PSMA’s new project to capture Australia’s buildings covers the development of Geoscape

After having been applauded for its public release of Australia’s Geocoded National Address File (G-NAF), PSMA Australia has set its sights on its most innovative and ambitious dataset yet. The new initiative known as Geoscape will use satellite imagery to capture key built environment data such as 3D building attributes, land cover, tree heights, roof materials, swimming pools and solar panels.

PSMA’s Chief Executive Officer, Dan Paull said that by linking together numerous attributes, Geoscape will provide a greater understanding of what exists at an address – buildings, attributes and land cover – for every address in Australia.

“To test the concept, PSMA completed a pilot in the Sydney suburb of Chatswood in August 2015. We then moved into the first capture phase, which has focused on the Adelaide region and covers some 16,000 km2.”

Now, Adelaide has been identified as the next area for study, and ultimately the launching point of Geoscape.

Dan acknowledged that around Australia, there are a number of excellent 3D city models that provide very high quality detail: “These models capture very specific and often quite small geographic areas and have largely been developed for visualisation, although the growing prevalence of point cloud data is enabling small-scale analytical models to be developed.

“While Geoscape uses a variety of terrestrial and satellite based sensors and will provide similar data at a lower accuracy level, it is a dataset to support analytics at the continental level.”

“In a global context, while a number of city areas and countries such as Singapore have undertaken such activities, we believe that this combination of content at this scale makes Geoscape a world-first.”

PSMA has identified the following as key features of Geoscape:

  1. Coverage is national – it will capture the whole of Australia.
  2. The dataset will be maintained on a regular basis so that it depicts the built environment as it changes.
  3. Geoscape includes linkages to other important geospatial reference datasets including geocoded address, property boundary data and the transport network.

For more than 20 years, PSMA has been aggregating, standardising and delivering high-quality location based national datasets to the Australia market. During this period, PSMA has cultivated a wide range of relationships with data custodians and data distributors and value added resellers.

“To develop Geoscape, we are collaborating with Australian federal, state and territory data custodians, said Dan Paull. “We are also working with Digital Globe for remote sensing and feature extraction.”

“Geoscape will also incorporate crowdsourcing and use open data where available. An example is the use of DigitalGlobe’s crowdsourcing geospatial intelligence technology, Tomnod to assist in the identification of features such as swimming pools and solar panels.”

Geoscape will be a continually developing product, with new attributes added based on market need and data availability or capture options. It will use three categories across Australia in relation to data quality and potential capture timelines. Each category has been developed based on a number of factors including the probability of the occurrence of a natural events such as flooding, population distribution, industrial or commercial activities and ability to verify positional accuracy.

For the base release of Geoscape, regions with more precise data have been defined as Urban, those with a lower risk value have been defined as Rural Balance and Remote Communities is used to define areas of interest to capture at high quality attribution but low quality positional accuracy. The Urban category will capture more than 90% of Australia’s population.

Various Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) and Digital Surface Models (DSMs) will be used during the development and maintenance of Geoscape. A national 30m DEM will be provided with Geoscape.

Current product development forecasts will see all Urban areas provided by mid-2017, followed by the Rural Balance in late 2017.

Courtesy of Spatial Source -

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