Home Articles New Zealand prefers federated information to SDI

New Zealand prefers federated information to SDI

Sharon Cottrell
General Manager, Customer Services
Land Information New Zealand

Can you elaborate on Land Information New Zealand’s (LINZ) online services?

Our mandate is to collect and maintain topographic data on 1:50,000 scale and at further smaller scales. Users can put requests for data online. Anybody can get a license to search the system on payment because the system is maintained entirely by user fees. Surveyors can also lodge new data in the database, for example new cadastre boundaries if there is a sub-division of a parcel. We have a security system where we can get to know who is doing what. There are business rules in the system to see if the data fits into it or not and to keep the cadastre accurate and then database is updated.

Is there an issue of traditional land holdings, for instance that of Maoris?

I wouldn’t call it an issue but it is about different land tenure system. Maoris hold lands communally and they do not have individual titles. They follow the Torrens System of land title. But we do register Maori land titles in a general land register as well. Government has a policy that Maori heartland should continue to be held by Maoris.

New Zealand has rugged terrain. How is the ruggedness of the terrain, two dimensional topo map and land ownership map harmonised?

Our cadastral mapping started about 150 years ago and some of the technologies were primitive then. Most of the remote areas, particularly the rugged regions of New Zealand, have not been surveyed for over 100 years. Boundaries in such areas often do not match at all. Over time, we have tried to improve that but most of the times, we have relied on private sector. We provide data to them in both topographic database and cadastral database.

How does LINZ update its legacy data and systems? Is the entire country streamlined?

Everything has been digitised. It took about two years for us to convert all the paper data to digital data and images/2009/april. The survey plans were converted to digital data and land titles and current titles were converted into live data and historic title, which gives the history of land data ownership. Those documents have been imaged, including the mutations. Pick up any parcel and its entire history is shown. There is a link, in most cases, between the parcel and history of ownership.

What is the primary source of data – aerial photographs or satellite imagery?

We are in the process of moving from aerial photography to satellite imagery. We recently signed a contract with DigitalGlobe to provide us with satellite imagery. With this, we get better value for money and we can improve currency.

LIS has been the precursor to establish SDI in many countries. What about New Zealand?

We do not have a formal SDI as such. We have a geospatial strategy for all the governments and a geospatial office to implement the strategy. Rather than an SDI, we concentrate on ‘federated geospatial information’. The intent is to ensure all the geospatial information collected by the government is made available and is interoperable. I think we have quite a long way to go. We also do not have a formal policy on SDI.

What is the scenario of data sharing in NZ?

One of the objectives of our Geospatial Strategy is to encourage data sharing. We also have Crown Research Institute to collect and maintain spatial data for research purposes. We do have a policy framework for government held information, which does encourage ‘collect once and use many times’ but we have lot more to do to make that easy. We also need to ensure proper interoperability and standards and metadata across all the platforms.

Do you use OGC or ISO specifications?

We have been working with Australia to develop metadata standards. There is an umbrella organisation called Australia New Zealand Land Information Council. It follows OGC specifications. LINZ has not taken the membership of OGC.

Are users integrating your data with Google Maps and other similar online maps?

Yes, and that is fine with us. The biggest challenge there is that we collect data for a particular purpose and people use it for a variety of purposes. We need to educate people on the limitations of data. An application that is particularly suitable for 1:50,000 data is not suitable for 1:10,000 resolution. The government is keen to encourage and develop private sector and made it clear that 1:50,000 is the core dataset and the larger scale would be developed by private industry.