Strictly Spatial #32

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!