Spatial Information Adds Hundreds of Millions to New Zealand’s Economy

25 August 2009

Innovative use of spatial information pumped more than $1 billion into the New Zealand economy in 2008 – and better access to data could see that figure soar, according to a report into the value of spatial information.

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Ministry for Economic Development (MED) recently commissioned a report to uncover the contribution spatial information makes to the economy.

That report – Spatial information in the New Zealand economy - realising productivity gains – was released today by Minister for Land Information Maurice Williamson and LINZ Chief Executive Colin MacDonald.

Spatial information is data that is linked to a geographic location. It has thousands of applications, making it possible to do things like use maps on mobile phones or send emergency services to the right addresses.

The report outlines that use of spatial information added at least $1.2 billion to the economy last year through productivity gains, largely as a result of the increasing adoption of modern spatial information technologies since 1995.

Wider and better use of spatial information could lead to even greater productivity, adding another $500 million to the economy.

“We’ve always believed that spatial information contributes significantly to the economy, now we have credible data to back that up,” Maurice Williamson said. “One of the main challenges is to free up access to data, so that greater productivity gains are realised.”

Providing better access to data will encourage innovation, as users find new ways of translating spatial information to solve problems and develop new products, Mr Williamson said.

“Industry and the government sector must work together to realise the benefits of more open access and standardised data, so that the economy can grow further.”

Mr MacDonald said using spatial information was part of our everyday lives, so much so that most people didn’t even think about it. “But without this data, modern society would grind to a halt.”

New Zealanders are already doing great things with the spatial information they’ve got their hands on, he said.

“It’s a small, dynamic sector with the potential to lead the world. However, industry leaders have been saying for a long time that if they had easier access to data they could do so much more. The opportunities are boundless.”

The report recommends New Zealand develops a national spatial data infrastructure, a step that appeals to the Government, Mr Williamson said.
“Government has already signalled that spatial data infrastructure is a priority area. For the good of the economy, now is the right time to knock away the remaining barriers to more widespread adoption of spatial information.”

ENDS

For a copy of the full report – Spatial information in the New Zealand economy: realising productivity gains, the report summary, and for more information about the practical uses of spatial information in New Zealand – visit www.geospatial.govt.nz/productivityreport

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