We all use place names everyday to describe our surroundings, where we’re going or where we’ve been.
Rivers, mountains, plains, towns, suburbs, reefs, shoals and undersea features all have names. Whether they are of national or international importance or known only to a handful of people, names connect places to their local communities and often reflect our heritage and culture.
Standardising how we name places and making comprehensive place names data easily accessible are an important goal for names authorities around the world. Through a standardised approach we can expect benefits across a wide range of applications such as communications, data integration, statistics, service delivery, emergency response, and sustainable development.
Place names are recognised as foundation spatial data and the Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping (ICSM) supports cooperation between the place name authorities in Australia and New Zealand. ICSM’s interest in place names is coordinated through a subcommittee, the Australia and New Zealand Working Group on Place Names (WGPN).
While the WGPN facilitates coordinated and cohesive approaches across names authorities in Australia and New Zealand, each country maintains its own place name databases and country specific principles and guidelines.