Apps like Waze, Google Maps, and Apple Maps may make traffic conditions worse in some areas, new research suggests.
In the pre-mobile-app days, drivers’ selfishness was limited by their knowledge of the road network. In those conditions, both simulation and real-world experience showed that most people stuck to the freeways and arterial roads. When there are more app-using drivers, congestion builds up at off-ramps, creating more traffic on the freeway. While it’s clear that traffic on local roads gets worse with the use of these apps, Bayen said that nobody has managed to do a multi-scale analysis that can determine if the apps, even if they create local problems, are better or worse for whole traffic basins.
Every 12 years, there’s a spike in births among certain communities across the globe, including the U.S. Why? Because the Year of the Dragon, according to Chinese folk belief, confers power, fortune, and more. We look at what happens to Dragon babies when they grow up, and why timing your kid’s birth based on the zodiac isn’t as ridiculous it sounds.
1976. 1988. 2000. 2012. We often assume that births on a graph in any given year will follow a smooth linear pattern similar to the years around it, but the Chinese zodiac and the mythical standing of the dragon can create spikes in diasporic communities away from the mainland. This economic podcast offers an interesting glimpse into the looks some of the communal impacts of a mini-baby boom and cultural reasons for these patterns.
Cape Town is running out of water. Israel offers some lessons on how to avoid that fate.
Most droughts are caused by a combination of human and physical geographic factors. Cape Town is current in the midst of a 3 year long drought that is causing many officials to consider drastic measures such as cutting off all private water taps and rationing out 13 gallons per resident per day.
I would like for us to also consider cases beyond South Africa, and think about the the broader issues of resource management, urbanization, resilience, and changing climatic conditions. Resources Watch discusses critical water shortages in Morocco, India, Iraq and Spain with excellent maps, charts, and graphs. This article from Foreign Policy demonstrates how Israel has worked to maximize their minimal water resources (recycling grey water for agriculture and desalinization). The World Resources Institute discusses 3 things cities can glean from the South African crisis (1. Understand risks, 2. Manage the water budget, and 3. Invest in resilience).
“Geography, for so long a Cinderella subject, the easy option for students who found physics or chemistry too daunting, is soaring in popularity. According to the Royal Geographical Society, 13% more took the subject at A-level this year than last, up to 37,100 – the biggest jump of any of the major subjects.”
In a world that increasingly values people who can work across the physical and social sciences, geography’s all the rage…in the UK. This editorial from the Guardian is a nice example of articles that demonstrate why geography matters in the world today.
Eighty-four-year-old Elsie Eiler pays taxes to herself, grants her own alcohol licence and is the only remaining resident in Monowi, Nebraska.
What is it like living in a town with a population of 1? Would you stay as the last remnant of your withering town? This case study is absolutely fascinating since it defies what we consider the minimum threshold of what is required for a city or a town. However, the other compelling geographic story is how a once, low-order central place in rural Nebraska, has been (almost) completely abandoned.
What do you do when presented with a new satellite image? Here’s what the Earth Observatory team does to understand the view.
- Look for a scale
- Look for patterns, shapes, and textures
- Define the colors (including shadows)
- Find north
- Consider your prior knowledge
Aerial photography can be quite beautiful, as can satellite imagery. These are more than just pretty pictures; interpreting aerial photography and satellite imagery is not easy; here is a great article that gives an introduction on how to interpret satellite imagery. With a little training, satellite images become rich data sources (instead of some visually meaningless data). Using Stratocam, you can explore and tag some of the amazing place on Earth.
“Geospatial technologies unearth a world hidden beneath the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest.”
If you were to strip a forest of all its vegetation, what would you see? To find out, Washington state’s government is using airplanes equipped with LIDAR technology to scan the state’s heavily-forested ground. What’s being revealed beneath the trees is a spectacular and strange landscape of hidden geology. Old landslides, abandoned river channels, ancient lava flows, and the tracks of glaciers are suddenly visible in stark relief. Tracking the altitude and location of a plane with GPS while it scans the ground with LIDAR yields a highly precise digital elevation map of the Earth’s surface created out of the billions of laser pulses. By uncovering the debris from old landslides, LIDAR can show where future slides may occur.
“Blue and her team selected 45 stories, each plotted with ESRI’s ArcGIS software on a map of Greater Houston and tied to the exact location where it was first told. The resulting story map of Hurricane Harvey, ‘Damaged and Defiant: Houston Stories,’ was published in the Houston Chronicle in December. The map shows short narratives gathered by Chronicle staffers from people across the area — from Crosby to Kingwood to Katy — each a unique perspective on the storm; told together, they’re the collective account of a city that experienced one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.”
These interlinked Houston story maps show some of the key elements of a good story map: 1) strong spatial analytical components, 2) a powerful narrative, 3) rich visuals, 4) solid cartography, and 5) well-sourced information.
“The modern built environment in the United States is now totally dependent on air conditioning. A lot of our buildings would be uninhabitable in the summer without AC, and all of the electricity needed to keep it running.”
Like so many 99 percent invisible podcasts, this blends urban design, social geography, local history in a way that deepens our understanding of place. Air conditioning has powerfully reshaped so many geographic patterns that many of ways. Some mentioned in this podcast include: a) the rapid expansion of the Sun Belt, b) less climatically and regionally distinctive architecture can now be found in the cultural landscape, and c) an enormous amount of energy is consumed to maintain our hyper-cooled buildings (the U.S. now uses as much electricity for air conditioning as it did for all purposes in 1955).