NSW’s Spatial Services embraces serverless, agile

‘Cadastre as a service’ to help councils offer better visibility of DA progress

A cadastre — an authoritative record of land boundaries — is not a new concept, but a recent New South Wales project has given it a distinctly modern twist, with the state government’s Spatial Services agency rolling out a cloud-based ‘cadastre as a service’ offering.

The agency believes the new platform can offer better visibility of the progress of development applications (DAs), reduce manual processes and data duplication, and also create high quality datasets for government.

Spatial Services sits within the Department of Finance, Service and Innovation and is tasked with maintaining key spatial datasets for NSW. One of its responsibilities is maintaining the Digital Cadastral Database (DCDB), which contains information on different types of boundaries in NSW, including governmental boundaries, property boundaries, suburbs and boundaries of bodies of water.

Although DCDB still runs on the agency’s on-prem hardware, Spatial Services has worked with Bulletproof — an AC3 company after a deal struck earlier this year — to create a new service that is helping update a largely paper-based process for the digital age.

Spatial Services undertook extensive stakeholder engagement prior to launching the project Adrian White, the Cadastre NSW program manager yesterday told the NSW Government Digital Marketplace event in Sydney.

“We had duplicate datasets being maintained across New South Wales that were causing a lot of downstream impacts on the usability of data and the ability to tie it together and get some really quality data analytics coming out of it,” White told the conference

“So we needed to find out – what are the gaps, what do our stakeholders need beyond what we can do now. So they needed to operate in a federated data management framework where they could contribute information and access the best quality data at the point that they need it.”

That spawned the effort to create a “cadastre as a service”. The agency issued a request for tender in October and, working with Bulletproof, kicked off the project in January. It was completed in July.

Previously Spatial Services would frequently receive hardcopy plans that would be scanned in and stored on a global drive then converted into a useable format, with a human testing the quality of the conversion.

The new event-driven, cloud-based Cadastre NSW platform can automatically convert information into a digital format that can be used by both Spatial Services and local government authorities (LGAs) to provide a range of new services, such as offering better visibility of DAs.

Previously, “the person who submitted the DA wouldn’t know what stage that was at. They wouldn’t know whether or not the plan had been accepted, whether or not there were any changes required all that sort of stuff,” Bulletproof head of consulting Steve Brown told Computerworld.

Bulletproof worked with Spatial Services to build an API that could be used both by the agency and by local government authorities, with LGAs able to wrap their own DA portals around the API. The new platform uses Amazon Web Services’ API Gateway and the cloud provider’s serverless Lambda offering.

Now when a document is submitted it gets uploaded via the API, which triggers a process whereby data and metadata are extracted, and images are automatically sent off and converted to LandXML. The LandXML is validated, to make sure the edges of a plot haven’t moved, for example, and the output of the process is stored in an encrypted S3 bucket.

An LGA can update the associated metadata via the API as a DA progresses, allowing the person who submitted the DA to find out where the application is up to through an LGA’s own web-based portal.

The DCDB still remains the system of record; the new cloud-based system uploads data to the on-prem system but all the LandXML and GeoTIFF files are stored in S3.

Brown said that the impact of the project on Spatial Services is likely to stretch beyond just the rollout of the new platform, with the agency looking at more opportunities to employ agile methodology.

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Tags governmentCloudcloud computingNSW GovernmentAmazon Web Services (AWS)New South Wales (NSW)serverless architecture

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