So how does all the GPS equipment in the LC79 Map Patrol acquire the relevant data?
“In mapping there are three basic building blocks of content to collect,” explains Rob Boegheim. “There are points, lines and areas.
“The field work is all about capturing the lines, the tracks, the roads and the points of interest – a homestead, a campsite, a gate – the road or track itself and anything attached to that road or track.
“All of the contextual stuff – the creeks, the topography, the imagery, the railway lines, the national parks – all that, we can source through other data sources back in the office. Our primary focus has always been the road and track information that the majority of four-wheel drivers are interacting with.
“The whole focus of the Map Patrol is to make sure all those roads and tracks and the points that relate to that are in the right spot, because that’s the driver’s reference point, on that road or track.
“So, number one, the road or track that they’re actually driving on has got to be on the map to start with. Traditionally you can use aerial photography or satellite imagery for Australia, but because the continent’s so vast that’s always been hugely expensive, and there’s still nothing like getting out here and interacting with the track or terrain and checking it first-hand.
“It’s very much ground-truthing. We use the half-metre accurate GPS because people are using this mapping data now with all of our mapping products; you don’t need that accuracy for a printed product where the width of a millimeter on a map could be hundreds of metres or half a kilometre on the ground, but as soon as you’re getting into a full-blown navigation system, where you’re doing voice guidance, then everything’s got to be in the right spot.
“Most other mapping companies, particularly street mapping companies, would say ‘it’s all outback, it’s dirt road, take all that off the map because it’s not relevant’. But for us, that’s exactly the kind of information we need to highlight and bring to the front.
“Our goal has always been to map every public accessible road or track and put that on a map, and take out all the other noise that just creates confusion.”