Strictly Spatial #33


Posted by on 22 June 2017

Time to take a break and check out Strictly Spatial 33! In this issue, we go on a global music tour thanks to Spotify, we look at how 19th century cartography is being used to discover what happened to the famous pink and white terraces, and we observe the increasing occurrence of deadly heatwaves. Lastly, we look at the creative way that national brewery counts have been mapped. Enjoy!

In an increasingly connected world, it is easy for people to lose the sense of culture that helps to define them and where they come from. Spotify has taken the opportunity to exploit global differences in music taste by displaying them spatially in this web map. Users can simply click on a location and discover the generic playlists of what is popular, emerging, distinctive and the most viral at the time in that area. Now you can effectively go on a global music tour without leaving the comfort of your own home!


131 years ago, a massive volcanic eruption at Mt Tarawera (near Rotorua) resulted in the destruction of one of New Zealand’s most famous natural treasures. The pink and white terraces (a large cascade of silica sinter rock) were often regarded as the eighth wonder of the world, only to be buried by substantial amounts of volcanic rock and submerged in the neighboring lake. Previous studies into the current location of the pink and white terraces have suggested that the terraces were probably destroyed in the eruption. However recently, a team of scientists have used the 1859 cartographic notes of Ferdinand von Hochstetter to come up with a new probable location of the terraces by locating cartographic bearings that would have existed in the 19th century. You can read more about this great application of using historic cartography here.

It is a commonly known fact that climate change is having a detrimental effect on the number of severe weather events being recorded each year (for most people at least anyway). This interactive web map allows users to view the number of ‘deadly heat days’ both recorded and expected between the years 1950 and 2100. The ‘heat’ map shows a consistent increase in the number of heatwaves experienced, accompanied by points that represent documented heat events for each year. Users can simply click on their location to get a break down of the relationship between temperature and humidity and the risk that the combination pose to health for the specific year that the map is currently showing.

Ever wondered which countries make the most beer? This awesome cartogram has the answer! The map authors use bottle caps to represent the number of breweries in a country, as well as grouping them into their global regions to create an easy comparison. Unsurprisingly, the USA has the most breweries with just over 7000, with Germany and the UK taking out second and third place. New Zealand has 117 breweries, representing a substantial chunk of the Asia and Oceania region considering our size (per capita we have even more than the USA!).

That’s all for this fortnight’s Strictly Spatial, make sure you keep in touch through Facebook, @InterpretGS, LinkedIn or email!

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Personalised travel plans for our Interpret and Abley teams


Posted by on 15 June 2017

We have recently launched a travel plan to support our staff moving into our new office in central Christchurch.

Branded TravelWhiz, the plan includes a range of initiatives to encourage staff to make informed travel choices. The travel plan was launched by giving all Christchurch staff personalised journey plans from their home to the new office by different travel modes. The journey plans also included information on calories burned if walking or cycling to work, offer of a free metrocard to use the bus, information on how to use the booking system we have implemented to enable sharing of our on-site parking spaces, and a map showing alternative long term parking areas within walking distance of the office.

Other initiatives include a large secure cycle storage area, and a guaranteed ride home policy to assist a staff member if they experience an unexpected or emergency event and need to get home. We are looking at rolling out more initiatives over the coming months as well as supporting staff in our Auckland office as the travel plan is an ongoing programme of initiatives making Abley and Interpret a great place to work.


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Strictly Spatial #32

Posted by on 7 June 2017

Winter is here! Time to wrap up warm and check out Strictly Spatial #32! In this issue, we check out how New Zealand’s performance in open government data stacks up against the rest of the world, we look at how a historic city drawing has been displayed by means of a story map and we explore the travel patterns of US Presidents over the last one hundred years. We finish off by looking at the 3D modelling of cityscapes using only public photography, Enjoy!

SSaThese days, the geospatial community often relies heavily on open government data. The development of open data policy has opened many windows for spatial analysis and increased the efficiency of accessing data considerably. New Zealand’s performance has recently been ranked against other countries in the global open data index. We received a respectable index score of 65%, ranking us the eighth best in the world. Unfortunately, this wasn’t good enough for us to beat the Aussies, who claimed the top spot (alongside Taiwan) with an index score of 79%. Areas that let our score down included weather forecasting, government spending and land ownership data. You can see the breakdown of New Zealand’s performance here.


In the late 1800’s, an incredible bird’s eye drawing of St Louis was created by an artist called Camille Dry. This story map captures the highly-detailed drawing, consisting of 110 individual parts. Users can either pan and zoom to different areas of the city, or scroll through the list of significant places, events or people for some background reading. 

SScInternational travel is an increasing reality in the role of being a political leader. This interactive map visualises how many times each United States President and Secretary of State has travelled abroad since 1905. It is easy to see the long-term patterns of increased travel as the world has become more connected over time. The spread of places visited has also increased significantly. This is reinforced by the design of the map, with standard Mercator projection rejected in place of having the United States central to the rest of the world.

