Embrace digitisation with current, contextual aerial maps

Nearmap Pty Ltd
Tuesday, 22 June, 2021

Local, state and federal infrastructures are being scrutinised like never before in an attempt to keep our nation safe. Government departments are having to evolve what they do and how they do it at an accelerated pace in light of our present-day challenges.

More government departments than ever are using aerial data to achieve a level of insight and intelligence they simply cannot get from ground level. Assessment, utilities, AEC, transportation, public works, public safety — every sector is becoming more reliant on technology to get the job done. GIS in disaster management is expected to hit a global market size of $9.4 billion by 2030*, and government teams across the world are investing in GIS solutions for national security, aerospace, and military applications.

So, how do advances in geospatial technology support digital transformation in the government sector? Nearmap looked at the challenges its customers experience, and dug into what that means to those in the industry.

Challenge #1: Budgets and procurement

Budgets are complicated. Procurement even more so. Government teams are responsible for assets, tools, and systems that are shared with cross-functional teams, and their outputs are usually on behalf of others. This makes for convoluted procurement processes, which can prevent government teams from moving forward with much-needed technologies.

Aerial imagery is essential to government departments. When the truth on the ground forms the foundations of the future, fidelity is not just important: it’s essential. Many planning teams need multiple flyovers a year simply to remain up-to-date with development changes. However, most simply don’t have the budget to procure one-off flyovers. In the face of procurement challenges, they have to make do with outdated flyovers supplemented with low-resolution satellite imagery instead of the up-to-date high-resolution location data they need.

Poor quality aerials aren’t clear enough to make out any detail, and what use are they anyway if the content is incorrect? And if there is budget to procure more current imagery, many departments lack resources to combine the content, digitise it, and update the database.

Nearmap offers a 7.5cm ground sampling distance (GSD) per pixel, so users can literally see when lane markings fade or road conditions change. Nearmap covers 90% of Australia’s population, and the data is captured up to six times per year. Nearmap AI takes away the hassle of database updates and digitised assets.

Lindsay Mason, Head of the Land Information Team, City of Ryde said, “Nearmap AI (Artificial Intelligence) has been a key tool for us as we plan for the future wellbeing of our community. We’ve been able to utilise location data and derived insights to observe trends in order to design smarter green spaces.”

Challenge #2: Data accuracy

Government professionals deal with vast quantities of geospatial data — especially when analysing everything from emergency routes to stormwater runoff. But data is only useful when it’s good data: sufficient, accurate, timely, current, and — ideally — comparable.

Inaccurate data costs time, resources, and money — three things most teams are in short supply of. Nearmap flies multiple times per year; so you see how much changes in just a few months and the variability between seasons. Adopting technologies that digitally transform data collection allows users to deliver accurate, agile, and informed projects, developments, and analysis.

Nearmap allows users to detect changes more often, in just a couple of clicks, with instant access to our catalogue of current and historical imagery, georeferenced to show truth over time. When the company captures a new area, users receive that data within days.

Peter Bartley, Development Compliance Officer, City of Ipswich said, “Nearmap helps us through most of the compliance process. We don’t need to leave our office to gather data for investigations.”

Challenge #3: Improving internal communications

Data analysts are at the pulse of every government organisation, deriving data and insights, and creating web applications for these departments. Every piece of data these teams generate, every insight they glean, and every report they publish tells a story that enables someone in another department to perform more effectively.

Aerial imagery plays a significant role in this storytelling for many sectors. The tight alignment between the two means that those in government sectors — small, local teams to national agencies — use Nearmap imagery to create detailed base layer maps that integrate directly into their GIS, CAD, and open-source mapping platforms. They then use this content to: create data-enriched maps and apps; provide contextual imagery to support budget, planning, and development proposals; streamline communication and workflow between departments; detect changes and verify permit compliance; and monitor project workflow.

Digital transformation looks like shared, cloud-based internal platforms and processes that make effortless data exchange the new norm. It creates impactful proposal visuals and consistent communication.

Challenge #4: Public communication

The most important stakeholder in government is the general public. Residents want to know what’s happening in their communities surrounding publicly funded government initiatives.

Citizens want to know about government plans to tackle zoning or areas of new development; about emergency routes and road closures; updates to land use and land classification; and information on construction delays and events.

However, the way this information is collated would often be unintelligible and, frankly, dull to the average person. The raw data analysts work with isn’t appropriate. How you present your story is as important as the story itself if you want people to understand and be interested in what you have to say.

With content that is current and relevant, keep your residents informed about ongoing change with data that’s user-friendly. Load up proposals with the most detailed imagery and ensure those across cities, states or suburbs can stay in the know about upcoming change. Promote a sense of community involvement and build with all community members in mind.

Looking to the future

The government sector has come a long way in adopting new processes and technologies, but it remains a slow journey. Artificial intelligence (AI), a mobilised workforce, Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing are some of the key trends driving digital transformation in government. The need for change, however, is accelerating and digital transformation is a necessity, not a luxury. So what's driving that need?

  • Governments achieve more success addressing societal needs when they embrace partnerships with third-party technology providers
  • Government teams are becoming smarter with how they collect and use data, but risk limitations unless they become more digitised
  • Rapid urbanisation, increasing populations, and aging populations have forced governments to look to more intuitive, data-driven solutions
  • Connected citizens expect the governments that serve them to be connected too. Many government departments still rely on legacy systems and archaic, manual processes

Moving away from slow archaic processes to technology such as Nearmap can breathe new life into how local, state and federal planners go about the business of creating smart cities, balancing nature with new construction and making decisions grounded in the richest of data.


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