Our Picks From The New Google Maps Gallery
Have you ever wanted to see a map of Shakespeare's Britain or an atlas of the floor of the Indian Ocean? Well now you can! Google has introduced a new feature to their Google Maps Engine called the Maps Gallery. Any nonprofit, school, business, or government can publish maps to the Gallery for an interactive experience the whole world can see.
What is the Google Maps Gallery?
The Google Maps Gallery is described an "interactive, digital atlas" that will "enable easier discovery of the world's geospatial data." In other words, we can now view maps exploring topics like climate change, population, space, crisis, and culture that have been published by organizations from around the world.
It's hard to narrow down the best maps out of the hundreds that are posted, but here a few that I thought were interesting:
This map shows the average annual precipitation in the US from 2005-2009 and it's very interesting to see where the highest and lowest levels are. The map is also interactive, so you can zoom in or search for a particular city and see the average precipitation for that area. For example, San Francisco had an average of 25 inches of precipitation, while Boston had 50 inches.
This map is updated every 5 minutes by the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program to provide data on earthquakes from the last hour, day, and week. The map shows the different tectonic plates on earth, as well as an icon representing the latest earthquakes. Each icon is interactive, showing the location, date, and magnitude of the earthquake.
This map shows the changes in forest cover from 2000-2012. You can zoom in to different areas to see the effects of fires, tornadoes, disease, and logging to forests around the world. The map was created by uses a "time-series analysis of 654178 Landsat images" from Google Earth.
These maps make previously difficult-to-obtain data both accessible and understandable, which means a better informed public. Hopefully this will translate into better policies. We here are WegoWise are particularly interested in the maps put up by Appalachian Voices that document poverty rates, the uneven electric cost burden in these areas and the lack of efficiency programs serving these customers.
Want to see more interesting ways data can be visualized? Check out data.wegowise.com.