Category Archives: Blog

The Boundary Mapper’s Cookbook

Dots on maps don’t always tell you the full story behind the numbers.  In cases where you’ve got postcode, suburb or council based data – you’ll want to be able to map those boundaries to tell a richer story than text, numbers or dots can do.

Here’s a quick and dirty guide to getting up and running with boundary data just in time for GovHack:

1 – Install PostgreSQL 9.1 :

2 – Install PostGIS 2.0 :  (there are now 64bit binaries for those who want serious spatial power)

3 – Download some Shapefile (SHP) formatted boundary data and load it into PostGIS (there’s a GUI – PostGIS Shapefile and DBF Loader 2.0 – inside the PostgreSQL Admin Console).  If you’ve got another format there are OS tools you can use – try OGR2OGR (handy guide here)

4 – Download some data to go with those lovely boundaries – e.g. some juicy hot off the press ATO Tax data

5 – Install PHP 5.3 on your web server with the PostgreSQL PDO drivers :

6 – Download the PostGIS RESTful Web Service Framework 1.1 (PRWSF)

7 – Edit the PRWSF /inc/ file to set your PostgreSQL database connection

8 – Download Leaflet Javascript API

9 – Get a Cloudmade account for a free API key to access to an OpenStreetMap tile layer of your choice

10 – Edit the PRWSF /v1/ws_geo_attributequery.php file to support callbacks for cross domain JSON:

     echo $_GET[‘jsoncallback’] . ‘(‘;


    echo ‘)’;

11 – Leech some code from GitHub

FYI – the ABS has a rich collection of boundaries for you to use under Creative Commons licensing.  This links directly to their own stats as well as the stats of many other agencies and organisation, such as the ATO (who recently released a tonne of tax data!).  This data is ripe for rich visualisation:

Note: 2006 Census data uses he ASGC boundaries.  2011 Census data will use the ASGS bdys when the data is released on June 21.

Here’s one I prepared earlier…

Bend it like Queenslanders at GeoRabble Brisbane #1

GeoRabble Brisbane #1 rocked! We had 107 registrations  and although the numbers on the night are uncertain it was BIG. As the hordes arrived the organizers gave up on checkins, threw the pages of sticky name labels into the crowd and joined the party. Rain threatened and Lord of the Rabble Rob Clout was stressing, but on the night it was perfection and the outdoor venue (PigNWhistle) overlooking the river was sublime . The show went on and many people stayed on to rabble on late into the night. If you were there, or if you took any photos, we’d love to hear from you! If you weren’t there but wish you were, well, we’d love to hear from you also. Add a comment or send a tweet to @georabble !

Continue reading Bend it like Queenslanders at GeoRabble Brisbane #1

NASA International Space Apps Challenge 2012

GeoRabble is excited to be associated with this year’s NASA International Space Apps Challenge, a perfect opportunity for geo-geeks to meet, and work with like-minded developers, scientists and other space experts from all over the world.

The NASA International Space Apps Challenge is an international codeathon-style event that will take place over a 48 hour period in cities on all seven continents – and in space – on the weekend of 21-22 April, 2012. The event embraces collaborative problem solving with a goal of producing solutions to global challenges.

With under a month to go, the hype of the event is gaining momentum around the world. The Space Apps Challenge in Australia now welcomes two new satellite events to the programme, one being in Adelaide at the Centre for Science Education in the 21st Century at Flinders University. The other will be hosted at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. This will now open up the opportunity for more participants from other cities in Australia to get involved.

You can be part of this great event as a participant, subject expert or volunteer. If you’re interested, there’s more information on the website, you can register as participant or volunteer, or follow the challenge on  Twitter.

Hope to see you there!

Speakers at GeoRabble Sydney #4

We’re building an excellent lineup for GeoRabble Sydney #4!

Here’s the list of confirmed speakers so far to whet your geo-appetite (bios and abstracts to follow next week):

Jack Zhao (Small Multiples) : Are casino operators targeting vulnerable community groups?

Andrew Cook : 10 Good Reasons to Share Data

Kathryn Howard (Bookcrossing) : Books Just Wanna Be Free!

Paul Wither : Set your data free from the typing pool

GeoRabble Sydney #4 is on Thursday March 29 at the Shelbourne Hotel (doors open 5.30pm, talks from 6.30pm). Get your free tickets at

Woot! GeoRabble rolls into Brisbane

GeoRabble #1 arrives in Brisbane on Tuesday April 17 (doors open 5.30pm, talks from 6.30pm). Then grab yourself a free ticket!

Old Boys
GeoRabble Arrives in Brisbane! (Photo by Cyron Ray Macey)

Hungry for a tasty serve of Brisbane geospatial goodness, free of agendas and sales pitches, amongst your friends and colleagues?  Want to find out about some of the great unsung work being done by passionate people working with location? We’re lining up some great speakers and topics and there are a few speaking slots available – if you’ve got something new and exciting from the world of geo, please email us at

GeoRabble #2 – Perth

Following hot on the heels of the successful inaugural Perth GeoRabble, we’re getting ourselves geared up for the second evening to share geo-ideas, full of fun, and free of sales-pitches.

What is GeoRabble?

GeoRabble is about celebrating the everyday challenges and triumphs of working with location. Everything from the mundane to the glamorous, unfiltered by professional bodies, government and private company agendas and industry politics.

Who is GeoRabble for?

Anyone who has anything to do with GeoTech, GeoDev, GeoBusiness, GeoTrends, GeoFutures, GeoPasts – you name it, as long as you’re passionate and want to share your challenges, triumphs, frustrations and pride in the work that you do.

Date: 21 February, 2012
Time: Doors open 5.30pm, talks from 6.30pm
The Oxford Hotel
368 Oxford Street
Leederville, 6007

Continue reading GeoRabble #2 – Perth

Map-making with a balloon

Here is a very cool project which combines high-tech (digital cameras and online georeferencing software) with low-tech (a helium balloon) to create grass-roots maps.

Balloon mapping is sending a camera up on a balloon, snapping photos, and stitching them into a map. Over the past 18 months, we’ve build a global community of mappers who use balloons and kites to take aerial photos, and our browser application MapKnitter to stitch them together.