Adding legends to CartoDB maps

Today I want to write a few words about recent improvements of CartoDB maps. For those of you, who don’t know what CartoDB is good for: it is, at least in my eyes, the easiest and most intuitive framework for mapping and publishing spatial data online. For more detailed information take a look at their website and the awesome tutorial section.

Since the release of CartoDB 2.1 around a month ago there are some neat new features like multilayer support and legends. The whole package seems to evolve from a quick visualization tool to a different kind of web GIS environment (without looking ugly or having a confusing user interface). It goes without saying, that adding legends is a key feature to any mapping framework and we’ve been waiting for this feature ever since working with cartoDB in our Mapping Tourism project. Adding legends to our maps just took me some minutes yesterday. Currently the styling options are still limited, but they’ve announced further improvements and full HTML customization for the coming months.

Hello World – 2nd Edition

As Patrick already wrote, I’m now officially part of mappable.info and excited about the things lying ahead. My name is Achim Tack and my professional background is quite similar to Patrick’s: just like him I’m an urban planner. I’m currently working for a small Hamburg based consulting company. I spend most of my time on research projects, especially focusing on technical and social infrastructure systems in the context of demographic change.

To me it`s all about data – ways to acquire, clean and structure it and finally draw conclusions from it. Today data is generated everywhere – from mobile phones to sensor systems for traffic control or environmental monitoring – and a lot of it is mappable. This is why I’m joining this blog.

As well as complex, long-term projects, I enjoy working on spontaneous ideas and mini projects for fun (some of them can be found on my personal website) and from today on I will publish some of them here.

Mapping Tourism – Identifying Hamburg’s most ‘touristy’ areas

Finally, I found some time to continue working on my mapping tourism project. The first map I published some weeks ago displayed, as you might remember, every hotel & hostel in the city of Hamburg. The map hereby enabled the viewer to get an impression of the spatial dimension of tourism at a glance. Not bad as a starting point. But one of the main reasons tourism has become a topic of public interest in Hamburg recently, is the complaint by some inhabitants that growing tourism is becoming a problem in their neighborhood for various reasons (e.g. noise, traffic, littering). To address these issues too, it was necessary to include an additional aspect in my visualization: population. I’ve thus made a second map, which shows the ratio between inhabitants and tourists on a fine-grained level – in my eyes a very good indicator how ‘touristy’ an area is.

It was’n quite easy to find publicly accessible data for the map. The smallest existing tract shapes (German: statistische Gebiete) are provided by the city of Hamburg, which has opened up this data set as part of their recent open data initiative, which of course is a good thing. The down side is, that this data set is only available via an WFS-Server. A technique, which is not really suitable if you aim at opening up data for the average user. The population data comes from an official  publication by the city of Hamburg, which unfortunately is only available as a pdf-Version, which meant quite some work for me to extract and process the data.

Finally having the data sets at hand, I calculated the number of tourists per area by spatially joining the hotel locations to each tract and counting the sum of provided rooms. The final visualization is once again done in CartDB – this time by using their API, which is way more flexible and allows you to integrate things like a switch between satellite-view and map-view. The final map makes it easy to see which are the most touristy parts of town (marked in blue). You can explore the interactive map by clicking here or on the preview picture below. Both lead to the updated project page, where I also added a new project summary (completely in English now).

mappable +1

Since today, mappable is not
a one man project any more. As it is quite hard to find enough time for pushing
it forward next to working full-time, I’m really happy to now join forces with
my friend and colleague Achim. For more information about us and our goals at
mappable see our updated about page. And the best thing is: we’ve already begun
working on a really neat new project. More information
will follow soon.

The future of subway station area maps

During a trip to Asia a few weeks ago I had the pleasure to spend some days in Seoul, South Korea. Even tough I knew that Korea is a very high-tech society, I was still amazed by the extend to which e.g. location based services are integrated into everyday life and used by people of all ages.

