“We’re cutting down from weeks or months to a day or days in terms of that analysis – to find the site and take a site design and layout” - James Strutt.‍

The NSW government has created a planning platform that pulls in data from more than 100 different sources to assess size, location and zoning constraints and cut the assessment of a site for potential development to just minutes.

Land iQ, tested earlier this year in flood response planning in northern NSW, replaces individual searches across distinct databases – processes often outsourced to consultants – to determine possible uses for a piece of land.

“We’re cutting down from weeks or months to a day or days in terms of that analysis – to find the site and take a site design and layout,” said James Strutt, the Planning and Environment Department’s director of property strategy and data analytics.

“It’s really shortening that front end. You’re getting from a long list of options to a very short list, [so] that you can look at delivery very quickly.”

But the system – which the department has paid out less than $1 million to develop, excluding staff time – is already being put to use as a database available to all government departments, helping to avoid duplication of basic planning information.

The platform was built by WSP Australia and NSW start-up Giraffe, with high-resolution maps provided by Aerometrex.

Transport and Education are already using Land iQ to consider options for development sites, and the Treasury department is considering how it could be used to assess the influence of electricity infrastructure corridors on surrounding land in regional NSW.

“Until now, government agencies have used various methods, tools and systems for land use analysis – it’s inconsistent, broadly manual and inflexible,” NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said.

“Agencies can bring together more than 100 datasets from a range of sources to find sites that meet development requirements, then virtually test and learn how different planning scenarios perform in a specific place or region.”

The platform’s strength is in being able to assess what is permissible on a site under existing zoning and land conditions – rather than being able to assess proposals that seek to go beyond existing constraints.

“Rather than paying a consultant hundreds of thousands of dollars to go away and do that work, we’re able to generate it in-house in a matter of hours and days, depending on the experience of the user,” Planning and Environment Department deputy-secretary Leon Walker said.

NSW Government staff using Giraffe for land planning

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