[@OKau] Standard format for publishing CSV spatial data on data.gov.au - feedback, comments?

Steve Bennett stevage at gmail.com
Tue May 5 06:09:30 UTC 2015

Hi all,
  By day, I work on National Map <http://nationalmap.gov.au>, which scours
data.gov.au and other portals for open spatial data from state and federal
open data portals (including local government data). It lets you choose
which of these datasets to view on the map, primarily supporting quick
assessment of value in a dataset or to answer basic questions.

Now, we'd like to get a bit more systematic about harvesting CSV data.
There are two main types:
1) Point data described by latitude and longitude
2) Administrative region described by reference to a known region such as a
suburb, postcode, local government area (LGA), ABS statistical area etc.

(Arbitrary line and polygon features are out of scope for now - they're
better published as GeoJSON in any case).

We'd really like to have an agreed standard that data providers can publish
to, that is both supported by National Map (and other instances of Terria),
but is a generally good, reusable format for data that will be used for
other applications as well (including Excel, leaflet, CartoDB, QGIS...)

["We" in this case is NICTA, but I have a strong personal interest in this,
as an Open Knowledge volunteer...]

I'm tentatively calling it "Aus-Geo-CSV". I've started writing it up here:


It's probably best to comment here.

Things I'd particularly like to know:
- feedback on which fields are widely in use (particularly any history
around why that's the case)
- feedback on any likely difficulties in following the standard
- what else should be in there? Should we be encouraging .vrt files to be
provided? Do we need to mention character encodings, line endings, quoting,
- has someone else already done this, and better?
- are there other administrative regions that are important to support?
(I'm obviously focusing the spec on what National Map can and will support,
but it can certainly be broader than that.)

To make commenting easier, I'll quote the important bits here, but please
do read the whole thing. (It will probably have changed since I write

In data.gov.au, datasets that conform to this standard SHOULD be tagged
"aus-geo-csv". The dataset MUST NOT contain CSV files that do not conform
(but may contain other non-CSV files).


   - Preferred field names: lat, lon [the only format currently supported]
   - Accepted field names: latitude, longitude; lat, lng
   - Discouraged: x, y;
   - Avoid: WKT (single column with data in POINT(-37.8 144.9) format);

Each MUST be a number in decimal degrees (EPSG:4326). Numbers SHOULD NOT be
enclosed in double quotes.


A four digit postcode.

   - Preferred field name: au:postcode
   - Acceptable field names: postcode
   - Discouraged: poa

For greater precision, additional fields suburb and state MAY be provided.
For example: postcode 3068, suburb Clifton Hill, state VIC.
Local Government Area

   - Preferred field name: au:lga
   - Acceptable field names: lga

The contents MUST be the short form of the LGA name, with no "City of",
"Council" etc. For example: "Melbourne", "Greater Geelong". It SHOULD be
capitalised like this.

A separate state column MUST be provided, as LGA names are not unique
across states. A separate au:lga_code column SHOULD be provided.

   - Preferred field name: au:lga_code
   - Acceptable field name: lga_code

This MUST be the 5 digit code described by the ABS
For example, Brisbane is 31000. Complete lists are available here

   - Preferred field name: au:state
   - Acceptable field names: state
   - Discouraged: ste

The contents MUST be the two or three-letter form of the state or territory
("VIC", "NT").

*KM: Case-sensitive?*
administrative regions

These region types are also supported:

   - sa4: "Statistical area level 4
   - sa3: "Statistical area level 3
   - sa2: "Statistical area level 2
   - sa1: "Statistical area level 1
   (ABS) [not currently supported by Terria]
   - ced: "Commonwealth electoral division
   - sed: "State electoral division
   - ssc: "State suburbs
   - cnt2: "Two letter country codes" (ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2
   - cnt3: "Three letter country codes" (ISO 3166-1 Alpha 3
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