Tag Archives: mapping

Is there a ‘canon’ of data journalism? Comment call!

Looking across the comments in the first discussion of the EJC’s data journalism MOOC it struck me that some pieces of work in the field come up again and again. I thought I’d pull those together quickly here and ask: is this the beginnings of a ‘canon’ in data journalism? And what should such a canon include? Stick with me past the first obvious examples…

Early data vis

These examples of early data visualisation are so well-known now that one book proposal I recently saw specified that it would not talk about them. I’m talking of course about… Continue reading

2 how-tos: researching people and mapping planning applications

Mapping planning applications

Sid Ryan’s planning applications map

Sid Ryan wanted to see if planning applications near planning committee members were more or less likely to be accepted. In two guest posts on Help Me Investigate he shows how to research people online (in this case the councillors), and how to map planning applications to identify potential relationships.

The posts take in a range of techniques including:

  • Scraping using Scraperwiki and the Google Drive spreadsheet function importXML
  • Mapping in Google Fusion Tables
  • Registers of interests
  • Using advanced search techniques
  • Using Land Registry enquiries
  • Using Companies House and Duedil
  • Other ways to find information on individuals, such as Hansard, LinkedIn, 192.com, Lexis Nexis, whois and FriendsReunited

If you find it useful, please let me know – and if you can add anything… please do.

Data visualisation training

If you’re interested in data visualisation I’m delivering a training course on November 7 with the excellent Caroline Beavon. Here’s what we’re covering:

  • Pick the right chart for your story – against a deadline
  • Mapping tricks and techniques: using Fusion Tables and other tools to map Olympic torchbearers
  • Picking the right data to visualise
  • Visualisation tips for free chart tools
  • Avoiding common visualisation mistakes
  • Create an infographic with Tableau and Illustrator
  • Making data interactive

More details here. Places can be booked here.

Create a council ward map with Scraperwiki

Mapping council wards

With local elections looming this is a great 20-30 minute project for any journalist wanting to create an interactive Google map of council ward boundaries.

For this you will need:

Maps “in the public interest” now exempt from Google Maps API charge

If you thought you couldn’t use the Google Maps API any more as a journalist, this update to the Google Geo Developers Blog should make you reconsider. From Nieman Journalism Lab:

“Certain web apps will be given blanket exemptions from charging. Here’s Google: “Maps API applications developed by non-profit organisations, applications deemed by Google to be in the public interest, and applications based in countries where we do not support Google Checkout transactions or offer Maps API Premier are exempt from these usage limits.” So nonprofit news orgs look to be in the clear, and Google could declare other news org maps apps to be “in the public interest” and free to run. (It also notes that nonprofits could be eligible for a free Maps API Premier license, which comes with extra goodies around advertising and more.)”

Should you ‘brand’ a hashtag?

Faisal Islam: Sure that all the brilliant BBC reporters realise that #BBCBudget goes against the entire point of SOCIAL media. It will be abandoned.

Two experiments by news organisations with Twitter hashtags during today’s UK budget have raised an issue around ‘branding’ and how appropriate it is to social media.

The BBC, it seems, is encouraging users to adopt the #BBCBudget hashtag to flag their tweets as part of the ‘national conversation’. Channel 4’s Faisal Islam, above, feels it’s a waste of 3 characters.

But Channel 4 itself is trying something not too dissimilar: #C4cuts aims to crowdsource details of UK spending cuts. Ed Fraser, online editor for Channel 4 News, is quoted by Journalism.co.uk as saying the channel wants to “harness the power of social media and the wisdom of the crowd”. Continue reading

Mapping the budget cuts

budget cuts map

Richard Pope and Jordan Hatch have been building a very useful site tracking recent budget cuts, building up to this week’s spending review.

Where Are The Cuts? uses the code behind the open source Ushahidi platform (covered previously on OJB by Claire Wardle) to present a map of the UK representing where cuts are being felt. Users can submit their own reports of cuts, or add details to others via a comments box.

It’s early days in the project – currently many of the cuts are to national organisations with local-level impacts yet to be dug out.

Closely involved is the public expenditure-tracking site Where Does My Money Go? which has compiled a lot of relevant data.

Meanwhile, in Birmingham a couple of my MA Online Journalism students have set up a hyperlocal blog for the 50,000 public sector workers in the region, primarily to report those budget cuts and how they are affecting people. Andy Watt, who – along with Hedy Korbee – is behind the site, has blogged about the preparation for the site’s launch here. It’s a good example of how journalists can react to a major issue with a niche blog. Andy and Hedy will be working with the local newspapers to combine expertise.

When crowdsourcing is your only option

Crowdsourced map - the price of weed

PriceOfWeed.com is a great example of when you need to turn to crowdsourcing to obtain data for your journalism. As Paul Kedrosky writes, it’s “Not often that you get to combine economics, illicit substances, map mashups and crowd-sourcing in one post like this.” The resulting picture is surprisingly clear.

And news organisations could learn a lot from the way this has been executed. Although the default map view is of the US, the site detects your location and offers you prices nearest to you. It’s searchable and browsable. Sadly, the raw data isn’t available – although it would be relatively straightforward to scrape it.

As the site expands globally it is also adding extra data on the social context – tolerance and  law enforcement. (via)

Playing with heat-mapping UK data on OpenHeatMap

heat mapping test />

Last night OpenHeatMap creator Pete Warden announced that the tool now allowed you to visualise UK data. I’ve been gleefully playing with the heat-mapping tool today and thought I’d share some pointers on visualising data on a map.

This is not a tutorial for OpenHeatMap – Pete’s done a great job of that himself (video below) – but rather an outline of the steps to get some map-ready data in the first place. Continue reading

Lessons in crowdsourcing: Claire Wardle on using Ushahidi for the Tube strike

The following is cross-posted from Claire Wardle’s blog:

Late on Monday night, I wrote a short post in anticipation of the crowdmap I’d just set up for BBC London, which I hoped would provide a useful service the following day for the London tubestrike, 7th September 2010.

It’s now Wednesday morning, and I can write, while still feeling slightly shell-shocked from the experience, that all in all, I’m very pleased with how it went.

I want to use this post to reflect on some of the things that worked, some of the things that didn’t work as well, and some things I will do differently if the next scheduled tube strike goes ahead.

Bottom line was that lots of people saw it: 18,860 unque visitors, and 39,306 page views from 55 countries. 13,808 were from the UK, 3863 from the US, and I can’t get over the fact that we had 2 people form Bermuda, 1 person from Uruguay, and 9 from Kenya, the home of the Ushahidi platform. The power of social media never ceases to amaze me.

We posted 202 reports yesterday. About 50 were sent directly to the map from the audience, either via the web form or the specific SMS channel we set up. The rest of the reports we took from twitter, either tweets in the #tubestrike stream or replies to the @BBCTravelalert account. Continue reading