats from the fires . Unfortunately, officials are unsure as to what has caused the fire, but high winds have contributed to the fire's growth. Reading this article sparked my interest in trying to find out where wildfires are currently burning in the United States. I searched out data about fires and came across latitude and longitude data for fires that are currently burning in the United States.

Public Housing and Crime

I recently completed a paper on the relationship between a governmental program known as HOPE VI and changing crime patterns in Lexington, Kentucky. I discovered some very interesting patterns that occurred as large numbers of public housing residents were relocated throughout the city. The methodology for this study was somewhat more complex than simply comparing a few maps over several years. I employed various statistical techniques to determine if the presence of HOPE VI residents could significantly predict higher rates of crime and social disorganization. For this post I am including the maps that show a significant growth away from the center of Lexington out toward areas where HOPE VI residents relocated.

Mapping Marine Traffic Around the World

I found a really interesting website earlier this week that is used for tracking marine vessels around the world. The website, MarineTraffic.com provides a look at most (but not all) costal areas around the world that have large ports and heavy sea traffic. The website gives the location of a ship on a map by providing a symbol that corresponds to the type of ship that is being represented. The user can click on the symbol and learn a lot of information about the ship, like where it is from, where it is going, what its job is (i.e. towing), how fast it is moving, and in many cases can even see a photo of the ship. Additionally, the user can search for specific vessels that are currently docked or underway, and can look up specific ports that they might be interested in.

Mapping Earthquakes

The recent news of the earthquake in China inspired me to find websites that provide spatial information about earthquakes. Basically, I wanted to find out if there are websites out there that describe where earthquakes are occurring, and at what magnitude. Naturally, the first organization I found that provides such a service is the United States Geological Survey, which has a number of maps that provide not only the location of earthquakes, but also other important information like magnitude and coordinates. The USGS provides global maps as well as more regionalized maps that provide a more detailed look at Earthquakes around the world. An interesting aspect of the website is that it provides up to date information about earthquakes, and it is amazing to see how many earthquakes occur on a very regular basis. For example at the time of this writing there are 165 earthquakes reported on the website that have occurred within the past seven days. Many of these earthquakes are small, but several are in the 5.0-6.0 range, which is pretty large. Another interesting website that I found covering this subject was the IRIS Seismic Monitor, which provides the location of seismic activity throughout the world. It provides the location, time, and magnitude of the seismic events and also provides coordinate information. A final couple of websites that I found on this subject actually provided GIS data to download so that you can explore earthquakes in Cartographica. You can find earthquake data from 2000 at GeoComm and you can find a shapefile of the earth at APRS . I have provided a few images of the downloaded data being used in Cartographica.

Crime Mapping in the News

Today, I ran into an article in the Wall Street Journal that discusses several new websites that promote information sharing between the police and the public. These websites focus on providing up to date information about crime incidents within cities by allowing the public to view various aspects related to the occurrence of a crime. The public is able to search for crimes at specific addresses and times, and they are able to focus on certain types of crime. Personally, this article is very exciting for a number of reasons...