We’ve Made Some Improvements to Koordinates Search

Since the changes to the user interface last year, the Koordinates team has been beavering away at various tweaks and improvements.  As always, we’re working to make sure that it’s as easy as possible to find and use the data you need.

The latest tweak is to the Koordinates search box. As many of you know, the old search box allowed users to search for data, addresseand places. In the new-and-improved Koordinates.com, we’ve moved the ‘address and places’ search to a widget on the map itself. We think this makes a bit more sense.

We’ve also added ‘suggested search’ functionality, to make it a bit easier to find the places and addresses your looking for.

TerraceWe’ve made similar changes to the main search bar. Koordinates has a heap of datasets, and users really do need to be able to easily browse and find what they’re looking for. This is why we’ve also added suggested search functionality to the main search bar – and also changed the name of that ‘data’ button in the top left to ‘browse’.

wellingtonThese changes should make it easier to find and use the extraordinary range of datasets of Koordinates.com. Take it for a spin!

We’ve made some tweaks to koordinates.com

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A few months ago, we proudly announced the brand new Koordinates.com. This was a pretty radical redesign of the old Koordinates user interface, so we were keen to talk with our customers and users to see what further tweaks we could make to the new design. Many users of Koordinates.com spend a heap of time on the site, so we wanted to make sure that everything — down to the size of every font and thumbnail — was just right.

As a result, we’ve made a few minor changes to Koordinates.com. First, we’ve made the thumbnails of the datasets smaller and much narrower. As you can see, below, this allows users to see more preview images on the homepage.

New kx 4

We also decided to sort the datasets we feature on the homepage into a few different categories, such as ‘Featured’ — that’s the big one at the top — as well as ‘Most Popular’ and ‘Latest’, before dropping into those accordion-like categories at the bottom.

Kx new 5

Other changes might be harder to spot. We’ve made the titles a little smaller; we’ve fixed an issue with clipping certain thumbnails; and we’ve made the left pane narrower by 50px, giving the map a bit more room. For those users not working with GIS datasets, you can still turn off the map by clicking the wee arrow in the middle of your screen.

Some users might not notice these changes, though hopefully they make it a bit easier to find and use the data you need!

LINZ Data Service and the Global Open Data Barometer

Earlier this week, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English — along with Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain and Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson — announced that New Zealand had placed fourth on the Global Open Data Barometer.

The Barometer (PDF), run by World Wide Web Foundation and Open Data Institute, is intended to recognise and celebrate moves towards open data by governments across the world. As Deputy Prime Minister English noted, New Zealand was particularly commended for its release of “maps, land ownership and census data and for regular reporting to Ministers.”

As Minister Williamson pointed out, LINZ is a world leader in open geospatial data, with the LINZ Data Service, a Koordinates Enterprise site, a leading example of how New Zealand public data is being released for innovative reuse.

“The internationally-acclaimed LINZ Data Service (LDS),” said Minister Williamson, “has set the benchmark for the release of public data and is a testament to the value of the Government’s open data programme and geospatial strategy.”

This caps off a stellar twelve months for the LDS team, starting with its victory at the Asia Pacific Spatial Excellence Awards, where they took home the Spatial Enablement category and the JK Barrie Award for Overall Excellence, and continuing with the mid-year report to Cabinet on agency adoption of the Declaration on Open and Transparent Government.

At that time, Minister Williamson said that the LINZ Data Service “has proven to be a revolution in the way people discover, use and share non-personal public data and is a testament to the value of the Government’s open data programme and geospatial strategy.”

Find & Filter Data on Koordinates.com

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Three weeks ago, we announced the new user interface; last week, we walked through some of the nice features of the Koordinates.com map. This week, we’re focusing on some of the ways to browse, filter and view datasets.

Let’s start with the front page. As you can see, the flash new front page gives you large visual previews of both the ‘latest datasets’ and the categories of data. 

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Screenshot of Koordinates.com homepage

At the top, next to the large search bar, is a button labelled ‘Data’.  If you click through, you’ll find a list of datasets to browse through. To the left, you can see several menus, which allow you to filter by category, group, data type (including documents and sets) and region.

