America’s College Football Stadiums

stadiums-fbs-conf-barAlso check out this follow-up analysis of stadium attendance.

The 2016 college football championship game between Clemson and Alabama was held at University of Phoenix Stadium, where the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals play. Interestingly, this NFL (ironic, given its name) stadium is considerably smaller than the home stadiums of either Clemson or Alabama. In fact every NFL stadium is considerably smaller than the largest college stadiums. Outside of North Korea, the 8 largest stadiums in the world are college football stadiums, and the 15 largest college football stadiums are larger than any NFL stadium.

Americans are obsessed with college football, but how much is too much? Today most athletic departments are subsidized by their schools. Public universities increased their annual football spending by $1.8 billion between 2009-2013 while racking up huge debts to finance stadiums with little chance of profit. This interactive map shows each NCAA Division I college football team’s home stadium: collectively they seat 8.5 million people. Click any point for details about stadium capacity and year built:

Continue reading America’s College Football Stadiums

World Population Projections

Batman and Robin: By 2050, 70% of the world's population...The U.N. world population prospects data set depicts the U.N.’s projections for every country’s population, decade by decade through 2100. The 2015 revision was recently released, and I analyzed, visualized, and mapped the data (methodology and code described below).

The world population is expected to grow from about 7.3 billion people today to 11.2 billion in 2100. While the populations of Eastern Europe, Taiwan, and Japan are projected to decline significantly over the 21st century, the U.N. projects Africa’s population to grow by an incredible 3.2 billion people. This map depicts each country’s projected percentage change in population from 2015 to 2100:

UN world population projections data map: Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, South America

Continue reading World Population Projections

The Landscape of U.S. Rents

Which U.S. cities are the most expensive for rental housing? Where are rents rising the fastest? The American Community Survey (ACS) recently released its latest batch of 1-year data and I analyzed, mapped, and visualized it. My methodology is below, and my code and data are in this GitHub repo.

This interactive map shows median rents across the U.S. for every metro/micropolitan area. Click any one for details on population, rent, and change over time. Click “switch” to re-draw the map to visualize how median rents have risen since 2010:

Continue reading The Landscape of U.S. Rents

Exporting Python Data to GeoJSON

I like to do my data wrangling and analysis work in Python, using the pandas library. I also use Python for much of my data visualization and simple mapping. But for interactive web maps, I usually use Leaflet. There isn’t dead-simple way to dump a pandas DataFrame with geographic data to something you can load with Leaflet. You could use GeoPandas to convert your DataFrame then dump it to GeoJSON, but that isn’t a very lightweight solution.

So, I wrote a simple reusable function to export any pandas DataFrame to GeoJSON:

Continue reading Exporting Python Data to GeoJSON

Urban Design and Complexity

Corbusier Paris planI am presenting at the 2015 Conference on Complex Systems tomorrow in Tempe, Arizona. My paper is on methods for assessing the complexity of urban design. If you’re attending the conference, come on by!

Here’s the paper.

Here’s the abstract:

Continue reading Urban Design and Complexity

Urban Informatics and Visualization at UC Berkeley

The fall semester begins next week at UC Berkeley. For the third year in a row, Paul Waddell and I will be teaching CP255: Urban Informatics and Visualization, and this is my first year as co-lead instructor.

This masters-level course trains students to analyze urban data, develop indicators, conduct spatial analyses, create data visualizations, and build Paris open datainteractive web maps. To do this, we use the Python programming language, open source analysis and visualization tools, and public data.

This course is designed to provide future city planners with a toolkit of technical skills for quantitative problem solving. We don’t require any prior programming experience – we teach this from the ground up – but we do expect prior knowledge of basic statistics and GIS.

Update, September 2017: I am no longer a Berkeley GSI, but Paul’s class is ongoing. Check out his fantastic teaching materials in his GitHub repo. From my experiences here, I have developed a cycle of course materials, IPython notebooks, and tutorials towards an urban data science course based on Python, available in this GitHub repo.

Continue reading Urban Informatics and Visualization at UC Berkeley

Oregon Night Skies

I drove through Oregon last week and took some night sky photos. These first two are from Indian Mary park in southern Oregon, along the banks of the Rogue River:

Milky Way in the night sky, viewed from Indian Mary park in southern Oregon

Continue reading Oregon Night Skies

Map Projections That Lie

How big is Greenland? It’s huge, right? At 836,109 square miles in size, Greenland is the largest island and the 12th largest country on Earth. With only 56,000 people living in that enormous area (80% of which is covered by the world’s only extant ice sheet outside of Antarctica), it is also the least densely populated country on Earth.

You can get a sense of how large Greenland is when you look at a map of the world:

world map mercator projection

It’s huge! Greenland is bigger than the entire continent of Africa! Or is it? The map above uses the common Mercator projection to project the 3-D surface of the Earth onto a 2-D surface suitable for a paper map or an image on your computer screen. But it’s not easy to project the curved surface of a sphere onto a rectangular plane. Compromises must be made. In the case of the Mercator projection, the compromise is that objects’ sizes become increasingly distorted the further they are from the equator. At the poles, the scale and distortion become infinite.

Continue reading Map Projections That Lie

The Beautiful Cities of Eastern Europe

Western Europe gets all the attention, but that means it also gets all the tourists. Here are some of my favorite old cities that I’ve visited on the other side of the continent, along with a few photos I took while there. Granted, a few of these places are now squarely on the backpacker circuit, but many remain underexplored. What they all share is an incredible, exhilarating sense of urbanism — old and new.

Eastern Europe itself is hard to define. Competing designations might include only the former Soviet states, or all the formerly communist European nations. Others might separate a limited Eastern Europe out from Central and Southeastern Europe. Here I will play fast and loose with the geographic boundaries: these are just cities somewhere vaguely toward the eastern side of the continent. Apologies to any readers whose country is usually considered a part of Central or Southern Europe.

First up: Mostar. A small city in the south of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mostar is most famous for its medieval Ottoman center and its Old Bridge, or Stari Most:

Stari Most old bridge in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Continue reading The Beautiful Cities of Eastern Europe

Off the Beaten Path in Laos

After my recent trip through Myanmar, I backpacked across Laos. Much like Myanmar, Laos was closed to tourism and the West for decades, but has recently re-opened its doors. Unlike Myanmar, Laos is officially a communist state – one of only five remaining in the world, alongside Cuba, China, Vietnam, and (nominally) North Korea.

laos-luang-prabang-kuang-si-3 Continue reading Off the Beaten Path in Laos