Mashing up data

Mashup entries courtesy Position Magazine

“A mashup is a web page or application that uses or combines data or functionality from two or many more external sources to create a new service” (wikipedia). If you would like to know more about Mashups have a look at the examples on this site and join our Mapping Mashups linkedin group.

One of the big challenges for GIS managers is to educate management and colleagues in how GIS can help them. Mashups  do that because they pull in THEIR data and address THEIR problems, quickly, flexibly and with small budgets.

Mashing up customer data, network and Google map

We ran a workshop at the GITA conference where Daniel Hansen of Energy Australia walked us  through a mashup application used in emergency response and outage management situations. It combines up to five different data sources based on a user’s query, which are displayed on either GoogleMaps or GoogleEarth. The results are used for ministerial briefings, media release, management reports and coordinating work crews. Daniel did it all with the help of a young web developer.  It was very exciting to hear how mashups have raised the profile of their GIS group.

Peter Kinne of Geomatic Technologies explained how a very simple mashup allowed insurance assessors to approve payouts after the Victorian bushfires even though they couldn’t physically inspect the site.

A short history of mashups in Australia

It all started with Mashup Australia, a competition initiated by the Government 2.0 Taskforce in October/November 2009. I covered it in an article for the April Position Magazine – Mashups are  BIG NEWS for the mapping/spatial world because they are educating the public about how powerful location data is and educating us about how the wider world wants to see it, combine it and use it.

Here is my quick summary of the Government 2.0 taskforce report.

The Federal Government has responded to the taskforce generally agreeing to 12 of its 13 key recommendations. There is a new Agimo  blog to track progress

The Mashup Competition entries  are mostly point solutions with slick interfaces – showing you for example where your local government services are. I heard a bit of criticism of their limited functionality from spatial people – but that is the point that the non specialists in their organisations and the public often just wants a specific solution to a specific problem – they get confused by too many buttons and options (just think of your mobile phone).

I wrote a  followup article about the Victorian Mashup competition that finished in May 2010. This competition had a very exciting ideas category for those who have a vision but don’t have the time, skills or data to create an actual app. The Victorian Parliament held its own Inquiry into Improving Access to Public Information. It is very much on the same track as the Federal one.

Brad Spencer who entered his own census data Mashup in the Competition and was a prize winner in the NSW mashups competition also wrote an article (scroll to the end)  “The sizzle that sells the steak”. A mashup competition is also in the offing for Western Australia – it will have a big focus on using data from the Spatial Land Information Platform (SLIP).

Here are two interviews with mashup developers I couldn’t fit in the 1500 words!

Interview with Surburbmatchmaker developers Daniella Fernandez, Raul Caceres and Roberto Arias

Interview with developers of geoservice geo2gov Adam Kennedy and Jeffrey Candillero