Back to Blog


• 06 Nov, 2016

The future of open data publishing

The internet is awash in authoritative government data, much of it freely available. But are we seeing a radical increase in reuse?

Data, data, everywhere

Over the last decade, we’ve witnessed a transformation in the distribution of public data. Government agencies around the world, from urban and regional authorities to state and federal governments, are now releasing their data on the public internet, for anyone to access and use. Generally speaking, this data is made available free of charge and most copyright restrictions on use.

The reasons for doing so are clear. A paper published by McKinsey in 2013 estimated that open data could generate more than $3 trillion a year in additional value for the global economy. Similar predictions have been made by governments around the world.

And the good news is that there has indeed seen a sharp increase in the amount of authoritative data released by government for free and open reuse. While it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, open data publishing is gradually becoming business as usual for many countries around the world.

The transformative potential of open government data

So, what’s the problem? Well, the thing is—and this might sound counter-intuitive—the goal of the open data movement was never just ‘release more data.’ The actual goal was to see a sharp increase in high-value use of authoritative data, across civil society, industry and government itself.

And getting data used is hard. While the open data project has been successful in getting more open data on the internet, it has struggled in generating the levels of use required to realise its initial vision (I’ll talk about why this is the case later on). Every open government data project in the world has found it difficult to bridge the gap between ‘getting the data out there’ and ‘getting it used.’ While there are some great open data case studies, these are still relatively isolated.

It’s fair to say that we haven’t yet realised the full, transformative potential of open government data.

The particular case of geospatial

This is particularly the case with geospatial data, which has the greatest potential to transform our society and economy, but has also the greatest barriers to high-value use.

Geospatial professionals know these barriers all too well, particularly the low-level data wrangling tasks, such as sourcing and translating spatial datasets published across a range of government websites and servers. These rudimentary, somewhat painful tasks have, unfortunately, become part of the job.

But what about those who lack geospatial training and software? What about the multitude of architects, engineers, analysts, designers, draftsmen, researchers and more—all those involved in the projects that determine how we understand and shape our planet?

For these folks, the process of accessing and using data can be truly daunting. Indeed, lacking specialist software and training, simply finding, downloading and appraising large and complex geospatial datasets from a variety of sources and translating them into the formats they need—such as DWG, or geospatial PDF—is nearly impossible.

For the open government data project to realise its potential, we need to find a way to reduce these barriers. Otherwise, industry, government and civil society will continue to bear the heavy transaction costs of accessing and using authoritative geospatial data.

The workflows of data users

To tackle this problem, we need to go back to basics, and examine the real-world workflows people are using to find and access data. This sounds like a complex task, given the sheer diversity of potential users. But for our purposes, we can simplify the geospatial data workflow into four general steps, as our Head of Design Dan Newman outlined in his design research blog: Find → Appraise → Access → Use.

The aim, for government agencies publishing open data, is to reduce the bottlenecks and pain-points at each of these steps. These pain-points include:

  1. Find: Data is scattered across a multitude of servers, catalogues and portals.
  2. Appraise: Data often needs to be downloaded in its entirety and imported into a specialist software application before users can tell if it’s useful for their project.
  3. Access: Data is made available in specialist formats that require training or expensive applications to translate and combine.
  4. Use: Data lacks OGC web services and APIs to enable the creation of new products and services.

As you can imagine, these are difficult problems to solve: geospatial data is sourced from various local and national government agencies; it can be large in size and complex; and the industry uses a range of open and proprietary file formats that can be hard to translate and combine.

To make this even more difficult, whatever solution public agencies adopt needs to be designed for both geospatial and non-geospatial professionals. This solution is something we’ve called authoritative data publishing—that is, publishing on a platform that has been designed and engineered to meet the technical requirements and workflows of both data publishers and data users. 

More on that in our next post.

Ed CorkeryPosted by Ed Corkery

Other News & Updates


• 16 Feb, 2022

New License and Site Category Management
We have fully rebuilt and are about to launch our license and site category management functions. This brings improved performance and usability to the platform, and helps you to curate and refine your data in more ways.Read More


• 23 Feb, 2022

Latest Desktop App release - v0.9.2
The latest version of our Desktop App has been released (v0.9.2) This represents extensive performance increases and other improvements to the App.Read More


• 23 Feb, 2022

Introducing Multi-factor authentication and Okta support for Koordinates ID
Built with OAuth 2.0, the dominant web authentication standard in 2022Read More


• 23 Feb, 2022

Koordinates QGIS Kart Plugin is now available
Allowing for direct Kart integration, get ready to unlock the full potential of QGISRead More


• 17 Nov, 2021

Koordinates now supports GDA2020
The latest Australian national datum for mappingRead More


• 29 Nov, 2021

Latest Desktop App release (v0.9)
Performance upgrades to enhance and improve speed and usabilityRead More


• 24 Nov, 2021

Spatial filtering for Kart and QGIS Kart Plugin
The latest Kart release completes a major new feature for spatial filtering repositories and adds an upcoming plugin for QGISRead More


• 30 Nov, 2021

New changes to our Data Management functionality
This feature lets a publisher/owner of data collect layers into a group, name it, and host it on their web portal.Read More


• 04 Mar, 2020

Sno, our new open source tool for distributed data versioning
Sno brings the distributed, version-controlled workflows of software development to geospatial and tabular data.Read More


