Change is constant – make sure you’re always up to speed with NationalMap data

May 21, 2021 12:20:28 PM / by Andrew Smith


Far reaching school zoning and speed limit changes (planned and proposed by the Ministry of Education and Waka Kotahi respectively) have been very much in the news recently

It got me thinking how true it is that the only constant in our world is change. Usually that change is incremental and cumulative, but sometimes it’s dramatic, fast moving and all at once.

As that prime mover of cultural change Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was once credited as saying;

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

He would know.

Anyway, back to these zoning and speed limit changes. If fully implemented, these will be pretty consequential changes for many people and they certainly make a geospatial data scientist like myself sit-up and take note.

Because it’s not often we’re totally remapping educational administrative areas (school zones) for our biggest city, or potentially changing speed limits nationally, all at once.

Normally our stewardship and maintenance of NationalMap data requires regular, diligent and incremental changes, day-in and day-out, to ensure our location data is the most current and up-to-date data available in New Zealand.

So, there’s a lot to absorb in these proposals and a lot of great conversation around them that I find really heartening as a geospatial practitioner. Comments from those impacted show an implicit understanding of the importance of accurate spatial data. Take this quote from Auckland Primary Principals Association president Stephen Lethbridge on the Ministry Education’s plans:

"There's no doubt that there is a challenge involved. We've had a system where schools in the past would co-construct a zone with the ministry and there would be overlaps and all sorts of grey areas…”

Nobody wants a grey area when it comes to things like school zones, not when “being in zone” can add hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars to house prices. Whether that’s a family maxing out what they can afford so the kids can get into the best schools, or developers building on the right plots to maximise return.  

When it comes to reduced speed limits around schools, I imagine most of us are on board with making access to schools safer. Reduced speed also makes walking, cycling or scooting more attractive modes of transport for children and parents, so it’s a no-brainer to my mind.

The proposed changes would mean a fairly uniform 30 km/h speed zone outside all urban schools and a maximum of 60 km/h outside rural schools.

Of course for every action there is a reaction, and while reduced speeds around schools is undoubtedly a good thing, it will mean reduced productivity for some transport operators (if they are not on top of these changes or don’t have a plan in pace to mitigate them).

When you consider that the Minister of Transport has said that limits could only apply during school travel periods (with the use of variable speed limit signs) then this also adds considerable variability in terms of optimal route planning.  

All these changes are mooted to happen at roughly the same time across large areas of the country, which makes things a lot easier for data curators and providers to ingest and reflect these changes.

However, most of the time, change like this just doesn’t happen conveniently “all at once”.

In fact, in complete contrast to this, at NationalMap, we see the small incremental changes that occur every day and let me assure you, time and change wait for no one.

Change is the only real constant and before you know it, your static “snapshot in-time” data is out of date and impacting the quality of the decisions you make based on that data.

This is why constantly (and lovingly!) maintained and curated data like NationalMap data is so critical.

NationalMap provide monthly updates to ensure your critical business or organisational decisions are made based on the most current and accurate spatial data available - not yesterday’s news.

Make sure you’re always up to speed with NationalMap data – to find out how we can improve your business decisions and outcomes get in touch with us today.

Topics: Data Modules, routing data, Location Data