November 14, 2012

Open Australia Foundation Hackfest

Posted by josediacono @ 8:14 pm under Uncategorized

Sadly I cannot go but perhaps you can? It will be good and you get to see inside the Google offices at Pyrmont Sydney. Well worth it.

OA say “We’re launching an exciting new project very soon that makes it straightforward for ordinary Australians to request information from their government. The site also opens up the whole process of making Freedom of Information requests by making the whole paper (or rather email) trail of request and responses public.

For this hackfest we’re not only inviting hackers to get involved with the technical aspects of the project, we’re also inviting hacks, activists, FOI gurus and anyone else that’s interested in learning more or getting involved with this new project.”

Register at

October 13, 2011

Ausgrid mashup – build on it!

Posted by josediacono @ 10:55 am under Uncategorized

St ives residents are heavy electricity users, especially in winter

Ausgrid (formerly Energy Australia – one of the two electricity suppliers in Sydney) first released some of their usage data at the apps4nsw hackfest. It was very interesting to see the differences of up to 30% in average electricity between suburbs (St Ives is the highest). Now Ausgrid have launched their own mashup which shows not only electricity use but also the works they have completed in your suburb (repairs, new substations, streetlights) and how much solar energy is being fed back into the grid.

As an enhancement I’d like to be able to see easy comparisions between suburbs. Currently you just have to click and then remember the stats before you click on another suburb to compare. But we don’t have to wait for Ausgrid to do this. All the raw data is available.  Ausgrid say on their website “We’re working to share more information to help educate, inform and support the community. In particular, this information may be of interest to researchers or developers who want to create applications for the web or smart phones”.

Imagine if AGL published the gas consumption and Integral Energy (who serve the West of Sydney) published theirs, we could have a full picture for the whole of Sydney.What a powerful mashup that would be.

Also electricity is only part of the equation, could gas be added? Perhaps they don’t have gas in St Ives.

Here is another electricity mashup – this time street lights from ETSA in South Australia


April 19, 2011

bread-and-butter-mashups for surveyors (and everyone)

Posted by josediacono @ 4:26 pm under Uncategorized

Make your own Mashup with Google Fusion. The Mashup and Ad Hoc mapping seminar we (SSSI) ran for the Institution of Surveyors NSW last week was very well received. Over 50 surveyors at this twilight seminar at Surry Hills to learn what are mashups, why should I be doing them and how do I get started?

I spoke about mashups in general and my favourites, why they are so valuable for business as well as fun, community stuff. Cameron Shorter spoke about selecting data and how to make sure it is fast and easy to use, Matt Robinson walked us through some step by step examples. We were keen to hear how surveyors might use a mashup. One suggestion was to plot all survey jobs on a Google Map. Andrew Harvey at Lagen Spatial has put together a very simple step by step guide of  how to do this with Google Fusion – taking a spreadsheet and visualising it on a Google Map. Check it out on their blog

March 26, 2011

where were the NSW election maps?

Posted by josediacono @ 9:40 pm under Uncategorized

I can only sadly conclude at the end of election night that this was another missed opportunity for the mapping and spatial fraternity and I am kicking myself for not doing something about it.

A quick google search of “nsw election results map” found this

which linked through to this…

NSW election results

Heaven help the average punter who just wants to find out where all these electorates they are talking about on the TV and radio are.  A bit further down the search results,  the Sydney Morning Herald came to the rescue with its interactive map. A good start but it could have been so much more.

It colour coded the electorates as results came in and gave a thumbnail description of the demographics of each electorate. Rather than a textual description it would oh-so- feasible to include census graphics from the ABS from Brad Spencers Demographic Drapes or the new online Atlas of NSW – wouldn’t that have been so powerful in the hands of the  TV election commentators?

They could have walked us through the key characteristics of the electorate they are talking about as Stephen Lead did for Bondi in this short video of the online Atlas of NSW.   Instead the only map to be seen on the ABC was a black NSW state outline with a dot for the electorate in question which doesn’t exactly help you understand where Marrickville is in relation to Mulgoa?