This is a similar concept to the old Koordinates interface, though in this new incarnation, it’s both nicer to look at and easier to use.

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If you’re not looking for GIS datasets, however, you may not want these thumbnails occupying your screen. This is easy to solve: by clicking on the cog in the top right, you’ll see a drop-down menu, which allows you to switch from ‘Thumbnails’ to ‘Rows.’

This will allow you to browse through a heap more datasets. While you’re there, you can also organise search the results alphabetically, by popularity, by date or by recent update — and, if you so desire, view the search results as a feed or export the lot as a CSV file.

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Now, let’s say you’ve browsed the datasets on offer, using the various filters, and have landed a useful looking dataset. Let’s also say that you’re not all that interested in seeing the dataset layered onto a basemap in the right-hand side of your screen. After adding your chosen layer, all you have to do is click the wee arrow in the middle of the screen, and the map will disappear, like so:

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From here, you can view the dataset as a table, view its metadata, and also check out the dataset’s history and any comments others have made. If you want to go a step further, you can access services, which can provide you with an API to query the dataset. 

Going back to the top of the page, you can also choose to see a list of organisations whose data you can access through Koordinates.com — that’s what that ‘Suppliers’ button does. Next to that is the universal symbol for ‘link’, which will give you a shortlink of your dataset, so you can easily share it with others.

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For more information on what you can do with the Koordinates interface, check out our previous posts introducing the new user interface and running through some of the mapping tools. The best thing to do, though, is have a look around. Enjoy!

What Can You Do With the New Koordinates.com?

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On October 17, we announced the launch of the new Koordinates interface. Now that you’ve had a chance to have a look around, we thought we’d walk through some of the additional features of the new UI.

So, let’s assume you’ve used our big search bar to find some data that you like — Northland Aerial Photography, Whangarei District 1999-2004, say. You add the layer to see what it looks like. As it happens, it looks rather nice:

Screenshot of ‘Northland Aerial Photography – Whangarei District 1999-2004‘ by Northland Regional Council. CC-BY

But what if you want to see it displayed on an alternative base map? This is easy enough: on the top of your screen, click the ‘Map’ button, and you’ll see a drop-down menu with a range of base layers. You can change your base layer from the default map layer to ‘Hybrid’, ‘Satellite’, ‘Terrain’ or ‘Blank.’ Let’s run with Terrain for now.

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Screenshot of ‘Northland Aerial Photography – Whangarei District 1999-2004‘ by Northland Regional Council. CC-BY

Because we’re working with an aerial photography layer, this doesn’t actually make much of a difference. But let’s say you really want to see that base map layer. This, too, is fairly easy to solve.

The first thing to do is go to the top right of your screen and click on the box with the number sitting next to it. From there, you’ll see a drop-down list of all the map layers you’ve added. Click on one of these layers to see a list of additional options — including, right there at the top, a sliding ‘visibility’ scale. Move that to the left, and your chosen map layer will become more transparent, which will in turn allow you to see your base map layer.

Screenshot Three

Screenshot of ‘Northland Aerial Photography – Whangarei District 1999-2004′ by Northland Regional Council. CC-BY

If you want to zoom to your map layer, you can do this in one of two ways. First, below the sliding visibility scale, you’ll see a ‘zoom to’ button, which will zoom to the map layer in question. Second, if you look to the top left of the map, you’ll notice a wee magnifying glass — obviously the universal symbol for ‘zoom’. But if you click on it, you’ll also notice a drop down menu. You can use this to either ‘Zoom to World’, which will take you as far out as you can go, or else ‘Zoom to Selected Items’, which again will take you to your chosen map layers.

Finally, if you want to crop your map layer, click on the small square-ish symbol next to ‘x’ in the top right. This will enable you to select a portion of the map layer for download. If there is a cost to download the map layer, you’ll see this displayed under the large ‘Download or Order’ button. As you crop your map layer, this cost will automatically adjust. For example, the entire Northland Regional Council Aerial Photography map layer would cost $92.71 to download; after cropping what we need, this goes down to $1.77.

