Thursday 29 September 2016

New mapping tool to help with life's most expensive purchase

Published 07/11/2015 | 02:30

Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Alex White at the launch of GeoHive
Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Alex White at the launch of GeoHive

Buying a home is the most expensive purchase most people make in their lifetime, but a new online mapping tool aims to allow buyers to make more informed choices.

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GeoHive, developed by Ordnance Survey Ireland, uses official data ranging from house prices to transport links to paint a picture of every part of the country, and highlight the public services available.

The tool, which allows users to create maps which can be shared online or stored, uses a range of indicators and maps them onto a geographic map.

This allows users to rate the area before committing to a purchase, and a dedicated application called 'Buying Property' has been developed on the site.

Using Tullamore in Co Offaly as an example, GeoHive shows that the town has a population of just over 23,000, and has eight primary schools, ranging from the mixed Gaelscoil An Eiscir Riada, to the Church of Ireland Charleville national school. There are also two post-primary schools, with 1,254 pupils.

The town is home to a hospital, the Midlands Regional, and has a train station. It is served by three Bus Eireann routes.

It also lists and maps each house or apartment sold this year, and what each one fetched. This allows buyers to see if the asking price is in line with the local market.

And a key question about safety can also be answered. GeoHive uses CSO crime data, which shows that 273 incidents were reported to Tullamore Garda Station in the first half of the year - theft and related offences form the bulk, with 92 incidents, followed by public order at 40. There were 38 burglaries reported, and 12 controlled drug offences.

The data also shows the age of houses, and areas where the local property tax has been waived, which suggests homes are located in an unfinished development. There are no waiver areas in the town.

But it also uses information from the Department of the Environment, which sets out the land zoned for housing, meaning that house buyers purchasing beside a field can note if that area is likely to be developed.

Flooding risk is also mapped, and it shows that large sections of land to the east of town are at risk. The map says that the water quality of the Clodiagh River is only "moderate", and that less than 1pc of homes in Tullamore are likely to be above the safe limit for radon.

The data is available at www.geohive.ie.

Irish Independent

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