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November 19th, 2014
1Spatial Features Moorabool as Leading Example in Smart Cities Book

Moorabool has leveraged the state of Victoria’s investment in geospatial data to create a GIS solution for use by both the shire’s residents and council staff. In 2010, Victoria identified that existing geospatial data, published by third parties, had significant quality issues in its currency, completeness and reliability. In response, the state developed Vicmap API(2), a publicly available data-set designed and maintained to be “authoritative, current and clear”.

Moorabool, working with 1Spatial, developed a single, common platform using foundational data from Vicmap API, including aerial imagery, road layouts, cadastral information, land contours, vegetation density, planning zones and public facilities such as healthcare centres, emergency services and sports grounds.

On top of this, Moorabool has layered important local information such as refuse collection zones (which day is my bin emptied if I live here?). This information comes from a combination of spatial and corporate databases, including many that are not inherently “spatially aware”. For example, council assets like bridges and footpaths are linked by their asset ID to location and can be represented on the mapping platform where users can see important information like length, width and composition of assets.

For council rangers, the platform offers an animal registration layer that geographically displays 17,000 individual pet registrations. If a stray dog is found, rangers can access the system from a laptop or tablet and search the vicinity by breed or colour to try and locate the owner. Should a local resident contact the council, staff can access the system and potentially reunite pet and owner without the need for a ranger visit at all.

Moorabool can also incorporate third party data using such open standards as GeoRSS feeds. The same platform is used by the public and council staff with individual information layers secured by the identity of the user(3).

Moorabool’s investment in a single system enables it to provide greater service to its citizens while also making its internal operations more efficient. As Moorabool’s IT Systems Coordinator Garry Pugh explains, “We have built the foundation. Now, we are bringing all this information together and seeing it grow as people explore and realise its value.”

According to Martin Gregory, Country Manager for 1Spatial Australia, Moorabool’s web-based mapping portal, designed and developed by the company, sets a new standard in applications for providing spatially enabled information to a local community in a form which is easy to use, readily available and useful to its citizens.

“It not only sets a new benchmark in terms of functionality but also for levels of relevance and usefulness to the public, cost efficiency to the council itself and the ease in which the solution could be replicated for deployment by other local councils.”

1Spatial recognised from the project outset that many map-portal applications lack a user-friendly front-end, meaning that those not familiar with GIS interfaces would often find it overly complicated to access the spatial information they need. “Throughout the development of the Moorabool application, 1Spatial maintained its commitment to developing a user-friendly and visually attractive interface,” said Gregory. “The benefits in ease of use should drive uptake by the local community and council staff and generally raise the standard of map-portal technologies for non-GIS professionals.”

The very simple concept of adding layers to increase functionality without the need for major changes in the back end supports almost limitless potential use-cases while ensuring that the solution remains cost effective to build upon and maintain. The animal registration layer, for example, is simple yet holds widespread appeal with residents and is a value-added service the council can provide while improving its own efficiency.

The solution is not specific to Moorabool and can be readily implemented within other municipalities. “1Spatial has designed a modular, cloud-hosted solution with the FME product at its core which also utilises a number of open source technologies. This flexible solution architecture, maximising the use of available state government data sources such as Vicmap, makes it an attractive option for many councils irrespective of their size,” said Gregory.

(1) Visit <http://www.1spatial.com/smartcities>http://www.1spatial.com/smartcities to download 1Spatial’s Little Book of Smart Cities.
(2) See <http://api.maps.vic.gov.au/>http://api.maps.vic.gov.au/ for further history and information about Vicmap API.
(3) Some information is publicly available, other layers are visible only to certain job roles, controlled by information held in the council’s Microsoft Active Directory.