Australia’s NationalMap: Open Data and Open Source Down Under
Australia’s NationalMap, nationalmap.gov.au, is an engaging, open-source web site enabling the public to discover and explore Australian government spatial data at the federal, state, and local levels. An interesting feature is that NationalMap does not host any data itself. Instead, it provides a federated interface to the diverse servers already operated by the the various government agencies, running Geoserver, THREDDS Data Server, ArcGIS Server, CKAN, Socrata, and many more. This allows the agencies to retain full control over the hosting and updating of their data, while still providing a unified interface for accessing it.
In the course of NationalMap development, we developed a new library, called TerriaJS, that makes it very easy to build rich, 3D, web-based, geospatial data explorers. This library is now being used by many projects within Australia and around the world, such as the Global Risk Map application built for the United Nations Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative. TerriaJS leverages Cesium for 3D mapping, while also providing a 2D fallback based on Leaflet for older systems and web browsers.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Australia’s NationalMap, however, is that the entire NationalMap platform is open source, and its ongoing development is happening in the open on GitHub.
This talk will give an overview of the project’s history from our perspective as its developers, including how it was proposed, launched, and funded. We’ll discuss the challenges we faced accessing data hosted by diverse agencies and software. We will also show off some of the many features of the platform to help you evaluate its suitability for your own projects. Finally, we’ll discuss the future: new projects, new features, and new opportunities to get involved.