Feature Story

Queensland's Cube Globe entering the world stage

Imagine you are in sales and about to launch a new product onto the market.

You know you have a winner, it’s the very latest technology, it’s better and bigger than anything else available and has hundreds of applications, it’s usefulness is easy to demonstrate, and you are guaranteed that a world -wide audience will attend the product launch.

It’s a salesperson’s dream.

That’s the scenario facing the Queensland Cube Globe, which will be officially launched to a world audience including many of t he the movers and shakers attending the G20 Leaders Summit in Brisbane during November.

The Cube Globe is a world-first interactive and cinematic display of spatial data visualisations.

 Queensland Cube Globe

“The Cube Globe creates a portal that anyone - governments, business organisations and companies, researchers and even members of the public - can use to do their own analytics and create visualisations of their own data on a scale not replicated anywhere in the world,” says Gavin Winter.

“It has immense capability and will enable users to realise their place in the world, understand what is happening around us, and help understand and resolve many of the present and future challenges and opportunities the world faces.

Queensland Cube Globe

Gavin Winter (QUT) and Steve Jacoby (QDNRM) with some of the Globes stunning visualisations

“It lays a path forward for new understandings and better decision making.“ Winter’s enthusiasm for the Cube Globe is understandable - he is the project leader at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). The development of the Cube Globe has been led by the Qld Government and QUT facilitated by the CRCSI.

The venue for the official launch is as unique as the Cube Globe platform itself. It’s QUT’s  new $230 million Science and Engineering Centre in Brisbane, which houses The Cube - the world’s largest digital, interactive learning and display facility. The Cube, which has been operating since February 2013, spreads over two entire floors of the building and features 48 display screens ranging from small touch screen displays to a large interactive, wall-filling display 9.5 metres long. That’s- a total of more than 190 square metres of display screen area.The Cube Globe has been developed to take advantage of this remarkable capacity to handle huge quantities of geospatial data in different formats and from multiple sources and visualise it, using state-of-the-art immersive visualisation, animation, and multi-media design on a scale not achieved anywhere else in the world.  

Not surprisingly, the Queensland Government is eager to use the G20 Leaders Summit as a unique opportunity to showcase both Queensland and the Cube Globe to the hundreds of representatives from the countries attending the Leaders Summit and its supporting meetings.

A special G20 version of the Cube Globe has been developed to show to members of the G20 country delegations, together with their accompanying trade, investment, tourism and media representatives.

These preview events will continue during September and October and culminate in the official launch of the Cube Globe during the week spanning the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane on November 15-16.  

Delegates will be able to take a virtual journey into the heart of Queensland, access up-to-date information on trade and investment opportunities and learn about Queensland’s economic advantages and business achievements.

Additionally, they can visualise geospatial data of their choice to see how Queensland interacts with their own and other countries in specific areas such as investment, trade, tourism, resources, science and innovation, agriculture, construction and education and training.

The basic enabler for these interactive hands-on displays will be the wide range of open spatial data provided free and under creative commons license by the Queensland Government.

(The Government’s open data initiative, which already provides more than 400 layers of data and has won widespread community support, recently hit one billion downloads. Businesses are major users of these data. )

Notwithstanding the importance of the G20 sales push, the long-term value of the Cube Globe lies in its potential to help solve many of major environmental and resource issues facing Queensland, Australia, and potentially, the world.

To this end, the Queensland Government is inviting other cities, states and particularly G20 member nations to take up the technology.

Steve Jacoby, Executive Director of Land and Spatial Information for the Qld Government (and a CRCSI research program board Chair) says the G20 globe  “may be a powerful tool for future major international meetings to consider using,”

He added the CRCSI was investigating how it could be progressed at a global level. The CRCSI, together with the Queensland Government, the International Society for Digital Earth and QUT are laying the groundwork for the creation of a not-for-profit Foundation that would take the IP and know-how of the Globe to the rest of the world using an open access approach. Discussions have already commenced with a number of countries.

Queensland Cube Globe

Dr Tim Foresman, SIBA Chair of Spatial Information at QUT, says the Cube Globe is a model for sharing and displaying information for national governance and citizenship.

“We can now distribute useful knowledge to nations, communities, homes and individuals that will redirect the ‘information is power’ paradigm,” he said.

"This is the magic of the spatial revolution - the visualisation of information enables humans to sit down and make reasonable decisions about the world we live in.

“It empowers us to understand the value of the everyday decisions we make as individuals or communities."

 He also stressed that the Cube Globe was not simply a tool for the use of government, large organisations and research groups. There was a definite and important place for people participation and data they collected.

