Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Kate Berg, May

Kate Berg's Happiest States Map

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: I am GIS lead at the State of Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). I’ve been in the field for almost 10 years since my first GIS class at UCLA in 2012. Since then, I’ve taught GIS at the university level and worked in the non-profit, private, and public realms. I currently act as outreach chair for URISA’s Vanguard Cabinet of Young Professionals. You can find me on Twitter (@pokateo_) hosting the weekly #GISchat conversation as well as creating and sharing original map-related memes (#mappymeme) as ways to unite and uplift the geospatial community.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: I made this map for the 2020 #30DayMapChallenge for Day 4: Hexagons, and then modified it slightly to work better for this calendar. I had found this dataset prior to the Challenge and was looking for an excuse to make something with it. The data tries to identify the happiest states in America based on several indicators, including emotions, “physical-ness”, work, and community. 

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: I used ArcGIS Pro to create this map. The data comes from the Happiest States in America by WalletHub and I also used the US Hex Cartogram by John Nelson (download here). There was so much information in the happiness dataset (an overall rank as well as emotional and physical well-being rank, work environment rank, and community and environment rank) that I had to get creative on how to show it. It couldn’t be as simple as one hexagon per state…it needed four overlapping hexagons. I ended up playing with offsets to get the desired effect and I’m pretty happy with it – though apparently I live in a pretty averagely happy state (Michigan).

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Inge van Daelen, Cover

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: I started working in the cartography field about 2.5 years ago. I started part-time at Red Geographics as I had a full time job on the side. I studied Chinese and Tourism Destination Management, so I didn’t have a background in GIS at all. Luckily, my friend (and boss) Hans van der Maarel helps me out and I’ve learned a lot. I now provide training in (geo)software packages, give presentations about field-related topics, take on cartographic projects and recently became an FME Certified Professional and Trainer.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: We used to have Friday Funday at the office, where we would try new things. Things that aren’t necessarily productive, but fun and related to what we do. Hans found a tutorial online, made by Tom Patterson, on editing raw satellite images. I immediately became hooked. We decided to create our own webshop selling products with the prints we’ve made, because we wanted to share what we created. I usually go for bright colors, not true to nature per se. Sometimes though, you don’t need to edit them at all, our earth is absolutely stunning as it is! I also make my own accessories, use the images as a background for phones and computers, and we print our images on the notebooks and business cards we hand out during training. Choosing which image I want is often the most difficult part.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: The data is downloaded from the USGS website and then edited in Photoshop. I merged the red, blue and green band together and started the editing. I added two more layers to be able to edit the water and land separately and enhance the quality with another layer. By then, the images were around 16K in quality, so I reduced them to 6-8K, otherwise the files were too big to handle.

Raluca Nicola: “The community profits from everyone’s knowledge.”

Raluca Nicola

Raluca Nicola works at Esri as a Product Engineer for ArcGIS API for JavaScript. She enjoys creating maps and data visualizations using the latest web technologies. Most of these maps are in 3D and all of them live on the web. 

Raluca was interviewed for GeoHipster by Ana Leticia Ma.

Q: Can you tell me about your journey as a web cartographer? 

A: My journey started with me being clueless about what I want to study and generally what I want to do in life. I started studying math in college because that’s what I liked most during high-school. In my second year I realized it was too abstract for me, so I quit math and started studying geography. I found it interesting to learn how the world around us works. I soon discovered GIS and enjoyed analyzing and visualizing data to explain real world phenomena. Then I got more and more drawn towards the visualization part, and in my Master’s studies I focused on cartography. During those studies, I had a web cartography course and I was hooked. I like coding and the web is a great environment: I can create beautiful, interactive visualizations and it’s so easy to share them with others. 

Q: What do you like most about being a cartographer?

