Goodbye Map Tiles, Hello MapBox GL!

Map tiles have been the norm when it comes to online maps for a very long time. MapBox aims to change that with the new MapBox GL library.

MapBox GL is a library that aims to unleash the full power of vector data by harnessing the capabilities of OpenGL. OpenGL is an API for rendering vector graphics using the GPU. What this means is that instead of map tiles being served on the web map, vector graphics will be rendered client side by making good use of the device hardware.

The implications are tremendous; by reducing the reliance on the server, very complex and fluid maps can be generated on the device itself. The data can be played around with and everything is dynamic.

MapBox GL has support for web-based applications as well as native applications on IOS, OS X and Linux, thus being good news for web and platform developers alike.

Go check out MapBox GL here:


Mapping Pollution in India

Photo credit: Alfred Palmer / / Public domain

Pollution is an inevitable by-product of industrial growth. It is important, however, to understand the quantity of pollution created by an industrial area and the subsequent impact on the local environment and population. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), in association with IIT-Delhi, has devised a way to rationalize the amount of pollution in an area, called the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI).

CEPI takes into account the presence of toxins, the scale of industrial activity, the concentration of  pollutants, the impact on people and the eco-geology, the level of exposure and the risk to sensitive receptors. These factors are classified into pollutant, pathway and receptor. Based on the score obtained by the area in the three factors, the index is calculated to determine the amount pollution in that area. This index is then used as a basis for further action to be taken to rein in the problematic areas and mitigate further damage.

The Government of India released the results of this study over three iterations (2009, 2011 and 2013) in the public domain. This dataset contains information about 43 critically polluted areas in India. I superimposed the results of this study upon location and created an interactive map to better understand the extent of the study.

Map of the CEPI scores of industrial sectors across India. The markers in red indicate the presence of a moratorium in the area, while the blue markers indicate that the moratorium has been lifted.

You can check out the map here:

To create the basemap, I used the OpenStreetMap customization tools provided by Mapbox. LeafletJS was used to overlay the data on the basemap and provide interactivity. Twitter Bootstrap was used to make the map and the web page responsive.

The CEPI is a move in the right direction. Let’s hope that this study is consistently improved upon in the future, to give some hope of preserving our rapidly deteriorating environment.

You can know more about CEPI, CPCB and the data released here: