About the Foundation Spatial Data Framework (FSDF)

What is a Foundation Spatial Data Framework?
The FSDF provides a common reference for the assembly and maintenance of Australian and New Zealand foundation level spatial data in order to serve the widest possible variety of users. It is delivering national coverage of the best available, most current, authoritative source of foundation spatial data which is standardised and quality controlled.

Why have national foundation spatial data themes?
National foundation spatial data themes group data with similar characteristics in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of information management processes. Some data may naturally fit within more than one theme; for example, a road may be both a part of the transport infrastructure and also used to delineate some administrative boundaries. This situation is resolved within the logic of the theme structure.

Jurisdictional data is the foundation of national information.

New Zealand actively participates in the initiatives arising from the ANZLIC Strategic Plan, including the FSDF. New Zealand is committed to the conceptual and logical model of the FSDF but has its own program for implementing the themes at the dataset level.

New Zealand fundamental geospatial datasets and theme v2.0

The Foundation Spatial Data Framework LINK platform (FSDF-LINK)

The FSDF-LINK is the digital realisation of the Foundation Spatial Data Framework. It exposes the supply chains of datasets from the state and territory jurisdictions to the national datasets and the products created from those national datasets. The LINK provides the knowledge surrounding the FSDF, combining both traditional metadata and business content for all identified datasets such as mandates and funding sources which the dataset is reliant on. The aspirational goals of the FSDF LINK is to provide an evidence base for policy development, provide a common location for supply chain work planning, while enhancing the discovery of foundation datasets throughout the complete supply chain, in a contextualised framework.


ANZLIC—the Spatial Information Council (ANZLIC) is the peak national spatial governance body in Australia and New Zealand; comprising, as equal partners, senior officials from the Australian, state and territory governments and the New Zealand Government. ANZLIC recognises the need for a consolidated effort to develop an agreed foundation spatial data framework that would provide easy access to authoritative government spatial data over the geographic extent of Australia.

ANZLIC envisages that foundation spatial data will become ubiquitous in all sectors of both the Australian and New Zealand economies. When realised, the use of data managed under a common framework that is embedded into the day-to-day business of government and private sector entities alike, will allow for seamless exchange of information and knowledge across organisational, sectoral and jurisdictional boundaries.

Foundation spatial data is the authoritative geographic information that underpins, or can add significant value to, any other information; and supports evidence-based decisions across government, industry and the community.

The New Zealand Government has actively participated in and supports the initiatives arising from the ANZLIC Strategic Plan, including the FSDF. While New Zealand is committed to the conceptual and logical model of the FSDF, it is not obliged to implement the FSDF to the dataset level identified under the theme descriptions. The continued support from New Zealand provides a unique external perspective complementing those of the Australian member jurisdictions. New Zealand will collaborate and continue to contribute to outcomes that benefit the region as a whole.

The ten themes

In conjunction with other government and non-government agencies, ANZLIC has identified ten data themes under which the national foundation datasets can be grouped.

Figure 1 Icons for each of the ten foundation spatial data themes
  1. Geocoded Addressing data is the specific identification of a place with respect to buildings and road networks. An address is critical for the delivery of goods and services to a particular location.
  2. Administrative Boundaries are the collection of legislative, regulatory, political, statistical, electoral, maritime and other general boundaries. These boundaries tend to be widely used by government and industry for delivery of services and for analysis of business and statistical data over particular areas.
  3. The Positioning system enables all geospatial datasets to be spatially aligned with each other. At its simplest, positioning data tells us the precise location of points above, on or within the Earth’s surface.
  4. Place Names are the names we assign to provide identity to particular locations. Official place names have been assigned by a government authority under jurisdiction legislation.
  5. Land Parcel and Property are central to defining and managing our property rights, responsibilities and restrictions. These rights are a cornerstone of Australia’s free market economy as they provide economic and social certainty.
  6. Imagery datasets are images of the Earth’s surface and are acquired by cameras and other sensors from the air, space and sometimes the ground. They are used as a base for identifying and classifying other features, and used in vegetation and water monitoring, mineral exploration, map making, urban planning, natural disaster assessments, and agricultural planning.
  7. Transport is the means by which we move goods, services and people from one location to another, and includes roads, railways, airports, ports and crossings. Transport information is used in the planning and delivery of emergency and commercial services, infrastructure planning and asset management, and safer navigation. Knowing which transport corridor to use based on its importance, connectivity and characteristics can save time, money, resources and lives.
  8. Water datasets show where water collects and flows on and below the Earth’s surface. This includes rivers, streams, lakes, aquifers and oceans, and is particularly important for primary industries, environmental protection and water security.
  9. Elevation and Depth provides 3D views of the Earth’s surface, including the sea floor.
  10. Land Cover and Land Use is data about man-made and natural features that sit on the Earth’s surface. Examples of land cover include forests, deserts, pasture and built-up areas.Land Cover data is important for understanding society’s impact on the environment.

