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NZ city receives “goldmine” of geospatial info

Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington City Council has released a significant amount of useful geospatial information to the public, either free of charge or at very low cost. Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, the Council’s Information and Communication Technology Portfolio Leader, says city residents should “feel free to make use of this goldmine of information.”

The data includes aerial photographs of the city, contour lines, building footprints, and locations of Council facilities (eg swimming pools, libraries, public toilets, walking tracks, parks and reserves).   Some hazard information (eg wind zones for building consent structural requirements, tsunami evacuation zones, and potential flood hazard areas) is also available.

Prior to the recent release of this geospatial information, customers were charged for the data on a cost-recovery basis and were obliged to contact the Council to request it. However Mayor Wade-Brown says the Council recognises the economic and social benefits of making this information available on the internet. “Whether it’s a government organisation, community group, businesses or individuals using it – this information aids decision-making and it will allow many projects or initiatives to be completed more quickly, cheaply and effectively.”

There is also scope for technological innovation – because the geospatial data is made available under a creative commons licence, businesses/ IT developers are now free to build web-based or smartphone applications using it.

Mayor Wade-Brown says a recent study revealed that innovative use of geospatial information added over $1 billion to the NZ economy in 2008. She said, “The Government is encouraging the public sector to make geospatial information more accessible, and Wellington City Council is among the first local authorities to begin releasing this data in such an unrestricted way.  This initiative fits perfectly with my aim for Wellington to become an international technological centre of excellence -and it’s one more reason why ultra-fast broadband access is essential to Wellington’s knowledge economy.”

The Council is selective about what information has been released. Incomplete datasets or information subject to licensing restrictions is not included.

Source: Wellington.govt.nz