June 29, 2010

Mapping Crime in the City by the Bay

Although we're a bit late to the game again, we thought we'd go ahead and do another comparison between some of our cyberscape visualizations and some other great maps floating (like sheep?) around on the interwebs. The following visualizations from Doug McCune use publicly available data from the City of San Francisco to map the incidence of various crimes around the city.

Actual Crime as Elevation in San Francisco
As one can see (and as Doug points out in his original blog post), the geography of crime in San Francisco is not only unevenly distributed in space, but also in terms of what crimes are being committed in different places. And while our visualization below shows only general references to "crime" in the Google Maps database, it demonstrates that the locations of virtual references to crime are actually highly correlated with the places that actual crimes occur.

Google Maps References to "Crime" in San Francisco
It's also interesting to note that the data for our map was collected in January 2009, while the city data used for the elevation maps covers all of the 2009 calender year. To see more of Doug's San Fransicso crime visualizations, you can see his original post here: If San Francisco Crime were Elevation.

June 26, 2010

More World Cup Than You Know What To Do With

We're now two weeks and 48 games into the World Cup and transitioning from the opening round to the round of 16. Last week, we gave you our alternative rankings of the sides in this year's World Cup, based on the number of Google Maps references to "football" in each country, as a percentage of the total amount of content.

And while our rankings certainly caused a shake up in terms of where teams stood in the pecking order of the footballing (or is it soccer?) world, they didn't seem to have too much effect on the outcome of the matches themselves. Frankly, it's probably a good thing you didn't bet the farm on our upset pick of South Korea over Argentina (Argentina won that game 4-1). However, were you to have used our rankings to bet on Serbia (#15 by FIFA, #8 by FS) over Germany (#6 by FIFA, #14 by FS) last week, you would have gone away quite rich. Likewise, with just .09% separating them, it's no surprise to the Floatingsheep collective that our #1 and #2 overall teams, Algeria and England, played to a draw.

After recognizing the flaws in our system, however, we've come back with a new way of ranking the sides. Like any map or statistical analysis, we were forced to exclude some things in favor of others, and much to our detriment. Because our original rankings used references only to the term "football", and not local linguistic variations of it, our rankings were highly skewed. For instance, the world's #1 team, Brazil, was ranked dead last of the 32 teams in the World Cup by our rankings.

So we come back with a new set of rankings, based on the local variations on the word "football" - from "calcio" in Italian to "futebol" in Portuguese, we've taken a finer grain approach to our newest series of rankings, seen below.

With these new language-based virtual rankings, a number of countries have improved their position. While Algeria, England and Cameroon remain #1-2-3 in our rankings, traditional football powerhouses Germany, the Netherlands, Argentina, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Brazil all do substantially better when taking into account their local terms for the game we've all been adjusting our sleep schedules to watch for the last two weeks.

Of course we continue to face methodological issues with this newest set of rankings. Because we don't have a complete set of data including the Arabic, Danish, Greek, Serbian, Slovak and Slovene words for football, we were forced to use the generic "football" for each of these. While Slovenia, Slovakia and Denmark take a hit from this oversight, Algeria, Greece and Serbia have all managed to come through it unscathed, still ranking considerably high, given their disadvantage.

Based solely on picking the team with the higher ranking in our new, language-sensitive ranking system, we're going to make the following predictions for the knockout round portion of this year's World Cup finals:

Although England has the toughest row to hoe in facing the #4 team and, potentially, the #7 team in our rankings, we're going to go ahead and pick our highest ranked team to go ahead and win it all. Based on the matchups, expect #5 Uruguay to make it to the finals, with the Netherlands at #6 edging out the #10 Spaniards for third place.

If you're a betting type and you win big, we'll collect our share at a later time and date. If you happen to lose big, we sincerely hope you won't hold it against us...

June 21, 2010

Sheep Happens: Finding the "Big Six" of the Farmyard

It should come as no surprise (given the name of this blog) that we're a bit fond of sheep (hey, but not in that way). In that vein, we thought it would interesting to see if the rest of the world shares this predilection.

So, harkening back to the range wars of the American west we searched for the terms chicken, cow, goat, horse, pig and sheep. These animals were selected primarily by what showed up in my daughter's Old McDonald Had a Farm book (this is known more formally as consulting an indigenous source). Although not quite as charismatic as the "big six" of safaris (e.g., elephants, rhinos, lions, cheetahs, hippos and giraffes), the "big six" of livestock makes up for it with our ability to imitate the animal sounds. I challenge anyone to do a giraffe call right now…anyone? I thought as much.