A: I love the data exploration part. It feels a bit like detective work to process and visualize a dataset in various ways and extract important information from it. And then the part that I enjoy the most is figuring out how to convey that information to others in a good way. In recent years I discovered that the magic in visualization comes when you combine concepts and ideas from different fields in novel ways…and I love to apply that to cartography. 3D cartography for example, makes use of 2D cartography and classical data visualization concepts, but it’s also heavily influenced by architecture, games and art. And like everything else nowadays, it’s also heavily influenced by technology. 

Q: Where do you get your inspiration to make maps? 

A: I try to take it from everywhere: maps and visualizations I stumble upon (mostly online), movies, commercials, articles I read, ideas I discuss with colleagues and friends. I think inspiration can come from the most unexpected places! 🙂 

Q: How’s your experience working with 2D and 3D maps? Do you have a preference for one over another?

A: My motto is: choose the technique that helps you send your message across in the best way. From experience, I would say that there are fields where one could be better than the other. For example, 3D is great when you visualize data related to cities or urban planning, and 2D can be better for complex multivariate data visualizations. But even in those cases, I’d first analyze the goal of the project and the audience, and then I’d choose the mapping technique. 

Q: How do you keep up with the latest trends in mapping? 

A: I think social media like Twitter or Linkedin are great platforms to see what people who are passionate about GIS and cartography are up to. Whenever I can, I also try to attend conferences that are specific to cartography like NACIS, Eurocarto or the International Cartographic Conference. 

Q: You live in a country with the most beautiful landscape. What outdoor activities do you like to do in Switzerland? 

A: Switzerland is amazing if you like mountains! I try to go hiking every weekend, and I often bike around Zurich, exploring the surroundings. I also enjoy skiing in winter, even though I’m not the greatest skier. 

Q: What was it like to work in the Swiss Alps and make maps for the Swiss National Park?

A: Such a great experience! It was a one year internship after university and I learned a lot there. I was really lucky to have a great supervisor who gave me some awesome and challenging tasks to work on. The village where I lived was very small; about 1000 inhabitants. And that was very strange for me, because I had only lived in big cities until then. I lived in a shared flat with other interns at the park. We had a really nice time, we cooked together, went hiking a lot, and watched movies. I also participated in my first karaoke there…turns out I can’t really sing, hehe!

Q: Aside from making maps, do you have any nerdy hobbies that you want to tell us about?

A: Not really a hobby, but for sure nerdy: I have an obsession with computer keyboards. At some point I built my own keyboard, but it was probably the worst one in my collection and the one I paid the most for…my fingers didn’t really get along with the layout of the keys. 

Q: One of your maps was featured on our Geohipster calendar in 2020, so you’re ahead of the GeoHipster game. What advice do you give to our users?

A: One piece of advice I try to offer is to share with others what you do and learn 🙂 The community can profit so much from everyone’s knowledge. Even if you think that it’s something simple, I’m sure someone out there could use it at some point, so share it!

Maps and mappers of the 2021 calendar: Valters Zeizis, cover

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: I work as an Oceanologist for the Latvian met-office and work with meteorological and marine data. I have experience working with various spatial data, but I guess my favorite source is Satellite data. I tend to experiment with various sensors and processing methods and often share my results on social media. I think in a nutshell it’s also how I became engaged with the makers of GeoHipster calendar.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: The image that is on the cover of this year’s calendar shows suspended sediment in the Gulf of Riga. The image shows suspended sediment that is poured into the sea during springtime river runoff. Relatively stable marine currents form beautiful patterns, while the coloring is related to optical properties of water – the density and size of the suspended matter. The inspiration behind the image is purely aesthetic, but in a sense it’s also analytical. It is also a rare occasion of a cloudless Satellite overpass during a very interesting and large scale natural event.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: The image is made using Sentinel 2 data that has been processed by a script which enhances NDWI (normalized difference water index). The image came about while I was playing with the script (https://custom-scripts.sentinel-hub.com/custom-scripts/sentinel-2/selective_enhancement_based_on_indices/) and looking at the phenomena in a familiar area. After I was satisfied with the capture I also did some post-processing in GIMP.

