Friday, April 29, 2016

Comparing ABS Postal Areas 2011 and Postcodes 2016

Postal area boundaries, created by the ABS for the purpose of publishing 2011 Census statistics, are becoming dated. No updates have been announced as yet so, the question is, should you still be using this dataset?

You will need to consider two issues to answer this question:
  • what data are you going to reference to postcode boundaries, and;
  • whether there is a material difference between the 2011 representation of postcodes and their more up-to-date version in the area of your interest.

Despite the fact that ‘Postal Areas’ data is more than five years old, it is still the only option to use with Census 2011 statistics. It will be more than a year before any data from the upcoming Census 2016 is made available. So, the 2011 version of ‘Postal Areas’ will continue to be relevant for a while yet.

However, if you are working with other data, such as ATO statistics or recent survey data that reference respondent postcodes, then the more up to date representation of postcodes is the recommended option - choose ‘Postcode Boundaries, 2016’ edition then.

Both datasets are available for free perusal with MapDeck apps and the 2016 version can be downloaded in .shp format for a small fee.

Rural Victoria: Postal Areas 2011 in red and Postcodes 2016 in blue

The difference between these two versions of postcode boundaries datasets can be quite dramatic in rural areas (as the above example demonstrates) but it is generally less pronounced in long-established metropolitan areas.

Sydney Metro: Postal Areas 2011 in red and Postcodes 2016 in blue

You can compare how both boundaries  match in specific locations using a free version of the Thematic Mapper app (available to registered MapDeck users). Contact for an invite code to sign up for the MapDeck platform.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Australian postcode boundaries 2016

A new, free dataset showing spatial extents of Australian postcodes has just been released for use with MapDeck apps.

Australian Postcode Boundaries are approximations of Australia Post postcodes and are current as of February 2016.  The product is based on a collection of open source data, such as recently released PSMA Suburbs - Localities February 2016 data and listings of postcodes by locality from

Australian Postcode Boundaries 2016 edition

Gazetted Localities with Postcodes, Australia Feb 2016, a by-product generated in the production of postcode boundaries, is released as a separate product.

All input data has been cleaned and topologically corrected so postcode and locality boundaries are suitable for further spatial transformation and reprocessing.

Both datasets: Postcode Boundaries, Australia 2016 and Gazetted Localities with Postcodes, Australia Feb 2016, have undergone a significant transformation and are considered value added products. They can be downloaded from MapDeck in SHP format for a small fee.

Postcodes are very popular and convenient reference to locations. They are often used for publishing social statistics as well as for defining sales, service, franchise or dealership territories.

There is no single, authoritative representation of Australian postcode boundaries and several different versions are in use. For example, Australian Bureau of Statistics publishes in 5 year intervals a set of Postal Area boundaries, specifically for use with Census statistics. These boundaries are compiled using Statistical Area Level 1 geometry. They approximate official Australia Post postcode coverage at the time of publishing. MapDeck users can access this version of postcode boundaries under the name of Postal Areas, Australia 2011. It is free for use with MapDeck apps.

There are also a number of private companies that produce and regularly update their own versions of postcode boundaries. These can be imported into MapDeck for private use if required. Since the cost of obtaining these products can be substantial, we recommend comparing and weighing the benefits and limitations of each option against your specific requirements.