Wednesday, July 30, 2014

National Map

A few weeks ago Australian government launched new spatial data initiative called the National Map. It is a cooperative effort of NICTA and several federal government agencies, and another attempt to catalogue, present and make accessible to the public vast amounts of spatial data created and maintained by public sector organisations.

Hopefully, this initiative will be more successful and more permanent creation than previous versions so business, as well as Australian public, can take full advantage of the investment for many years to come.

The concept of a “single online map” - the National Map, is not unique and this is not what will make this project a success. After all, there is nothing exciting anymore about “viewing things on maps” - especially within walled gardens of proprietary applications (State governments Google Globes initiatives come to mind as an example).

Rather, the value of this and, hopefully soon, State and Territory government initiatives is in exposing the data via web services for others to utilise - without constraints and within a variety of custom made applications.

Full data interoperability is the ultimate prize for the nation. Yet, this concept is so elusive and hard to achieve despite over a decade of concerted efforts of many individuals and quite a significant investment by government authorities to make it happen. Let us hope that the National Map initiative is the new beginning...

Thematic Mapper is one of many applications on the market which can readily make use of all those new data services. It is well capable of not only displaying National Map data layers but also allowing to “mash” them with a variety of other open source as well as proprietary information.

Take for example this set of maps depicting Internet availability and quality of signal in Australia. It is created with free and readily accessible Census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics as well as information served by the Department of Communications:

You don’t have to be a GIS expert to make useful, informative and beautiful maps with Thematic Mapper. Contact team to arrange a demonstration with your own data.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Presenting spatial data with Thematic Mapper

Attractive, eye catching colours and interesting graphics help to draw attention of the audience to key information presented on a map. Data presentation capabilities of Thematic Mapper are best demonstrated on the following examples:

  • Base maps – Thematic Mapper comes with a wide selection of base map layers, open source as well as commercial, to suit various presentation objectives:

  • Overlays - users are able to mix and match various overlay layers for the best visual effect and/or to enhance clarity of presented information:

  • Custom data – registered users can create fully customised choropleth (thematic) maps with standard geometry layers (eg. postcodes) and own attribute data, or any of thousands of demographic statistics (ie. Census  data) readily available for use in Thematic Mapper:

  • Point data – Thematic Mapper allows creating complex markers comprising variety of background shapes, sizes and colours, symbols (glyphs) and images; markers are interactive and can be as complex or as simple as required to convey the message:

Contact Mapdeck Team for a demonstration of Thematic Mapper capabilities with your own data.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Property market analysis with Thematic Mapper

One distinctive advantage of presenting information on maps rather than in tables is the ability to visualise geographic distribution of phenomena under investigation. In other words, choropleth (thematic) maps are a perfect tool for highlighting differences or similarities between areas, or for presenting spatial patterns.

Thematic Mapper has recently been used in the analysis of changes in median prices over time for Local Government Areas in the Sydney Greater Metropolitan Region.

The map clearly shows spatial pattern that median prices of properties located closer to the city centre grew faster than those located further away and also that the growth rate was dependant on the distance to the city centre (that is, the further away the property was located, the slower the growth was). 

This simple visualisation technique allowed drawing a conclusion that properties located close to the city centre offer the best capital return in the long term. Ultimately, it allowed resolving decisively the dilemma of every prospective property purchaser as to “where to buy”.

Read full article on Property Observer website.  

Friday, June 27, 2014

Introducing Thematic Mapper

Thematic Mapper is an online tool that allows visualisation of information that can be matched to administrative boundaries, like postcodes or suburb, or to point locations like cities, towns or individual addresses.

[Thematic map depicting proportions of persons aged 5 to 14 per postcode - one of 7,942 available Census data layers]

Unlike traditional GIS tools, Thematic Mapper allows creating choropleth maps as well as displaying categorised point information on-the fly. In other words, polygons are assigned colours and points are assigned markers and colours dynamically, according to rules defined by the user and are not preconfigured in advance by the system administrator. This capability empowers users to create maps according to their individual requirements and aesthetics.

The key advantage of Thematic Mapper is ease of creation and publication of maps online. Users do not have to be experts in GIS and spatial analytics to make comprehensive, visually attractive and meaningful thematic maps. However, experienced analysts will also find Thematic Mapper very useful since it allows quick visualisation of a large number of analytical scenarios.

Thematic Mapper is provided as Software-as- a-Service. Hence, users do not need expensive infrastructure to deploy the software, nor do they need to employ technical staff to maintain it.

Key Features

Thematic Mapper has several distinguished features that are not offered by other online mapping tools, or even desktop applications. In particular:

1. Ability to preview the histogram of mapped data - which helps in determining data distribution characteristics and hence, in selecting the most appropriate method for categorisation of data (that is, whether data is normally distributed or not, and therefore, whether quantile, equal range or standard deviation methodology is the most appropriate to define data ranges for colouring).

