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Visualising and communicating population diversity through web maps

An online New Zealand Atlas of Population Change (NZAPC) is being developed (http://socialatlas.waikato.ac.nz/) to communicate the interaction and associated diversity resulting from three important components of population change: migration, natural change (births minus deaths), and population ageing. A comparative evaluation is made between five prominent international population web maps that utilise automated map server technology and the NZAPC, which uses static maps designed collaboratively by a demographer and a cartographer. This evaluation combined the needs of demography, cartographic communication and human computer interaction, as well as consideration of software. Interactive online maps and graphics are a powerful medium for communicating population distribution and associated diversity, but care needs to be taken in the choice of data and their interpretation. The NZAPC differs from the other web map sites evaluated in that it is accompanied by supporting research and narrative. The design of the NZAPC has had extensive demographic and cartographic input so that users are provided with relevant and easy-to-understand maps and graphs. This is a different approach to mainstream population web mapping sites that provide access to large data sets and allow the user to dynamically construct their own maps. We argue that the provision of research-supported maps and graphs by experienced researchers has a rising place in online mapping. We provide examples from the NZAPC with a focus on assisting New Zealanders to better understand population change and thus prepare for, respond to and celebrate the increasingly diverse population of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Brabyn, L., Jackson, N., Stichbury, G., & McHardie, T. J. (2019). Visualising and communicating population diversity through web maps. New Zealand Population Review, 45, 46–66.
Population Association of New Zealand
This is an author's accepted version of an article published in New Zealand Population Review. © 2019 Population Association of New Zealand