The Wrong Side of my Car

A blog about Auckland City, its streets, and culture shock

3 Nov 2019

Census 2018: population density

Last year (2018) there was a census, and after a long and turbulent process, the data is now gradually being released to the public.

One of the data tables already available is about population by Statistical Area 2 (formerly known as Area Units). In general over here these are areas of about a kilometre across, with a few thousands of people living in them.

The estimated population was given for the previous census years as well (2006 and 2013) so of course we are going to make a GIF. *1

Density in 2006, 2013 and 2018

We can also show the change from 2013 to 2018 directly:

A few things I noticed:

There is always a compromise between avoiding too large thresholds, and still being able to match colors with the legend.

As an alternative for just using a lot of colors, I tried with just 3 colors, and mixing them using halftone patterns. These 3 colors (solid for 0, 1000 and 5000) are easy to recognise. In between we can vary the pattern continuously to avoid large thresholds.


Back when GeoCities was still a thing, everyone loved GIFs. Here you’re actually looking at a WEBP file, Google’s successor to GIF. But everyone is still using the word ‘GIF’ to refer to short and silent animations.


For a while there was this obnoxious trend to call malls and commercial areas ‘parks’. What a bald-faced lie. Don’t expect a leisurely stroll over there.

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