Data Data Everywhere!


Data has been unleashed for Mashup competitions but what next?

Data is Everywhere, but are we sharing it?

We can convert data from one technical format to another, but tracking it down and being able to use it effectively  is another matter. So data gets duplicated, time is wasted and poor decisions are made. My goal is to help individuals and organisations feel comfortable about data sharing, applaud them and trumpet the economic and social benefits when they do.

The actual discovering and sharing of public sector data was a big part of the report and recommendations of the government 2.0 TaskforceHere is my summary of what I felt were the important ones for the spatial industry.Government 2.0 talked about Public Sector Information in general   – but spatial has even more sensitivity. Some of it rightly so when it relates to the location of critical underground infrastructure, but more often  it is simply too obvious and embarassing when it is wrong. Just look at the hulabaloo over the Tasmanian schools in the wrong place on Myschool website. Yet look also at the benefit of sharing your data – you find out very quickly if there are errors so you can fix them.


GIS managers tend to be very sensitive about data quality while others  would rather just get it out there. I fall into pragmatist camp. Some data has to be better than no data – so long as the user knows what they are getting. This brings us to metadata, which on face of it seems a dry topic, but is  fascinating once you get into it. Look for the metadata tags on my blog to find some highly readable discussion about what makes good metadata and why we need it.

Victorian Spatial Information Strategy

A Spatially Enabled Victoria

The Victorian Government has a Spatial Data Custodian program that I have been working on. It is part of the   Spatial Information Strategy of the the Victorian Spatial Council. It encourages organisations that have data  locked away to share it, for the benefit of government, the private sector and the community. I have been helping explain the program, its benefits, overcoming concerns and documenting successes.

At national level, the Federal government formed the Government 2.0 Taskforce to explore the potential uses of public sector information and online engagement.  Its a fascinating topic I wrote about for Position Magazine. (April 2010 edition).

The government 2.0 Taskforce’s Mashups Australia competition unleashed all sorts of public sector information. Much of this had a location but it was not ‘heavy duty’ spatial information. As such it was dismissed by a lot of GIS people which is a shame. Just because something is simple doesn’t decrease its value. On the contrary, if it is simple, then more people can access it and do clever stuff with it – as the Mashups showed. Over 50 of the 81 entries  had a mapping content based mostly on addresses in csv files.

However, GIS people will be pleased to hear that the Victorian Mashup Competition entrants had many more serious spatial datasets to play with courtesy of the Department of Sustainability and Environment. The competition has closed and the entries are on the Appmystate website