The Motherlode Of Australian Mapping Data Is Being Released

The federal government, in partnership with Public Sector Mapping Agencies Australia, will release two highly sought after datasets to the Australian public for free as a part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda. The Geo-coded National Address File (G-NAF) and Administrative Boundaries datasets provide thorough mapping and address data throughout Australia, and are hoped to boost any entrepreneurial projects that might benefit from big data.

While both datasets were previously available as a commercial product, now they will be available to anyone to wants to play with them, for creative, commercial, or entertainment purposes. It's free big data, which database engineers and coders should be excited about. Are your ideas "booming" yet?

Put simply, G-NAF is a comprehensive database of Australian addresses, from 10 different sources such as the AEC and ABS. It contains geolocation data, so when Turnbull's hypothetical dream startup decides to disrupt the toilet economy, its new app can tell you where the nearest public toilet is that smells like lilacs. It's just as feasible for intrepid coders to weigh address data against other ABS statistics to profile certain suburbs. Or maybe they'll just dump it all into something like the spurious correlations engine to see what wild conclusions they can come up with.

PSMA has a little video primer to find out more about G-NAF:

While it's not the sexiest announcement ever, the Prime Minister had this to say about its importance:

"Spatial data, in particular, is becoming increasingly important to the economy given the rapid take-up and use of mobile devices in Australia."

That's not to say your mobile data will be handed over to the public — that'll be stored God-knows-where by your telco, so agencies like the RSPCA and your local council can peek at it without a warrant. But now that we all rely on mobiles to get around, all the various apps and companies we deal with on the go will better benefit from knowing exactly what's out there in the physical world, and where we are in relation to it.

The other set of data that's being made public, Administrative Boundaries, is all about different zones and jurisdictions. It covers electoral boundaries, state and territory boundaries, suburbs, and so on.

According to the Prime Minister, this is just the beginning of an effort to better handle public data, for the benefit of innovators, and ultimately everyone.

Image via Shutterstock

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