Mapping the future

Mapping the future

 4 December 2007

published by

Australia — New internet mapping technology that taps into high resolution aerial photos may be a breakthrough for emergency services but it has raised concerns about privacy.

The Spatial Information Exchange (SIX) program launched by the NSW Department of Lands allows people to see satellite images and geographic information about anywhere in NSW.

Pictures of suburbs 60 years ago can be compared to the present and overlaid with street directory mapping.

The simplest search of lot and deposited plan numbers can turn up street and suburb information, and the attributes of individual properties can be found from land titles.

The department’s director-general, Warwick Watkins, said the information would be used for development and planning, monitoring traffic routes and demographics.

He said that even though SIX would provide more and more property information to the department, privacy would not be compromised.

“This technology is like Google on steroids,” Mr Watkins said. “It is empowering people to be better informed about the land, its management and use.

“It’s not a spy in the sky. You can’t find out who owns the property. The only live information comes from the Bureau of Meteorology to track weather.”

The department has 2500 property dealings every day and that information is updated on SIX every day.

The technology has been hailed as a major breakthrough for emergency services in tracking storms and finding bushfires.

NSW Fire Brigades’ director of information technology, Richard Host, said SIX provided detailed information to support on-the-ground decisions.

“If there is a factory fire, we can view the area in detail and see critical infrastructure, including power and water lines,” Mr Host said.

“We can see hot spots from the satellites every couple of hours overlaid on maps, so we can see the progression of bushfires.”

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