“Citizen-led contributions are the fundamental key to supporting a digital democracy w0here citizens have access to the data and information driving government decisions,“ he said.

“A digital democracy is where any citizen can participate in our collective community welfare of all passengers on Spaceship Earth: plants, animals and natural resources.”

For more information on the Queensland Cube Globe contact Gavin Winter, Project Leader.

Here’s a brief overview of the Cube Globe for technically focused readers.

  • It’s a WebGL and HTML5 application which combines a 3D geobrowser with 2D HTML
  • The geobrowser is Cesium, developed by NICTA, which was chosen for its extensive feature set. D3 and other common JavaScript libraries are used to render the 2D content.
  • An in-house GeoServer is used to publish government and third party datasets with speed, and other services hosted in Australia and internationally are also integrated.
  • An API has been developed to publish spatial and non-spatial data and render it on the globe. Non-spatial might include 3D models, flux maps and geo-located columns and graphs.
  • The user interface displays HD video, interactive 3D models and dynamic charts, as well as traditional multimedia.
  • The second phase of the project involves extending the application to mobile and desktop environments.  
  • Other planned enhancements include the development of extend interactions such as gestures, motion capture, and virtual-reality technologies.

A Message from the CEO


One of the important roles that we play is nurturing the next generation of highly trained spatial professionals. With 37 current PhD candidates drawn from a dozen different countries we have a wonderfully diverse and talented cohort. One of these is Ebadat Parmehr and his story is one of our features this month. Many of our PhDs will be presenting at our Annual Conference in Perth, just six weeks away. They are part of a program of presentations and demonstrations from over 50 of our researchers and collaborators across our eight programs. This promises to be the richest content of concentrated new knowledge in our eleven year history. In the weeks leading up to the conference I am looking forward to participating in a series of 43pl workshops across Australia and New Zealand that are helping shape the new strategy for 43pl.

I look forward to seeing you all in Perth.

Dr Peter Woodgate,

WA Spatial Awards

CRCSI Collaborators recognised at WA Spatial Excellence Awards

Geoff West at Spatial Awards

Dr Geoff West accepting his award for WA Spatial Professional of the Year.

Key CRCSI staff were recognised at the annual Western Australian Surveying & Spatial Sciences Conference (WASSSC 2014) WA Spatial Excellence Awards gala dinner held on Friday 19 September 2014. Professor Geoff West won the WA Spatial Professional of the Year Award and Dr David McMeekin won the Education Development Award.

The conference theme of ‘Blurring the Boundaries,’ posed a reality where spatial science and technologies are applied across a blend of disciplines and industries blurring traditional boundaries. The conference aimed to showcase the latest advances, innovative approaches, applied spatial thinking, solution services, projects, and research.

Professor West holds a CRCSI Spatial Professorship and is the Science Director for the CRCSI’s Program 3, which conducts research into Spatial Infrastructure. He was recognised as being instrumental in the research, development and adoption of new techniques in areas of semantically web enabling spatial information, and in helping to shape the research outputs to focus on the needs of the Australian community in areas such as transport, health, urban development and infrastructure.

The Professional of the Year Award is conferred on a practitioner working in any of the disciplines of the surveying and spatial sciences whose professional achievements are acknowledged by peer citation as exemplifying the highest standards of excellence and ethical conduct.

Geoff has been instrumental in bringing together industry, government and academic partners and interacting with many government agencies, and local and national businesses to develop Australian research goals and develop linkages and joint efforts in developing tools and techniques to advance the spatial information industries.

Dr David McMeekin won the Education Development Award at the WA Spatial Excellence Awards last week, "conferred on an educator who has made a significant contribution through teaching, research and publication, professional or personal activities to the implementation and advancement of surveying, spatial and related technologies within the curriculum and the community. The award acknowledges leadership not only in empowering students in the use of these technologies, but also in supporting others to acquire knowledge and skills...."

David’s contribution to promoting and developing awareness of the spatial sciences has included outreach activities with high school students in the world of location, mobility and mapping and empowering students with the ability to think critically and develop problem-solving skills.

David is a CRCSI Research Fellow and has worked on building the CRCSI Program 3 research and education activities and is supervisor to a number of CRCSI postgraduate scholarship holders.

Both Geoff and David are with Curtin University.

CRCSI congratulates both Geoff and David on their personal achievements.

For more information on their work contact Geoff West or David McMeekin.

CRCSI Health Program Board Chair awarded Sidney Sax Medal

WA Health's Chief Health Officer Tarun Weeramanthri

WA Health's Chief Health Officer Tarun Weeramanthri holding his Sidney Sax Public Health Medal.

