Real time air pollution map of the world: The World Air Quality Index project

aqicnxlAir pollution is a serious issue in many parts of the world, especially in countries with rapid urban expansion and industrialization. In the last few years, there have been some really interesting projects like AirCasting and the Aclima-Google partnership where Google Street View cars were used for mapping air pollution. In some sense, these projects are limited in their geographic reach as they either relied on crowd-sourced data from sensors or Street View cars.

World Air Quality Index

The World Air Quality Index project is a real-time air pollution map of the world – South America and Africa are not covered well though. The project uses data from more than 16,000 monitoring stations in over 60 countries. Here’s the complete project overview.

The map has a lots of useful information and is definitely worth taking a look. The first thing I did was to check out the air pollution in my home town 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 21.22.17

Real-time map of air pollution

If you are interested in contributing to the project, here’s the link to their contact page. If there is one thing that this project can benefit from, it’s a new map design!

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Map that shows debts of countries around the world


HowMuch recently published an interesting map showing the debt-to-GDP ratio to key economies around the world. The ratio is calculated by taking a country’s total debt and dividing it by gross domestic product (GDP). Then the author scaled each country based on the size of its debt compared to GDP and colored them based on their GPD growth rate.

The basic idea of a public debt is that a country with slow economic growth receives less in tax revenue and has to borrow money that accumulates as public debt. This may not be a bad thing unless the future economic wellbeing of a country is at risk. It’s well described by Vox:

But lets look at this map from a cartographical stand point. Frankly speaking it’s a mess. All countries are detached which makes it difficult to read. Moreover the map shows only selected countries which makes the readability even poorer. It is also very difficult to access if the size of a country is bigger or smaller as there is no proper reference to the world map. It is definitely difficult to visualise multiple phenomena on a single cartogram map but this not the best example.

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