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The Latest Updates from Uber Visualization

In our second edition of Uber Visualization Newsletter, we share updates on deck.gl v6.0, the story behind kepler.gl, and how people are using these tools to build stunning visualizations.

deck.gl v6.0 Release

We released new versions of our deck.gl and luma.gl frameworks with many interesting features including:

  1.  Smooth animated transitions for all visual attributes (such as height, color etc) and between two different locations on a map
  2.  GPU accelerated data aggregations on the fly, facilitating >10x performance improvements
  3.  A richer React API
    • Automatic interactivity. `DeckGL` can be used as a "stateful" component enabling applications to avoid callbacks and plumbing in standard use cases.
    • JSX Views. You can now specify deck.gl views (in addition to layers) directly using JSX, inline with your React components.
    • Improved size/position synchronization between deck.gl WebGL view layouts and React DOM components, via the new “View render callback” syntax.

To showcase some of these features, we’ve created new examples including a road safety visualization:

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Featured Story: How is deck.gl being used?

Do all roads lead to Rome? This inspired the Moovel team to create a visualization that shows the journey from A to Rome across the entire world. Combining data from OSM and a worldwide flight network, the team visualized an intermodal routing graph that links the roads and flight network. The team utilized deck.gl to visualize 3D flight trails as seen here in combination with other open source tools:    
     
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Related:

  • FOAM: Ever wonder if blockchain could be applied to democratize maps? FOAM is leading the way and recently published the Spatial Index, a general purpose blockchain visual explorer. See how they are utilizing deck.gl to visualize an interactive map of network activity utilizing the FOAM protocol here.
  • GO-JEK: Reviewed Atlas, a real-time geovisualization explorer built by the Data team @ GO-JEK,  enables the company to explore its flood of geospatial data. Similar to components provided in kepler.gl (i.e. choropleths & heatmaps), GO-JEK is also utilizing deck.gl to visualize, explore and communicate insights through geospatial analysis. 

What People Are Saying


Maps in the Wild

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This map, made by web developer Mary Zam, depicts the parking cost and capacity in Moscow, Russia. In this visualization, square color indicates the cost of parking, while square height denotes lot capacity. On her blog, Mary breaks down how she used kepler.gl to build the map. Check it out, here

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This map, created by Professor Alasdair Rae from Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield, depicts the geography of work commutes in the Bay Area by their destination counties. Access Alasdair’s dataset, here.

Share yours with us! Tweet @ubereng with #keplergl!

Fast Company Interview with kepler.gl’s Lead Architect

Fast Company interviewed Shan He, our lead engineer on kepler.gl, about the mapping tool’s use cases and history, as well as how it has played a role in democratizing geospatial analysis. In her interview, Shan discussed:

  • The story behind kepler.gl: seeking an easier and more accessible way for our data scientists to visualize map data, the Uber Data Visualization team built kepler.gl. Built for the web, kepler.gl quickly became a popular tool used among various teams at Uber, from city operations to engineering. 
  • Uber’s kepler.gl use cases: the most prominent internal use cases include addressing transportation needs based on the density of trips, improving rideshare routing by examining drivers’ traveling patterns, and charting app usage across markets. 
  • Extensive adoption: since releasing kepler.gl to the public, we’ve witnessed countless innovative use cases and received a lot of support from both individuals and companies, such as Mapbox, Airbnb, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, and LimeBike. 

Read the full interview here.

“Make Breathtaking Maps with Your Data”

If you like playing with and exploring large amounts of geographic data, Lifehacker’s Nick Douglas suggests you take kepler.gl for a spin. Whether you are looking for hidden patterns in your data or trying to render geospatial insights in 3D, Douglas says that kepler.gl makes data visualization easy. 

Read the full article here.

Want to share feedback, discuss possible collaborations, or ask a question about kepler.gl? Contact us at kepler-gl@uber.com!

Things to Read


Political Bubbles and Hidden Diversity: The New York Times draws highlights from an extremely detailed map of the 2016 election (The New York Times)
The Herds of Europe: Maarten Lambrechts visualizes the geography of European domestic animal herds using grid bubble maps (maartenlambrechts.com)
Against Diverging Stacked Bars: This Datawrapper article talks about why diverging stacked bars are not a good choice in most cases (Datawrapper)
World’s Prettiest Auto-Generated Transit Maps: Read about the “hard” technology behind the sleek and colorful Transit Maps built by the Canadian mobile app Transit (Medium)
Here’s How America uses its Land: To gauge how the U.S. uses its land (farms, forests, cities, etc.), Bloomberg created an interactive map representing all 1.9 billion acres of American soil (Bloomberg
Apple’s Value Hit $1 Trillion. Add Disney to Bank of America and ... You’re Halfway There: In light of Apple’s 13-digit valuation, The New York Times created a tool inspired by LiquidFun to better understand how much their valuation is really worth (The New York Times)
Comparing US City Street Orientations: Geoff Boeing summarizes major cities’ street orientations as a polar diagrams to determine the coherency of their spatial organizations (Geoff Boeing)

External Engagement

Our poster on map projections has been recently accepted to IEEE VIS’18. Together with our talk on kepler.gl and the full paper on Manifold, Uber’s Visualization team is continuing its tradition to contribute to the research community. We have also been selected to present a series of lectures on Data Visualization at the UC Davis MSBA program - a unique opportunity to share the team’s work and vision to ~50 graduate students.

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Thanks for reading!

- The Uber Visualization Team

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