Take the worry out of navigating a pastoral lease

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Advances in technology have paved the way for connecting pastoral lease infrastructure maps.

Acclimatising to a new patch of country comes naturally to some, and not so much for others. Fortunately, advances in technology have paved the way for contemporary solutions to an age-old problem.

The Australian outback is well known for its raw beauty and perilous nature. People becoming lost on a pastoral lease pose significant risk to human health and safety with search and rescue operations often costly to time, human resources, equipment, and lost productivity.

The information available to people navigating pastoral leases varies considerably from property to property presenting increased challenges. Most leases have infrastructure maps with varying levels of detail and currency, while other leases have internal roads, tracks and water points marked with sign posts or objects such as tyres, drums and old jerry cans to indicate turn-offs.

Offline mobile map apps

Offline mobile map apps work without WiFi or network connectivity, ideal for remote locations. Some popular apps like Google Maps and Apple Maps allow you to download maps offline, but this is generally limited to only public roads and tracks, not infrastructure and internal roads on pastoral leases.

Pastoral lease infrastructure map integration with offline mobile map apps

Pastoral lease infrastructure maps can be connected with offline mobile map apps through the process of georeferencing. Georeferencing is the term used for identifying a point on the earth’s surface and matching it to its location on a map using international standard coordinates.

Digital pastoral maps are usually in PDF format. A georeferenced map will have the coordinates of the lease stored within the PDF, and when accessed through specific offline mobile map app, the GPS locations of anything within the boundary of that map are available.

How does it work?

When using any sort of navigation system, a dot generally appears on the screen to indicate the user’s current position (this is a blue dot in Google Maps). When a georeferenced pastoral map is accessed through the appropriate offline mobile map app, a dot will also appear to indicate the user’s position within the pastoral property. This means that the map being viewed is a pastoral map, which, if up to date, will show where the user is in relation to all marked infrastructure such as tracks, fences, water points and yards.

Do offline mobile map apps offer other features?

There are a number of different mobile map app products and subscription tiers, with some free versions available. With certain products users can:

  • plot and record information about locations
  • import and export place marks
  • measure distance and area
  • georeference photos.

In addition to using the app for navigational purposes, it can also be used to record the coordinates of broken infrastructure or where equipment was left behind (including a photo attached to that place mark on the map) so that another user can locate it on their own.

Each product provides different options, and users should consider their own needs and speak to the manufacturers before choosing a product.

*This article co-written by Meg Humphries (Department of Primary Industry and Resources NT) and Stephanie Coombes (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development WA) originally appeared on FutureBeef

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