The New York Times, known for some first-class infographics and data visualizations, released this thought-provoking map of food stamp usage in the United States, on a county-by-county basis. In addition to the county-level statistics, there are a number of call-outs and a related article.
One feature I thought was interesting, in addition to the elegant interactive map, was the sortable data table view of the underlying dataset. Even cooler, if you don't feel like using the sortable dataset, the designers of the infographic have helpfully provided a link to download the raw underlying data itself in CSV format, so that you can analyze it yourself in OpenOffice.org Calc or Microsoft Excel! Three cheers for open journalism.
The Map Kibera project is an awesome example of community-powered mapping succeeding in a situation where commercial mapping providers would never venture: Kibera, the largest slum of Nairobi, Kenya with a population estimated at near a million. The project will train local residents to create community maps - using OpenStreetMap tools and techniques - and encourage the use of community-generated maps in relief and development efforts.
I recently interviewed Dan Bassill, president and founder of Tutor/Mentor Connection, a well-respected organization in Chicago that provides extensive mentorship-related resources as well as an online community for tutor/mentor program educators, facilitators, fundraisers, policymakers, and other interested parties. Dan has long been a supporter of the use of GIS and online mapping in a nonprofit/community context, and T/MC was providing interactive online maps years before the "Mashup Explosion" of this decade.
When people refer to "heat maps," they can be referring to spectrum-colored maps of values (e.g., maps that show red, yellow, green, etc., based on a range of values), or actual maps of the weather (such as on the back page of USA Today :). In this post, we'll be examining both: heat maps of heat, so to speak.
In our last few articles, we've looked at some free desktop-based applications that nonprofit staff can use to create choropleths and cartograms, two specific types of maps. These desktop tools, while they can be free and powerful, aren't always user-friendly and many nonprofits don't have the necessary underlying datafiles to use them properly.