NRC Crop 4

Screenshot of ‘Northland Aerial Photography – Whangarei District 1999-2004′ by Northland Regional Council. CC-BY

Easy as that! If you want read more about the UI re-design, check out our post introducing the changes. Watch this space for further explanation of the other tools in the new UI.

Announcing the new Koordinates.com!

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After a heroic fifty thousand additional lines of code by our developers, we’re ready to announce the launch of the new Koordinates user interface! As we wrote several months ago, we’ve made regular upgrades to our user interface over the years. The general trend has been to simplify: cut tabs, cut buttons and make it easier for users to find, add and download the data they need.

Screnshot of the new Koordinates.com user interface

Screnshot of the new Koordinates.com user interface

This latest upgrade is no different, as you can see. First, and most obvious, is the increased size of the search box. This might seem like a minor change, but as more and more data is added to Koordinates.com — and there will soon be a lot of data — we expect the search function to be the first port of call for users looking for datasets from around the web.

Also, in the old search box, you could search for dates and maps or you could search for addresses; in this search, we’ve lumped these functions together, to ensure that you’ll get all relevant search results.

Once you’ve entered your search term — Wellington, say — you’ll see that the list of results contains the same information (licence, views, date added, etc), but it looks a whole lot nicer. The old slim ‘add/remove’ button is now a fat ‘+ sign.

Kx UI 2

You can also expand this list — and turn off the map, which might be worthwhile for non-GIS datasets — by clicking the wee arrow to the side.

Kx UI 3

If you click through on your chosen dataset, you’ll find that the additional information — including its description, category and history — is more clearly displayed. It’s also easier to browse different forms of metadata. Also, if you want to share the datasets you’ve chosen, the generic ‘link’ symbol at the top will give you a shortened URL.

KX UI 4

Regular users of the Koordinates site will also note that we’ve moved a few buttons around, and replaced some unnecessary text with symbols. For GIS users, the most important tools can be found in the top right: an ‘x’ to clear map layers; the crop button; a ‘selected items’ button that includes a drop down menu of your selected map layers; and finally, in the top right, a big download button, with the size of your current selection. From the ‘selected items’ drop-down menu, you can remove map layers and also change the transparency of your map layers. 

Kx UI 5

We hope that this will make it nicer for experienced users, and also more intuitive for new users (of which there will be plenty in the months and years ahead).

We’ve also made some more fundamental changes under the hood. Simply put, we’d pushed the earlier version of Koordinates.com about as far as it could be pushed. With this new UI, we’ve upgraded to HTML5 and CSS3, which will help us make further tweaks and improvements in the months and years ahead.

It’s worth pointing out, though, that the new UI won’t support Internet Explorer 7, if that happens to be your browser of choice, and Internet Explorer 8 support is also less than other modern browsers.

So, that’s the new interface! There’s plenty more minor changes. We hope they add up to site that looks nice and is useable for everyone, including people who are accessing datasets for the first time.

Get Data from Koordinates into Google Earth

When we talk about ‘reusing data’, many non-technical people assume that this can only be done by specialists — engineers, GIS specialists, ‘data ninjas’ and the like. This may have once been the case, but with intuitive platforms like Koordinates and consumer mapping services like Google Earth, it’s become much easier to dip your toes into the ‘data reuse’ waters. Let this very non-technical writer walk you through how to get a small dataset into Google Earth.

Step One: Find Your Data

This bit’s easy enough. Go to Koordinates.com — or the LRIS Portal, or LDS — and enter a search-term to find your dataset of choice. Because it’s looking pretty stormy this weekend, I decided to search for ‘Wind’, which led me to Wellington City Council’s Wellington City Wind Zones.

Because I don’t need the whole data set, I decided to take a small chunk from Wellington’s Eastern Suburbs. If you’re following along at home, all you need to do is click ‘Add’ and use the crop tool at the bottom to get the sections you need.

