The words we use are important regardless of where we work and live, who we talk to and the industry we surround ourselves. 

It is a journey of words that will take the spatial industry beyond the boundaries of our ‘known’ spatial world.

The first step in this journey is the Spatial ‘Rosetta’ Stone.

Landsat Imagery

Landsat imagery is the result of the repetitive coverage of the earth surfaces; a series of images that depict a global perspective on natural changes and human impact. These images provide valuable scientific insight into; ecosystems, urban growth, food, water, human health, energy, disaster and its recovery and climate change. Landsat imagery has been accessible since the 1970s. It's worth watching this short clip.

Big Data

Big data is thrown around without much understanding of what it actually means. The general definition of big data usually is "extremely large data sets that are analysed through computation (computer number crunching) to reveal patterns, trends and association". And extremely large data sets are described in terabytes to give the evidence that the amount of data that requires modelling is massive.

Or it could simply be "masses of data which has been generated by users of the internet, which is stored on millions of computers around the world and can be accessed by others".

Within spatial information, big data is often referred to in the context of bringing large amounts of data from a number of organisations, from a range of jurisdictions and in a varying formats to provide a complete picture. An example of how we have used big data is the NRM Spatial Hub (best practice modelling for farmers), ENVISION (property planning tools) and Epiphanee (privacy tools).

Rapid Spatial Analytics

Rapid Spatial Analytics is about working faster with reliable information, usually in real-time (as it happens) and based on cloud infrastructure. The cloud are internet based services such a google, gmail, dropbox and so many more where information can be stored externally to the users systems and hardware.

An example of rapid spatial analytics can be drawn from fires and floods that occur in Australia. With the mainstream activity of social media, information can be sent from people at the front line of the fire or flood to give services and the general population real-time updates of what is actually occurring and importantly "where" (putting location at the forefront of the information) something is happening. 

Making sense of Ontologies and Vocabularies

A controlled vocabulary is a way to insert an interpretive layer of semantics between the term entered by the user and the underlying database to better represent the original intention of the terms of the user. Ontologies are the study of what kinds of things exist or can exist in relation to other things.

In context of Program 3, it’s our ability to search the internet using common words or phrases to bring up results that only relate to our particular search.

Simply put, if I’m searching for coffee in Carlton, I only want to see results for coffee Carlton (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) as it’s relevant to my location and my search.

By developing a controlled vocabulary we can insert an interpretation (or a layer) between my internet search [coffee in Carlton] and the database [] it draws upon.

The Semantic Web

The semantic web is an extension of the existing world wide web. It provides a standardised way of expressing the relationships between web pages. Its machine readable information that has a common format and a common language for recording how data relates to real world objects.

In other words, the semantic web is a Web 3.0 web technology – a way of linking data between systems or entities that allow for rich, self-describing interrelations of data available across the globe on the web.

In essence, it marks a shift in thinking from publishing data in human readable HTML documents to machine readable documents. That means that machines can do a little more of the thinking work for us.

Geocoded Addressing

Geocoded addressing – the converting of physical addresses to GPS coordinates – has becomes a vital tool for emergency response units, social services, insurance companies, telecommunications infrastructure, daily personal and business navigation and many more applications and uses.

Modernising Australia's Disruptive Datums

Datums are used in GPS systems to indicate a position on maps to its real position on earth. It is the reference point used to locate a place.

Australia's current geocentric datum will not be able to support the requirements of Australians in a spatially connected world.


Remotely examines the surface of the earth. Lidar data is the information captured. The information can be used to make high resolution maps such as globes.


A register (such as a map or survey) that shows property ownership (real estate) and boundaries in a district covering freehold and crown land parcels. Data includes spatial information such as spatial coordinates for land boundaries, area or size, road and street names, names of waterways, codes for local government.

The property boundaries and related property description of all land parcels are usually held by State Governments in Australia.

Local Government tends to use cadastral registers to keep track of:

  • Registered plans of subdivision and amalgamation
  • Government gazettes and administrative notifications
  • Strata, easements and boundaries of administrative areas.


Bathymetry is the study of underwater depth in lakes or ocean floors. So its really the underwater version of topography.

We use bathymetry to study seafloor terrain, contour lines, and depth to provide navigational information. At the CRCSI we use bathymetry in our work with the Pacific Island communities.

Synthetic Aperture Radar

Usually known as SAR, it is a form of radar used to create images of objects, such as landscapes, in two or three dimensional representation. Using the radar antenna over the object, SAR provides a finer spatial resolution than conventional beam-scanning radars. 

Mounted on a moving platform (think aircraft and spaceships), SAR is typically used for environmental monitoring, earth resource mapping (mineral exploration) and military systems. At the CRCSI we use SAR to expand land resource inventory and environmental monitoring programs.

Thematic Map

A thematic map is a type of map especially designed to show a particular theme connected with a specific geographic area. These maps can portray physical, social, political, cultural, economic, sociological, agricultural, or any other aspects of a city, state, region, nation, or continent. 

We used a thematic map to develop the Cancer Atlas of Queensland.


The Positioning Program will bring 24-hour position, navigation and timing coverage to Australia and New Zealand by 2018 and underpins Australia’s ability for real-time precise positioning to 2-centimetre accuracy, anytime, anywhere.

To do this we use satellites: The Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) along with the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) - a Japanese regional navigation satellite system developed by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The QZSS will to enhance accuracy and reliability of the GNSS position to provide Australia and New Zealand with our 2-centimetre positioning capabilities.

We also use PPP-RTK network platform which is the Precise Point Positioning in Real-time Kinematics platform. By putting these together the satellites can derive  accuracy at centimetre to decimetre level with the use of a base station.


Geodesy is the science of accurately measuring and understanding three fundamental properties of the Earth: its geometric shape, its orientation in space, and its gravity field—as well as the changes of these properties with time.

As a dynamic application of scientific methods, geodesy supports many professional, economic and scientific activities and functions ranging from:

  • Land titling
  • Mineral exploration
  • Navigation
  • Mapping and surveying
  • Remote sensing daat for resource management
  • Construction of dams and drains
  • Interpreting seismic disturbances.


The ellipsoid is a simplified mathematical representation of the Earth, either as a whole or in a particular region. Its simplicity makes it a useful reference surface for positioning, navigation, map projections and geodetic calculations. Heights above the ellipsoid, eg those computed by GNSS, are known as ellipsoidal heights.

Mean Sea Level

Mean sea level (MSL) is an observed tidal datum and is used as the conventional reference surface to which heights on the terrain (eg contours, heights of mountains, flood plains, etc) and other tidal datums are related. In the Australian context, the national vertical datum, AHD, is based on mean sea level.


The geoid is the surface of equal gravitational potential (or equipotential) chosen to best approximate MSL. It is often shown in the literature as Wο in order to distinguish it as the reference equipotential surface to which other gravity potentials (such as the potential Wp at point p) are related. Being a gravity potential surface (as opposed to a geometrical surface like the ellipsoid), the geoid is consistently perpendicular to the direction of gravity (ie the plumb–line). In this sense, it represents the “spirit–level” surface at which fluids stabilise.