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 In Data Journalism, Data Storytelling, Experts

Happy holidays from the team here at Datassist! Because we know everyone is winding down — or up — for the holidays, we’re going to keep this week’s post fairly light. Also, we’ll be taking a break from the blog to spend some time with our families and (fingers crossed) play in some snow. Regularly scheduled posting will resume on January 9.

Over the course of the year, we’ve covered a lot of different topics here. But we keep coming back to the subject of maps. I don’t know if it’s just that once we started thinking about maps, we kept finding more cool ones, or if more people are actually mapping data in exciting new ways. Whichever it is, we’ve found a few more that are really awesome and worth sharing.


The World’s Population in 3D

It’s easy enough to find data on where people live around the world. And yet, many of us have difficulty visualizing what population density looks like on the other side of the globe. Matt Daniels at The Pudding has put together Human Terrain, using mapping data to show population as spikes on a 3D map.

Using data from the Global Human Settlement Layer, Google Earth Engine, and some inspired visualization, Human Terrain lets users take a virtual tour of the globe and see how densely — or sparsely — populations are settled around the world. (Want more technical details on how the project came to be? Matt has shared them here.)

Human Terrain maps population data in 3D.

The Pudding’s Human Terrain shows population distribution in 3D. Check out Datassist HQ in Toronto.


Living Conditions Around the Globe

Maps are an obvious choice when communicating global data. But mapping data can also be misleading. (As I’ve mentioned before.) Traditional geographical maps are all well and good if you want to understand where land masses or political borders are. They are less good at conveying information about population.

Max Roser at Our World in Data designed this global cartogram that uses squares of different sizes connected to population size to form a very different-looking world map. Max says we should all refer to a cartogram when examining any sort of global data:

“We should keep this cartogram in mind when we are looking at charts that show country-by-country data, because we have to remember that the number of people that these charts speak about is very different from one country to the next: An increase of the life expectancy in Denmark means that the average health of 5.8 million people is increasing, while an increase for India means that the health of 1,354 million people is improving. And a line chart that shows improvements in all African countries or across all of the American countries refers to fewer people than a chart with a single line that shows an improvement in China. The two largest countries in Asia – China or India – are the home of more people than any other entire continent.”

~Max Roser


Speaking of Cartograms…

The team at Worldmapper offers cartograms on just about any topic you can come up with. Want to understand where in the world we produce the most tea? Which regions have the most volcanic deaths? Or just what our world would look like with equal space for every person? Worldmapper’s got you covered.

They’re mapping data in a way that disrupts any preconceived notions we have about the importance of a country based on its size. Worldmapper is currently sharing over 500 global cartograms, sortable by region or subject matter.

Canada looks very different when you adjust city size based on population.

Worldmapper’s cartograms offer a new perspective on our world. Here’s another way to see Toronto.


Need Help Mapping Data?

Even though we’re putting our blog down for a long(ish) winter’s nap, the team at Datassist is still always here to help you. Looking for expert assistance collecting, analyzing or visualizing mapping data? Get in touch with us today.

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