Visualizing the Grid: Interactive Web Map

NPR has produced a new interactive map of the U.S. energy grid and power sources. Included are several roll-over maps to see percent energy production by different states and by fuel type. It also includes an informative display of anticipated renewable (solar and wind) fuel sources incorporated into the grid over the next few decades. The maps are intuitive, well designed, and data sources are cited in the map’s footnotes. This is a good example of interactive map design for public education. It should serve as a terrific resource for educators to help students understand power production, renewable power supply, and power distribution in the U.S.
Visualizing the Grid

The interactive map is produced for NPR’s series, “Power Hungry: Re-Envisioning Electricity In The U.S.,” including over a dozen articles. One could easily imagine this series and maps being worked into the curriculum in middle through higher education, inviting students to explore questions about location, energy, and the future. From the site: “The U.S. electric grid is a complex network of independently owned and operated power plants and transmission lines. Aging infrastructure, combined with a rise in domestic electricity consumption, has forced experts to critically examine the status and health of the nation’s electrical systems.”

It’s been a long time since I bought a geeky mapping t-shirt, but I think I’ll have to bone up for


If you like beer and you like maps, then you’ll love This site allows user submissions and currently has 7,591 locations, including brew pubs, beer bars, breweries, beer stores, and homebrew stores.


Based on the GoogleMaps API, I think this is the must-have site for any iphone (of course, whenever I get one 😉 also has an API and helpful tutorial for adding beermaps to your own webpage or blog. Recommendation: bookmark this one.

Madison’s 100 Mile Food Map

Kuddo’s to Chick Mappers


See for a wonderfully deliciously interactive food map.

The 100 Mile Food Map


The 100 Mile Food Map was inspired by a couple from British Columbia who challenged themselves to only eat food that was produced within 100 miles of their home. The Average American meal has traveled 1,500 miles to reach your plate. Eating locally is growning in popularity. This interactive map is a guide to help people in their ventures.

The Organic City

The Organic City is an interesting and successful application of community blogging (using WordPress) and flash-based mapping (Worldkit). Created in 2006 by the combined efforts of Seamus Byrne and Sarah Mattern, students in CSU East Bay’s Multimedia Graduate Program.

Organic City is a collaborative digital storyworld centered on the downtown Oakland areas surrounding Lake Merritt. The interactive map is a gateway to location-based stories told by local community members. The map is annotated with storypoints. Roll your mouse over a storypoint to display the title and author of a story. Click on a point to read a story. You can navigate the map using the in (+) and out (-) magnifying glasses and the directional arrows.

Using Storybase Filters
You can also access stories in the storybase by using the filters on this page. You can view stories by genre, title, author, or date. You can also use the search form in the menu bar above to filter the storybase by keywords.

Chesapeake Bay Watershed Web Maps

A classical challenge for the cartographer is how to present and clearly communicate large quantities of information to their intended audience. Web mapping has opened new possibilities for creative solutions, but arguably effective presentation techniques are still few and far between. Watersheds present a perfect example of data intensive landscapes paired with the need to convey vast amounts of information to the general public.

In 2003, Chesapeake Bay “Watershed Profiles” was an effective interactive map for general public exploration.  While some may consider it less sophisticated by todays web-map standards, there are features I still love and rarely see incorporated in interactive maps today. For example, as the user drills down, the maps change in detail and scale, and the well selected graphs and charts are automatically updated to reflect the sub-watershed view. Users can navigate among tabs to explore landscape, demographics, water quality, and more. The map view/scale remains consistent when users navigates among the tabs.

Its a good example for creators of interactive maps in which a lot of data need to be conveyed to a public audience.

While the Watershed Profiles is not currently available, I managed to find a screen shot of the site from my own archives.

Lakeshore Nature Preserve (WI)

Beautiful example of interactivity – clean map interface and intuitive design.

This map was created at the UW-Madison Cartography Lab by Rob Roth, Andy Woodruff, Joel Przybylowski under the supervision of Professor Bill Cronon and Professor Mark Harrower. Melanie McCalmont assisted with info window text and image production. Production: May-November 2006

Google Mashing Up the Mashups

Hoping to make it even easier to turn its online maps into collages of local information, Google is introducing tools that will stitch together applications from a hodgepodge of Web sites. Google is hoping to unite the information mishmash by encouraging mashup developers to package the creations into mini-applications called “mapplets” that will be posted under the “My Maps” section of Google’s Web site. Multiple mapplets can be laid over Google’s map simultaneously, meaning a user theoretically could get a glimpse at where homes are being sold in a specific neighborhood while also analyzing the area’s recent crime patterns. While it looks promising, I attempted using the new feature using Firefox but was unsuccessful it getting it to actually work. It may be a browser compatibility issue with the “mapplets” I was adding, so I’ll try testing it again and report back later.