So why didn’t the media use maps? (I have to admit I didn’t look at every channel so if the others did a better job, please tell me).My guess they havn’t got their heads around how to do it yet. So whose job is it to educate them or, in the case of the ABC who are getting into it, lend them a hand? It has to be the spatial people, because we know where to get the data they need.

But we have to think about it well ahead of time – its no use railing on election night! Who exactly do I mean by ‘spatial people’. I think it falls to our associations – SSSI, SIBA, GITA and other bodies such as the CRC-SI. Do they have staff whose job this is – or should they create the positions? Or just co-fund one person to do it on behalf of the industry as a whole?  I suspect a lot of people have it as a small part of their role but it really isn’t anyone’s priority. It takes time to build a relationship with a journalist and this process would have needed to start months before the election so that websites were up and running, commentators trained in how to use them and Google ranking them in searches.

Getting the media to use maps and getting them to write stories about them are two sides of the same coin.We criticise the media for pouncing on bad news stories like the poor public servant who releases data that turns out to be wrong (myschools in Tasmania). We can hardly expect government departments to fall over themselves to publish the data we are clamouring for if they risk a media furore. Can ‘someone’ start feeding journalists good news stories like this one in the Sunday Observer?  The ABCs Futuretense has run several excellent mapping stories so they are clearly interested. But again which ‘someone’?

p.s. I just found this map of sausage sizzles and other election day activities



August 1, 2010

Another Election Mashup

Posted by josediacono @ 6:12 am under Uncategorized

This was created by Google engineers did for the upcoming federal election:

It uses the latest version of the Google Maps API (v3), which is optimized for mobile phone web browsers.

July 31, 2010

The Art of “Goography”

Posted by josediacono @ 9:14 am under Uncategorized

View the moon and planets too on Google Earth

Alan Noble wrote The Art of “Goography” using Google to teach Geography for Victorian Geography teachers but its links to other “how to” instructions make it a good starting point to anyone getting into Google mashups

July 16, 2010

Mashups at Energy Australia

Posted by josediacono @ 12:33 pm under Uncategorized

Outage Mashup of customer data, network and Google map

Sydney electricity supplier, Energy Australia is using Mashups  for media communications, senior management briefings and engineering collaboration. They are bringing GIS  into the limelight by delivering information in a quick and user friendly way.  Craig Hersant and Daniel Hansen are speaking at the GITA conference in their paper “Using GIS to accelerate business performance” and Daniel will lead a session in the Mashups workshop to show how it is done. More

They paint a picture on a Google canvas  of an outage situation, a proposed network change or critical infrastructure. It is combined with output from GIS, customer service and outage management systems. The possibilities are endless.

Staff walk senior management through a scenario using the familiar backdrop of a Google map, switching easily into Google Earth 3D imagery or Streetview to clarify a question.

January 27, 2010

Google goes off road

Posted by josediacono @ 10:19 am under Uncategorized

Thanks to Ross Johnson, who sends keeps me up to date with industry news.

Google is unleashing an army of cyclists to capture images off the beaten track
and in pedestrian-only locations. Sydney Morning Herald Article

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January 26, 2010


Posted by josediacono @ 9:49 am under Uncategorized

Campsites in AlabamaA friend is planning a trip around Australia and has found there is no single place to get information about camping grounds. Google has a category of caravan parks (but only a few dozen throughout Australia) and some camping but it is all mixed up with scout camps and boot camps. There must be lots of datasets in different places – National Parks, camping and caravans nsw have some, but by no means a definitive list. Not easy to find your way around either.  Then when you cross to another state its a whole new search. It is a classic candidate for a Mashup.  I went looking and found a brilliant site in the US at – it even tells you where you can take your horse! (not many places)

January 14, 2010

Google maps API tutorial

Posted by josediacono @ 5:12 pm under Uncategorized

There is a free online tutorial for the Google Maps Application Programming Interface (API).
Useful training and information.

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