SSdWe all know someone who shares heaps of photos while they are away on a holiday. Often these photos become confined to a Facebook album that will never again see the light of day. Swiss researchers have found a way to turn these geotagged images, alongside CCTV and YouTube videos into 3D models of cities. The application draws on machine learning algorithms to identify objects such as roads, buildings and natural features. This allows for the automatic extraction of the 3D geometry of objects. It is hoped that the approach can be used in the future to determine car trajectories and traffic volumes to enable efficient spatial analysis within cities. You can find out more here! 

SSeFinally, our Interpret Christchurch office has moved! We are loving our spacious new premises at Level 1, 137 Victoria Street!

That’s all for this fortnight’s Strictly Spatial, remember to keep in touch through Facebook, @InterpretGS, LinkedIn or email!

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New Christchurch Office

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Posted by on 29 May 2017

We are excited to have moved into our new Christchurch office, located on Level 1 at 137 Victoria Street.

It's fantastic to finally be back in the central city and to have our Abley Transportation and Interpret Geospatial Solution teams together.

By focusing on what's important to our people and our clients, we've created an amazing space to inspire our team to be passionate, professional, innovative, connected and produce quality work.

We welcome our clients, industry and potential new employees to come and visit our awesome new office.

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We're on the move!

Posted by on 24 May 2017

Our Abley and Interpret teams are excited to be moving into our new office on Monday 29 May 2017.

Our new address will be:

Level 1, 137 Victoria Street, Christchurch

All other contact details remain unchanged.

We look forward to welcoming you into our fantastic new space soon!

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Strictly Spatial #31

Posted by on 9 May 2017

Your fortnightly fix of everything geospatial is here! In this issue, we look at how innovative and artistic cartographic design is used to capture the imagination of wider audiences, how your social media information is being used for the benefit of public health and we explore how increased drone use is helping to combat the impacts of climate change. We also have a look at how changes in nighttime light maps can paint a powerful picture of human movement over time.

6Sometimes in cartographic design, it can be a challenge to create maps that appeal to a specific audience. This challenge is one that TeleGeography takes on every year when they produce an updated version of The Submarine Cable Map. Each edition is tasked with displaying the extent of undersea communication cable networks in a creative way, to capture audiences that would not normally be interested. This year the map follows an Indiana Jones theme, and shows black and white images of cable connections at the surface and old fashioned documents and artifacts scattered around the periphery. Previous versions have included both old and modern styled maps, you can read more here. 











As people become increasingly hooked to their mobile phones and other devices, social media continues to increase its reach and influence throughout society. This creates opportunities for the analysis of spatial trends in human activity. Topic Modelling, a successful tool used by businesses to explore their social media platforms, is now extending into new areas. An example is the real-time mapping of spatial public health patterns. Researchers in the United States have found that patterns in obesity can be explored by accessing social media information. This article explains how social media posts and profile information coupled with location data, provides a powerful tool to help us understand the scale of the problem and target potential solutions.

In recent times drones have become a powerful, efficient tool to map geographic landscapes and conduct spatial analysis. With ongoing advancements in drone technology and significant reductions in cost, drones are increasingly giving scientists the ability to gather data over larger areas with higher levels of accuracy. One area that the application of drones is rapidly increasing is in conservation GIS.

In the Maldives, where rising sea levels are threatening the livelihoods of many locals, scientists have used semi-autonomous drones to create a high-resolution 3D map of the Islands. This will greatly benefit the planning and understanding of climate change consequences in the area, by indicating the number of people at risk and indicating where they may need to be relocated to. The same method has been used for the complex and often dangerous task of tracking melting glaciers in Switzerland. You can read more here.


9In a rapidly changing and diverse world, geographers are constantly coming up with innovative ways to map the movements of people and the adjusting urban environments that they live in. NASA has recently released a global nighttime light map showing changes in light emissions between 2012 and 2016. This eye-opening story map clearly shows the impacts of urbanisation, economic fortune and civil war on where people live. It can also be used as an indicator of development in places like India where electricity infrastructure has extended further into rural areas.

That’s all for this fortnight’s Strictly Spatial, remember to keep in touch through Facebook, @InterpretGS, LinkedIn or email!

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Strictly Spatial #30

Posted by on 21 April 2017

After a bit of a break Strictly Spatial is back! In this fortnight’s issue, we review some innovative ways that both past and future data can be displayed interactively through 3D mapping.  We look at a new method of measuring and presenting climate change data and with winter fast approaching, we find a means for you to explore some of the great wonders of the world without leaving the comfort (and warmth) of your own living room.

4With ongoing advancements in geospatial software, 3D GIS is growing rapidly in popularity and potential application. Another area of growing importance within GIS in recent times is the mapping of crime statistics as a tool for both the combatting of crime and informing residents of potential danger areas. This web map visualises the prevalence of crime in New York City for each month of 2016. It allows the user to enter a location and view an animation of the peaks and troughs of all crime within a buffer of 500 to 1000 metres.

