Cluster bombs

November 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

cluster bombs map

An Economist graphic points out that despite a broad treaty banning the use of cluster munitions, 17 non-signatory countries including the United States continue to produce them.

Both Thailand and Libya used cluster munitions this year. Cluster munitions put civilians at risk because they spread over  a wide area and can leave unexploded submunitions.

The source of the graphic is the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, which is affiliated with the Nobel-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

In addition to maps and lists on landmine and cluster munitions producers. The monitor produces reports and maps of civilian casualties, and locates areas that are contaminated with cluster munitions and landmines from past or ongoing conflicts.

map of cluster munition remnants from the landmine and cluster bomb monitor



Lord’s Resistance Army

October 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

When the Obama Administration sent troops into Africa to help the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army, I needed to produce a map showing where they LRA operates—and fast. I immediately turned to Reliefweb, which coordinates information from humanitarian aid organizations, and to OCHA, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs at the U.N.

Reliefweb and OHCA provide detailed and up-to-date information on all kinds of humanitarian crises, including atrocities and displacement brought about by the LRA. OCHA frequently updates the map shown below with details on the LRA’s attacks and their effects.


Flood maps and charts

May 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

national weather service flood monitor

The National Weather Service posts readings from river flood gauges to its Web site every 15 minutes. You can download the files as KMZ or SHP files to build your own maps. Below, an example of a map from the Wall Street Journal using this data.

You can also download the readings from individual flood gauges to build charts showing when flood waters will crest at a particular location.

national weather service flood stageE

Example from the Wall Street Journal

Gas prices

December 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

When gas prices begin to rise, news organizations typically begin to track the costs over time and across the nation, as shown in this 2006 Washington Post map above. The AAA Fuel Gauge Report ( provides these state-level prices daily. It also offers them by metro area if you need to make a more localized comparison.

Charts from the AAA Fuel Gauge site:


For historical prices, you need to go to the Energy Information Administration’s Petroleum Navigator (, which gives weekly gas prices for more than a decade.

Drone strikes in Pakistan

October 8, 2010 § Leave a comment


The New America Foundation’s Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative has emerged as the accountant of drone strikes in Pakistan, much like how Iraq Body Count and iCasualties have served as the keepers of the death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Above is a Wall Street Journal graphic using the New America Foundation’s count. New America bases its figures on news accounts. It provides the date and location of each strike, as well as number of reported deaths and the name of the militant targeted.

Their count shows a spike in drone attacks in September as the CIA stepped up strikes to knock out a suspected terror plot against European targets.

Below, a portion of the drone strike Google map New America maintains.

Free visualization tools

October 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

This wiki provides a list of open source programs for graphics and data visualization. Karl Gude, a professor at Michigan State University and former Newsweek graphics chief, compiled the list and spoke about open-source software at the recent Society of News Design convention.

Movie sites

March 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Erin Aigner used an interesting source for the basis of this map: the New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting.

The map shows New York shooting locations of Oscar-nominated films based on the permits that the films’ producers had to file with the city. While some film locations are listed on the office’s Web site, the information is not complete or up to date. It’s unclear how much legwork Aigner needed to do to get the information needed for the map.

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