By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Sandy and the power of news maps

Click on image for full interactive map at

We were lucky up here on the North Shore — we got lots of wind and plenty of rain from Sandy, but very little damage. We lost power for about a half-hour last night. When it came back, it seemed that the worst had passed.

But then we tuned in to CNN and saw the devastation that was taking place in New York and New Jersey. The aftermath will be with us for a long time.

As it turns out, it’s mapping week in my Reinventing the News class. Although classes at Northeastern were canceled on Monday, I’ve been sharing with my students some of the more interesting storm presentations being put together by news organizations.

Above is a map you’ll find at plotting all kinds of Sandy-related reports — everything from photos and stories by Globe journalists to power-outage announcements and updates from other news organizations. It uses Leaflet, a tool I’m not familiar with, and OpenStreetMap, an open-source alternative to the increasingly commercialized offerings of Google, Apple and Microsoft.

I have not been able to puzzle out why some red dots are larger than others. I asked a source at the Globe, but he was too busy dealing with actual news to get back to me. I’d be curious to know the answer.

The New York Times is offering more of a meteorological tool — a map that tracks the path of Sandy and lets you call up a forecast for your community.

Also well worth a look is an interactive map put together by, the company’s nonprofit arm. Called “Superstorm Sandy,” the map lets you add and subtract various layers, including emergency shelters, YouTube videos and public alerts.

It’s part of an international effort called Crisis Response, which makes digital tools available wherever a disaster takes place.

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  1. Jerry Ackerman

    There was reference in this morning’s (print) Globe about the size of the dots. The bigger the dot, the more problems reported in that community. There was no indication about a base line, though. It’s all relative.

  2. Jerry Ackerman

    Strike the previous from the record. Substitute:

    This morning’s (print) Globe carried a map like this displaying only power outages. The caption indicated that the bigger the dot, the more problems reported in that community. There was no indication about a base line, though. It’s all relative.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    @Jerry: A reference in the print edition but nothing on the actual map? Good grief. Could you tell me what page it’s on? I’ll call up the replica edition and have a look. Thank you.

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