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Charting the Final Frontier: Completing the #30DayMapChallenge Odyssey

Charting the Final Frontier: Completing the #30DayMapChallenge journey

Image by author

As the #30DayMapChallenge draws to a close, I am struck by the power of community and collaboration. Each day brought new themes, each theme brought new insights, and along the way, a tapestry of geo-visual stories emerged. The challenge was more than a test of skill; it was a celebration of shared knowledge and collective creativity.

Reflecting on the #30DayMapChallenge:

For me, the #30DayMapChallenge was more than just a commitment to craft a map a day; it was an exploration into the heart of data storytelling. Through this challenge, I have stitched together the fragmented stories of migration, intricate networks of transportation, and the pulse of urban life with every map I designed, and I am excited to share these with you. Along the way, I learned so much about geo-visualizations.

Continuing the practice from the #30DayChartChallenge, I harnessed the simplicity of Observable Plot to breathe life into data. In my previous article, I shared my favorite visualizations from the first half of this challenge. In this concluding article, I will unveil some of the remaining collection of my geo-visual creations, each a unique blend of data, design, and discovery. You can find all of the visualizations along with data source and code in my #30DayMapChallenge collection.

All images in this article were created by the author.

Day 16 — Oceania

Day 16 — Oceania

Leveraging the detailed sighting records from ala.org.au, I sought to showcase Australia Numbat sightings through an intricate depiction of the habitats of one of Australia’s unique marsupials.

In creating this map, the challenge lay in representing the spatial data in a manner that was both visually appealing and scientifically accurate. To achieve this, I superimposed the recorded sightings onto an outline of Australia, with bright points indicating the presence of numbats. The result is an informative and compelling illustration of the numbat’s now sparse distribution, allowing for quick visual assessment of population density and geographical spread.

The background image of a numbat sourced from wikipedia.org was superimposed beautifully with the map of Australia to make the story even more appealing, powerful and connected.

Day 17 — Flow

Day 17 — Flow

The comprehensive datasets from databank.worldbank.org provided a global perspective on migration, allowing me to thread together the routes that span continents and cultures. In this image, I captured the “Flow” theme with the fluidity and dynamics of global migration patterns from the United States to the top 10 countries in the year 2000. It uses arcing lines to represent the movement of people across the planet, with each curve originating from the US and reaching out to various countries around the world.

This visualization not only reflects the physical movement from one nation to another but also encapsulates the transfer of cultures, ideas, and connections that are inherent to the migration process.

Day 21 — Raster

Day 21 — Raster

For this theme I wanted to create stark visualization of traffic collisions in Seattle with data derived from a capstone project for an IBM course.

I used a raster graphics approach to effectively plot each incident within the city’s confines, which inherently involves breaking down the image into a grid of pixels or points of color. Each collision event is represented as a pixelated dot, which emphasizes the granularity of the data. This method allows for the representation of a high level of detail and the creation of a density map that can reveal patterns not immediately apparent in other forms of data visualization.

Day 21 — Raster interpolate options

In the image series above, I explored the theme of “Raster” through a fascinating lens, displaying various interpolation methods available through Observable Plot, applied to Seattle traffic collision data. Each panel represents a distinct approach — default, nearest, barycentric, and random-walk — creating a spectrum of visuals from a singular dataset, each affecting the spatial distribution and visual texture of the data. The ‘default’ maintains the raw granularity of the data, while ‘nearest’ introduces a more segmented, almost cubist distortion. ‘Barycentric’ offers a prism-like refraction of the data points, and ‘random-walk’ creates a diffused, almost impressionistic, effect. It definitely felt like I created accidental art.

Day 23–3D

Day 23–3D

In this image I wanted to present a sleek and minimalist portrayal of diamond production across the globe, symbolized by luminous points on a dark world map, with data from theglobaleconomy.com.

To create a 3D effect, I plotted bright spots to mark significant locations of diamond extraction, shining against the stark black background of the world map, encapsulating the precious nature of diamonds themselves. For an added luminescent effect for these spots, I underlaid them with a density visualization. The rotation of the globe further enhances the 3D effect by the appearance and disappearance of these diamond production spots.

Day 24 —Black and White

Day 24 — Black and White

I wanted to show a monochromatic interpretation of migration trends in Washington State from 2016 to 2020, using data from the United States Census Bureau. This choice of black and white not only conforms to the aesthetic theme but also serves to emphasize the dichotomy between the influx and outflow of people — white for net positive migration and black for net negative.

The bold, contrasting spikes across the map are a graphical representation of the state’s demographic ebb and flow. Their varying lengths and color indicate the scale and direction of migration, with the two-tone scheme providing a clear visual differentiation that enhances comprehension. By creating a shadow for these spikes and the boundary of the States, I wanted to give it a 3D effect in addition to the monochromatic theme.

Day 30 — My favorite

Day 30 — My favorite

The image is a striking visual tribute to “My favorite…” theme, showcasing the intricate and extensive railway network of Switzerland, which is renowned as the densest in Europe. I love how amazingly powerful the European rail network is which is certainly my favorite way to travel.

Another favorite call out in this visualization for me is the type — Raster. Using a raster plot, this map truly makes the marvel of engineering and organization that the Swiss rail network represents shine through like a starry night. I learned how to make this during the #30DayMapChallenge, and fell in love with how powerful this type of plot can be to represent an intricate system of points.

Concluding the Cartographic Quest

These maps have been more than a daily exercise; they have been a lens through which the complexity and beauty of our world are magnified. The second half of the challenge was as riveting as the first, each map a deeper foray into the confluence of data and design, story and space. From the endangered species to the veins of international migration, and from the movement of people to the tracks that guide them, the #30DayMapChallenge has been a profound exploration into how we visualize and interpret the spaces we inhabit.

To those who have followed along, your curiosity and engagement have been the wind in the sails of this endeavor. For those who may tread this path in the future: let each theme challenge you, the community uplift you, and may every map you create be a landmark in your own journey of discovery.

All the visualizations, complete with their underlying code and data, are available in my Observable collection for those eager to embark on their own mapping adventures.

If you’d like, find me on Linkedin.

Charting the Final Frontier: Completing the #30DayMapChallenge Odyssey was originally published in Towards Data Science on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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