Especially an interactive, map centered information device, named ‘Digital View’, impressed me. Built around a  huge 46 touchscreen and operated by the popular Korean web portal Daum, these terminals offer probably any kind of information about the surrounding area you’ll ever need. Here’s a list of some of the available features:

  • information about news, weather, finance, etc.
  • entertainment services
  • ticketing, e.g. purchasing movie tickets
  • maps with diverse styles (road, satellite, hybrid, google Street View-like) and different layers with points of interests (shopping, accommodation, banks, real estate)
  • free phone calls
  • real-time bus schedules, subway maps and direction details

Features that make them extremely helpful for finding the fastest way through Seoul’s massive underground transportation network as well as for getting all the required information about the surrounding area.

Just for the record: here in Hamburg (and I don’t think the situation in other big German cities is different) we still rely on badly readable poster maps, showing nothing but a road-map of the surrounding and I don’t see anything comparable to Seoul’s Digital View popping up here in the coming years. Considering that the installation in Seoul began in 2010, we are already, in terms of technology, lacking behind five to ten years.

For more details, see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seoul_Metropolitan_Subway

http://www.daumcorp.com/DaumEng/about/service.daum#viewd_10http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/02/19/2010021900782.htmlhttp://www.advancedtechnologykorea.com/303

http://www.advancedtechnologykorea.com/303

http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/02/19/2010021900782.html

similar system in NYC coming up: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/08/new-screens-in-the-subway-will-guide-riders-and-sell-to-them-too/ 

 

Mapping the growth of tourism in Hamburg

Tourism in Hamburg has been substantially and continuously growing during the last decade. The city has reached position ten among the most popular European city destinations last year with more than 10 million overnight stays.

Even tough the topic of tourism growth is drawing increasing public attention, especially when it comes to spectacular projects like the new concert hall ‘Elbphilharmonie‘ or the plans to build a cable car over the river Elbe, I’ve never come across a good visualization on that issue. Which, at least in my eyes, is quite astonishing, as most of the underlying information like hotel addresses or tourist attractions is space-related.

This is where I got started with my just for fun side project. I collected data of hotel locations, categories, years of construction and number of rooms from the free, crowd-sourced database hotelsbase. After quite a lot of data wrangling and searching further details from various hotel- and hotel-booking websites, the only thing missing was information about current building projects. Fortunately there is an up-to-date overview of hotel projects provided by Hamburg travel.

Finally, the fun part about the whole thing was visualizing the collected information by using CartoDB. A really powerful, yet easy to use web-based mapping platform. A big recommendation, even for those of you who are not too familiar with mapping. I started by showing the hotel locations on a dark base-map. In order to visualize the different hotel sizes and years of construction I made further adjustments to the default map style. As a result it is now quite easy to recognize which hotels were built in the last five years (marked in dark blue) and which are currently planned or under construction (purple).

You can explore the final and fully interactive map here.  Furthermore there is a more in depth analysis of the identified patterns and some additional interpretation (unfortunately only in German). I’m quite curious how people will react to this relatively abstract, but spatial perspective on tourism growth in Hamburg.

Hello world

Welcome to my new website & blog.

I’ve always been deeply fascinated by all kinds of maps. Informative maps, beautifully designed maps, analytic maps, unusual ones…

I guess it’s the abstraction of the real, very complex, world into a simple and easily understandable visual representation that has always fascinated me. Being an urban planer / researcher I deal with maps on a regular basis. However, only in the last months it became clear to me how huge the potential of web-based mapping is. There are already so many innovative and mostly interactive maps and applications on the web, that show what can be done with the huge amount of data we’ve got nowadays. WOW, how could I have missed that for such a long time?

Anyway, now I’m just in the middle of exploring what’s out there, learning the necessary tools and of course making maps. Why? because it’s fun!

And what’s the blog for? Well, I’ll write about interesting stuff I stumble across and the hopefully numerous personal projects that are still to come.

Enjoy.