Tag Archives: maps

The Curviest Tracks on the Northeast Corridor

If you remember a little while back, Amtrak No. 188 derailed in North Philadelphia at Frankford Junction. I covered it here and here. Well, the New York Times has analysed the Northeast Corridor to identify the curviest segments of track, excluding entrances and exits from stations. Perhaps as no surprise, Frankford Junction is right among the top segments.

Tracks north of Centre City Philadelphia

Tracks north of Centre City Philadelphia

Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times graphics department.

Aquifers Around the World

It has rained quite a bit in the south the last couple of days, thanks to tropical weather systems. But, as some new data from NASA shows us, the world is running out of water. That is largely because we drain large underground water systems called aquifers faster than the natural environment replenishes them. The Washington Post has a small interactive map that looks at the world’s largest aquifers and respective trend towards either being recharged or drained.

Aquifers are being drained around the world

Aquifers are being drained around the world

Credit for the piece goes to Todd Frankel.

What if the World Were of States with Equal Populations?

Well, thanks to a reddit editor frayuk, via a nice post on Vox, we now can look at what that world would look like. It’s a bit difficult to see some of the details, but click through to the Vox piece to see just those.

A map of equals

A map of equals

Credit for the piece goes to frayuk.

How Your Hometown Impacts Your Future Earnings

Today we have a really interesting piece from the New York Times. In terms of visualisations, we see nothing special nor revolutionary—that is not to say it is not well done. The screenshot below is from the selection of my hometown county, Chester County in Pennsylvania. Where the piece really shines is when you begin looking at different counties. The text of the article appears to be tailored to fit different counties. But with so many counties in the country, clearly it is being done programmatically. You can begin to see where it falls apart when you select rather remote counties out west.

How the poor in Chester County fare

How the poor in Chester County fare

But it does not stop simply with location. Try using the controls in the upper right to compare genders or income quartiles. The text changes for those as well.

Credit for the piece goes to Gregor Aisch, Eric Buth, Matthew Bloch, Amanda Cox, and Kevin Quealy.

Others’ Coverage of Amtrak 188

Tuesday I posted my late-night work on Amtrak No. 188′s derailment, (now with a few minor updates, including the speed information released this afternoon) so you could all get a sense of what happened yesterday. Of course, in the last 24 hours, we have seen a lot of news outlets covering the story.

The New York Times has a nice piece mapping out the details of the accident. Of particular interest, they included a map showing the parts of the Northeast Corridor equipped with positive train control. That is a system designed to prevent trains from exceeding their speed limits.

Positive train control implemented on the Northeast Corridor

Positive train control implemented on the Northeast Corridor

The Washington Post has two nice pieces. The first, below, incorporates both illustration to simplify the wreck site for the audience and then photographs to provide context of just how destroyed some of the train cars are, the first in particular.

Using both illustrations and photographs

Using both illustrations and photographs

The Post, however, also has a supplemental piece that looks at Amtrak’s accidents over the last ten years. This is the most data-centric piece of all that we are looking at, but that is okay. Most of the story is not reliant on data, but rather illustrations and diagrams trying to piece everything together.

Comparison of derailments vs. vehicle collisions

Comparison of derailments vs. vehicle collisions

Lastly, the BBC has an article with several small graphics looking at US train risks. Spoiler, American trains, while safe, are far less safe than those in Europe and Asia. Here, though, the map looks at accidents along the Northeast Corridor.

Amtrak accidents

Amtrak accidents

Credit for the New York Times piece goes to Gregor Aisch, Larry Buchanan, Bill Marsh, Haeyoun Park, Sergio Peçanha, Julie Shaver, Joe Ward, and Karen Yourish.

Credit for the Washington Post piece on the derailment goes to Bonnie Berkowitz, Patterson Clark, Alberto Cuadra, Todd Lindeman, Denise Lu, Katie Park, and Gene Thorp.

Credit for the Washington Post piece on Amtrak accidents goes to Dan Keating and Lazaro Gamio.

Amtrak Train No. 188 Derails

I am a big fan of trains, rail transit, and Amtrak. I think the rail network connecting the East Coast’s big cities from Boston down to Washington is one of the big draws of the Northeast. Not surprisingly, I have taken that route I don’t know how many times. So, when Amtrak’s Northeast Regional No. 188 derailed in Philadelphia, it ran off rails with which I am familiar.

I made a graphic tonight—so much for all my other plans—charting and mapping out what was announced by Philadelphia’s mayor, Michael Nutter. I am sure that by the time I wake up in the morning, we will know more and some things will have changed. But, let this be a simple guide to the basics as they were Tuesday night.

Updated graphic

Updated graphic

Frankford Junction is in the Port Richmond area of Philly. And what I can attest is that trains do slow down here, because it is a fairly sharp turn at a fairly flat grade (I think).

Credit for the screenshot map image goes to Google.