Maps and mappers of the 2021 calendar: Zoey Armstrong, back cover

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: My name is Zoey Armstrong and I’m a graduate student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I’m currently working on my Master’s of Geography and my thesis is examining the effectiveness of species distribution modeling using citizen science and herbarium data. Besides researching, I enjoy going out on hikes and improving my field botany skills, making maps, and playing board games.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: I was initially inspired to make the map because one of my professors who I TA for, and who also knew I’ve made similar type maps in the past, wanted me to create a demonstration on my map-making process as a teaching tool for the students. With that initial push, I started considering some ideas. Pretty early on I decided I wanted to use an antique map as the base map. I had seen similar things done with old USGS survey maps and I thought it was really cool being able to bring an old map to life with new data and technology. So after a bit of searching around online, I found a map of the Azores from 1899 by M. J. Thoulet and was immediately in love with it; I could tell the contour lines in the original map would look really good in 3D and I also liked that I could give the final product a more abstract feel. 

One challenge I didn’t anticipate was getting a hold of a high-resolution copy of the map. I could only seem to find low and medium-resolution images until I found that it was hosted in Harvard’s records collection. I decided to send out an email to the records division to see if I could get a high-resolution download… and it worked! I thought it was pretty cool that I had to interact with Harvard for the project. One thing I learned through this project is that hand tracing bathymetry lines takes a lot of time. I have a new appreciation for everyone who helped digitize old geographic records.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: To create everything, I first found the old map of the Azores, then downloaded a combined topography and bathymetry dataset from GEBCO. I used QGIS to clean up and export the raster as a PNG where I could add it to an Autodesk Sketchbook Pro project. Sketchbook is a free barebones version of photoshop and that’s where I chose a color scheme and hand traced the bathymetry files. From Sketchbook, I exported two images: one in color that represented the final look of everything, and one in black and white to be used as a displacement input in Blender. This displacement input transforms a flat plane into a surface with all the peaks and valleys seen in the final map. Then a light source is added to the scene, giving the final render its accurate highlights and shadows. Overall, I enjoyed making the map, but definitely got a little carried away with it for a bit.

Poll: “Special Days” in 2021 GeoHipster calendar

As this article is being published, our team of judges are looking at the amazing submissions we received for our 2021 calendar. We say this every year, but we think this will be the best one yet!

So while you’re waiting to get a peek at the maps that are chosen, we thought we’d give you another way to build up the anticipation – a crowdsourcing project! So tell us: which “Special days” deserve to be marked in the 2021 GeoHipster calendar? PostGIS Day, obviously, and maybe a few other official holidays. But what else? Help us decide by voting in this fun poll. Suggestions welcome — comment or email to atanas.entchev [at] gmail [dot] com.

Call for Maps: 2021 GeoHipster Calendar

Could your map be the cover of the 2021 GeoHipster Calendar?

What can you count on in 2020? Well, let’s face it, not much. But, we at GeoHipster are still counting on January 1, 2021 being…a date that will be acknowledged by the world. And so we’re planning on having a calendar for you to hang on your wall! After all, we figure a bunch of you are now #WFH, so you’re going to need some wall decorations to make those Zoom meetings interesting.

Just like last year, we want to be able to announce the availability by PostGIS Day in November, so get your maps in soon. All the details are available on the 2021 calendar page. Happy Mapping!

