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In this blog, GovTechTalent Henry Kyle writes about how he created a geospatial web application for use in the Queensland Fruit Fly response.

The spirit and scope of the GovTechTalent programme empowers us with the flexibility to carve out interesting and valuable digital projects within our organisations.

My first rotation has already given me exposure to solving real-world problems and making a positive difference towards safeguarding New Zealand’s environment and economy.

Developing a geospatial web application for the Queensland Fruit Fly response

In my first month at the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) I developed a geospatial web application for use in the Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) response. Although I am on the Analytics team — right where I want to be — I joined an emergency QFF response meeting where the potential for this project came to light.

So I pivoted into the geospatial space to explore further, despite no previous experience with developing applications nor using geospatial software.

How it works

The web application optimises the process for creating exclusion zones used in the QFF response. Exclusion zones are created to restrict movement of host material (such as fruit and vegetables), reducing the risk of the fruit fly population spreading further.

These zones took up to a day or more to create and finalise and involved 2 teams and 3 software applications. The goal of the web application was to streamline this process and reduce the total resources needed to create the zones.

Positive impact

Advantages of the geospatial web application:

  • Allows 1 person to make a zone in minutes, within 1 web-based application that can be accessed remotely without the need of a powerful desktop.
  • Zone creation is faster and more accurate as layers containing roads and a buffer of the coastline have been added to the application which can be ‘snapped’ to during editing.
  • Once edits are finalised, the live online ‘layer’ (data) is updated and fed automatically into public facing web pages on the MPI website and internal dashboards used by MPI and partner agencies.

More broadly, this application has laid the ground work for creating reusable tools such as web applications to gain efficiencies in future responses.

I’m stoked to have been provided massive support from others across MPI — from Geospatial Lead to Analysts, Subject Matter Experts and my managers.

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