Dr Tarun Weeramanthri, Health Program Board Chair, has been awarded one of Australia’s highest honours in the public health sector – the Sidney Sax Public Health Medal 2014 for the impact he has had, in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, in the role of Chief Health Officer.

Professor Weeramanthri, nominated by colleagues, is one of Australia’s longest serving Chief Health Officers; a role he has held for more than 10 years in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

The annual Public Health Association of Australia’s Sidney Sax Public Health Medal began in 2000 to acknowledge an individual who has made a notable contribution to the protection and promotion of public health in Australia.

Public Health Association of Australia Chief Executive Officer Michael Moore said Professor Weeramanthri was a highly respected and accomplished individual, and an exemplar of a 21st century Chief Health Officer: scholar, physician and advocate for health.

“His steadfast commitment to social justice, his dogged determination in championing preventative health and investment by governments, his capacity to embrace and lead change and his ability to infuse the same passion for public health in others are exceptional,” Michael Moore said.

“Most remarkable is his unwavering commitment to public service, his faith and knowledge of what good can be achieved through working in government and his personal endeavours in making a difference to the lives and wellbeing of communities he has – and continues to – serve.”

Other winners of the Sidney Sax Public Health Medal include Professor Caroline de Costa, Hon Nicola Roxon MP, Professor Mike Daube and Professor D’Arcy Holman.

CRCSI congratulates Dr Weeramanthri for being recognised for his outstanding achievement in service to the people of Australia..

For more information about the Sidney Sax Public Health Medal visit the Public Health Association of Australia website.

For more information about the CRCSI Health Program activities visit the CRCSI website.

CRCSI Conference Keynote

Google's Rebecca Moore to give Keynote at CRCSI Annual Conference

Rebecca Moore created and leads the Google Earth Engine program, a new technology platform that supports global-scale data-mining of satellite imagery for societal benefit.

Although satellites have been collecting imagery of our changing planet for more than 40 years, until recently the ability to use this “big data” in a cost effective and timely way was not available online for high-performance data mining. With the development of Google Earth Engine, images of the planet over a time sequence of decades can now be amalgamated and enhanced, by removing cloud cover, to show the impact on the planet of changes in climate, and the effect deforestation and urban growth has had on different regional environments across all continents.

Rebecca Moore at the White House Champion of Change ceremony in 2013.

Rebecca Moore at the White House Champion of Change ceremony in 2013.

Google Earth Engine technology uses experimental API for massively-parallel geospatial analysis on daily-updating global datasets such as Landsat satellite imagery. Researchers are developing new Earth Engine powered applications to map, measure and monitor our changing planet in unprecedented detail, for the benefit of people and the environment.

The speed and ease for researchers to do the comparison of data has shifted from years to weeks or less through the development of the experimental API.  The API uses a handful of code to create algorithms powerful enough to sort through the data, continuously collected and archived for the last 40 years, to build visualisations of the physical changes over decades to the ice caps and forest cover in the Amazon. It can show the effects on the landscapes of countries and communities of fire, weather and decreasing vegetation cover both through natural and man made influences.

Earth Engine offers applications that track, map and mitigate the risks of earthquakes and extreme weather events that offers valuable information to governments to build contingency plans for the future safety of their people and land. The Vanuatu Globe Project, managed by CRCSI, used Google Earth Engine to build capacity in Pacific Island countries to monitor sea level rise. The project aimed to enhance the capacity of Pacific Islands to undertake assessments of sea-level inundation risk to key settlements and infrastructure, through the provision of critical baseline data, improved GIS capacity, and implementation of simple coastal inundation modelling. The CRCSI has completed capacity building projects on Tonga, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

Moore says, “We have really hit a sweet spot with the geoscience community. What I am excited about is seeing if there is some middle ground. Can we make remote sensing, this type of earth observation data analysis, transformatively or disruptively easier than its been before, so you don’t have to have to be a PhD in that field in order to be able to come in with new ideas, contribute something new to this community and to this space and maybe change the world in a way that no-one has anticipated before.”

Other international speakers at the CRCSI14 Conference, 5-7 November 2014, include Dr Mohamed Abousalem (TECTERRA, Canada), Johan Bång (Future Position X Sweden), Anita Balakrishnan (Land Information New Zealand) and Professor Wendy Lawson  (University of Canterbury, New Zealand) 

Online registration for CRCSI participants and invited guests together with the conference program and registration brochure can be found on the CRCSI website.

