Monday, April 13, 2015

Test run: mapping 350,000 vector polygons

We are currently testing our new spatial data server. The challenge was to display around 350,000 Mesh Block polygons - in real time, in a standard browser without WebGL support. Why? Not just because... The future of online GIS is in real time rendering of spatial information - according to individual user requirements and attribute information that may be changing every second, on desktop as well as in mobile devices. This milestone takes us closer to having technology with such capabilities.

Briefly about Mesh Blocks - they are the smallest geographic region in the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS), and the smallest geographical unit for which Census data are available.

They broadly identify land use such as residential, commercial, educational, agricultural and parks, and contain counts of the total usual resident population and total dwelling count from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing.

This is the largest polygon file for Australia we could get our hands on so far (the data is distributed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in several files – one for each State or Territory, but we combined them into a single file). The next test is to handle and display all cadastre boundaries…

Saturday, February 21, 2015

MapDeck Crowdfunding

We were overwhelmed with the interest in MapDeck and our applications so this offer has now closed.  You can still register your interest in beta release via contact form on site. Stay tuned for the updates!

Please review the details of the offer below and submit your expression of interest via the contact form on front page. 

[ Our mission ] 

We believe that good information empowers businesses to make better decisions. And in turn, better decisions allow your organisation to reach its goals faster. Hence, access to the right information is imperative to your businesses future success.

By facilitating easy access to useful data and analytical tools - anywhere, at any time, and on any device – we can provide our users with a unique advantage: an opportunity to consult and review crucial information at the time of making important decisions. With MapDeck you can make fully informed decisions at any time.

We are currently building the infrastructure to make this all possible. By taking advantage right now of our first two stand-alone web applications you can help us with its development and bring forward the official launch of MapDeck to mid-2015!

[ Who will benefit from this offer ]

Our first prototype apps will be of particular interest to those who:
  • create and manage sales territories, franchise territories, or dealership areas based on postcodes; 
  • require socio-economic statistics to identify market opportunities in specific locations.
You will find links to examples of the output that can be created and published through our MapDeck applications below.

[The offer] 

We are inviting 100 new users to subscribe to our Mapdeck data and application package at a highly discounted price.

The apps are stand-alone, fully functional prototypes, a bit rough around the edges but already delivering real benefits to many existing users.

You do not have to wait for the Mapdeck platform to be fully operational to start reaping the rewards of incorporating spatial information and analysis into your decision making processes.

Start your subscription now by submitting your expression of interest via the contact form on front page

The package offer includes:

Sales Area Management Tool: this tool facilitates the fast creation of sales or franchise territories based on manually selected postcodes - either via a map-click function, drawing a circle or polygon on a map, or by typing in the required postcode numbers.

It takes only a few minutes to chart these territories, rather than weeks of painstakingly matching individual postcode numbers to locations off hardcopy maps. Information can then be exported in CSV format for reuse in spreadsheets or saved for editing at a later date.

For further details about Sales Area Management Tools functionality please refer to this All-Things-Spatial blog article.

Thematic Mapper: this tool allows you to create a visualisation of location-specific information that is matched to administrative boundaries (such as postcodes), or alternatively, to location-points (such as cities, towns or individual addresses).

Unlike other online GIS tools, Thematic Mapper allows you to create choropleth (thematic) maps on-the-go. In other words, polygons are assigned colours dynamically, according to rules defined by the user, and maps are not preconfigured in advance by the system administrator.

This capability empowers users to create custom maps, according to individual requirements and aesthetics - regardless of whether the map content is based on generic data (for example, postcode boundaries and Census statistics) or based on user private information* uploaded to the server (for example, monthly sales by postcode or by individual customer).

/* Please note, this specific functionality is not yet fully automated and hence it is not part of the package offering. However, we will be very happy to assist you with importing your own data under a separate arrangement./ 

The key advantage of Thematic Mapper is the ease in creating and publishing maps online. Users do not have to source their own data or be experts in GIS or spatial analytics to create comprehensive, information-rich and visually attractive online maps.

For further details about Thematic Mapper’s functionality please refer to this All-Things-Spatial blog article

Data included in this deal:

  • 2011 Australian Postal Area boundaries (2,500+ polygons) 
  • Census 2011 Basic Community Profiles (over 7,000 individual data items) 
  • Background maps and imagery from various open source projects (including OpenStreetMap and Geoscience Australia) 
  • location search powered by MapQuest’s Nominatim service 

Would you like to have access to similar information for the US, or UK or New Zealand? Be the first to ask! 

[ Consideration ] 

For a single payment of A$... [offer no longer available] you will secure a 12 month subscription to the above listed tools and data (tax invoice provided). This represents a significant discount to other, less-powerful GIS tools currently available in the market.

PLUS, all subscribers will receive:
  • free access to equivalent Mapdeck tools and data when it is formally launched (excluding the public publishing option) for the reminder of the subscription term; and 
  • 50% discount on the first full year subscription for these two Mapdeck tools if you choose to continue with the service. 