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Screenshot of Wellington City Wind Zones by Wellington City Council. CC-BY

Step Two: Get your data

To get your dataset, click on the ‘Download or Order’ button and choose ‘Google Earth (KML).’ Don’t worry about the acronym: KML is simply the file type that works with Google Earth. Now, your screen should look something like this:

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 11.10.48 AM

So far, so good. Once you’ve accepted the terms, Koordinates will process your download request. After a few minutes, you’ll get an email, with a link to download a .zip file of your chosen dataset. Click on this link and your download will begin.

Step Three: Find the KML File

After the download is complete, find the download folder — it should start with ‘kx’ and end with ‘KML’. The next step is to find the KML index file. This sounds complicated, but in practice all you actually have to do is open the folder and it should be right there.

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 11.14.33 AM 

Step Four: Get your Data into Google Earth

As long as you’ve downloaded Google Earth, all you have to do now is click that ‘.kml’ link and Google Earth will pop up. The planet will spin around in a dramatic fashion and then zoom into the location of your dataset, like so:

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 11.47.00 AM

Now, if I want to check the wind zone in the Eastern Suburbs, I can zoom in and see that the Wind Zone around Lyall Bay is a 6. That means it’s ‘Extra High’ (a level above ‘Very High’). Easy as that!

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Open Data and the Wellington Earthquakes

What’s the most popular layer on Koordinates.com? With almost double the views of the Department of Conservation Tracks, the most popular Koordinates.com layer is the Christchurch Post-Earthquake Aerial Photos, from 24 February 2011, which has over 91,000 views.

This isn’t really a surprise. As the success of Geonet suggests, people like to turn to trusted sources of open data during natural disasters and emergencies.

We experienced this on a smaller scale after the slew of earthquakes that struck the central North Island in July (and cracked a few windows in the Koordinates Wellington office). After the earthquakes, we saw traffic increases in just about all of the Wellington datasets on Koordinates.com.

With yet another earthquake hitting Seddon last night, we thought we’d have a look at those datasets that were most in demand. Unsurprisingly, the most popular datsets are those which represent the built environment, such as NZTA’s Highways and Wellington City Council’s Building Footprints and Building Contours, which you can see below:


Wellington City Building Footprints on Koordinates

Wellington City Aerial photography was also popular, as were layers on Liquefaction potential in the Wellington region.


Wellington Region Liquefaction Potential on Koordinates

Finally, many Wellingtonians were interested in checking their local tsunami evacuation zones. This layer encompasses “the range of inundation patterns for many individual possible tsunami.”


Wellington City Tsunami Evacuation Zones on Koordinates

Useful (and Nice Looking) Open Data

This entry was posted in Data Use, LDS, Open Data on by .

At Koordinates, we’ve been talking about open data for a while now. Koordinates team members — including CEO Ed and CTO Rob — have long been part of the open data movement, working to get publicly funded datasets available for reuse by the general public.

At present, the distribution of open data is one of the main things we do. And, as I’ve been going on (and on) about over the last few months, there really is strong demand: many of the datasets hosted on Koordinates.com have received tens thousands of views and downloads.

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Screenshot of data for home buyers by Kurt Meyer & Paul Organ.

This demand is obviously a Good Thing. But what’s actually being done with this data? And how does how does this relate to the productivity and efficiency gains we hear so much about?

Kurt Meyer & Paul Organ, students at Auckland University, spent their summer investigating how open data could help two groups, home buyers and professionals, make better decisions. At the heart of their project is the idea that open data, by itself, isn’t enough: Most people, including many professionals, are going to need a system to represent that data in a useful and attractive way.

This is exactly what the research team achieved. By providing, as the project teams puts it, a “decision-support system” that provides a “qualitative virtual 3D rendering” of these datasets — coupled with “the potential to federate, align and compare otherwise disparate sources of data” – open data becomes useful data. And as you can see, it also looks rather nice:

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Screenshot of City Data by Kurt Meyer & Paul Organ.

The project made use of open datasets from both the LINZ Data Service and Koordinates.com. Project supervisor Dr Dermott McMeel has posted some more information about the project (as well as some nice images of the project), at his blog