It’s All the Hex

If you have not noticed, lots of news sites are using a variant of the cartogram lately. Basically, the idea is that geographic maps have the limitation of accurately representing landmass. And that means small polities, e.g. Rhode Island or Belgium, that might be quite important are visibly not so much, because they are geographically small. These pseudo-cartograms sort of do the trick by making all polities the same size. The trade off? Geographic fidelity. Anyway, there is an intelligent piece worth reading over at the NPR blogs explaining the thought process going on there about why to use the form. (You may recall I wrote about a similar project for London boroughs back in February.)

Hex map

Hex map

Credit for the piece goes to Danny DeBelius.

The UK General Election

Well for those of you among my British audience, today is the big day. Can Malcolm Tucker save Nicola Murray from—wait, nope, that’s fictional British politics. But that doesn’t mean today’s results won’t be exciting. For those of you now from the UK, a majority of my readers, the UK is looking at what is called a hung parliament. In other words, nobody will win a majority of seats, which means that smaller parties will need to be included in a coalition government, a sort of fairly new—but also not really—development in British politics.

We could dive deep into all of these, but I have not the time. But, let’s start with the Guardian. They have a nice set of polling and prediction guesstimators. What is really nice, however, is the seat changing graphics. These show you where the gains and losses are predicted to originate.

The Guardian's predictions

The Guardian’s predictions

The BBC has a much less involved piece. This is the only thing I can find. However, the BBC will undoubtedly have interesting visuals during their live broadcast of the results. Jeremy Vine can always be counted on for weird presentational things. Oh, and they have the swingometer.

The BBC's poll tracker

The BBC’s poll tracker

Back in April we looked at the Fivethirtyeight predictions. And we might as well throw the latest screenshot up and compare that to the Guardian and the BBC.

Fivethirtyeight's updated predictions

Fivethirtyeight’s updated predictions

The Economist has a nice poll tracker with some simple controls for some simple filtering. But, these are, like the BBC’s, without an impact of number of seats. The Economist does, however, offer a separate build-your-own-majority calculator. 

What the Economist shows on their Election homepage

What the Economist shows on their Election homepage

The New Statesmen has built a site dedicated to May 2015, and their current predictions are as follows below.

New Statesmen's predictions

New Statesmen’s predictions

The only drawback to all of these pieces is that I will be busy coaching softball tomorrow night. So I will be unable to watch the BBC’s coverage of election results. And that is most unfortunate, because British politics are far more fascinating than the bland and boring two-party politics of the United States.

Credit for the Guardian piece goes to Caelainn Barr, Helena Bengtssoni, Chia-Jung (Apple) C.Fardel, Seán Clarke, Cath Levett, Alberto Nardelli, and Carlo Zapponi.

Credit for the BBC piece goes to the BBC graphics department.

Credit for the Fivethirtyeight piece goes to Matthew Conien and Ritchie King.

Credit for the Economist piece goes to the Economist’s graphics department.

Credit for the New Statesmen piece goes to the May 2015 graphics team.

Mapping Migrant Deaths

Yesterday we looked at a map of coal plants, with the dots sized by capacity. Today, we have a similar approach in a much smaller graphic about a much different topic. The BBC published this map yesterday in the context of an article about a report of the EU contacting Australia in regards to its migrant interception programme.

Where the migrants have died

Where the migrants have died

Compared to the maps we saw yesterday, I’m not so keen on this. Not the idea, mind you. I think that the story bears telling in a graphical, visual format. Look at how many of those deaths occur in the waters between Libya and Italy. Not between Tunisia and Italy. Not between countries of the eastern Mediterranean and islands like Cyprus or Crete.

But, the blue-green colour used to identify previous incidents is too close to the blue of the Mediterranean for my taste. Though, in fairness, that does make the purplish colour highlighting the most recent incident stand out a bit more. But even the map of the Mediterranean includes details that are not likely necessary. Do we need to show the topography of the surrounding countries? Do we need to see the topography of the sea floor? Probably not, although in a different piece the argument could be made geography determines the migration routes. Compare that to Bloomberg’s piece, where the United States was presented in flat, grey colours that allowed the capacity story to come to the forefront.

Lastly, a pet peeve of mine with maps and charts like this. Please, please, please provide a scale. I understand that humans are poor at comparing differences in area. And that is a reason why bars and dots are so often a clearer form of communication. But, in this piece, I have no idea whatsoever about the magnitude and scale of these incidents. Again, compared this to the Bloomberg piece, where in the bottom corner we do have two circles presented to offer scale of capacity.

Credit for the piece goes to the BBC graphics department.

The Coal Century

The other day I misread a poster on the road that “The Cool Century” for “The Coal Century”. That is the origin of today’s title. The origin of today’s piece, however, is Bloomberg, which looked at the impact of some new environmental regulations on the coal industry vis-a-vis dozens of coal power plants.

Coal plants

Coal plants

Basically, you have a map with plant size indicated by the dot size, and the type of plant by the colour of the dot. The line chart to the right shows total coal capacity. Overall, it’s a nice, clear, concise graphic. Two buttons give the user immediate access to the story: the pre-regulated environment—see what I did there?—and then then post-regulated one.

Credit for the piece goes to Eric Roston and Blacki Migliozzi.