Research Snapshot - NRM Spatial Hub

Providing rangeland managers with information

Governments across Australia hold enormous amounts of data, such as flood and disaster maps, time-series imagery and environmental data. This data if turned into usable information would be of great use to landholders to help them manage their farms more efficiently - if only they could get access to it. The National Rangeland Alliance (NRM), comprised of thirteen rangeland organisations representing 80% of Australia’s land mass, have joined forces to find a solution to the difficulties associated with implementing large scale action across regional and jurisdictional boundaries and create a national solution to managing the rangelands of Australia.

Historically there has been little direct interaction between data holders and land holders to enable access to the data and tools that would assist individuals and groups make better land management decisions, so the NRM developed the Australian Rangelands Initiative; a blueprint for long term investment by Government, industry, communities and producers alike, with a comprehensive approach to recognising that the rangelands, with inherent links between economic productivity, biodiversity, social and financial issues, need to be seen and approached in an integrated manner.

The NRM Spatial Hub (The Hub*) - a central element of the 15 year blueprint of the NRM Alliance - aims to work directly with land owners, managers and NRM bodies to implement and demonstrate the benefits of next-generation spatial information systems, remote sensing, tools and data to help achieve sustainable production and ecosystem services outcomes.

NRM Spatial Hub diagram

Using proven technologies and approaches, the “Hub” will seamlessly deliver information to managers from paddock to national scales leading to improved productivity, land condition and conservation outcomes.

CRCSI has played a key role in the development of the Hub concept, and will be collaborating with the Rangelands Alliance members, Queensland Government Remote Sensing Centre and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) on its implementation. Additionally, the Hub will leverage off the Big Data for Environmental Monitoring and Biomass Business and will also provide a platform for driving utilisation of CRCSI research outcomes.

Stage 1 of the Hub activities will begin in 2014 and over a two year period will develop an on-line farm planning and information system (OPPIS); coordinate and deliver support and training services for landholders; and provide paddock to national scale productivity and environmental monitoring.

The on-line property planning and information system will provide graziers, regional bodies and land managers with appropriate data and mapping tools to enable the consistent development and maintenance of comprehensive digital property plans, infrastructure maps and plans of on-ground work across the rangelands.

The system will provide land holders with:

  • Secure on-line access to authoritative spatial data such as high resolution and time-series satellite imagery and land condition products;
  • Standard interfaces, tools and workflows for capturing, managing processing and disseminating property level information;
  • The ability to capture information in the field using hand-held devices such as GPS and Smartphones.

Pasture biomass, ground cover and biodiversity indicators will be monitored through direct access to the time-series remote sensing products that provide direct measures of land condition such as woody vegetation extent, ground cover and estimates of pasture biomass.

This will form the foundation for improved decision-making at property scales, and will contribute to Australia’s ability to monitor productive capacity and trends in landscape health and condition. For more information on the NRM HUB project contact Phil Tickle, Business Development and Research Manager, CRCSI.

*The HUB is a collaborative initiative funded in cash and in-kind by the Caring for Our Country Program of the Australian Government, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), CRC for Spatial Information, Queensland Government and NRM Regional Bodies.

CRCSI Student profile

From Iran to Australia

Born in Iran, in the Azerbaijan province, Ebadat Ghanbari Parmehr is a Native Turkish speaker who learned Persian at primary school. After completing an undergraduate degree Surveying and Geomatics Engineering from the University of Tabriz, Ebadat attended the University of Tehran where he was awarded a Masters of Science in Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing and ranked First for his work as a Graduate Student in Photogrammetry.

Iranian people are very familiar with Australia and our culture through TV series such as Skippy and the cartoon versions of Swiss Family Robinson and Lucy of the Southern Rainbow. So, in 2010 when Ebadat emailed CRCSI’s Professor Clive Fraser to apply for a PhD position, he already knew a lot about Australia. He particularly wanted to work with Professor Fraser who has an outstanding international reputation and had helped Ebadat with answers to technical questions during his MSci thesis. Clive is very well-known in the Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing community with many Australian and International students wanting to work with him.

Ebadat and family

Ebadat, Hakimeh and their multilingual son Reza.

In June 2011, Ebadat and his wife Hakimeh, arrived in Melbourne on a windy night which he has never forgotten, marking the beginning of new life in Australia with a full-scholarship from the University of Melbourne and the offer to be involved in CRCSI project 2.02 “Feature Extraction from Imagery and Ranging Data”.

In 2012, the couple’s life changed again when they had their first child, a little boy called Reza. Reza is about three years old now and speaks Persian, English and Turkish at home. Ebadat says, ‘After three years of living here, I would say I love Australia and its kind people. I have really enjoyed my life during PhD study and working in CRCSI”.

Ebadat is looking to finish his thesis, Automated registration of imagery and ranging data, and will hopefully submit by the end of this year. At the moment the young family’s plan is to stay here after finishing his PhD. ‘We would prefer to stay here but it will depend on the job market’.