• 19 Mar, 2020

Announcing Koordinates’ New Pro User Plan
We’re excited to announce our new entry-level Pro User plan for Koordinates Data Management.Read More


• 10 Dec, 2019

Announcing new-and-improved Data Management for Teams
We've upgraded our Data Management Team Plan — and reduced the price.Read More

Company Update

• 22 Nov, 2019

Why the world still struggles with open geospatial data publishing
Realising the potential of open geospatial data will require us to think of data publishing in a fundamentally different way.Read More


• 18 Sep, 2019

Why Koordinates supports many (many) different file formats
Koordinates supports a wide range of formats beyond GIS, including DWG, CSV, KML, and geospatial PDF.Read More


• 10 Sep, 2019

How Koordinates Solves the Problem of XML Metadata
Koordinates supports connected metadata sources, making it easier to publish and update XML metadata.Read More


• 20 Aug, 2019

How Koordinates Handles Data Uploads
Koordinates supports a classic 'drag-and-drop' workflow, with a few special features under the hood.Read More


• 15 Oct, 2017

Data is the key to unlocking the spatial revolution
Geospatial industry CMO Linda Stevens writes about the importance of unlocking Earth's data.Read More


• 22 Jun, 2017

A data service, not a data portal
A data service is designed for all users, in all industries, and promises radically higher levels of reuse.Read More


• 23 May, 2017

From open data to active data
In 2017, it’s no longer good enough to just ‘get open data out there.’Read More


• 11 May, 2017

Solving the problem of dormant data
We now have the tools — policy, legal, cultural and technical — to solve the problem of data that is open but underused.Read More

Company Update

• 03 May, 2017

Talking Geospatial Data and Design
Next week our Head of Design, Dan Newman is talking at Techweek as part of the SIBA ‘Talk Geospatial’ breakfast series.Read More


• 23 Mar, 2017

Realising the vision of open data
The connected data lifecycle shows how agencies can raise the bar and publish their open data better.Read More

Company Update

• 15 Mar, 2017

Open data and the Stats NZ Datarama
We’re excited to be a partner for the Stats NZ Datarama next Friday, 24 March.Read More


• 10 Nov, 2016

The birds and the bees of software
A bit of magic happens when people from our various teams get together and cross-pollinate.Read More

Company Update

• 21 Oct, 2016

Design Research
The design team at Koordinates has been busy researching the workflows and requirements of our publishers and users.Read More

Company Update

• 17 Dec, 2015

Welcome Statistics NZ!
Statistics NZ recently launched the prototype of their data service on the Koordinates platform, with a view to making their statistical data more easily consumable for users.Read More

Company Update

• 17 Apr, 2013

Koordinates & the LDS win
The LINZ Data Service, built using Koordinates and supported by our engineers, won both the Spatial Enablement category and the JK Barrie Award for Overall Excellence at the Asia Pacific Spatial Excellence Awards.Read More

Company Update

• 23 Apr, 2013

Our CEO chats with Kim Hill
Koordinates CEO Ed Corkery was invited by the Royal Society of New Zealand and the National Library to talk about open data with Radio New Zealand’s Kim Hill.Read More

Company Update

• 05 Jul, 2013

Minister Williamson praises the LINZ Data Service
By making it quick and easy to find, check and view datasets, our portals have enabled public agencies to reuse public datasets that already exist, saving a heap of time and money.Read More

Company Update

• 13 Jul, 2013

New Zealand local government data
Local government datasets have huge social and economic significance, and are used by everyone from architects and data professionals to home-owners and ratepayers.Read More


• 13 Aug, 2013

Useful (and nice looking) open data
Students at Auckland University, spent their summer investigating how open data could help two groups, home buyers and professionals, make better decisions.Read More


• 13 Nov, 2013

LINZ Data Service and the Global Open Data Barometer
New Zealand has placed fourth on the Global Open Data Barometer.Read More


• 24 Jul, 2015

New Zealand National Broadband Map
The National Broadband Map allows you to enter your address and get an instant view of the different internet connection types available (or planned) in your area.Read More


• 29 Oct, 2015

Getting what you want - even when it's not in the box
With cloud technology changing the playing field of publishing and sharing data, more organisations are making the transition to new software.Read More

Company Update

• 28 Oct, 2015

The changing economics of data publishing and sharing
The business models and subsequent economics associated with making data available are also evolving.Read More


• 04 May, 2016

Mapping an ocean reserve at Cloud Break
Koordinates Customer Experience Manager Anne Harper helped map out the new Kurukuru Ocean Reserve in FijiRead More


• 25 Sep, 2023

Desktop App Public Beta
The Desktop App is now in public beta, meaning anyone can download and try it today!Read More


• 24 Sep, 2023

Try the 3D Map Viewer
Add another dimension to your data.Read More

Company Update

• 23 Sep, 2023

ISO27001 Certification
Ready to discover the secure, enterprise-grade geospatial data management capabilities of Koordinates?Read More


• 22 Sep, 2023

Web Plugin added to Giraffe
Our web plugin allows you to embed a Data Browser into any map-based web applicationRead More

• 20 Sep, 2023

Explore v10 UI
Take a in-depth tour of our new user interface, v10.Read More


• 26 Sep, 2023

Koordinates QGIS Plugin v2
The QGIS Koordinates Plugin v2 is now available to downloadRead More

Get started or get in touch

Our flexible product and pricing solutions suit a wide range of business and consumer needs. Sign up for free or talk to us about a tailored solution for your needs.