Maps

Exploring tax haven Amsterdam

In 2012, I mapped the geographical evolution of Amsterdam’s trust offices. Since 2006, many had changed their name or moved to a different location, resulting in four major concentrations: Zuidoost, Prins Bernhardplein, Zuidas and Naritaweg.

The other day I ran into a new map (pdf) of tax haven Amsterdam. Judging by this map, Amsterdam’s tax avoidance geography hasn’t changed much since 2012. The map was posted online by Action Aid on occasion of their AMSTERDAM TAX TOUR - THE BIKE EDITION. Sounds like fun and I would’ve have loved to cycle along, but unfortunately it coincides with a previous appointment.

Incidentally, Wired did a global tax avoidance map, which also features Amsterdam.

Beautiful relief maps from Stamen

At Nathan Yau’s Flowing Data, I read that Stamen Terrain maps are now available globally, not just for the United States. Stamen uses Open Street Map and their tiles can be used with Leaflet.

One thing about relief maps is that they rub it in how embarrassingly flat the Netherlands are. For example, here’s the Oude Holleweg near Nijmegen (the nearby Van Randwijckweg was in this year’s Giro). It’s just a 70 meter height difference, but with gradients around 14% it’s one of the most challenging climbs in the Netherlands. Apparently, cyclists are not allowed to ride it downhill because that’s considered dangerous (update: I checked, it’s true, descending is not allowed). But if you look at the map, it doesn’t seem all that impressive.

Be that as it may, the Stamen Terrain maps «sure are pretty to look at», as Yau put it. Even when there’s hardly any elevation to show.

Has Google Maps found a way to have its cake and eat it

PL Takbuurt

Not interesting: P.L. Takbuurt

Google Maps are for transportation; Apple Maps are more of an advertising channel, I tweeted a while ago. That was based on a fascinating analysis by Justin O’Beirne, who found, among other things, that Google Maps show far more rail and underground stations, while Apple Maps show far more restaurants and shops.

However, things may have changed in a way. The CityMetric blog of the New Statesman reports that Google has been adding orangey areas to its maps. As Google explains, they represent areas of interest:

Whether you’re looking for a hotel in a hot spot or just trying to determine which way to go after exiting the subway in a new place, areas of interest will help you find what you’re looking for with just a couple swipes and a zoom.

We determine areas of interest with an algorithmic process that allows us to highlight the areas with the highest concentration of restaurants, bars and shops. In high-density areas like NYC, we use a human touch to make sure we’re showing the most active areas.

Assuming they haven’t sacrificed any stations, this suggests they have found a way to have their cake and eat it: remain useful for transportation purposes while adding marketing opportunities.

However, CityMetric writer John Elledge is not impressed by Google’s algorithm to identify areas of interest. He argues that «an algorithm that thinks Trafalgar Square is less an area of interest than the restaurants across the road is not fit for purpose».

As for Amsterdam, Google’s algorithm seems to be relatively good at identifying lively neighbourhoods, although they may have missed a few. On the other hand, the Museumplein, where the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk are, isn’t marked as interesting, but then I’m sure tourists don’t need Google Maps to tell them to go there. Some of the most spectacular examples of Amsterdam School architecture (around P.L. Takstraat, Zaanhof) are similarly overlooked. By contrast, rather dull shopping centres such as Oostpoort are marked as interesting.

All in all, the correct designation for Google’s orangey areas would perhaps be commercial areas rather than areas of interest.

Users versus programmers: lon,lat or lat,lon

Somebody at Mapbox wrote a blog post in which he makes the case that longitude should go first: almost all data formats (including Google’s KML) and all open source software (except Leaflet) use this order. Also, it’s the logical order if you include altitude (XYZ), he argues.

Of course, it can’t be that simple, as this debate on Stack Overflow illustrates. It seems that programmers prefer lon,lat while people who use maps - seafarers, Google Maps users - expect lat,lon. As one commenter puts it:

Good rule of thumb: if you know what a tuple is and are programming, you should be using lon,lat. I would even say this applies if your end user (say a pilot or a ship captain) will prefer to view the output in lat,lon. You can switch the order in your UI if necessary, but the overwhelming majority of your data (shapefiles, geojson, etc.) will be in the normal Cartesian order.

Another good rule of thumb: always check.

Hoe exporteer je fietsknooppunten naar je Garmin

Fietsknooppunten zijn handig. Je kijkt van te voren langs welke knooppunten je wilt fietsen, schrijft de nummers op een briefje en dat plak je met doorzichtige tape op de bovenbuis van je frame. Maar soms missen er bordjes en raak je de weg kwijt. In het ergste geval raak je hopeloos verstrikt in een troosteloze buitenwijk van Almere.

De oplossing is simpel: exporteer de route naar je Garmin (die moet dan wel navigatie hebben). Hier wordt het helder uitgelegd. De auteur schakelt de kaarten op de Garmin uit. Ik niet, waardoor het nog simpeler wordt. Hier zijn de stappen:

  • Ga naar de routeplanner van de Fietsersbond.
  • Klik op de knop «LF en knooppunten» en zoom in totdat de knooppunten zichtbaar worden.
  • Klik op het knooppunt waar je wil starten en klik in de popup op «Van».
  • Klik op elk knooppunt waar je langs wil fietsen en klik in de popup op «Via».
  • Klik op het knooppunt waar je wil eindigen en klik in de popup op «Naar».
  • Klik op de groene knop «Plan route».
  • Klik in de linkerbalk op «GPS» en in het volgende scherm «GPX bestand».
  • Het bestand wordt opgeslagen in je computer. Sluit de Garmin via de usb aan op je computer, gooi het bestand in de map «Garmin/NewFiles» en ontkoppel de Garmin weer.

Je Garmin maakt er automatisch een course van. Dit is op een Mac, misschien dat het met Windows anders werkt. En voor de geeks: hier las ik hoe je je GPX-file weer op een Leaflet kaart kan tonen.

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