His research work has involved developing a novel method for fully automatic registration of multi-sensor data, which, has achieved superior performance compared to conventional registration methods and, the use of registered data facilitated data integration to utilise complementary information of imagery and ranging data.

Procedure of proposed registration method.

Procedure of proposed registration method.

The highlights of his involvement with the CRCSI have included presenting research outcomes at 6 international conferences, gaining skills in academic presentation and networking with other research groups around the world. Attending the 3 CRCSI annual conferences have given him invaluable experience in the spatial science industry through networking and getting comments from the project partners.

The close collaboration with industry partner of the project and the opportunity of having CRCSI CEO Peter Woodgate as a mentor have provided Ebadat with a unique opportunity to improve his personal and professional skills – something he is very grateful to the CRCSI for. For more information on Ebadat’s research work visit the CRCSI website.


CRCSI Project wins at Victorian Government Spatial Excellence Awards

The CRC for Spatial Information was thrilled to have the Pacific Island Coastal Inundation Project recognised as the most significant project at the 2014 10th Annual Victorian Spatial Excellence Awards. The project won the overall Victorian Government Spatial Excellence Award, after taking out the People and Community Award category.

Vanuatu Globe

The Vanuatu Globe was part of the Pacific Island Coastal Inundation Project.

The Commonwealth Department of the Environment engaged the CRCSI to design the Pacific Island Coastal Inundation Capacity Building and Planning Project due to its strong history of exceptional delivery for the Department, and expert knowledge within climate change spatial data acquisition and advanced tool development for end users. The Department of the Environment and Geoscience Australia worked with the CRCSI to acquire the fundamental data for the project.

The project was supported by two key 43pl partners to deliver the data and training components to Tonga, PNG, Vanuatu and Samoa. AAM was engaged as a leading airborne acquisition provider and NGIS Australia engaged as a leading capacity building and training provider. The team of AAM, NGIS Australia and CRCSI achieved outstanding project outcomes. The project team achieved excellence in People and Community by including local people in every stage of the project. The CRCSI enabled locals to identify priority areas for survey while AAM involved locals in acquiring ground survey data. NGIS Australia enabled government officers to create coastal inundation maps and to present output to their colleagues. The project team fine-tuned the program in each partner country to ensure delivery of the fundamental data, skills and tools necessary for Pacific Island communities to plan for sea level rise and coastal flooding.

The project team achieved excellence in People and Community by including local

The project team achieved excellence in People and Community by including local people in every stage of the project.

Google showcased the project internationally, at the White House Climate Data Initiative launch, as a leading example for increasing climate change awareness and enabling communities through the use of spatial information and mapping. It is the partnerships with AAM and NGIS that has enabled the CRCSI to provide data and training that stands out on the global stage.

CRCSI congratulates Nathan Quadros Project Leader for the Pacific Island Coastal Inundation Project and its 43pl partners AAM and NGIS on this outstanding collaborative achievement.

For more information on the project contact information contact Dr Nathan Quadros, Education Manager & Business Development, CRCSI.

43pl Futures Workshops

43plThe 43pl Board has been considering its options for the future, including having a bigger voice in CRCSI directions and playing a strategic role in planning for "CRCSI-3" post 2018. A series of workshops are being held around Australia and New Zealand and you are invited to be involved.  These workshops will also discuss the CRCSI IP register and will be your opportunity to hear from the new 43pl Chair Dave Sinclair and the CRCSI CEO Peter Woodgate.


Wednesday 1 Oct 2:30-5:00pm. Novotel Hotel, 200 Creek Street, Brisbane , QLD


Thursday 2 Oct 2:30-5:00pm. The Vibe Hotel North Sydney, 88 Alfred Street, Milsons Point, NSW (opposite train station)


Friday 3 Oct 2:30-5:00pm, Graduate House, University of Melbourne, 220 Leicester St, Carlton, VIC


Monday 6 Oct 2:30-5:00pm Novotel Hotel, 133-137 The Terrace Wellington, NZ


Thursday 9 Oct 2:30-5:00pm, Function Centre, Technology Park, 2 Brodie-Hall Drive, Bentley, WA

RSVP to Wendy Jackson or  phone +61 3 8344 9200.  For more information contact Mike Ridout, CRCSI Director of Stakeholder Engagement.


Annual Conference

5 – 7 November 2014

Registrations open now

Registration is now open for the 2014 annual CRCSI Conference in Perth, Western Australia. Registration is open to all CRCSI’s participant staff, 43pl companies, office bearers, CRCSI scholarship and affiliate students, and by invitation.
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