2. Fully customisable colour schemas for polygons as well as markers, including multi- colour blending for the best visual effect (eg.  colour ranges can be generated based on 2, 3 or more interim colours, and not only based on the “start” and “end” colour; and each colour can be further adjusted manually, as required).

3. Ability to create complex markers - comprising variety of background shapes, sizes and colours, symbols (glyphs) and images, and any combination of these. Users can define two display modes for markers which will change at a predefined zoom level - plus there is the third highlight mode for mouse-over events.

[Example: custom markers and annotations for properties in Toorak, VIC]

4. Ability to create folders (decks) and saving specific map “views” for further reuse. Furthermore, decks can be public - to share with others, or private, for internal use only: example of public folder demonstrating Thematic Mapper in action

All in all, Thematic Mapper v1.0 allows fully customised visualisation and sharing of large volumes of spatially attributed information with just a few mouse clicks.

Please contact Australian distributor to arrange a free preview of Thematic Mapper in its full capability.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Map of Australian postcodes

Postcodes are the most widely recognised spatial unit.  They have application in a variety of operational, analytical and planning activities and are used equally frequently by small as well as large business in Australia.

The most practical to use version of postcodes are Postal Areas created by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Postal Areas allow matching company data to vast amount of statistical data, including socio-demographic information from Census.

At we have been helping business to make the most of all that information by providing free online tools, like Postcode Finder or Census 2011 Maps, but also by building more advanced solutions to help in complex tasks of defining and managing sales areas or undertaking spatial analysis to gain business insights for a competitive advantage.

Now we bring to the market a set of reference wall maps in pdf format which are ready for printing, either in small size or in pieces on a local printer, or in big format at commercial establishments.The maps are designed on A2 canvas but can be effectively printed in A3 as well as A0 size. 

We have available for immediate delivery postcode maps in pdf format for Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane/ Gold Coast for as little as $30.

[closeup of Sydney map of postal areas with suburbs]

As with all our products, these maps can be customised to meet specific requirements. For further information or to purchase the set, please email us on

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mapping migrants in Australia

Where do migrants live? Australian Bureau of Statistics has just published an interesting article that tries to answer that same question. We can learn from the article that:

A migrant is a person who has reported their country of birth as a nation other than Australia. Migration is an important contributor to Australia’s growing population. Since 2006, net overseas migration to Australia has contributed more to Australian population growth each year than growth through natural increase.

In the 2011 Census, there were 5.3 million migrants in Australia, which means one in every four (26%) Australian residents was born overseas. Australia’s migrant population is relatively large when compared with other Western nations. Taken as a proportion of the population, Australia has a larger migrant population than does New Zealand (23%), Canada (21%), the United States of America (13%) and the United Kingdom (13%).

The largest contributor to Australia's migrant population continues to be people born in the United Kingdom (UK). In the 2011 Census, 1.1 million UK-born migrants lived in Australia - around one in every twenty Australian residents.

In comparison to people born in Australia, migrants show a tendency to settle in major urban areas of Australia. While 64% of Australian-born people lived in a major urban area of Australia in 2011, 85% of those born overseas lived in a major urban area.

Within urban areas, migrants in Australia tended to live in Australia's two largest cities, a trend seen in Australia since the late 1940s. In the 2011 Census, just under half of all migrants in Australia lived in either Sydney or Melbourne, with 1.4 million residents of Sydney and 1.2 million residents of Melbourne being born overseas. Perth had the third largest migrant population in Australia at 568,000 people.

For further information on how to access detailed statistics on migrants in Australia please send your enquiries to

Related Posts:
Census 2011 Online Maps
Census 2011 Online Maps User Guide
Mapping Australian social diversity
Mapping social diversity in NSW

Monday, May 12, 2014

RoyMorgan’s Helix Personas Tool

Helix Personas is a consumer segmentation and data integration tool that combines psychographic and behavioural information to classify the Australian population into 56 Personas types and 7 Communities. This information aids in understanding future buying intentions and media consumption patterns of prospective customers and can be easily integrated with 3rd party datasets.

Helix Personas provides the ability to more efficiently plan and buy media against target audiences, optimise sales areas and develop highly relevant, tailored marketing and consumer communication strategies across all forms of media: digital, direct, broadcast, print and ambient. This simple case study illustrate the use of Helix Persona profiles during roll out of 7-Eleven stores in WA.

Roy Morgan Research has just announced the addition of a catchment area analysis feature. The application was built by Map Data Services.

Please contact at for advice on options for customer segmentation and sales area analysis tools - for any budget and any size of business. 

Related Posts:
Census 2011 Online Maps User Guide
Mapping Australian social diversity
How maps can improve sales
Reference Maps for Fusion Tables
Visualising Census data on maps