In any case, the distribution of the "big six" at the global level is shown below. Right away we can see that "horse" (in yellow dots) cuts a wide swath through the world; a powerfully pedantic plethora of plentiful placemarks ponyness! Although I'm not quite sure what that last phrase means. Sometimes alliteration wins out over sensibility (I'd apologize but you knew what you were getting into by reading this blog).

Chickens (green dots) seem to be doing OK at the global level, but we fear for the sheep. At a whole range of levels. After all, they were the unwitting (albeit idiot) chorus that drowned out any rational conversation in Orwell's Animal Farm. Hmmm…some interesting parallels with modern politics.

Luckily, the expected center of sheep, the veritable stronghold of storied sheepiness - New Zealand - is well represented with a wooly covering of orange dots. Australia (at least when you get away from the beaches) is not doing too bad either; apparently wool is not what the Aussies wear at the ocean.

The United States replicates the global pattern of horses and chicken. Since the U.S. headquarters of Floatingsheep is surrounded by thoroughbred farms and a mere hour north of the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken, we interpret this as a sign that Kentucky's plans for world domination are well in hand. Just you wait.

We are also relieved to see that the U.S. has a few pockets of sheep out west, but clearly the cows and pigs never had a chance. And the less said about goats, the better.

The most interesting distribution, however, is within Europe which, despite being a very horsey place, still represents a fine figure of fascinating farmyard frontiers. Firstly, we must note the goodly concentration of sheep in Wales and Scotland; no surprise there, but heartening nonetheless. More startling is the popularity of sheep in France (including the island of Corsica). Who knew that amidst the foie gras, frog legs and escargot that such love of sheep was buried?

Alas, the news is not all good, for the pigs have secured a beachhead on Brittany with a thin powerful column heading directly towards the heart of France. What's more, the well established German pig passage (perambulating from Hamburg to Dusseldorf) appears poised to pierce the protective pockets of French Sheepdom!

So sadly, while we cannot foresee (ahem) flights of sheep everywhere, the pigs have not gained controlled as of yet! Sheep of the world, Unite! You have nothing to lose but your fleece!

Beasts of England, Beasts of France-land,
Beasts of every land and clime,
Hearken to my joyful tidings
Of the Golden future time.

Soon or late the day is coming,
Tyrant Pig shall be o'er thrown,
And the fruitful fields of our lands
Shall be trod by sheep alone.*

* Apologies to George Orwell.

June 17, 2010

Alternate World Cup Rankings

Now that the World Cup is into full swing we figured that we should revisit some of the earlier work that we did on the cybergeographies of football (see here and here). In the table and map below, we've calculated the proportion of all geotagged content in each of the 32 countries competing in the World Cup that mentions the word football.

(click on table for closer view)

And for those more visually inclined, here is the data in map form.

We are able to see that the amount of online interest in football (or more specifically, the propensity of people create content mentioning football tagged to a specific part of the planet) rarely correlates to a country's FIFA ranking. Brazil, for example, which is the top ranked team in the world is at the very bottom of our rankings. Only 0.02% of content in Brazil makes reference to the word football. This is an even lower percentage than North Korea! Of course, our earlier post on the topic did find a lot of content mentioning the Portuguese word futebol so this is almost certainly a linguistic issue.

Will these rankings go on to replace the official FIFA rankings? We'll just have to wait and see. But, it is worthwhile noting that yesterday's unexpected Swiss victory over Spain and the Uruguayan victory over South Africa can both be explained by these cyber-rankings. So we're investing the vast fortune (otherwise known as a deficit) we've made via floatingsheep.org t-shirts on a few side bets. Hmmm...perhaps South Korea to win against Argentina? You heard it here first!

Perhaps most interestingly, Algeria and England are first and second in the rankings (with 2.2% and 2.1% respectively). So, we'll have to see if Algeria live up the their reputation in the cyber-rankings in the match between the two sides tomorrow.

June 14, 2010

Mapping Geographies of Interest: Tourists vs. Locals

Eric Fischer has struck again and expanded on the Geotaggers' World Atlas. He has now released a series of map that use Flickr data to distinguish between photos taken by locals and photos taken by tourists. The results are fascinating, and you get to see very different areas of interest between locals and tourists. In the three maps below (London, San Francisco and New York, red pictures are taken by tourists and blue pictures are taken by locals. Head over to his site for the full collection of 81 maps.

June 10, 2010

Have the sheep conquered racism?