2Looking forward to the future is something that fosters immense creativity and imagination among humans. This futuristic application from Kaspersky collates predictions about social and technological advancements until the year 2050. 360o views of locations in major cities detail the advancements that are expected on a backdrop of futuristic artist expressions. Users can also review points of interest and submit their opinion on whether they expect the predictions will come true. 


3This story map takes users on a global tour of major mountains and canyons from the comfort of their own homes. Scrolling through the map generates 3D views of tall peaks and low valleys with a collection of the world’s famous mountains and well known canyons and inland seas. It gives users the ability to explore by adjusting the perspective of the natural feature that they are looking at. In addition, useful facts are supplied in the left pane with information about the height and the history of human exploration at each location.

Climate change is a topic of growing importance both in New Zealand and around the world. Damaging weather events and the contentious views of certain global leaders have heightened its profile in the media, presenting a need for data to be produced in a way that is easy for the public to understand. Scientists in Finland have developed methodologies for measuring and visualizing the amount of carbon stored in forests to a resolution of 10 metres. They used interpreted satellite and drone imagery to measure photosynthesis levels and emissions from decomposing plant matter in the soil, indicating areas where carbon was being stored and released. You can read more here.

Lastly, we would like to celebrate kiwi success at the recent Asia Pacific Spatial Excellence Awards. Congratulations to LINZ who were highly commended on their NZVD2016 work, the New Zealand Transport Agency who won the spatial enablement award and Wellington City Council for taking out the JK Barrie award for overall excellence and the 2016 People and Community Award.

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Strictly Spatial Newsletter - Autumn 2017

Posted by on 3 April 2017

Read on about the latest goings on at Interpret and check out some of our new innovations in the latest Strictly Spatial newsletter.

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Alex Oulton Joins the Interpret Team

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Posted by on 22 March 2017


We are delighted to announce Alex Oulton is joining the team on the 8 May as a  Principal FME Specialist. Alex has been working for Sellafield  Ltd – a UK based company that deals with nuclear fuel reprocessing and nuclear site decommissioning. Alex provided spatial insight into a range of complex nuclear decommissioning activities as well as upskilling a team of mapping staff into strong FME operators. Prior to that he worked for the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen for seven years where he built GIS tools for the EEA platform which uses web, server and desktop GIS and ETL technologies.

Alex is looking forward to coming to Christchurch with his young family where he can practice his skiing, mountain biking and golf skills. We welcome Alex to the team.

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International GIS Consultant David Pimblott appointed to Interpret's Board of Directors

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Posted by on 3 March 2017

Abley Transportation Consultants and their specialist GIS brand, Interpret Geospatial Solutions, are pleased to announce the appointment of David Pimblott to their Board of Directors.  David will join the four existing Board Members as a Non-Executive Director, and will provide strategic leadership and GIS expertise.

“We know that GIS benefits organisations of all sizes and across many different industries.  There is a growing interest in and awareness of the economic and strategic value of GIS, and as an Esri silver-tier partner, we are excited to continue to push the boundaries of geospatial possibilities, both here in New Zealand (NZ) and internationally.  We are thrilled to have David join our Board, and believe his vast GIS knowledge and business experience will be invaluable to the team”, says Brian Wood, Chairman.

With over 25 years’ experience as a strategic GIS Consultant, David has worked with clients throughout NZ and worldwide.  David provides consultant support to the GIS community, along with business advice and mentoring small to medium businesses, particularly those who are seeking to globalise their business.

David was the founder and Managing Director of NorthSouth GIS (NSG) NZ, (formerly Explorer Graphics Ltd), one of the longest established and most successful geospatial consultancies in NZ.  Under David’s direction, NSG became the leading provider of GIS implementation and development services based on Esri technology in NZ.  David’s vision led to the formation of the NSG Group and the establishment of affiliated companies in the United States, with whom he actively participated in strategic business decisions, and GIS implementation, as well as the development of international business partnerships.  In late 2014, David sold NSG NZ to a multinational consultancy.

“I look forward to continuing to serve and partner with the geospatial community in my new role,” remarks David.  “I am dedicated to this industry because I can see so much potential for organisations in our fast-changing world to gain insights through GIS.   Abley and Interpret have already experienced rapid growth and success, I believe there are plenty more opportunities ahead”.

Abley Transportation Consultants design, develop and implement transportation plans and infrastructure to allow people to connect better.  The Abley team work closely with their GIS specialist business, Interpret Geospatial Solutions, who provide innovative GIS analysis, spatial modelling, data creation, cartography, and web server technologies.  Together, Abley and Interpret have a combined team of 45 industry experts based in Auckland and Christchurch .


For more information, please contact:

Steve Abley

Phone 021 556 864 or email

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