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Map of Life

MOL Press

Data visualization: Science on the map

Mark Zastrow / Nature International weekly journal of science.
Friday, March 6, 2015

In 2011, de la Torre was part of a team researching biodiversity informatics. The group was seeking an online platform to make a map of all known species on the planet. “There wasn't technology for doing that,” he says — no tool could handle the amount of data, nor visualize how they changed over time.

The researchers decided to develop the tool themselves and created what became the open-source platform CartoDB. The company offers free and paid plans for hosting and visualizing data through its website. Unlike TileMill, which is primarily intended for drawing and designing static maps, CartoDB specializes in visualizing dynamic layers of data on top of basemaps. Users can import their geo-located data into CartoDB's web-based interface and then filter or cluster data points, change the colour or size of symbols, and animate data changes over time. “CartoDB wants to be a place where your data lives,” says Steve Bennett, a research-oriented technologist at the University of Melbourne who takes workshops on mapping, including the one that Gawne attended.

View article on Nature International weekly journal of science.