Tuesday, September 24, 2013

South Australia opens its data

South Australian government is the latest convert to free and open data cause. Unveiling www.data.sa.gov.au portal South Australian premier, Jay Weatherill, mandated that all state government agencies are to house their public data in a central portal to ensure that it is accessible to the community at large. At present there are 229 data sets released by a number of SA state government agencies including the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure and the Attorney-General’s Department.

As with all the other initiatives of similar type, the success will be measured by uptake of released data by business and the community. However, this information is hard to compile, so my litmus test of the likely success of a particular “data.gov.au” initiative is how much of useful information is put in the public domain...

It looks that SA is on a right track releasing full roads dataset but more spatial data has to be made available in order for this initiative to start paying off for the effort involved. My next criticism is rather useless (or frankly, lacking) metadata information for supplied data but this issue is not unique to SA and other jurisdictions are also guilty of neglecting that aspect of the "data discovery" part of their respective project. "ISO 19115 - Geographic Information Metadata" is certainly nowhere to be seen on "data.gov.au" portals...

Below is a quick scorecard of State and Federal government open data initiatives - based on availability of “high value” spatial data (as per my very subjective list).

Table. Availability of Free Fundamental Spatial Data



Cadastre boundaries

Yes (by LGA)
Adelaide City only


Addresses locations

Gungahlin Town Centre only

Yes (as a list)



Yes (State managed only)


Admin boundaries
Yes (via ABS)

Some State specific


Property sales

By LGA only


Property/ land valuations

Yes (data at LGA level only)



Yes (90% coverage at 10m)

Yes (contours 1m+)

High Res imagery
Landsat; 2.5m AGRI

Potentially (as tile service)

Old Landsat imagery



I will restrain from providing my assessment of those initiatives at this point in time. It is enough to say that expectations are high as to the economic value free and open data could deliver but, as you can see from the above matrix, there are many gaps in availability of what I consider fundamental data to make any meaningful impact… Let's give it a year and see if there are any improvements.

Related Posts:
East coast unanimously frees data
Free data a GFC casualty
Governments intensify free data efforts
Data overload makes SDI obsolete
What’s the benefit of gov data warehouses?

First spotted on: spatialsource.com.au

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Federal election 2013 results mapped

The election was held on 7 September, 2013. Preliminary results are in and we have a change of government but the picture is not yet complete since counting for several marginal seats is still going (78.1% of votes counted so far, and results for 11 seats are still in doubt). I have mentioned in earlier posts Yahoo!7 map and SMH map as potential sources of information about election results but there are a few more options available, as listed below:

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Federal Election 2013 – Australia Votes portal, providing a comprehensive range of historical as well as the latest information about the candidates and winners, including detailed count of votes and “swings” in voters preferences. Interactive map shows current predicted (and eventually final) result for each electorate - coloured according to a party winning the seat. A separate view shows only those electorates that “changed hands” in this election.

The Guardian’s Dot Map – a nice interactive graphic presentation that allows toggling between 2010 and 2013 results (if you are not fussy about that extents of electoral boundaries in Victoria and  South Australia that changed substantially since 2010 – the issue I have heighted in my previous two posts). Colour of the dots corresponds to a political party – hover the mouse over the dot to reveal information about the electorate and which party held the seat in 2010 and won in 2013. 

Google’s Politics and Elections – Australia map, displaying electoral boundaries coloured according to party affiliation of the winning candidate. Click on an electorate brings out the list of candidates to the House of Representatives with statistics about received votes. Unfortunately, it does not work in Internet Explorer.

First spotted on Google Maps Mania

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

More 2013 federal election maps

Seven News and Yahoo!7 partnered with ESRI Australia to create their own version of 2013 Federal Election Map. The map is supplemented with quite an extensive collection of Census 2011 data (employment, education, ethnicity, incomes, internet connectivity, etc), median house prices for each electorate and, of course, information about the sitting Member of Parliament – all nicely laid out with animated graphs and descriptive legends. A couple of unique features of this presentation is the ability to display on the map twitter comments related to this election - according to location of publishers, as well as viewing relative top 5 ranking of electorates based on a selection of Census data.

This map is hosted by ESRI Australia on Amazon Cloud and is served as an embedded application on Yahoo!7 site. As with Sydney Morning Herald 2013 election map, featured earlier this week, it is very disappointing that even the most seasoned geographers can fall into a trap of mixing spatial data with incorrect attribute information. That is, this map also presents the latest version of Commonwealth Electoral boundaries and references them to historical information which applied to the previous election. Electoral boundaries have changed quite substantially in South Australia and Victoria since the last election in 2010 so, it is very inappropriate to mix “old with the new”.  Again, if the map presented only new candidates that would be a different story but in the current version it is another big fail...

First spotted on spatialsource.com.au

Related Posts:
Mapping federal election 2013 Pt2
Mapping 2013 federal election results
Map adds sizzle to elections

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mapping federal election 2013 Pt2

In preparation for the election day, Sydney Morning Herald has created an interactive presentation featuring a map with current electoral boundaries coloured according to the party of incumbent candidate. Click on the electorate polygon brings information about the sitting Member of Parliament, including swing statistics from the last election in 2010 and indication how safe is their seat. Presented below the map is a summary of demographic statistics for the electorate (based on Census 2011 data).

To be picky, it could be argued that the map does not reflect the situation correctly because it presents current version of electoral boundaries (ie. those applying to September 7 election and afterwards) with information about the “old sitting members” (including Julia Gillard and several other Members of Parliament who are not contesting their seats in 2013 election). Creating this map was possible only because the latest redistribution of electoral boundaries did not include name changes for the electorates, hence allowing for this “artificial compilation”. It would be a different story if this map presented candidates for Members of Parliament...

This is a perfect example where making a map “because you can” does not necessary equate with “adding value” to the information. This is quite an innocent example but map creators have to be wary that in many circumstances the consequences of “messing with spatial data” may be quite perilous. Only when this map is updated with post-September 7 results it will be able to be considered a nice example of presenting complex information using spatial tools and interactive graphics. For now, it is a big fail for SMH data journalism!

Related Posts:
Mapping 2013 federal election results
Map adds sizzle to elections