Victoria broadens geospatial mapping data release

By Paul Hemsley

The Victorian government has moved to substantially broaden its collection of ‘open data’ available to industry and software developers by making more geospatial information available that pinpoints the geographic location of the state’s natural and constructed boundaries and features.

It is the latest addition to the Victorian government’s public open data website where 1,000 datasets available including 550 spatial datasets have been made available, including local government, electoral, urban growth and planning scheme boundaries, rail network, relief contour data and parks and conservation areas.

The Victorian government is calling the release the latest tranche of data a milestone under its Information and Communication (ICT) Strategy. The ICT plan was released in February 2013 by then-Premier Ted Baillieu’s as part of an ambitious overhaul of the government’s service delivery through computer technology.

The ICT strategy builds on the government’s DataVic Access Policy launched in August 2012, that committed the state to releasing demographic, economic and spatial information to be reused by developers and the broader Victorian community.

The Victorian government’s idea of allowing developers and the private sector access to the government’s geospatial information through open data is similar in principle to the Queensland government’s free computer program called ‘Queensland Globe’ released in April 2013, which allows users to add government data to Google Earth satellite images.

The release of this program by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman was a core element in the state government’s push for an “open data revolution” and  a way of creating conditions for private sector innovators to help fix the state’s problems by accessing as much government information as possible.

Victorian Minister for Technology, Gordon Rich-Phillips said providing more open access to government data will help drive innovation, create new business opportunities and also enable the development of new technologies, new products and new services.

“Releasing spatial data – alongside transport and traffic data – has proved highly popular in many jurisdictions around the world and I will continue to advocate strongly for the release of government data and the full implementation of the DataVic Access policy,” Mr Rich-Phillips said.

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