How NZRS built the world-leading Broadband Map

NZRS produces the New Zealand Broadband Map, a hugely popular map of broadband availability in New Zealand.

NZRS is the registry for .nz domain names and the operator of the .nz domain name space. NZRS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of InternetNZ, whose mission is to “provide a better world through a better Internet.”

NZRS launched the Broadband Map in July 2015, and it currently ses between 20 and 30 thousand visits per month.

As CEO of NZRS Jay Daley explains, the Broadband Map quickly evolved from its original purpose, which was to highlight the coverage of rural wireless connectivity providers. “We wanted to help them tell the story of the impact they were having — particularly the more isolated or hard-to-reach communities. Our original intent was to get some data from these providers and do some informative analysis.”

Working with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)—with support from the then Minister Amy Adams—the scope of the project evolved into a comprehensive Broadband Map for the entire country.

As Jay explains, “MBIE supported us getting the data we needed from various providers. In parallel, Minister Amy Adams was asking questions about the Australian broadmap map, and seeing if we could create our own version — except do an even better job. And we accepted the challenge. From there, we created our own National Broadband map from scratch, building on the Koordinates platform.”

For NZRS, their Koordinates data service served a dual purpose. Initially, it was used as a data management tool, enabling NZRS to have one source of truth for the geospatial data layers that underpinned the Broadband Map.

As they explored their data service, though, they began to experiment with the Koordinates Query APIs, which are automatically created against every geospatial data layer imported to the platform.

“We’d been using Koordinates as a management platform,” Jay explains. “But after investigating the vector query and how the vector query works, we knew we could contract to build the front-end of the Broadband Map.”

It’s a nationally important site, and we couldn’t have done it without Koordinates — there’s literally no other service we could have used to build the Broadband Map. 

Jay Daley Chief Executive Officer

Jay describes Koordinates as a unique platform, with a range of built-in features that were crucial to the development of the Broadband Map.

“There isn’t anyone else that does an equivalent service to the vector query. Beyond the vector query, we wanted a managed service equivalent to PostGIS, basically, with a management interface built around it, and with the built-in tile service.

“We particularly needed the CartoCSS editor to provide us with the detailed control we need over how the tiles are generated. That’s vital to the complex styling of the layers. And Koordinates gives us all of that, out-of-the-box.”

By building the Broadband Map on top of a Koordinates Data Service, NZRS saved an enormous amount of time and energy, and were able to focus their efforts on building the Broadband Map itself. As Jay explains, “We would have had to build something from multiple different components otherwise to do that, which is not something we want to be doing. The complexity of us doing that ourselves is massive.”

Working with Koordinates, the Broadband Map continues to go from strength to strength.

“It really makes a difference. It’s almost unique globally in having so many different competing data providers give data for it. We’re not far off displaying satellite and mobile phone technology on it, then it will really start kicking off. It’s just got great data, and such heavy usage. We’re really pleased with it.

“It’s a nationally important site, and we couldn’t have done it without Koordinates — there’s literally no other service we could have used to build the Broadband Map. And there’s no way we would have done anything this big, if Koordinates hadn’t solved these problems for us.”

“Koordinates really do provide a great service. It’s a unique service.”