Visualising Sensor data based on 3 dimensional spatial representation

This project has indeed been eye opening. The main thought behind doing this project, is to better understand the attention economy of maps and spatial based representation. Most maps being used within new rooms are 2 dimensional in nature. This project was to find use cased of three dimensional spatial representation. In all the project has been a success but more needs to be done in building tookits likely to make this simple in a news room. What would be the use case in a newsroom. Several journalists when providing a narrative use 3 dimensional representation of objects to explain certain events. A simple example is this flight disaster simulation.  I also see this as a great tool to tell a narrative around flood simulation. It could also be used for games where the three dimensional structures are created as scenes within the game allowing for an experience close to the actual physical space.

More and more technologies are being used in newsrooms to tell such stories. With the advent of data, and a society with access to data. This experiment was to find ways in which such visualisations could be employed.

Mapsense is a simple first draft to test the concept of three dimensional spatial representation. It can be accessed here. The image below depicts the representation of MIT.

 MIT campus

One can zoom and pan the map in different ways. The data used to achieve this was Boston’s/Cambridge raster data collected in 2009. The height of the buildings was retrieved from the City of Cambridge, hence the heights of the buildings are in scale to one another. Data extracted from OSM was also used to provide as and act as the base map.

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Free AJ Staff

Just 100 days ago, Peter Greste and his Al Jazeera journalist colleagues were arrested in Egypt. They have now just clocked 100 days in jail defending their right to freedom of expression.  The charges leveled against them by the Egyptian government are false. From accusations of being terrorist to claims that their news coverage is a threat to the nations internal security.  They have been charged with falsifying news and portraying a bad picture of the country.  This is indeed ludicrous.  Accusations to the effect that Peter has vehemently denied that he is associated with the Muslim brotherhood. At a recent hearing on March 5, he said that the allegations of his association with the Muslim brotherhood are indeed preposterous.

Several efforts to have them released by the international community have not been successful. The United Nations Commission on Human rights has urged the authorities to promptly release the journalists being held in custody but as we speak today, they are still languishing in jail.

There is need as members of the fourth estate and the general public to put pressure to get them released.  Next it could be a your local journalist. Egyptian authorities are known for infringing on the rights of journalists. Several other journalists have been arrested and are still in captivity.  The case of Peter Greste is not isolated. As stated by Edmund Burke, “Evil prevails when good men do nothing.” We as a people can not sit back and watch an act of travesty go on under our very own eyes. He is what you can do to help.

Sign the petition here.

Alternatively, make a daily tweet using the hashtag #FreeAJStaff. The following are examples of such tweets.  Feel free and be creative!

Journalism is not a crime. In support of @PeterGreste and colleagues. #freejournalism #FreeAJStaff

— BBC Trending (@BBCtrending) April 7, 2014

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Mapping Election discrepancies

Kenya recently marked one year after the 2013 polls. It is common fact that the election went on peacefully though several questions remain unanswered to date. As per the constitution,  for one to be validly elected, the winner must garner more than 50 percent plus 1 of the total votes cast.

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{Need to figure a way to embed html elements on this blog!!!}

Can be accessed here

One year down the line, I have decided to look at the events before the election. Mainly the voter registration statistics. Compare these statistics against the numbers used on the election day. The 2013 election was one of the most contested on all fronts. From the use of social media, the use of cleaver PR strategies to plain political schemes which may not be easily identifiable on the surface. Take for instance, the push by member of certain areas forcing members of their communities to register.  A simple example was to the lead up to the election, bus conductors would request to see one’s voters card to be eligible to catch the bus(matatu) to their destination. This of course pushed the registration numbers in favor of certain politicians. A counter argument could be made that,  other communities that were as not hands on around voter registration have no right to complain of such tactics. One year down the line, politicians who suffered from this maneuver are asking citizens to forgo family planning in-order to increase their political base in future.  This is indeed shallow as those most likely to be born would not be eligible to vote for the next eighteen years.  Also not forgetting the fast changing political dynamic.

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Mapping Election discrepancies

It has been a year since Kenya went to the polls. Though the polls were peaceful, there have ben claims that the electoral body did not do its work professionally. Having had the chance to work with data pre-election, specifically electoral delimitation and voter registrations  more data has has been data provided after the election. I would like to highlight some of the discrepancies before,during and after the election. The main purpose is to have a fully based data audit of the election based on data provided before,during and after the election. Also I seek to understand if there were discrepancies, how big are the discrepancies that can we conclusively say the election was bungled. The electoral body’s chaiman did receive an award last year named the ICPS Electoral Conflict Resolution Award which also did raise a storm. The two main antagonists have very divergent views on the election, one lead by Uhuru Kenyatta believes they won the election fair and square, while the other lead by the former Prime Minister believes their victory was stolen.


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Explainer: The Physics behind planes

I have spent quite some time, trying to explain the physics and science behind how a plane gets to the sky. I initially tried to do this using an animation and got to the point where , I just had the 3 d model of the plane. Unfortunately , I realized that I was just a third of the process of doing the entire animation. So I decided to do an Xkcd style explainer similar to the one on rockets but one for planes. I hope this is easy enough. At times Physics is just that Physics, finding other words can be challenging.

Here is the link

Malaysian Airlines MH370

Being an aviation geek, I just had to do this. I curated different sources of information using Storify which was helpful, though there needs to be alot more work to share such information. If Storify was to make use of theme’s and add on’s to give more control on how one may want the content to look would be greatly helpful. Here is the story so far..


If this was to be a fully professional media story, perhaps there would be  agreat challenge with verification. Early on there were rumours that the plane landed in Vietnam which was later proved not to be true. There needs to be a better way to annotate such crowdsource information. Storify does not do a lot of justice especially when one want to annotate and add comments to crowdsources stories.

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Genetically Modified Foods: Separating Fact from Fiction.

GMO’s popular depiction

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since Kenya imposed a ban on genetically modified foods.  Many theories have been advanced as to the effects of GMO foods some valid while others not.  What was the main reason for Kenya to impose the ban? A research done by Seralini was indeed the impetus that provided the necessary reason behind the ban. Kenya as we speak is the only country to have a ban in the entire world. Russia also put out a ban after the paper that was published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal that GM crops routinely grown by farmers and eaten by consumers cause tumours in rats. It took Russia three weeks to lift the ban. Kenya insists on proper procedures around GMOs and bio safety regulations. This on the contrary has  added wood to the fire with a superstitious populace adding sugar and spice into the debate. What are some of the myths being advocated? Historically, new products that were disruptive were stigmatized. Are we seeing the same with GMO foods? The debate in the early 19th century around coffee, the introduction of tractors on farms and more recently the debate around margarine and butter.


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Jude’s 4 Hour News Challenge

I decided to follow the proceedings of a hi-jacked Ethiopian airlines flight. As this is still a developing story, more content is still being added to the timeline.

This story was slightly more difficult to do. This is because most of the content was being curated from online sources. FlightRadar a plane spotting tool also came in handy as I was able to follow the progress of the hi-jacking. I decided to do the story in the form of a timeline.

Please see the link here. Unable to insert html.


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