One certainly doesn't need to look far to see evidence of the persistence of racism in our world today. And while it may not seem obvious, our kindred sheep (of the non-floating variety) are no strangers to such discrimination. How would it feel to literally be a black sheep? Probably not so good.

In a surprising move, it appears the sheep of the world (or humans, acting as a proxy for their fleeced friends) have made a concerted effort to counteract such pervasive racism in the virtual realm. As the map below shows, at all but around 100 randomly distributed points on the earth's surface, Google Maps references to "sheep" outnumber references to the infamous "Ku Klux Klan".
Sheep contra the Ku Klux Klan
This map, of course, does not take into account the potential that many of these references to sheep are actually related to an ongoing intra-species dispute over whose wool is the finest of all, a dispute indubitably wrapped up in its own forms of racist and nationalist language, thus only perpetuating the racism they have seemingly defeated. If only we could decipher all those placemarks that just say "baaaaaaaaaahh".

June 09, 2010

2010 Internet Penetration Rates

Today's post comes courtesy of data available from Internet World Stats. The map below presents the most recent statistics on global internet usage. The shading reflects the proportion of the population that uses the internet within each country. The height of each bar indicates the total number of internet users in each country.

Iceland has the world's highest penetration rate: over 93% of the population are internet users. Almost all of Europe and North America also have relatively high rates (at least at the national scale, as there are likely to be significant digital divides in every country). China, interestingly, is already home to the world's largest population of internet users (384 million) despite having a penetration rate of less than 30%. India is another interesting case. 81 million Indians are internet users (there are more Indian internet users than there are people in the UK), yet this represents only 7% of the Indian population.

June 07, 2010

International Internet Bandwidth in Africa

Following on from the post on international internet bandwidth, we decided to take a closer look at the African continent.
The map reveals some significant differences in international bandwidth on the continent. Morocco and the Seychelles have by far the most available kilobits per person (805 and 517 respectively). Egypt, Sudan and many of the nations on the Atlantic coast of Africa have a relatively high number of available kilobits per person (although all are still extremely low by international standards). East Africa and much of the interior have especially low levels of available bandwidth (although this may soon change with the arrival of new fibre-optic cables last summer).

June 03, 2010

International Internet Bandwith

Today's map displays international internet bandwidth globally. "International bandwidth" is another way of referring to the contracted capacity of international connections between countries for transmitting Internet traffic. These data are kindly made available from the World Bank's new open data initiative.

Like most other geographies of Internet-related data, the patterns in this map are highly uneven. Countries in northern Europe generally have the most available kilobits per person. The Netherlands has 78kb per person, Sweden 50kb, and the UK 40kb. A number of micro-states and small nations also score highly on this measure: Hong Kong (not displayed on the map) has 315kb per person, Singapore has 23kb, Antigua and Barbuda has 17kb and Panama has 16kb. Surprisingly, the United States has fewer available kilobits per person than any of these countries (11kb).

At the other end of the scale, there is a long-tail of countries in Africa, Asia and South America that have less than 1kb per person. Guinea, for instance, has only 0.21 bits (0.00021kb) per person (our next post will focus specifically on bandwidth in Africa).

These data seem to mirror the geographies of content at the global scale, a topic we plan on exploring in much more detail in a future paper.

June 01, 2010

The Geotaggers' World Atlas (and cyberscapes, too!)

Having just stumbled across another amazing visualization of geotagged photographs, we figured we'd go ahead and share more of the stuff we've been looking at these days. The following map comes from Eric Fischer's The Geotaggers' World Atlas on Flickr, which, you guessed it, maps geotagged Flickr photos. What's so unique about Fischer's series of maps is that he focuses on how fast the photographer was moving when they took the picture by comparing time and date stamps on geotagged photos.

Geotagged Flickr Photos in San Francisco by Eric Fischer

In his maps, black lines indicate walking speed (less than 7mph), while red lines approximate bicycling speed (less than 19mph), blue is for motor vehicles on normal roads (less than 43mph) and green indicates freeways or rapid transit. Based on the repetitive tracing, it's possible to see the places within each city that have been photographed and geotagged most frequently. So how might these concentrations of geotagged Flickr photos compare to our maps of urban cyberscapes around the world?

All User-Generated Google Maps Content in San Francisco
Although the purpose and scale of these two visualizations are different, they both show a roughly similar concentration of user-generated content (in either Flickr or Google Maps) around Market Street in San Francisco. Since Fischer did this exercise for 50 different cities around the world, some of which we've already mapped using our own method, the comparisons between the two can go on and on.

Let us know if you find anything else interesting!