Welcome to the Spatial Thoughts Newsletter #9

[see previous newsletters]

New Posts

Creating Thematic Maps? Read this first!

A common mistake that beginners (and even reputed dataviz organizations) make when creating thematic maps is to use total counts. Unless your polygons are equal sized grids, styling the map with total counts results in misleading maps. Kenneth Field has a great post about this topic. Remember to always normalize your data - calculate population density from population, crime per capita instead of total crimes etc. Look at my tutorial on census mapping using QGIS which shows how.


Learning Resources and News

  • Whitebox Tools is a collection of 400+ open-source geospatial analysis tools, including tools for LIDAR, Image Processing, and Hydrological analysis. A QGIS processing plugin, now makes these available from QGIS. I tested it and am quite impressed at the performance (all tools are multi-threaded) and its capabilities.
  • A new flood mapping algorithm implemented in Google Earth Engine that uses Sentinel-1 SAR data. I also found this SAR 101 post which is a good primer if you are interested in using SAR data effectively.
  • Bryan McBridge from Fulcrum has built a few cool web-apps that are really cool. There is which allows you to quick load and view a GPS track - even from your phone. Another is turf tagger that uses Turf.js library to do spatial joins in the browser. Both work client-side and are very slick. Just shows how powerful javascript client-side libraries are. 
  • Alessandro Sarretta released tools for creating Urban Accessibility Maps using QGIS and OpenStreetMap.
  • Anita Graser published a great overview of Open-Source Geospatial Tools for Movement Data Exploration.
  • New Open Dataset: The largest dataset of grocery purchases ever by 1.6M Tesco customers in London with Geograpghic Locations. View the paper and accompanying dataset.
  • QGIS Crowd Funding: Nyall Dawson from North Road ran a campaign for improvement to QGIS processing toolbox has found backers for all items. Can't wait to see those features and fixes roll out in a future version of QGIS. Our friends at Lutra Consulting just launched a new campaign for Native Vector Tile support in QGIS. Do check out their page and support if you can.

Geospatial Job Opportunities

I am starting a new section in the newsletter to showcase job opportunities related to open-source geospatial technologies. If you are hiring or know of a job opening, do send me a note and I will include it in the next newsletter. 
  • Swiggy is setting up a Location Intelligence team to build business-specific hyperlocal metadata such as POIs, addresses, routes etc, using petabytes of internal geospatial data. They are looking for strong, highly motivated Geo-Spatial Analysts, Data Scientists and Software Engineers who are excited about this space. Write to Pradnya Karbhari at to learn more. [Location: Chennai, India]
  • IndiGeo is looking for GIS Engineer candidates who have hands on experience on QGIS+Python. Reach out to if you are interested. [ Location: Bengaluru, India]
  • Near is looking for a GIS Intern with QGIS and programming experience. Apply Online. [ Location: Bengaluru, India]

Upcoming Classes

  1. Spatial Data Analytics and Visualization: Last 2 seats left. Beginner workshop for a modern introduction to spatial data. 14 March, 2020, Bengaluru
  2. Advanced QGIS Certification: Learn techniques for automating you QGIS workflows and advanced visualization. 4 April, 2020, Bengaluru
Have suggestions? Feedback? Questions? I would love to hear from you. Just reply to this email or write to me at

-Ujaval Gandhi
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