Creating a Historical Database for Roads in Greater Sydney using Map Digitisation

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The aim of this thesis is to create a historical database for roads in Greater Sydney using map digitisation. The database was constructed to label the status of road in Sydney at a certain time by nominating their opening date, and if applicable, their closing date. The project was completed in the QGIS working environment, an open-sourced program that allows for map digitisation to be completed. A method was developed for map digitisation that can be used to extract spatial data from historical maps and place them in a collective vector layer. The method considers extensive georeferencing of the maps, as well as editing and cleaning the maps through raster and vector analysis. Preferred methods for map digitisation used in the project were identified. For a considerable area of Sydney, in which approximately 52000 road links were included, almost half of the links were identified with an open date by the start of the twentieth century. A further half of these links were confined to opening within a thirty-year period. The progressive change in open links, the length of the network, the area of the network surveyed and the number of intersections open was also reviewed with time. The project has established a strong foundation for a historical road database for Sydney. It has also outlined methods and procedures that can be followed to progress the database further.

Growth of the Sydney Street network. Source: Turner, Hamish (2021)