Archive for April, 2012

The Australian Bureau of Statistics… open data but closed documentation for that data?

April 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Update: The HTML equivalent of the PDF is available at Unlike the PDF, the HTML version is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia license (and confirmed via email). I prefer the HTML version, I just hadn’t noticed it earlier. Thanks to the Client Support Officer from the ABS who got back to me with this information.

Just a day after I posted my ASGS to PostgreSQL loader and plans to integrate with the ABS data, I’ve already hit resistance.

Once piece of documentation the ABS released for the 2011 Census data at$FILE/2011%20Census%20Dictionary%2027102011.pdf (ABS Catalogue No. 2901.0) contains the full copyright notice without any reference to it being licensed under a free and open license such as the Creative Commons Attribution license. This notice is an “unless otherwise noted exception” to the CC license on the ABS website.

I made an enquiry to the ABS about this and was told “Written permission is required from the ABS if you wish reproduce this publication or extracts from it.”

I’m disappointed that the ABS refuse to release their documentation for the 2011 Census data under a free license such as a Creative Commons license. It doesn’t really make sense to me why they would release the data under an open license, but not release the documentation under the same or equivalent license. This only hinders the availability of the documentation and would lead to data consumers needing to make guesses or oversights about data and as such would be more likely to misinterpret it.

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Loading the ASGS into PostgreSQL in preparation for the ABS 2011 census data release

April 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Over the extended Easter period I found myself with some extra free time, the result is – A bunch of scripts for loading the ASGS into PostgreSQL/PostGIS, and a database dump of the final product.

The ASGS is the geospatial fabric for the ABS 2011 Census data. My idea was to put in place a stable PostgreSQL schema for the ASGS and put together a well defined process for loading data into that schema.

As a small example of using the data I wrote some carto/qgis stylesheets for the various ASGS structures. Source code is at with a live example at which shows the ASGS Mesh Blocks coloured by the landuse assigned to that mesh block.

With this building block now in place, when the actual census data starts to be released in June 2012 I will hopefully be able to load it into a relational data model with references to ASGS geometries all in PostgreSQL (and PostGIS).

I’m not sure if I’ll need to choose between wasting time scraping data from the ABS website or I should go straight to the DVD

If the $100 is really just for the cost of the DVD+admin surely the ABS can put the entire DVD contents on its webserver, all under the Creative Commons Attribution license. If I do purchase the DVD I sure as hell would want to ensure it notes that its contents are CC-BY licensed.

I also am interested if the census data will also be available as datacubes.

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The sand storm

April 4, 2012 Leave a comment

The OSM license change seems to be hitting a climax. OSMF are meant to be culling the database and shifting to their new license about now.

NearMap are continuing down a different path now that they had been previous, seeming making it harder (and perhaps dropping the clause altogether..?) to derive data and publish it under the CC-BY-SA license.

Bing imagery traced data in OSM/FOSM is marching ahead.

I can’t seem to keep up with it and stay on my two feet any more.

I’m this close to putting my head in the sand and letting it all blow over and seeing how my sand castle of work I’ve put into OSM and FOSM stands after the storm.

Perhaps I should shift gears and focus on something completely different until then.

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