New Zealand to exploit benefits of spatial information

New Zealand to exploit benefits of spatial information


New Zealand

New Zealand is losing USD 1.3 million in productivity a day because it is failing to exploit the benefits of spatial information, according to a report commissioned by Land Information New Zealand (Linz), the Conservation Department and the Economic Development Ministry last year.

Land information is on the hunt for technology firms to develop innovative web services, similar to Google Maps, using its vast collections of land data. It says easy access to geographic information can stimulate economic growth.

Linz customer services general manager Jan Pierce says new services are likely to be aimed at typical users of land data, such as local and central government, application developers and geospatial data processors. The public will be able to access maps and raw data, but firms will probably develop value-added products for them.

Online services could include image or map services in the style of Google Maps or services giving access to specific data. Businesses and organisations may have to pay to use the services, but “Linz’s intention is that cost should not be a barrier to access”, she says. Earlier this month, the Government released its NZGOAL policy, which gives agencies guidance for releasing Government-held information and material to the public for reuse.

Pierce says any moves by Linz to charge for access to its data would not conflict with the policy. “We are developing our services in light of the NZGOAL policy and guidance on charging.” Linz says its data access arrangements have not evolved to enable economic growth.

“The Linz datasets are so important to geospatial analysis and decision-making that research has shown that the poor access to that data has shaped, and limited, the way that many people and organisations have established their geospatial capability.” Linz data often requires processing before it can be used and can be two months old by the time it reaches the end user. Many firms buy bulk data from Linz, process it and then sell it back to local and central government, which is “inefficient”.

Pierce says those firms – which include Wellington firms Terralink and Critchlow – will no longer be needed for basic data processing once the new web services are in place, but there will still be demand for higher-end processing and integration of Linz data with other information.