What’s the deal with data?

You asked, so we’ve found out! To add some insight into the wonderful world of data, we’ve interviewed MDS’s Data Manager, Edwin Haverkamp (‘Ed’ to friends), to get the low down on why a good base map is so important. Here’s the transcript…

Hi Ed. First things first. Tell us, in a nutshell, why is data so important?

Data is the cornerstone of everything that we do when we think about GIS and geo-enabling our lives. Without good quality and frequently updated mapping data, critical business decisions and every day planning is not as accurate or cannot be relied upon as much to give the correct answers to the often complex questions posed. To MDS, data is something that we are truly passionate about, it is a living breathing organism which we strive to add and improve upon every day!

Nicely put. Now Ed, you are the Data Manager at MDS… what exactly is it that MDS does?

Essentially, we provide the data that creates maps and also provide a hosted online map environment. MapData Sciences Pty Ltd (MDS) has been developing great geospatial databases and hosting online map-based applications since 1998. Our data is known for its quality, accuracy and currency and is used by some of Australia’s largest blue chip companies and in multiple Government departments. Clients include Medicare, Australia Post, Woolworths and News Limited… just to name a few. MDS data also powers popular internet mapping systems such as Google Maps and Google Earth.

So what’s so special about MDS?

Well, I guess our point of difference lies in the fact that we have the most comprehensive, accurate data. We provide options for the GIS market and have an in-depth knowledge of how spatial products and services benefit everyday life. You can make better maps with MDS (even if I do say so myself!)…

Why do GIS professionals need to know about MDS?

GIS professionals rely on good data, so they need to be aware that MDS provides them with this. Our MDS Foundation map is the most current online road data available in Australia and New Zealand. We can also supply data management options and hosted GIS services.

How does MDS Foundation Maps work?

MDS Foundation Map is a set of tiled map rasters, using discrete zoom levels in a similar vein to Bing Maps and Google Maps. These tiles are stored inside MDS and are made available to applications inside and outside of MDS by a RESTful web service, allowing for easy integration into web based technologies, for example ArcGIS Server, OpenLayers and MapInfo.

How is your data optimised?

MDS optimises the data for rendering purposes, to find the fine line between performance and the quality of cartography we are aiming for. MDS has written a custom tiling solution which is database driven and runs 24 hours per day to constantly update the collection of tiles on our servers with the latest updates as they get processed, as opposed to other providers which pre-tile at given points in time and release. This unique update system also allows MDS to rapidly redo particular areas of the Foundation Map if the need arises to cater for significant changes in infrastructure or client requirement. (For example, a new requirement to include mining roads or new urban developments).

What datasets are included?

MDS includes all of the data from its flagship RoadNET products which include a full street network, information about National Parks, Reserves, Waterways as well as Property Boundaries and Address Points to provide the most comprehensive base map we can.

Why did MDS choose to align with Dekho?

As a geographic web application, Dekho assists organisations in bridging the gap between corporate databases. It helps organisations realise their location intelligence potential. To that end, MDS chose to align and provide Foundation Map as it recognises that the power of this information is best displayed and managed within the context of the most up to date set of base information available.


MDS Foundation Map in action with Dekho


What’s one interesting fact about MDS data that people might not know?

MDS Data is currently in use by many of Australia’s largest organisations for everything from their store locators to demographic and logistics planning. MDS data is highly visible through users of Google and Bing Maps and thus is constantly being updated to reflect the feedback of this impressive user base.

Thanks for your time Ed.

Thanks for having me.
 – Alicia S.

PS – for more info on data, base maps and everything MDS, check out their website. For more info on Dekho and it’s built-in foundation maps, check out the Dekho website.

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