Please use our contact form on to register your expression of interest in this offer.

Important! Please note: The tools and data under this offer are provided on “as is” basis, with no warranty as to their fitness for any purpose or that your access to the service will be uninterrupted or error-free, also that any defects will be corrected. These are, after all, only prototypes.

The tools in the prototype release are intended primarily for individual use and the map sharing functionality is suitable only for small groups of users. While we place no restrictions on how many maps can be created and published per account, this offer is conditional on the overall traffic to all accounts not exceeding 100,000 users a month.

In the interest of all subscribers to this offer and their patrons, we reserve the right to block any maps that account for unreasonably large proportion of the traffic. The decision will be at our sole discretion. If you think traffic to your published maps will exceed the limits we will be happy to discuss contingencies on case by case basis.

[ Other options to participate in this initiative ] 

If you are not in a position to assist financially in the development of the Mapdeck platform by taking up our offer, you can still provide us with valuable feedback on the public maps created with the Thematic Mapper app. All it takes is a short message using the “contact us” form on!

Any comments on what you like or don’t like about the functionality of our apps, suggestions on how to improve them, or any request to add other functionality, or even build entire application are most welcome!

[ Examples of Thematic Mapper public maps ] 

Created with standard information:
Census data for property buyers

Created with custom information:
Demonstration of Thematic Mapper functionality (public maps)
Sydney Greater Metropolitan Region Property Prices
[In]Sight Regional Competitiveness Index for Local Government Areas 
Southern Inland - Local Business
Southern Inland – Employment
Southern Inland – Population
My Broadband maps 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mapping Consumer Spend

Identifying locations with the greatest potential for your product or service is a challenge for any business regardless of the scale of operations.

Conducting large scale customer research can be time consuming, not to mention costly, and buying expert reports may not necessarily provide the level of detail required to identify specific locations to focus your sales efforts on.

However, there is a quick and inexpensive way to evaluate market potential and to locate the most promising places for business expansion using information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and some clever tools. Surprisingly, these tools can yield very accurate results with very little effort.

As a demonstration, let’s consider a supplier of haircare products who intends to tap into the Sydney market. Using Mapdeck’s Thematic Mapper application it only takes a few mouse clicks to create a map with all the essential information for analysis:

[Household expenditure on haircare products by postcode]

The map clearly demonstrates that locations around Parramatta, Blacktown or Liverpool offer much bigger potential for haircare products than Sydney city and Eastern Suburbs (i.e. high concentration of dark red polygons indicating higher consumer spend).

With a few additional mouse clicks, it is easy to determine the estimated value of total haircare product sales in these 3 locations - for example, by defining a 5 km radius around the main retail precinct as a catchment area. It would yield the following result:

Estimated Market Size for Haircare Products:

Parramatta: $17.8M p.a.
Blacktown: $6.8M p.a. (excluding locations within 5km radius from Parramatta)
Liverpool: $15M p.a.

And how big is the overall market for haircare products in Australia? A few more mouse clicks are required to download the data and to open the csv file to reveal the big number:

Estimated market size for haircare products in Australia is almost $1 billion p.a. (lower bound is $950 million and upper bound is $1,035 million p.a.)

Not bad for 5 minutes work.

There are over 600 product and service categories to choose from to conduct your analysis and information can be mapped down to Statistical Area 1 (SA1) level, which means you can examine data over areas as small as just a few neighbourhoods.

Whether you are evaluating overall market potential or just investigating opportunities in specific catchment areas, the information available via Mapdeck can get you answers quickly. Ultimately, this will help save time and money so you can concentrate on exploring any identified market opportunities and not on chasing the data required to conduct the initial analysis.

For more information on this and other cost effective market intelligence solutions for business of all sizes please contact us via enquiry form on site.

Related Posts:
How maps can improve sales

Thursday, September 25, 2014

State postcode maps

Postcodes are the most widely used and accepted reference to locations across Australia. Postcodes are considered more manageable spatial unit than localities and offer more detailed breakdown than Local Government Areas and hence, are favoured for many business applications, ranging from sales area and franchise territory delineation or service delivery determination, to profiling customers and competition.

However, localising postcode extents on the ground was always a challenge since the numbering system does not follow strict conventions.

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

Postcode Finder, published by, is a free online reference map allowing quick lookup of the location and boundary extents of any postcode within Australia.

We are also offering the information in a pdf format, suitable for printing in up to A1 size. There are two types of postcode maps available for immediate delivery:

Capital city maps (which include suburb boundaries):

. Greater Melbourne
. Greater Sydney
. Brisbane and Gold Coast

State/Territory maps (which include population counts per postcode):

. Queensland
. New South Wales
. Victoria
. Tasmania
. Northern Territory
. South Australia
. Western Australia

Individual maps are $30 each and the full set can be purchased for just $150 (10 maps in total).

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

Related information:
Map of Australian Postcodes

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.