Maps and mappers of the 2020 calendar: Daniel Fourquet, July

fourqet

Q: Tell us about yourself

A: For most of my life I have been fascinated with maps, both studying them and making them myself. As a child I would fill folders with detailed maps of an imaginary country and would spend too many hours playing games like SimCity and Civilization on the computer (ok, I do that as an adult sometimes too!). These interests would eventually lead me to studying geography at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA and begin a career doing GIS work. Recently I’ve become interested in programming and am now enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s online GIS and web map programming masters program. I’m currently a GIS Analyst at the Virginia Department of Transportation in Richmond.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: I became interested in using 3D rendering software in cartography when I stumbled on some of the beautiful maps created by Owen Powell (@owenjpowell) last Spring. While doing research to learn how to make 3D maps of my own, I discovered the work of Daniel Huffman (@pinakographos) and Scott Reinhard (@scottreinhard), both of which were also influential. I experimented with terrain maps for a couple months before deciding to try creating an urban map using lidar data. I chose the US Capitol because it’s such a well known landmark.

My decision to design this map in black and white was inspired by Daniel Huffman’s NACIS talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptKDS1Z8Oro) about the challenges and advantages of mapping in monochrome. I initially planned on designing the map in color, but then I realized that removing color created a more formal tone that is fitting for a map of the buildings where such important decisions are made.

 

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map

A: Data Used:

– The Lidar data was downloaded from the USGS National Map.

– I used land cover data from the Chesapeake Conservancy.

Tools Used:

– WhiteboxTools (https://jblindsay.github.io/ghrg/WhiteboxTools/index.html) is a collection of GIS tools that allowed me to process the lidar data via Python to prepare it for rendering in Blender.

– ArcMap was used to organize and prepare the data.

– Blender was the 3D software used to render the Lidar data.

– GIMP was used to add the land cover data. I also manually brushed in the trees, which was time-consuming, but resulted in a much better map than relying on the trees from the land cover data.

– Illustrator was used for labelling and finishing the map. 

 

Maps and mappers of the 2020 GeoHipster calendar: Nikita Slavin, April

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: I’m a 29 years old student from the Cartography M. Sc. Program, from Saint-Petersburg, Russia. I hope it will go well and this September I’ll successfully defend my thesis about the exhibition methods of historical maps in mixed reality.

I obtained my first degree at St-Petersburg University in 2012, Faculty of Geography and Geoecology, Department of Cartography and Geodesy.

After graduating from university, I explored several fields: geodesy, UAV mapping and GIS in nature protection. During my service at the Kronotsky National Reserve on the Kamchatka Peninsula, the land of bears and volcanoes, I was a GIS engineer. I participated in a lot of different projects: the development of a GIS system; geodynamic monitoring systems; educational projects and making a lot of different maps. During my time on the Kamchatka Peninsula, I realised that I want to develop myself as a cartographer and fortunately I was enrolled in our perfect cartography master program.

I’m an outdoor person: hiking, rowing, cycling trips. My side job is a tourist guide. I’m happy then as I meet beautiful maps for these activities. In the school I was into competitive orienteering – maybe this is one of the reasons for my love of maps.

In map-making I’m trying to find a way to combine modern and classic technology, approaching high-quality mapping standards in a digital era. You can see some examples in my Behance portfolio. Also, there are some examples of my little hobby – making wooden maps. I don’t know that I’m going to do after graduation – kind of looking for job from autumn- maybe this post could help to find it 😉

 

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: This square map in the Pierce projection is a rebuild of my original “Ocean Plastic Map” for the book-atlas project “SDGs in action” (in preprint process now). “Ocean Plastic Map” was created during the course “Project Map Creation” (the very cool one) of the second semester (my best) in Vienna – you can see it on Behance. Warm thanks to our teacher Manuela Schmidt.

When I was looking for an idea for that course, I thought that it could be interesting to visualize the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans: describe the sources of plastic waste, plastic transportation, and its global distribution.

I enjoy DIY things: that’s why I developed an idea of making a volumetric map – stacking semi-transparent layers could show underwater relief in 3 dimensions rather than just 2. Also, the idea of making a map about plastic pollution made from plastic seemed quite cool and ironic for me. To make it more artistic I decided to represent pollution with common plastic objects: bottles, straws and plastic bags. The process was not easy going as expected, but it was worth it. 

