Welcome Statistics NZ!

Statistics NZ recently launched the prototype of their data service on the Koordinates platform, with a view to making their statistical data more easily consumable for users.

The Statistics NZ Geospatial team releases statistical boundaries on an annual basis for a variety of users including private sector companies, academic researchers, other government agencies and many more. The boundaries include Meshblocks, Area Units, Territorial Authorities, Regional Councils, Community Boards, Urban Areas, Wards, Constituency and Maori Constituency boundaries.

In previous years these files have been released as a downloadable zip file on the Statistics NZ website. Moving to the data service powered by Koordinates will allow these datasets to be more readily appraised and accessed by users. The initial launch includes the Meshblock dataset from Census 2013.

As we see momentum building amongst Government agencies wanting to make their data more accessible, there’s an accompanying drive for openness and trust amongst the people behind these projects. Statistics NZ Senior Researcher, Eli Chadwick oversaw implementation of the new data service and shared his views:

“Putting the power in the hands of our customers to get the data they want in the format they want will significantly reduce the overhead required to manually service custom data requests as well as introducing services that were previously not possible. It gives Statistics NZ a valuable method for data transmission that has never previously existed.”

Improving data access is a key building block in the pursuit of economic, environmental and social prosperity, so we’re excited to have an agency of the calibre of Statistics NZ helping make New Zealand a better place.

Getting what you want – even when it’s not in the box

We almost didn’t share this blog post. Contract R&D has been a heavily debated topic in the Koordinates office lately and one we weren’t sure was ready for the public domain. But ultimately the sentiment behind sharing the discussion is the same for doing contract R&D in the first place – enterprise software should be a partnership between customers and vendors. So in the name of sharing, here it is.

Software vendors often provide a number of levers and additional services for organisations to use as they launch new software and transition from a ‘new project’ basis to ‘business as usual’. These range from professional services such as needs analysis and training through to SLA’s for ongoing assurance around business critical services and integrations.

A key lever we discovered early on working with enterprise customers in the data publishing game was contract R&D, which gives customers the ability to get what they want from the product, even if it wasn’t originally ‘in the box’

Blog - Out Of The Box

Contract R&D in the software world simply means a customer pays the software vendor to develop a specific feature they want, ahead of where it might have otherwise been delivered on the product roadmap. This differs from the process of taking customer feedback through user sessions and support requests to help guide the roadmap, as that tends to be more an aggregated market view (and should be a standard input into any product roadmap) than a specific customer request.

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The changing economics of data publishing and sharing

This entry was posted in Koordinates Enterprise on by .

Silicon Valley and other hot spots of innovation have produced a number of disruptive technologies over the years. They provide important reference points for long-standing, traditional industries yet to experience the quantum shift in effectiveness that comes from disruption.

Cloud technology naturally lends itself to solving the problem of connectivity. And there are plenty of industries that have been transformed through greater connectivity – from consumer plays like Google, Facebook, Airbnb, eBay and most recently Uber, as well as business platforms like Xero for small business and LinkedIn for recruiting.

Blog - Changes To Data Publishing

Examples of cloud disruption vary, but when it comes to the concept of connectivity, the approach and fundamentals are mostly uniform. An oversimplified way to sum it up would be:

Using the collaborative nature of cloud technology to bring otherwise disconnected or fragmented markets together around a real-world common purpose.

Data relating to earth, whether it’s geospatial by nature or can be ‘spatialised’ has been a slow sector to move on the cloud front, as elegantly handling large, complex geospatial datasets online is a difficult problem to solve. But the wheels of innovation are moving quickly, with broadband speeds, browser technology and cloud hosting services coming together to create an opportunity to redefine how data flows.

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New Zealand National Broadband Map

This entry was posted in Data Use on by .

Access to high speed internet is a catalyst for making life better wherever you live. So we love that the team at NZRS have leveraged our technology as part of a handy tool that lets you quickly and easily find out what type of internet connection you’re able to get in New Zealand.

Launched yesterday by the Minister for Communications, Hon Amy Adams, the National Broadband Map allows you to enter your address and get an instant view of the different internet connection types available (or planned) in your area – including fibre, fixed line and wireless.

Amy AdamsPhoto credit: Sebastian Castro/NZRS
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NZ Aerial Mapping update; NZAM imagery to be removed from koordinates.com

In a very sad development for the New Zealand mapping and geospatial community and Koordinates, NZ Aerial Mapping Ltd (NZAM) was put into liquidation in early September 2014.

NZAM was an early pioneer in aerial photography in New Zealand, and a close partner of Koordinates in our formative years. The company worked with Koordinates in 2009 towards a new approach for selling professional geospatial data online, and NZ Aerial Mapping data has been available on koordinates.com since 2010. Our thoughts are now with former NZAM staff and their families as they deal with the end of NZAM operations and closure of the company.

More details about NZAM can be found at the following links:

Until the future ownership and management of NZAM’s digital data back catalogue is established, Koordinates is removing 42 layers of NZ Aerial Mapping Ltd data from koordinates.com. This change will take place by Friday 10th October 2014.

Alternative downloadable aerial photography sources for New Zealand

Land Information New Zealand publishes free professional aerial photography for most of New Zealand on the LINZ Data Service. This service is built on Koordinates Enterprise technology and much of the aerial photography was originally captured by NZAM, so the functionality available and data quality should be very familiar to existing koordinates.com users.

We’ve Made Some Improvements to Koordinates Search

This entry was posted in User Interface on by .

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

This entry was posted in User Interface on by .

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

This entry was posted in Data Use, User Interface on by .

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.

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 3.40.05 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 3.42.25 PM

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:

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 3.52.15 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 4.00.59 PM

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?

This entry was posted in User Interface on by .

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.