Resources for (Levantine) mappers
A list of useful links to technical tools, data repositories, and learning material for people interested in critical mapping in the Levant and beyond.
This is a list that I started compiling for my peers in the masters in urban planning program at the American University of Beirut, back in 2018. I use it to consolidate resources that I use for reference in my every day research and mapping work. I wanted to share it with my class and my communities at large, so here it is.
I need to…
- Geojson.io - scratch pad for maps
- uMap - More advanced map editing tools with good sharing options
- QGIS - Serious map making an analysis, free open source alternative to ArcGIS/ArcMap. It’s free now, and it’ll stay free forever.
- MapHub - quick map making and sharing
- OpenRouteService - Generate route, isochrone , and isodistance maps from OpenStreetMap road network, and export into geoJSON and other formats
- Felt - for making (actually really nice) maps collaboratively.
- BBEDb - The Beirut Built Environment Database, by the Beirut Urban Lab
- GADM - administrative boundaries of all countries around the world, at different administrative levels (country, mohafaza, town)
- Admin Boundaries level 0-3 of Lebanon - vetted by OCHA, has Arabic names
- Satellite imagery 1- Here’s a tutorial on how to add it to QGIS
- Elevation 1, 2- Get a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of any place in the world. From the DEM, you can extract topographic maps at various resolutions.
- Railways in Lebanon - includes lines and stations
- Title register (الصحيفة العقاريّة) - get the register online (paid)
- Humanitarian data exchange - Repository of humanitarian data from all over
- Geomolg - very (very!) rich spatial data on Palestine
- Makaneyyat - spatial data about Palestine, including data about land use and botanical data
- Busmap.me - data on bus lines in Lebanon
- Built Environment Deprivation Indicators - Egypt urban data by 10Tooba
- Planning (In)Justice - urban data in Cairo by Tadamun
- Conflict in Lebanon - Geo-located mapping of conflicts in Lebanon (January 2018 - June 2019)
- Climatescope - energy data in emerging markets
- Real estate prices from Q1 2017, and 2018 (raw data, map 2017, map delta 2017-2018) - Source: RAMCO real estate advisors
Access historical map archives (and other spatial data)
Old Maps Online - searches a bunch of historical map collections, searches by location, maps are georeferenced
David Rumsey Map Collection - more georeferenced historical maps
Archnet - by the Agha Khan Foundation: “An open-access resource on architecture, urbanism, environmental and landscape design, visual culture, and conservation issues”, with a ton of material on the region
Palestine Open Maps - historical maps of Palestine, with all the data extracted (my project!)
Al-Madaq - historical maps of Cairo, going back to 1809
Get data from OpenStreetMap
- OpenStreetBrowser - pre-formulated queries
- Overpass turbo - advanced queries
- OSM export - export OSM data as .osm files
- HOT OSM Export - allows you to select different layers for exporting in many different formats
- Open Map Tiles - Free pre-styled data exporter
Add data to OSM
- Vespucci - OSM editor for Android
- Go Map!! - OSM editor for iOS
- iD editor - Web browser based editor
- JOSM - advanced editor for desktops
Collect data privately
- Open Data Kit - the most comprehensive mobile data collection tool set out there. All open source, but requires lots of setup.
- Field Papers - create atlases for printing, that you can then upload to OpenStreetMap or OSM-seed
- OSM Seed - create your own private version of OpenStreetMap
- Stadia Maps - a great set of FOSS tools for map making with a very good transparent pricing scheme.
- Mapbox Studio - style and serve very highly customized geographic data. There’s a free version, but gets very expensive very quickly.
- Maputnik - Free and open source map styler, but it doesn’t serve the files for you.
- Kartotherian - same thing but made by Wikimedia (the people behind Wikipedia)
- Color Brewer - color advice for cartography
Learn GIS and get help
- Learn QGIS - training manual for QGIS
- A Gentle Introduction to GIS - does exactly what it says :)
- QGIS Tutorials - a set of tutorials with good comments section
- LearnOSM - training manuals for OpenStreetMap
- GIS tutorials - by Center for Spatial Research at Columbia
- QGIS tutorials - by Nik Lomax
- Every Projection - understand the different projections of the 3d globe into 2d surfaces
- GIS StackExchange - Questions and answers by a community of practice of GIS users. If nobody has asked your question before, you can post a question yourself!
- Spatial Thoughts - a collection of advanced courses for QGIS and spatial programming using Python
- Cartography and Mapping Skills for Transportation - by Carly Hallman. A very useful list for people looking into transportation options 2.
Problematize GIS as a form of knowledge
- Revisiting Critical GIS - a very good overview of what GIS can and cannot do
License my data openly
- Open Data Handbook - very practical guide on how to open your data sets
- OSM out of copyright maps - info about historical maps per country
- Collaborative Data Patterns - The Open Data Institute has published a guide for various models for managing data that you’ve collected
I also want to…
Make pretty visualizations
- RAWgraphs - Make complex visualizations of complex data
- Kumu.io - Understand complex systems by understanding the relations between their components. They also have a fantastic newsletter that you should subscribe to.
Learn more about information design
- Design principles - An open source collection of Design Principles and methods.
- IDEO Design Kit - set of tools and methodologies that you can use in your workshops
- Visualizing information for Advocacy - Tactical Tech created this resource
But I’m a programmer…
- Shapely - Python package for analyzing vector geographic datasets
- Rasterio - Python package for analyzing raster geographic datasets
- OSMnx - Python for Street Networks from OpenStreetMap
- OpenRouteService - an open source package for route management
- Prettymaps - a nice Python package for creating maps from OpenStreetMap data and style them beautifully.
- Pretymapp - very similar funcationality to prettymaps, but with more efficient implementation. Demo here.
- Geocomputation in R - an open source text for doing spatial analysis in R language
- Geographic Data Science in Python - An open textbook with examples and tutorial for Python language
- Automating GIS processes - a course by the University of Helsinki
I want to see some cool applications
- OSM Luxumburg LiDAR - LiDAR visualization with hillshading of the entirety of Luxumbrug