James Strutt - Property NSW, DPE

LandIQ is a collection of apps built on the Giraffe platform in partnership with the NSW Government, WSP Australia and Aerometrex. James Strutt shares how his team has guided the project's success & detail on some real use cases.

Transcribed from the Giraffe Creator Summit - January 17th, 2023 - lightly edited for clarity

James Strutt: I’m from the New South Wales Department of Planning and environment. My division has a role of looking at the State government's portfolio, which is around $200 billion. To put that in context, it’s about the size of Germany. So it's not a small, insignificant portfolio.

One of the real priorities for us is really looking at how do we optimize the use of that land, particularly in a capital constrained environment, so that we're not putting the burden on the taxpayer, and we're optimizing the service we can give to citizens.

I've been in this role now for about 6 or 7 years, and there's about as many different methodologies and ways of looking at land and making those decisions as there are people in government doing that.

And so the journey that we embarked on with Giraffe is how do we try and develop something that's more of a standardized approach, that the Government can use as a collective, so that we're making quicker, more consistent decisions when we're allocating land use across government.

So what is Land iQ? It's a collection of apps that have been built on the Giraffe platform. We have got a couple of other partners within the Land iQ environment as well, WSP who some you might be familiar with, are providing the data model that drives the apps within Giraffe. Aerometrex are a provider of high quality, high resolution, imagery that we have brought into Giraffe as well.

The point of this, is to standardize as much as possible what's already across government. There's a lot of great data. There's a lot of great approaches to doing different types of things in this space. But instead of going to third-parties, or to consultants, we wanted to bring it all into an  easy to use platform that people can access, as and when they need to. But also having it something that is modular that people can build on, and we're not wasting time and money, replicating the same sort of functionality over and over again.

I think of Land iQ as having 4 key components. The bottom 3 there are the apps that I was referring to, but sitting over the top of that is a very comprehensive data library that we've spent quite a bit of time consolidating across both within Government, private sector, and international sources. It’s something that's really easy for any different part of government to spin up a project, and they're not wasting weeks and months to find information that's relevant to them. It's all there. We maintain it, we will make sure that it's up to date, and so they're ready to go

When it comes to the apps. I think about these apps as being, a workflow going from the macro to the micro. We start with the geocentric analysis which is really pulling a whole lot of information about a particular region, and being able to look at that and compare it to other regions or benchmarks, and say what stands out here in terms of an issue, an opportunity or something that I might want to consider when I’m looking at different planning or land use outcomes.

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The next app, Site Search, it is what it says, but it's providing, advanced GIS capability. So people can find land that's within a certain proximity to a train station, in a certain zoning, is constrained by heritage, and so on, ( and i'll talk about a few different use cases in a minute)

And last but not least, is Scenario Planning. So you found the land you're interested in, or parcels of land or a precinct, and you want to understand what if we change the land use from what it is now to ABCD. And what are those impacts in terms of, not just the financial output, but some social, economic, environmental: really that broad impact of those land use changes.

These are just some screenshots. So this is the part of the geocentric analysis app. And what this is, the way this works is really just in allowing someone to select a bunch of regions and compare on a whole lot of different dashboards or reports. This is one of them.

It's really easy to use and understand for everyone from a minister in government to a graduate, that has just come into government, so it's something that's very intuitive & user friendly, and we'll definitely be adding to over time and as we get more information as well

So the Site Search app, you can see (you're all familiar with giraffe interface), but on the right what we're allowing people to do is to add those criteria that's relevant for them.

So they might be interested in finding land for a school, for a new resi development. They could, from a government perspective, have received an investment opportunity from an international company with certain specs for land that they are interested in. The way this works at the moment within government, is it can take weeks or longer for  GIS-related people to do this type of work.

What we've done with this Site Search app, is effectively put that in the hands of an average, non-spatial user (or special-GIS submission user) so people can find land on the fly as required, either at a local level like that, showing here, or across the whole State of New South Wales, (which is like, I said, before, the size of Germany) and being able to run that calc almost instantaneously.

And then the last part of is the Scenario Planning. I like to explain this as SIM City, but with real data. And what this is allowing users to do is to come in to add land uses to their respective parcels of land that they're interested in, and then to run different scenarios, to say, what if we change this from vacant land to mixed-use residential, or from industrial land to mixed use, whatever it is, but really easily allowing us to create the scenarios as and when required.

What we do with that then, is we have some outputs that come off the back of that, both at a local level - so, looking at local outputs: what are some of the yields for some of the dwelling students, etc. But it also has the capability to look at it at a macro level. So at this region, if we're changing these land uses at a regional level, what does that do? What are the impacts across the indicators?

This was a real use case we used last year? Some of you may have seen in the media, there were a lot of serious flooding events in in Australia and in Northern New South Wales last year.

We use Land iQ and Giraffe in particular, to effectively analyze and look at different sites that could be used for temporary accommodation for all the people that were impacted, and had their homes destroyed or severely damaged.

And in practice what this meant, the Government had to go and procure a whole lot of different pods for temporary housing. They had different specifications. They all house different number or type of people. Being able to load those into Giraffe as usages or typologies, we could work with the government architects and other stakeholders, and update this on the fly.

Roads would get cut off by flooding, which meant one provider couldn't bring their pods in. And being able to do this in almost real time, it really enabled us to make those decisions and get those pods on the ground, and people in their homes much quicker.

So some of the key benefits from my perspective (but I'm happy to talk to anyone after this, if they're interested in learning more about this), but really significant time saving, and time and cost saving around identifying it and doing initial due diligence on land. And I think we positioned Land iQ, not as being the silver bullet, but it's really being out to get from that long list to shortlist very, very quickly, and being able to work with industry around much higher value, design and delivery activities rather than the upfront part of the project.

And you know, really the last point there it's about creating a platform others can build upon. We've already got other departments within Government doing this at the moment, and it's something that we want to continue to evolve and work with Giraffe on over time. And that might be in the form more apps or enhancements to some of the apps already developed.

It's been a great journey so far. I still think we're at the start of it. But that's it for me. Happy to take any questions or talk with anyone offline as well.

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