Smathermather's Weblog

Remote Sensing, GIS, Ecology, and Oddball Techniques

Parks Data Cake

Posted by smathermather on March 24, 2014

Stamen has a great blog entry on mapping for parks on their blog. It’s a teaser for a deeper dive in mapping parks, and I’m staying tuned, as their write-ups tend to be detailed, thoughtful, and complete.

I thought I’d offer my own teaser– a bit of work done collaboratively with GreenInfo Network.  It started with their basemap– something they spent a few person-years refining from OSM data.

Example of GIN basemap

Example of GIN custom basemap

Custom basemap

We took it a little further by creating custom placed labels where the labels gave us some extra bang for the buck.

Custom text placement example

Custom text placement

And then we started to really play with the zoomed in versions, using nicely detailed streams, contours, and canopy boundaries (derived from LiDAR) to enrich the map, labeling natural features and major facilities with custom labels as well:

Image showing labeling, contours, vegetation, etc.

Detailed view of map

A couple of tricks we used here– first, the custom labels have shadows (convex hull) masks which match the background, ala this write up:

Example of masked text

Also, compositing is used heavily– the hillshade background is flattened significantly, and then overlayed with multiplied composites of park green, canopy green on top, contours, with all other layers being simple overlays. This results in a brightness and clarity to the information that allows for complexity without either muddling the map, or overwhelming the map reader.

Finally, since many of the parks are urban, major buildings are highlighted for context. In future revisions, we’ll add more (but still subdued) detail to the areas outside the parks, but this was a good start:

Example of major buildings showing on map near a park

In case you are wondering about technology, this is all done in TileStache (edit: and GeoServer).  In the future, this may well be replicated in Tilemill. More to come… .

4 Responses to “Parks Data Cake”

  1. mapbaker said

    Stephen, does the parks data in this post come from GreenInfoNetwork? I worked with their data a few years ago for some park access mapping.

    Now I’m leaning towards OSM for park data… how have you found the availability of park data in OSM compared to Green Info Network, etc…

  2. […] Parks Data Cake […]

  3. […] Following up on my previous post, I have started to detail the how of our parks map rendering works, including a GitHub repository with all the code and data to build your own in TileStache. One of these days, we’ll port this to TileMill, but in the mean time, it works and works wonderfully. […]

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