Finding and Mapping National Parks

The US National Park Service boasts an extensive, well-designed website that features resources for educators, nature lovers, history enthusiasts, and anyone interested in learning more about the many U.S. national parks and sites. Check out the Find a Park page, which allows you to quickly locate parks and historic sites of interest. Using the interactive map, you can find parks by state and view a variety of statistics about park visitors and land area in each state. You can also conduct a text search to find a particular park. You can also scroll down on the main page to check out a list of fee-free days at national parks.


Road and Aviation Noise

While helping out someone that was looking for fatal accident data, I ran across a cool map service hosted by the US DOT Bureau of Transportation Statistics.  Looking at the REST endpoint for their map services, I found the National Transportation Noise Map.  The service description reads:

The National Transportation Noise Map is developed using a 24-hr equivalent sound level (LEQ, denoted by LAeq) noise metric. The results are A-weighted noise levels that represent the approximate average noise energy due to transportation noise sources over the 24 hour period at the defined receptors. This map includes simplified noise modeling and is intended for the tracking of trends, it should not be used to evaluate noise levels in individual locations and/or at specific times.

If you click on the link in the description, it will take you to a document that outlines how the noise levels were collected and processed.  A few points about the data:

  • It is a simplified noise model to track trends
  • Flight operations are averaged into a single average annual day
  • Military operations were not included unless they were at a joint-use or commercial airport
  • Helicopter operations were not included
  • Flight track info was available for some airports for the modeling, and for the ones that did not have any flight track info, a straight-in and out procedure was modeled
  • For the road noise model, average annual daily traffic values were used in conjunction with vehicle types and speed, distributed evenly across 24 hours
  • The noise level cutoff of 35 db(A) was used

Adding the image service to ArcMap displayed this in the LA basin area:


I then changed the color ramp so high noise levels were red and low noise levels were blue.


Pretty cool … unless you live near LAX!

ArcGIS Earth 1.7 Beta

The ArcGIS Earth 1.7 Beta is now available.  In this release users can look forward to the ability to identify and display metadata and attribute information for map services, image services, and WMS services on the globe, a smoother navigation experience, improved rendering for KML, improved drawing elements, labeling in multiple languages, and a new startup experience for first time users. Additionally, administrators will have the ability to customize startup criteria to meet the needs of their organization.

Click below to find out more and how to sign up for beta testing.


Future Communities Forum

SCAG’s Future Communities Forum, a unique gathering of researchers, business and civic leaders, and policymakers from Southern California and around the world, will showcase how technology and open data are being used to solve common challenges.

The forum will be held Wednesday, May 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa.  Click below for more info and to register.


How Americans Do Their Taxes

Who does your taxes?  H&R Block?  TurboTax?  A CPA/Tax Professional?  Yourself?  Check out this web map by ESRI.  ESRI says it used data at the census tract and block group level. It looked at whether taxpayers used H&R Block, TurboTax, a certified public accountant or other tax professional, or did their taxes on their own. ESRI then credited that block to which ever method was used the most.  Click on a point and get the breakdown of tax methods.


Stuff in Space

January 2023 NOTE: The Stuff in Space website has moved.  The link to the site has been updated.

Stuff in Space is a “real-time 3D map of objects in earth’s orbit”, including satellites and debris. This map uses data from, a website operated by the U.S. Department of Defense. On this map, different kinds of “stuff in space” are color-coded: red for satellites, blue for rocket bodies, and grey for debris. Visitors may also explore different groups of space objects, which include maps of all Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites and their orbits and a map of the debris created by the 2009 collision of the satellites Iridium 33 and Kosmos 2251.  Check it out!


Cities at Night

Astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS) take hundreds of night-time pictures each year of cities around the globe. Cities at Night is a “citizen science project that aims to create a map, similar to Google maps, of the Earth at night using night-time color photographs taken by astronauts onboard the ISS.” Check out the photographs that have been geo-referenced to the Earth, or join in and help the project team geo-reference new photographs!