LINZ suggests freemium model for imagery service

Land Information New Zealand has issued an expression of interest for a multi-sourced database of land imagery

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) is considering a “freemium” business model as a way of ensuring free public access to a multi-sourced database of land imagery of “national significance”.

Under the suggested scheme a basic imagery service would be provided free of charge. However, says LINZ, “we do not intend to provide a premium imagery service, and we are open to solutions that wrap a commercial premium offering around our primary objective.”

The premium service will involve extra value-added services, says programme manager Rachel Gabara; there will be no difference in imagery quality between the two services. In an earlier version of this story, Computerworld erroneously said there would be a quality difference. “The intent of the envisioned imagery service is to efficiently make all public sector imagery (not only low quality) acquired on open licence freely available to the public,” Gabara says.

Currently, public-sector organisations, including central and local government, acquire such images as and when required, in a variety of different formats, to different standards and with different licensing conditions, says LINZ in an expression-of-interest document (EoI). “Most public-sector imagery has restricted licensing [and] is difficult to find and access. There is no consistency in the data captured or in its maintenance cycles.

“LINZ is currently working with other government agencies to encourage consistent standards and full open licensing when acquiring imagery of national significance.”

Under the proposed scheme, imagery from present public-sector sources would be purchased under open licence, converted to a consistent standard and made available through a central “Imagery New Zealand” source.

Users of this service should be able to “search all data holdings based on common criteria such as data set, spatial bounds, temporal range [or] metadata.” The metadata would be able to be automatically harvested by a catalogue service, such as

This would provide a “one-stop shop” for searching “all-of-government-held imagery (excluding Defence), including imagery held in other datacentres,” LINZ says.

The service will become part of NZ’s emerging Spatial Data Infrastructure.

The provision of such a service could be regarded as competitive to the commercial market in high-quality imagery; hence the suggestion of a two-tier quality system with the high-quality data able still to be provided commercially.

The EoI expresses a distinct preference for using the government’s infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) environment as the delivery vehicle for the imagery service. “LINZ would like proposers to consider the viability of utilising an AoG [all-of-government] IaaS environment,” the document says. However, it then adds: “Compelling justification will be required by LINZ as to why a provider would not use an AoG IaaS solution. [Alternative suggestions] must specifically address how information integrity will be maintained and how the solution will ensure information that is held is secure.”

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