Maps Maps Maps

Back in December I had a brief post about CRACK, a mapmaking software package for Macs.  The downside was that CRACK only worked for making maps of the United States.  As the need has arisen, Michael Allen and I began looking for something similar that could handle world maps.  This brings me to OpenHeatMap, an online platform for making those fancy looking thermal heat maps using data from a spreadsheet.  We were looking for something to visually display some data that we have on US Military Personnel abroad, and this seems to work pretty well.  Here’s an example:

The program lets you mess with some of the details, such as borders, colors, etc.  The only downside is that it does not appear to allow you to save an image.  Mac users have the option of taking screen shots by selecting particular areas on the screen, but I don’t think PCs have this feature yet.  Anywho, if you have a Mac, this lack of a downloadable file probably won’t matter too much to you.  Also, there are some small troop deployments to some microstates that this map does not display–getting it to recognize some of the country names in the data may also be a bit of a struggle.

Also, the data used for making this map was obtained from Tim Kane at the Heritage Foundation.


About Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Kansas State University. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Binghamton University in 2013. His research focuses on the political and economic determinants of foreign economic and security policy, security issues, and state repression.

4 Replies to “Maps Maps Maps”

  1. Very interesting.
    Is the software treating Taiwan and PRC as the same? Or does the US in fact have more troops in PRC than many countries? And what about Russia? If you’d asked me to name those countries where the US has no troop presence, I’d have listed China and Russia right up there with Iran and North Korea.

  2. We actually had the same thought when we first looked at it. There are only 44 troops coded as being in Russia at this time, and 67 in China. Oddly enough, the data shows 0 soldiers in Taiwan in 2005 (Apparently we only send them arms, but no people).
    There’s a section that lets you adjust scale or variation in the display’s “temperature”, and I haven’t quite found a nice balance with respect to the contrast/variation in colors. Right now it seems to overstate the presence of troops in states where there really aren’t that many. There are about 66,000 soldiers in Germany, and almost 11,000 in England. And Egypt only has a little over 400. So even amongst the dark blue states there is substantial variation that is masked by the uniform color. I suspect some further fiddling with be necessary before getting this down.

  3. Hey, sorry for the late reply. I’ve been laying low this weekend with some kind of head cold. Seems to be going around down here.
    Anywho, logging the variables might help. I haven’t done it yet, but I’ll take a look and see what happens.

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