Foundation spatial data

Foundation spatial data can be described as the base spatial layers required by most users and are generally not derived from other spatial layers. These base spatial layers are mostly held within government departments or agencies.

Figure 2 Conceptual view of the FSDF

The terms fundamental and foundation are often interchangeable. In the context of the FSDF, fundamental is a measure of the importance of a dataset, whereas foundation is a measure of how applicable a dataset may be to a number of applications. A dataset can be regarded as fundamental for one particular application but not be relevant to a range of applications.


Criteria have been developed to unambiguously determine which spatial datasets can be considered foundation. For the purpose of the FSDF foundation spatial data must have one or more of the following characteristics:

  1. be geospatial
  2. essential for public safety and wellbeing
  3. critical for a national or government function
  4. contribute significantly to economic, social and environmental sustainability.
Table 1 Characteristics of foundation spatial data.
Characteristics Criteria
  1. Geospatial
  • widely used as a component dataset in geospatial analysis
  • widely used as a layer in geospatial products (including web maps, raster maps, and paper maps)
    1. Public safety and wellbeing
  • essential for public safety and wellbeing
    1. Critical for a national or government function
  • can be licensed in accordance with open access and licensing policies
  • satisfies (or when combined with other datasets, satisfies) statutory obligations or international obligations
  • essential for the maintenance of critical infrastructure
  • funded, owned, or held by the Australian Government
  • funded, owned, or held by a state, territory or local government
  • support activities across multiple agencies and organisations
    1. Contributes significantly to economic, social and environmental sustainability
  • supports business outcomes, strategic results areas, government strategies, or land purchase and ownership requirements
  • a foundation dataset upon which other geospatial datasets rely or are built
  • Additionally, foundation spatial data has the following features that are consistent with general information management principles:
    • Authoritative. Foundation spatial data comes from a reliable source that is known (someone has responsibility for management of that data), structured, coherent and consistent. That source (a custodian) is responsible for ensuring that the data is accurate.
    • Accurate. Content reflects the real world within user expectations and standards. Accuracy includes measures such as positional accuracy, attribute accuracy, currency and coverage.
    • Accessible. Easily discoverable by a range of users and technologies and ready to be used with little or no further manipulation.

    Dataset profiles

    Dataset profiles have been developed for each of the national foundation spatial datasets defined under the theme. The profiles detail the description, purpose, use, current status in jurisdictions, and future status of the dataset. Profiles also cover the relevant standards access and licensing, quality, coverage, related websites, key users and the custodian, aggregator and distributor and related products and formats. Detailed dataset descriptions for each of the ten themes can be accessed from the ANZLIC website at

    Figure 3 Defined themes and datasets for the FSDF

    Governance of the FSDF

    ANZLIC will continue to provide the broad policy direction and oversight of the FSDF. ANZLIC remains in a unique position within the Australian spatial community to align the direction of users, custodians and suppliers of foundation spatial data. ANZLIC, through its secretariat and contact officers, will remain closely engaged with Sponsors and Custodians to assist in the planning and reporting on the evolution of datasets against long-term goals.

    Dataset custodians
    An agency or organisation identified as being responsible for the development and management of a national foundation dataset, and who has the right to determine the condition applying to the use, distribution and composition of the national foundation dataset. The national dataset custodian would be responsible for the ongoing evolution of datasets as defined by itself and the theme leadership groups. Their role would comprise the development and delivery of their national foundation dataset and the maintenance of a close working relationship with thematic sponsors to ensure that yearly vision statements are achieved.

    Figure 5 Responsibility for the development of datasets within the FSDF.

    The role of the Intergovernmental Committee on Survey and Mapping
    The Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping (ICSM) is a standing committee of ANZLIC and performs a key role implementing the national spatial policy developed by ANZLIC; particularly through development of work programs and endorsement of national instruments, such as technical standards. The representatives on the various ICSM permanent sub-committees and working groups are provided from the jurisdictions represented by the ANZLIC members. ICSM is a key agent in achieving the ANZLIC vision through the delivery of the FSDF by providing specialist expertise and assistance in the areas of user demand, existing and aspirational information modelling and standards development. It is the expectation of the ANZLIC that the FSDF will leverage existing ICSM working groups.

    The Program Management Office
    The Program Management Office’s (PMO) role is to identify, facilitate and coordinate the projects required to deliver the ANZLIC’s vision of ubiquitous foundation data. The PMO collects, manages and analysis’s the knowledge surrounding the frameworks data, enabling communication, outreach and project establishment.