For the first stage of the project, I looked for the data – many thanks to Laurent C. M. Lebreton for the very friendly cooperation and providing data. Laurent C. M. Lebreton was one of the co-authors of the paper “Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea” and Timo Franz from Dumpark – their project Sailing seas of plastic is unbelievably impressive.

Whilst working on the project I realized that we simply don’t know all sides of the plastic pollution problem and how to solve it. I hope that my small contribution helps in making things clearer.

The square version presented in the Geohipster calendar is made for the project “SDGs in action”. One of our lectures, Markus Jobst, invited me to participate with my map. One of the requirements was to use the Pierce projection – and the map looks surprisingly good with it.

 

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: Software stack:

  • QGIS for some pre-processing
  • ArcGIS Pro for processing data and the raw design stage
  • Adobe Illustrator with the incredible great plug-in Collider Scribe from Astute Graphics for the final design

Data Sources:

  • ETOPO2 for bathymetry
  • Natural Earth data for the world relief shading, country borders and rivers

Data about plastic pollution from the paper “Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea” as mentioned above

Maps and mappers of the 2020 GeoHipster calendar: Heikki Vesanto, March

Q: Tell us about yourself.

 

A: I am originally from Finland, but got started in GIS during my undergraduate degree at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Great university with one of the most picturesque campuses in the world.

After Glasgow I went back to Finland for a MSc in Geoinformatics at the University of Helsinki. Great program which gave a great broad base for GIS, including exposure to all the main GIS packages, ArcGIS, MapInfo, and crucially QGIS.

After graduating I went back to Scotland, which really is a lovely country, well worth a visit. Where I worked at a small GIS consultancy doing some pretty innovative work. They were training QGIS, and helping local councils transition away from ArcGIS. The councils had really simple GIS workflows, which could easily be replicated in QGIS, so switching was clear. It also broadened the availability of GIS in the council. You were no longer limited to the x number of license you could afford, rather anyone who needed access to GIS could have it.

Unfortunate after a certain vote in 2016 made the UK feel a lot more difficult to plan a future in. Despite Scotland still being a lovely place, with very welcoming people. So now I am in Ireland, still in GIS, working with QGIS and PostgreSQL/PostGIS on a daily basis.

 

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: There were some pretty clear inspirations for this work.

Firstly I discovered the data from Dónal Casey who did an earlier version:

http://www.spatialoverlay.xyz/uncategorized/ireland-a-country-in-motion-1-96-million-commutes/

Also heavily inspired by Alasdair Rae and his commuter maps of US:

http://www.statsmapsnpix.com/2016/02/more-more-commuting-map-experiments.html

There is currently a fair amount of debate in Ireland about transport policy. Ireland is a very car dominated country with very low density housing even in the urban areas. This results in a lot of urban sprawl, which can clearly be seen in the map with the commuter catchments of the urban areas. Trying to solve the public transport issues in Dublin has come in the form of continuous proposals from the government but very little actual implementation. The latest effort is a rapid bus corridor proposal, which is probably the best option for Dublin, with its low population density urban sprawl. However the proposal is meeting some resistance with the general public. But I believe visualising and communicating the issues and solutions is crucial to driving public engagement.

 

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: The data is supplied by the Central Statistics Office Ireland as part of the Census POWSCAR data set (Place of Work, School or College – Census of Anonymised Records).

The processing was done in PostgreSQL/PostGIS. It’s a simple join from the centroid of each home Electoral Division (ED) to each work ED, with a column containing the count of commuters. Working in a database means it is a single SQL query that produces the end file for visualisation. The map was then made in QGIS. The blending modes really help with overlapping lines, allowing large clusters to really stand out, while keeping the smaller commutes still visible.

I am really happy with the end result. There is something to be said about simplicity, with just one layer of lines sitting on top of a subdued Natural Earth DEM.