Tools & resources to create maps

Data journalists often resort to maps to produce powerful visualisations focused on geographical distribution of data.  Among my favourite map visualisations are “President Map” by the NYT, the “Homicide Report” by Los Angeles Times and “The healthiest regions in the United States” by the Washington Post. There are also less conventional maps such as this one produced by the German data visualisation architect Gregor Aisch which provide a lot of insights.

Still, the significance of maps for visual storytelling is sometimes misjudged. Thus, the German newspaper Die Zeit, which is one of the few German online resources bringing data journalism to the masses,  has presented a rather confusing map showing the distribution of overdraft interest rates in Germany. To directly compare the rates, a bar chart would have been more appropriate. Map, on the other hand, should have rather been used to show general patterns and geographical distribution.

To understand maps and basic principles of visualising geospacial information better, I’d recommend you to take the course “Maps and geospacial revolution”, which has just opened on Coursera.

To create you own maps, you can use these resources: 

  1. Quantum GIS
  2. ZeeMaps
  3. Mapbox
  4. Bing Maps
  5. Google Maps
  6. Carto DB
  7. Arc GIS

Here are more resources:

Here you will find more visualisation tools and resources.

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