Presented by

  • Paul Haesler

    Paul Haesler

    Paul has been programming computers since his parents bought him a Commodore 64 in the early 1980s. He has programmed professionally for over 20 years, engaging in his passion for open source whenever possible. Paul is currently works as a Senior Software Engineer working at CSIRO-Data 61 in the Web-Geospatial team. These days he is based in Canberra and is an award-winning home-brewer and is currently writing and recording a science fiction rock opera under the pen-name “Spaceman Paul”, which is also his github id.


Geoscience Australia (GA) is the custodian of a significant collection of national aerial photography, curated by GA and its predecessor agencies. The data extends over 70 years, from the 1920s through to the mid-1990s. This archive represents an important resource for understanding Australia’s changing landscape as the majority of the collection predates high resolution satellite imagery. Digitisation of this archive is an ongoing priority as some of the original negatives are now very old and starting to degrade; but the approximately 280,000 images digitised so far are currently difficult to discover and access. Similar but smaller archives of aerial photography are maintained by various state government agencies, and some are quite mature in their adoption of digital discovery and access, however each agency has implemented their own system, generally locked to a proprietary platform with little capacity for federating data across agencies. GA has therefore partnered with Data-61 under the Platforms for Open Data (PfOD) program to design and build a canonical metadata repository for images in the collection, and an open API for discovering and eventually accessing these images. The project has a strong focus on open source and standards based solutions, with the hope that state government agencies will come on board, facilitating federated discovery of imagery across state and federally managed archives. The project is a fascinating example of old technology meeting new, dealing with metadata sourced from nearly century-old hand-written documents on the one hand, and the latest cloud deployment technologies and emerging API standards for geospatial data discovery on the other. Linux Australia: YouTube: