Maps and mappers of the 2016 calendar: Mario Nowak

In our series “Maps and mappers of the 2016 calendar” we will present throughout 2016 the mapmakers who submitted their creations for inclusion in the 2016 GeoHipster calendar.


Mario Nowak

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: I studied geography at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and did a Master in Geographic Information Science. I also studied land-use planning at ETH Zurich. Now I’m working for sotomo, a company based in Zurich specializing in political surveys, data journalism, and data visualization.

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 map shows the rental prices for a flat in every municipality in Switzerland. We did this map on assignment for the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger. They used it for an article on rental prices in Switzerland.

It is the remake of a similar map my boss made in the nineties, but with newer data. In fact, this map is an animated map (see here): The temporal dimension is perceptible in the GIF version. The map also hints at the fact that Switzerland is a country of mountains, but in this map, the highest peaks are where the prices are the highest.

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

A: The data comes from Wüest & Partner. It has a price value for every municipality (around 2,500[CHF]) for every year from 2000 to 2015. I only needed to extract the centroid of each municipality from a shapefile (done in QGIS) and match it to the data.

The map was then completely done in R. Two packages were particularly important: automap with its autokrige function, and the package plot3d (and the PDF file 50 ways to draw a volcano).

I did a lot of kriging interpolations to get a smooth surface. I also did linear interpolations between every time-step to make the growing of the mountains smooth. Otherwise, the GIF would have consisted of only 15 images. Finally, I produced high resolution raster image files and stitched them together using a tool called GIF animator.

Of course, there was a lot of trial and error involved in making this map, but now I am quite pleased with the result. It was, by the way, also nominated for the German reporter prize (however, it did not win 😉 ).

'Monthly rental prices for 4-room flats in Switzerland' by Mario Nowak
‘Monthly rental prices for 4-room flats in Switzerland’ by Mario Nowak

2016 GeoHipster calendar showcases technological and cartographic artistry

Last month GeoHipster put out a call for maps for the 2016 GeoHipster calendar. The response was overwhelming, with nearly two dozen maps being submitted. The submissions represented a cross-section of the cartographic talent and imagination of the geospatial industry. The GeoHipster advisory board certainly had its work cut out for it.

We would have loved to have simply used all of the maps we received, but Pope Gregory XIII gave us a calendar that only had room for twelve. So we are happy to announce the authors whose work you will be seeing throughout 2016 (in no particular order): Meg Miller, Asger Petersen, Jacqueline Kovarik, Terence Stigers, Katie Kowalsky, Rosemary Wardley, Ralph Straumann, Gretchen Peterson, Jonah Adkins, Stephen Smith, Mario Nowak, and Andrew Zolnai. Congratulations to each of you, and thank you for your support of GeoHipster and your dedication to the craft of mapmaking.

GeoHipster has adopted a mission of exploring the state of the geospatial industry from the eyes of those working in it, and the response from the community has been humbling. Part of that mission is celebrating the great work and creativity resident in the community. As part of that celebration, GeoHipster will be publishing a feature on each map throughout 2016 so our readers can learn a bit more about how and why each map was created. We will be doing this not only for the 12 maps selected for the calendar, but for all of the maps submitted this year, in recognition of the support and creativity shown by all who participated. We are excited to expand GeoHipster to include the art of our community.

Finally, we’d like to give a shout out to Mapbox for their continued support of GeoHipster’s independent content, this time by sponsoring the 2016 calendar. Their support will help expand the types of content we offer next year, including reprising the “young professionals” showcase of up-and-coming talent that was debuted this month.

The calendar is currently being designed, and will be ready to order by the US Thanksgiving holiday. It makes a great gift, and is a super way to answer the inevitable question we all field from our family during the holidays: “So what is it that you do?”