Saturday, March 2, 2013
DeMOGraphics: Cat Map plots locations, names, and colors of London felines
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has launched an initiative to collect data about the cats of London into a map. It's called, perhaps unsurprisingly, Cat Map. Cat Map invites mog owners or acquaintances to plot their feline counterparts onto a mapping tool, uploading a photo, an address, the cat's name, color, and age as well as a description.The map has been launched to raise awareness about the conservation of tigers and the launch of London Zoo's Tiger Territory, which opens in March. In addition to moggies, the map also features the zoo's two Sumatran tigers -- five-year-old male Jae Jae and four-year-old female Melati—both described, somewhat unceremoniously, as "ginger".
ZSL is keen to find out how many and what sort of cats live in London. The data inputs aim to mimic the techniques used by field conservationists when recording the numbers and locations of individual animals.
Visitors can not only upload cats, but also explore the map to find out about the cats in their local area. Users can also run their own mini reports, counting up the number of tabby kittens called Claude, for example.
"Ever wondered about the tabby cats in Tottenham? Do white cats hail from White City? Or do you just want to know how many cats there are in Catford?" asks ZSL.
Cat Map has been created by ZSL web lead Filip Hnizdo, who told Wired.co.uk that the biggest challenge was making the uploading process as "streamlined and usable as possible". He went on to say that there are just 300 Sumatran tigers in the wild and he hopes that the project will make people think of their conservation plight. "It highlights the fact that people love cats and the similarity between big cats and little cats."
One data point that isn't required is the cats' breeds, although Hnizdo says that owners of pedigree cats are welcome to enter their breed into the free text field description box as well as their likes and dislikes.
"It might be that it's not your own cat -- it could be a stray cat that you see outside or someone else's cat. You can also check out the map in your area to see if you recognize any cats and find out more about them."
The map has been built using Open Layers with a Drupal content management system and D3 for data visualizations.
The map will stay on the ZSL site for at least a year, and possibly more. While the focus is on cats in London, people from other parts of the UK and beyond are encouraged to add their own. "We placed a cat in Kyrgyzstan during the testing process," said Hnizdo.
Cat lovers can upload their felines to zsl.org/catmap (Wired.co.uk has added the internet-dwelling Nyan cat; our editor is adding his neighbour's cat, "Steve Jobs"). Or they can visit London Zoo from 22 March to check out the new Tiger Territory.
This story originally appeared on Wired UK.