Vicmap and Address Data Governance

July 18, 2011

Other

The state of Victoria has an ‘authoritative’ government address database (Vicmap Address) which is, by national standards, a high quality data product.  An less current version of Vicmap is used in the making of the national PSMA G-Naf data. The Vicmap Address and related Vicmap Transport and Vicmap Admin  products can be costly to use and licencing is not always straight-forward. The ‘authoritative’ data is not universally used and there are a number of competing commercial datasets (for example, Google uses Australian Sensis Address data).  I’d like to see  some good benchmarks published on the comparable data quality, but in my experience in general the address data quality tends to be lower quality in rural areas, and the arrangements for updating data for new suburbs in Sensis data are not as robust as they are for Vicmap.

For the government-sourced Vicmap data there are long-standing underlying structural problems that require whole of government coordination and resources to resolve. The key parties are the Victorian foundation data custodians, who have an interdependent relationship in maintaining the property, address and parcel layers of the state cadastral: Land Registry, Spatial Information Infrastructure, the Office of Geographic Place Names and the 79 councils.

The organizations view and use address-data for different business functions, so the information is not always consistent nor based on a common information model. Projects to improve the arrangements have failed to gain support,  including the Victorian Property Address Information Management Framework, VPAIMF,  based on a centralised exchange of information in a “hub and spoke model”. This was put largely on hold in 2007-08 after a flurry of activity involving the Municipal Association Victoria , the Local Government Spatial Reference Group and the Foundation Data Custodians.

There are a number of issues that have been openly discusseed in a variety of forums yet never really resolved, including options such as potential changes to legislation, with ammendments to the Local Government Act, changes to Survey & Coordination Act and options for  linking legislation  to Guidelines (which are more flexible and can be updated).  A common process hurdles encountered is that it is difficult for Local Government to act as a sector on this issue, with 79 unique work processes, different definitions, differing timeframes for processing data and varying data formats.

It is my view that Legislation is not solution unless it is part of a broader strategy, with resourcing for education/ training, well mapped and agreed processes and address information flows and, most importantly, clear roles and responsibilities also appropriately resourced.

One option that has been discussed is a less data-centric approach: Instead of tweaking outdated regulations specific to address, treat street address data as a fundamental part of the much broader open PSI direction, perhaps as part of an eGov Service Delivery Enabling Act to support social change. This way the benefits discussion about a good, free, high quality national street address dataset can be linked to real and societal values.

Users of street address will view address in different ways. Their business remit and application affects what kind of data they need and collect. Address is used in every part of government, but some of the most critical users are:

  • Valuer General – Value and classify property
  • Emergency Services Computer Aided Dispatch – respond to in an emergency
  • Electoral Commission- Verify an elector address & electoral boundaries
  • Land Registry- Maintain registers of rights over land
  • Local Government – Address is important for delivery of services but the data is often managed primarily through rates for purposes of taxation. This has created a situation where many non-ratable properties have not been addressed at all.
  • Surveyor General – Survey property
  • Registrar of Geographic Names – Audit and register geographic names (RGN)

Non-Government

  • Australia Post – Delivery of mail. Some people mistakenly think that Australia Post is the addressing authority. They are not, they are a business user of address for the purpose of delivering m,ail.
  • Connect with utility services – Utlities
  • Telstra – Triple Zero and Caller Line Identification (CLI). Telstra picks up the call and uses a landline billing address database to pass on location information to the jurisdictional emergency call centres. The CLI and developing an Australian capability to locate based on mobile phone (MOLI) is part of a current ACMA review that has drawn responses from Emergency Services andother stakeholders.

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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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