Thursday, 19 July 2018 14:57

Demand for location data services ‘unprecedented’, says PSMA

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The demand for, and volume of, location data in Australia is unprecedented, according to a key industry player, with the telecommunications and insurance sectors the most interested in the use of location data services.

The biggest impacts of location data usage are also being experienced in the real estate, government and emergency services sectors, with companies and organisations utilising the data for their business benefit.

The growth in the use of data location comes as data provider, the Public Service Mapping Agency Australia, is developing and supporting technologies that are opening access to location data for new markets and new business models.

“Location, location, location is no longer just the mantra of real estate agents. It’s a philosophy that underpins daily transactions: from the Thai restaurant that delivers our dinner to the search engine that can figure out what we mean when we add the phrase ‘near me’ to our search,” says PSMA chief executive Dan Paull.

“Reflecting this change in how we use location data, PSMA is developing and supporting technologies that are opening access to location data for new markets and new business models.”

The changes started with the reinvention of PSMA’s delivery mechanisms to give its customers the data they need, when and how they need it, and continues through an organisational redesign that is enabling the company to react more quickly to the changing (metaphorical and literal) landscape.

Paull says the location data gives companies in the telecoms sector the ability to understand the best type of technology to connect telecommunications services to a building – including how tall a building is in relation to other buildings, topography in the area and whether it has line of sight for mobile coverage.

As he explains, there can be mobile network “shadows” and blackspots in urban areas, and companies need the location information collected by PSMA’s Geoscape technology, including where there are blackspots, before they can confidentally roll out expensive mobile networks.

“We need to know more about the built environment so Geoscape can be utilised to improve some of those problem,” Paull says.

He says it’s a similar situation in the insurance industry when companies in the sector are assessing the risk for a business or fire or flood and need to know where a building is located and, for instance, the flood prone risks of that building.

And he says the government-established company, which operates commercially, has already collated location data on 13 million buildings and properties throughout Australia, with the “milestone” of 15 million to be reached by the end of this year.

PSMA’s Geoscape technology works by combining advances in high-resolution satellite imagery, machine learning and big data processing to create a digital representation of the built environment for every address in Australia.

As Paull explains, PSMA’s API  services enable solution providers to connect location data to business or consumer applications so it can be accessed and used on demand, without ever having to store and manage large, complex geospatial datasets.

“This on-demand functionality and associated affordability opens up authoritative location data to a range of users and industries, as well as ensuring it remains current enough to suit the modern query environment.

“Users of location data have expectations about the data’s currency, and the speed and flexibility of its delivery,” Paull says.

The PSMA APIs provide predictive address verification and information about an address including building attributes, geographic co-ordinates, electorate and local government and ABS statistical areas.

“The data is so rich; there are so many possibilities. Developers can really dream up their own uses,” says Paull.

“An example might be a solar panel company determining which houses don’t have solar and which of those might suit it, or an online retailer determining if an address is genuine. But really, these are just the tip of the iceberg.”

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Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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