VicMap Address users

June 28, 2011


When calling Triple 0 in Victoria, using the address in the DSE Vicmap data will guarantee a fast and efficient response. Just some of the Victorian organizations using Vicmap data:

  • Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA). The Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) digital map used for emergency dispatching to CFA, MFB, Ambulance Victoria, VicSES and VicPol.
  • VicMap Spatial Vision MapBooks. VicMap produced by Spatial Vision in association with CFA and Dept of Sustainability and Environment. All of Victoria’s emergency services use VicMap throughout their operations, as do many other organisations with an emergency management role, including:
    • Department of Human Services (DHS) Emergency Management Branch
    • Environment Protection Authority (EPA)
    • Office of the Emergency Services Commissioner (OESC) Dept of
    • Parks Victoria
    • St John Ambulance Australia Victoria
    • Life Saving Victoria
    • DSE-Emergency Management
    • VicRoads
    • The emergency services over the border in SA and NSW
  • VicMap is also incorporated into the national address file G-NAF (until late 2010 G-Naf data was in Google maps, but Google changed to Sensis map data).
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About yvonnert

Extensive experience working in government spatial data infrastructure. Over ten years as a bridge maker in emergency services, with strong partnering skills providing leadership for spatial information strategy.

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3 Comments on “VicMap Address users”

  1. Darren Whitelaw Says:

    Great post. Interested in what the fin paragraph says about Google switching to Sensis map data, rather than using the official (and perhaps more accurate?) VicMap source… Please don’t tell me this is because of anything to do with Crown Copyright or other bureaucratic red tape?

    Whilst it is vital for emergency agencies to have high-quality, accurate and customisable geospatial information (which includes features such as adding local knowlege — such as “nobody in Town X calls it Browns Rd, it’s called Town Rd by locals)” choosing a map system most citizens don’t use or have ready access to is also a potential disaster. Imagine someone in need of help giving the rescue operator a street name (from their Google Map app) but first responders going to the wrong location because of a different (alberit correct) address.

    And what about the growing roll out of smartphone apps by emergency agencies and others; leveraging the inbuilt Google Maps capability of the phone. [For example, the free official CFA FireReady app ( Disclosure – I led the team that conceived and deployed this popular tool for delivering realtime fire info direct from the CFA control centre].
    Having different sources of data in an emergency can lead to valuable minutes being wasted.

    Having spent nearly 15 years working in government, I am sure that untold hours of discussion by plenty of smart people have taken place about these very issues — and the reason agencies are using their own bespoke mapping system probably has a lot to deal with quality and accuracy of information. When lives are threatened, VicMaps is probably way better than Sensis.

    But rather than having a high quality geospacial data system that only emergency personnel have access to, wouldn’t the most sensible thing be to give Sensis access to that better quality data by sharing the VicMaps info with them? That way, everyone wins, and gets access to the best quality information possible.

    Doing otherwise could be a recipe for disaster.


    • yvonnert Says:

      The standard line about why Google switched is that “… it was a commercial decision”. The previous data in Google was PSMA (which is from state governments for the most part) and I am of the understanding that the data had not been refreshed for a long time. There have been barriers thrown up to protect ‘authoritative’ data, and I’d guess Sensis+crowdsourced was a “good enough” alternative from Google’s perspective (and for most users most of the time). That Google could not reach a satisfactory agreement with government and went elsewhere is, I’d agree, in the big picture a poor outcome for emergency services and the public, for the reasons that you cite. The effort of data maintenance is diluted across products, the conflicting information in the products adds to the confusion and cost. I can only hope that it’s a stopgap while Australian government gets organized . Funding for spatial data maintenance is important to emergency services who would hate to see quality erode. In Victoria the long-standing cost-recovery arrangement is still up in the air, but perhaps we will hear something soon. The RC Bushfire recommendation was to make Vicmap “free” to emergency services, who have always paid license fees. This is fine, but really amounts to just moving government money around differently. The real issue continues to be the quality and maintenance.

      Another concern: I am not sure what Google would have been offering, if anything, in terms of shared maintenance: If Google takes a government map data supply do they just suck it in and then then start fiddling around with it? If Google use the govt data as the base and then crowd-source changes, is google willing to share that data and ongoing maintenance for it to be run through (expensive) government rigorous professional processes? Or within a year do we again have divergent products.

      I’ll stop myself there because perhaps maybe that’s already “old” thinking on my part. I think trying to deposit and retrieve all the data in authoritative government data stores so we can then retrieve it is unworkable. I suspect the SDI may shrink back to the bare basics (eg address, road name and type but not more volatile information). How the rest of the data is consumed will change, with more crowd-sourced or at least less preprocessed data just flooded on top somehow, something like twitter, with users filtering or using AI to obtain the customized streams they want.


  2. Martin Anderson Says:

    My experience is that the switch from G-Naf to Sensis data is just the latest government objection to the use of Google maps. GIS colleagues have always been very reluctant to embrace / accept the community’s preference for Google. That reluctance existed long before late 2010. What’s the real problem?


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