Parsing the Aussie state: Not just access, but accessible and useful formats needed

Just geocoded Medicare office location data… all looks good, except Palmerston has ended up in West Africa. lol. #gov2au

Last night’s geocoding effort wasn’t without its problems. I probably should have made it clear that this was a mechanical translation and that I didn’t check every location for accuracy. I only noticed Palmerston was a bit off because of where it appeared on the Google Map I created! 🙂

Still, the process highlighted a few issues:

  • .xls format isn’t a particularly good Web 2.0 data format. If not JSON or XML etc, then even publishing in a plain format like .csv help as tools like Yahoo! Pipe will parse it.
  • If the data relates to or contains geographic data, then it absolutely has to be geocoded to be of any use.

Relatively speaking it didn’t take me long to convert the .XLS file or find a site that would geocode the data for me. However, confirming the quality of even this simple set of geocoded data might take a little more effort. It would be good if all this was done at the source.

I noticed one of the data files supplied by the Government 2.0 Task Force competition has been supplied in SPSS format. This raises more difficult problems because unlike .xls, most users won’t have ready access to software or sites that can parse it into something useful. So, the first step here is translation not mashing. Hopefully people into mapping will have better luck with some of the other geographic data files that have been provided.

Perhaps we should be calling this ParseUp Australia instead?