Landgate knows nearly everything about Western Australia. As the government authority responsible for land and property information, Landgate's data underpins hundreds of civil services, from rubbish pickup to education to immigration.
Data maintenance is a huge burden for agencies like Landgate.
“Individual departments were all keeping their own databases. We had invested a lot in getting these databases up-to-date, and we wanted a better way to maintain them,” explains Kylie Armstrong, Manager of Business Programs at Landgate.
“Crowdsourced” maps offered an elegant solution. As with Wikipedia - where many editors add and update articles - a crowdsourced map distributes the work of content maintenance of many contributors.
“With the influx of Google and others who offer loads of data right at your fingertips, we needed a smart way to provide the same high quality data services,” says Kylie.
Landgate had a shared land information platform, built using a combination of open source and proprietary software. The system that could handle data used by more than 20 agencies, for more than 200 services. Mapped data is a powerful aid to evidence based policy.
“It was great,” says Kylie. “We got things on time.”
The goal was to create a mapping system where users in different agencies could review and update changes to geospatial data.
Landgate's crowdsourcing map had four distinct feature needs:
- Global History - Users needed a clear history of all the changes that had been made on the map.
- Feature Specific History - Each data point needed its own history, so that users could track and review changes to the map.
- Feature Specific Diff - Users needed the ability to compare the different versions of the same feature to see how its attributes and position had changed.
- Feature-specific Rollback - In case of editing mistakes or 'vandalism,' the map needed to make it easy to roll back feature to a previous state.
User's commands to add and update features used the OGC Web Feature Service standard. For the history, “diff”, and rollback functions needed for a truly crowdsourced map, OpenGeo used WFS-Versioning, an extension to the standard that GeoServer supports.
Taking On The Challenge
OpenGeo built Landgate's crowdsourcing solution using Vespucci, a collaborative mapping framework originally built for the Livable Streets Movement. Vespucci combines the power of OpenLayers as a mapping front-end, GeoServer's support for versioned editing, and OpenGeo's design talent in one tight package.
Viewing a feature diff in Vespucci.
One of OpenGeo's OpenLayers experts took on both the work of adding the new crowdsourcing features to Vespucci and responding promptly to the questions and comments of his counterpart at Landgate.
Landgate received their crowdsourced map on time and as desired.
“People are just loving it,” reports Kylie. “This project is going really well. We've been demonstrating [the crowdsourcing map] to a whole range of government departments, and internally.”
Screenshot from Landgate's crowdsourced map.
Other Case Studies
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The City of New York Department of IT built a mapping architecture mixing proprietary and open source components to serve maps for multiple agencies and applications.
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GeoScience Australia and AIFDR have used web delivery to make tsunami modelling available to emergency managers across Australia in a way that was never possible before.
Farallon, an OpenGeo partner, develops a secure, web-based solution for the San Francisco Enterprise Addressing System using open source geospatial technology.
OpenGeo provides a collaborative map for Landgate, Western Australia's land data authority, using OpenLayers and a Versioning extension to the Web Feature Service Standard.