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National Road Network vs. Road Network File

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In a recent post on this blog, I mentioned a number of freely available Canadian spatial data sources. Around the same time, Statistics Canada released a road network file, available either by province or as one large download. It should be noted that this road network file is different from the data that is available through GeoBase.

The Statistics Canada road network file is from their National Geographic Database (NGD) which contains a road network that spans the country and includes road attributes such as name, type, direction, class and address ranges. The NGD was originally built from 5 sources, including Statistics Canada street network files, National Topographic Database 1:50,000 and 1:250,00 maps, the Digital Chart of the World, Elections Canada road data and other data from a miscellany of sources.

The National Road Network (NRN) available through Geobase is the representation of a continuous accurate centerline for all non-restricted use roads in Canada (5 meters or more in width, drivable and no barriers denying access). The primary data source of NRN version 1 was produced with field driven Differential Global Positioning System technology. Additional sources, such as existing accurate photogrammetric provincial and municipal data were also integrated and updated. The NRN is a collaborative product between the federal government and various provincial governments. Updates to the provincially owned layer, for example, the Ontario Road Network in Ontario, eventually get carried over to the NRN. Future plans are to see the NRN contain street names and address information.

The sample image to the right highlights some of the differences (click on it to see a larger image). Generally, the NRN seems to be more positionally accurate while the RNF seems to be more up-to-date (at least for now). For further comparison, check out Google Maps’ version of the same area.

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