Interactive map viewer keeps Wellingtonians up to date
A “one stop shop” online map viewer devised by Greater Wellington Regional Council keeps residents up to date with property, services and recreation information with help from the LINZ Data Service.
The pressures of modern day life can make it difficult to keep track of what’s happening in our community – the services close to our home and any developments underway in our region.
As location-based information technologies have become more user-friendly, many New Zealand councils are providing the public with quick and easy access to online mapping tools to help us stay involved and engaged in the community.
An example of such a service is the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Viewer.
Community mapping service
The GIS Viewer is a mapping service similar to Google Maps, but allows residents to overlay a range of Wellington specific property, services and recreational information on top of birds-eye view maps.
“The beauty of the service is that it allows Wellingtonians to see a wide range of information about their region in one place. From resource consents and public transport routes to swimming spots and parks, you can search for and locate services, hazards and developments in your community and across the region. It really is a one-stop shop,” says Greater Wellington Regional Council Senior GIS Analyst Nick Page.
Data is sourced from the Greater Wellington Regional Council, other local government organisations, utility companies, GIS companies and the LINZ Data Service (LDS).
With easy access to land boundary, street address and road centreline data via LDS, the council could fast-track the completion of the viewer and provide a comprehensive and quality service for residents. A monthly automatic update of this data has been built into the viewer to keep property owners abreast of the latest developments.
Such frequent updates of the data is possible because LDS data is freely available through Creative Commons licensing under the government’s open data policy. The council receives unrestricted, free access to use, reuse and share these essential base layers of location-based information without incurring any fees.
“It means we can control when we update the data to ensure our customers are getting the most up-to-date information,” says Nick.
Beyond simple viewing, much of the data on the viewer can be downloaded for further analysis or for mashing up with other data. Downloads are made through the Koordinates.com service, a complementary tool for visualising and downloading a huge range of geographic data from across New Zealand. Koordinates Ltd is also providing the technology platform for LDS, which means easy integration of data from the two services.
Shared technology for better public services
While the online viewer is the public face of the service, the Council has developed a much more comprehensive internal version of the viewer which they use everyday to manage services and resources across the region. This viewer contains a larger amount of data and many more sophisticated tools to assist them in providing better public services.
As an example, the monthly updates from LDS means the Council is abreast of data about new subdivisions and street addresses and has a free resource for cross-referencing land titles against its own database.
Greater Wellington Regional Council is not alone in providing the GIS Viewer. The customised technology behind the viewer is a joint effort shared across 27 Councils so all can contribute to its development and use the platform to deliver a service tailored to the needs of their community.
Next steps planned by the Council include developing a mobile application to enable its staff to access the viewer and to view and update the data when they are out in the field.