Wonders of Reddit – Colonial America

Very, very late to this game, I’m discovering the wonders of Reddit – specifically the subreddit “Map Porn“, and the title sums it up. For starter, there is this 1957 educational map created by Esso Standard Oil which was recently posted. The comments are also great, including critique that the Dutch flag and colors are wrong… and that this was an America without slavery!

Note also, that Seneca Indians in New York State used oil from a spring (second zoomed image) – apparently for medicinal purposes. Fun fact (as they say), this is recorded as the discovery of oil in America! Dive in here – also an interactive map website. No more oil here, but a rich history.

Conflict and Bridging Divides

The website Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project is a rich resource for data about conflicts and protests in the US and worldwide, with multiple links to other sites and databases.  It is a bit shocking, but the story covers the last year and puts it all a bit into perspective, with much good background information.  (Hoping it is all factual, which it is likely to be given the sponsors.)

Through a link on this site, to the Princeton Bridging Divide’s Initiative, an interactive map showing up-to-date conflict events and organizations in the US, with the ability to drill down and learn more about organizations or specific events.

So how does this make me feel?  Amazed at how complex the US is, but also how great that there are so many organizations whose mission it is to “bridge the divides” in the currently very divided society.  We don’t hear about these efforts in the news.


World Food Program

World Food Program won the Nobel Peace Prize 2020.  The agency was given the prize for its efforts to combat hunger and improve conditions for peace.

This interactive “Hunger Map” contains an amazing amount of detail and links to numerous databases tracking the world situation on a daily basis.

Some of the indices and trends are not as clear as others, but this appears to be an amazing data resource. Overlays include vegetation, rainfall, crises of all sorts, conflicts, and COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Take Yemen…

COVID-19 Dominates

Sadly, the most viewed map these days is the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Map developed with an ESRI ArcGIS Dashboard.

More maps built with ArcGIS can be found at https://coronavirus-resources.esri.com/, including the projected peak map developed by IHME at the University of Washington.

Wolf Tracking

Wolves are awesome and endlessly fascinating, maybe because of their similarity to our favorite pets. One organization provides all the data, videos and some amazing maps, to satisfy the most die-hard wolf-lovers. As their Facebook says,  Voyageurs Wolf Project studies wolves and their prey (moose, deer, and beavers) during the summer in the Greater Voyageurs Ecosystem, which includes the area in and around Voyageurs National Park, in northern Minnesota. These images, posted in Jan 2020, show the movements of various packs within the Voyager park area, generated by putting gps collars on pack members. There are unanswered questions as to whether some packs disappeared, new ones formed, etc.

For a day (or days) in the life of wolfie, check out Voyager’s website, and this page of animations.

Tracking Apps

Traveling a lot these days, and hiking and biking. There must be a way to keep track of my travels, organize and georeference photos and video’s, take notes, maybe even record comments as I move around. So, I am looking at iPhone and android tracking apps. Here’s my starter list:

MyTracks, for Android

MyTracks for Apple (different publisher)

A collection of apps for tracking other people (e.g. kids)


A collection of apps for longer trips

Polarsteps for Android, and for iPhone.

Avenza is an mapp app which requires that you download maps to use offline – some free, need to explore — looks like an amazing map collection. You can search the database of maps online.

The David Rumsey Collection

I’ve known about the exciting David Rumsey Historical Map Collection for more than a decade, and have used it from time to time as a resource for research. The physical collection has more than 150,000 maps, mostly of North and South America, but also the rest of the world. About two thirds of the collection have been digitized and with this database are easily searchable.
The technology used includes LUNA software (by Luna Imaging in L.A.) for creation and processing, and Georeferencer software from the Swiss company Klokan Technologies. With this software, the transparency of the historical map can be adjusted to see the google-maps layer below. Fascinating!

Gerrymandering – the Line Dance

The 2020 U.S. Census controversy brings attention to many mapping issues, most importantly the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Partisan Gerrymandering.  GIS Software is sometimes viewed as the guardian angel, abut more often the devil in the bizarre American governmental process of “redistricting”.  This occurs on a state-by-state basis after the completion of the census, which is held every 10 years, with the purpose of readjusting voting districts to take into account changes in population and demographics.  The idea is to improve representation, but the process has become deeply politicized.  This is a good, simplified explanation:  The Line Dance, by Chris Satullo, director of the Draw the Lines Project.  Along with the website providing a wealth of information, links and instructions for Pennsylvania’s version of DistrictBuilder open source map application, designed by Azavea, encourages the public to understand the redistricting process and submit their own maps which reflect their wishes.  Here is an excellent video tutorial.

Geospatial trends in 2019

Time to get up to speed again. In January, this article appeared in Geospatialworld. Review of terms:

  • EO = Earth Observation
  • LIDAR = Light Detection and Ranging (also, remote sensing)
  • AWS Ground Station = An Amazon service – “a fully managed service that lets you control satellite communications, downlink and process satellite data, and scale your satellite operations quickly, easily and cost-effectively without having to worry about building or managing your own ground station infrastructure.”
  • Geospatial (Geo) AI = Processing Big Geo Data – Machine learning with spatial component
  • BIM = Building Information Modeling
  • Smart Cities
  • Drones!