Thursday, January 27, 2011

NSW electoral commission asking citizens to geolocate their own addresses

In a initiative to improve electoral records, the NSW electoral commission is asking citizens to geocode their own location.

The initiative relies on the prevalence of GPS units in peoples' smartphones and other devices, coupled with an online system which allows people to locate their homes online and confirm that they have been mapped correctly in the electoral database.

Details on the initiative are available at the Elector Geo-Location System pages of the NSW electoral commission's site.

I hope this initiative won't remain limited to NSW, there's application for this approach across all Australian electorates.

What will be interesting after the collection of this data is how it will be used, beyond mapping electorates.

For instance the geomapped locations of Australian addresses, appropriately de-identified, could be used to supplement other geolocational records, improving the ability for emergency services to reach addresses in a crisis.

They could also be released freely as open data - after all the government isn't paying citizens for the data.

That would certainly be a better outcome than locking up public data in an organisation such as PSMA Australia Limited, a government-owned corporation, which collects public data and then resells it back to Australians.

1 comment:

  1. With any non copyright material, there'll always be entrepreneurs who collect this material, repackage it, and sell it back.

    In five years when all psi is available free from the web (due to cc By 3), this technique will be common place and hopefully result in a better informed and engaged public.