First impressions matter

Blog by John King, Business development director at Registers of Scotland.

First impressions matter. We may pretend otherwise, but deep down, we know they do.

Fortunately, my first impressions of Australia are nothing but positive; friendly, dynamic, forward looking people – and of course there’s the weather! This is a country with youth on its side. For someone who’s on the wrong side of 50, you can’t help but feel you are some kind of Gulliver who’s arrived in a land of the young.

And while my initial view of Australia as a ‘big’ country on the other side of the world may be correct, in fact it’s not so impersonal that you can’t still bump into someone you know from the UK while out on an early morning, jet lag induced walk – a chance encounter that still has me bemused. And ok, Australia may be a long way away, but it shares the same digital aspirations as Scotland, and there’s the same political commitment to transforming public services both at national and federal level.

Day 1 of my itinerary illustrated exactly that. Meetings with national government digital and data representatives, as well as with Dan Paul, the chief executive of the Public Sector Mapping Agency, focused on developments in data sharing and transparency. Australia has recently launched what they refer to as a national map‘, a map-based portal that draws together and provides access to a large number of different spatial data sets on matters ranging from the environment, through habitation and infrastructure, to national and statistical boundaries. This is still a work in progress, and although it’s not integrated with federal land title datasets, it offers a very clear insight in to what can be achieved when information is aggregated. For anyone wishing to visualise what ScotLIS may look like, the national map website is an ideal starting point.


For a country with so much land, Australian cities have an abundance of skyscrapers. It’s perhaps no surprise that they’re actively considering 3D mapping, so that you can actually see not only the footrpint of the building, but the actual position of individual properties within it.

The PSMA has been leading on this, and it’s fascinating to understand how the challenge is being met and how we in turn may wish to bring it to life in Scotland – and so bring a degree of parity to the way in which flatted properties and the like are presented on the cadastral map. This will take time, but 3D mapping is very much the future for the spatial world.

So my first impressions were right; digital change is very much on the agenda, and I look forward to the next few days. But first, I’m heading out for a stroll to see who else I may bump into…

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