“How a national not-for-profit company in Australia is using data mapping software to improve community development in remote regions”


Ninti One is a national not-for-profit company that builds opportunities for people in remote Australia through the application of research, innovation and community development. It works mainly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and associated organisations. We spoke to Associate Professor Slade Lee about Ninti One’s use of data mapping software.

When did you start using InstantAtlas?

Ninti One Limited started using InstantAtlas around two years ago to present information and research that would help interested parties, governments, policy makers, and the public get a better understanding of the issues affecting people in remote Australia.

What were you looking for at the time?

Our work is focussed on the extremely sparsely populated, but economically, socially and culturally significant remote regions of Australia which equates to 83 per cent of Australia’s land mass. We were looking for data visualisation software that we could use to package data and information in an informative and easy-to understand way.


InstantAtlas is a novel and engaging vehicle for this purpose and we have created a number of InstantAtlas resources collectively known as the Remote Australia Online Atlas (RAOA). This can be accessed through our Resource Centre, which provides other tools such as searchable bibliographic databases.

What is the Remote Australia Online Atlas?

There are currently four integrated atlases within RAOA and they all use data from the last three Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) national censuses (2001, 2006, 2011). The base geographies are Statistical Local Areas (SLA). The four current atlases package ABS data on demographics, commerce and industries, lifestyles, and the workforce; these are restricted to those SLAs classified as ‘remote’ or ‘very remote’.


What is the next step for the Remote Australia Online Atlas?

The next step is to build new and unrelated atlases using our in-house data to showcase our research. The first one will be our Art atlas. This is based on a research project which has gathered a large volume of data on Aboriginal artists and other aspects of art across the remote regions of Australia. There are a dozen distinct art regions which have been defined and for which data has been collected. We will use our own custom shapefiles and datasets.

In addition, we have a dozen distinct major research projects in remote Australia (including work on sociology of mining, on education, the pastoral industry, tourism, bushfoods businesses, population mobility and climate change). Not all of these will produce suitable datasets, but all of the principal researchers are aware of InstantAtlas and are offered the opportunity of presenting their work via custom atlases.

How easy was it to work with InstantAtlas?

Initially we knew that it would deliver, but had little idea of what it entailed. So we assembled the ABS data into InstantAtlas Excel format and progressively configured it to suit our purpose – a great learning process.

With the support of the Australasian InstantAtlas distributor Success with Software we were able to create the atlases we needed. No doubt, it would have been quicker for IT specialists to come to grips with it, but InstantAtlas can be used by anyone with reasonable computer skills, given sufficient time and practice.

How is InstantAtlas helping you meet your objectives?

Our senior management is delighted with the RAOA and the feedback that we've received from stakeholders has been positive. Management is keen to create more online atlases which shows they are pleased with the resource as an effective means of showcasing our work.

What do users think of the atlases?

Our feedback to date is positive and encouraging. We have been asked to provide simple instructions alongside the atlases and we have done this in the User Guide button in addition to the InstantAtlas Help which is provided via a Technical Guide button.

What would you say are the benefits for you of using InstantAtlas?

  • It has helped us present spatially-based information in a graphical format which can be used repeatedly to build more atlases in-house
  • The graphical representation is interactive which users like
  • We have a very useful tool to showcase our work which is more attractive to many stakeholders and meets expectations for graphical presentations