October 2015

Pacific Island Project wins United Nations Award

30 October 2015

The United Nations has recognised the CRC for Spatial Information’s Mapping Exposure to Sea Level Rise in the Pacific Islands Project as a leading initiative dealing with climate change.

This collaborative Project with NGIS Australia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade allows the Pacific Islands – Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea – to prepare for and adapt to sea level rise brought about by climate change.

In response to the United Nations announcement this week, the CRC for Spatial Information's CEO Dr Peter Woodgate said, "The CRC for Spatial Information (CRCSI) with support from the Australian Government and NGIS, is delighted to have its work in the Pacific recognised by the United Nations Lighthouse Awards".

"We are proud that this on-the-ground project delivered education and capacity building to the Pacific region. With close links to the Pacific community the CRCSI hopes to continue to bring its expertise to countries tackling the issue of climate change".

The Project provides the fundamental data, skills and tools at-risk communities need to make planning decisions. It trains government decision makers to use online tools and flood maps to understand and mitigate the risks of sea level rise. Using these maps, governments can better understand and communicate climate change risk to local communities and put adaptation plans in place.

Revealed on 27 October 2015 in London, 16 game-changing initiatives from around the world were announced as winners of a prestigious United Nations Climate Change award, The Lighthouse Award.

The Momentum for Change initiative is spearheaded by the United Nations Climate Change secretariat to shine a light on some of the most innovative, scalable and replicable examples of what people are doing to address climate change.

Momentum for Change is part of wider efforts to mobilise action and ambition as national governments work toward adopting a new universal climate agreement in Paris, France, at the end of the year.

The 2015 Lighthouse Activities were selected by an international advisory panel as part of the Momentum for Change initiative, which is implemented with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation, and operates in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative.

“The 2015 Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities comprise an impressive range of projects and personal stories that touch on sustainability, climate protection, environmental consciousness and social responsibility”, said Teresa Ribera Rodriguez, Chair of the Momentum for Change Advisory Panel.

“With a record number of applications – more than 450 – this year, the Advisory Panel had a difficult time selecting the best of the best”.

16 Game-Changing Climate Action Initiatives Announced

The CRC for Spatial Information (CRCSI) has been recognised in the 2015 United Nations Lighthouse Awards for the "Mapping Exposure to Sea Level Rise" Project in the Pacific. The CRCSI brought its technical expertise and connections to the spatial industry to deliver a fit-for-purpose innovative solution to empower Tonga, PNG, Samoa and Vanuatu to prepare for sea level rise.

The online mapping tools have received international recognition, first by Google at the White House Climate Data Initiative and now by the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat for COP21 in Paris in December.

The online interactive Vanuatu Globe has provided LiDAR, aerial imagery and flood information to "at-risk" communities in the Pacific. Importantly, it also built the GIS capacity and skills of local practitioners to use the data to understand risks from sea level rise.

Earlier this year the CRCSI and NGIS Australia were able to respond to the Cyclone Pam recovery by adapting the Vanuatu Globe using the data resources of over 200 organisations. Out of the Globe the Crisis Map was born which enabled people to easily obtain critical data in the post-cyclone Pam recovery.

Key facts

Read more about the Mapping Exposure to Sea Level Rise in the Pacific Island Project

  • More than 10 000 buildings identified at high risk of inundation within 80 years including schools, hospitals and critical infrastructure
  • 195 people from the governments of Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea were trained on how to manage and use LiDAR data
  • The Vanuatu Globe was a ground breaking Open Data portal produced for the Vanuatu Government and set a new precedent for publicly sharing elevation and sea level rise information
  • Through the Vanuatu Globe, the project was able to help the 2015 Cyclone Pam recovery by providing critical map information which was accessed by more than 1000 people a day within days of the cyclone.

The Communication Nub

With Jessica Purbrick-Herbst

The CRCSI Annual Conference 2015 is just 24 days away. The three day program has been developed to showcase opportunities, investigate spatial technologies and connect our participants and partners with the individuals and organisations that will bring about the commercial returns and societal benefit that our partners seek.

If you haven’t already registered, please do so today. A copy of the program and details about the event can be found here along with all you need to know about attending the conference.

And contact me if you need any assistance on m. 0439 014 188 or by email.

43pl Members

From David Sinclair

Last week in Sydney the CRCSI in conjunction with Land, Property and Information (LPI NSW) hosted the first of the focus workshop events. Bringing together current partners and new relationships, this event provided private sector, research agencies and government organisations the opportunity to explore how rapid big data solutions can pave the way for efficiencies in developing and using data now and into the future.

With over 30 people attending, the interactive panel and audience led the discussion around the tensions of return on investment versus public good, accessing real-time rapid data from the frontline, and an understanding about how this data can work in and across organisations.

To find out more or to connect with the CRCSI in NSW, please get in touch with Dr Zaffar Mohamed-Ghouse, Business Development & Research Manager on e. zsadiq@crcsi.com.au

The next focus workshop will be held in Perth on Thursday 12 November, themed Create a Sustainable Built Environment. Hosted by the CRCSIs Darren Mottolini, Business Development Manager (WA) and Phil Delaney, Program Manager Built Environment, this two hour workshop includes:

  • Current research and developments
  • Demonstration of tools for rezoning, analysis of existing spatial information (ENVISION) and scenario planning (ESP)
  • Trends
  • Opportunity to input into and shape future research outcomes to meet organisational needs.

If you are interested in attending this event please contact Jessica Purbrick-Herbst on info@crcsi.com.au for details.

The Conference

The CRCSI Annual Conference 2015 is only a few weeks away.

As a member of 43pl, you are invited to attend and extend this invitation to your clients and customers to hear about the emerging opportunities to commercialise and invest in new technologies.

Each research program will have an exhibition booth that will demonstrate the technologies available now and in the future. Our research teams and PhD and Masters students will be there to showcase their findings and answer questions.

This year we will continue the tradition of hosting the 43pl Soapbox – a two minute stand-up from 43pl members. To be part of this session, please contact Jessica Purbrick-Herbst on info@crcsi.com.au to register your interest (be one of the first 15 to reply to win a spot). The 43pl Soapbox will be held on Thursday 26 November from 4.30-5.00pm.

Please contact one of the CRCSIs Business Development Managers to answer any questions. 

Rapid Spatial Analytics

The Rapid Spatial Analytics (RSA) Program is a new CRCSI initiative designed to deliver high impact user-driven research to improve the ability and efficiency of government and industry to rapidly create spatial information products using mobile and cloud infrastructure. 

The RSA Program began with a partner workshop on 21 July 2015. The event was coordinated by Dr Nathan Quadros (Program 2 Manager), Professor Matt Duckham (CRCSI Program 2 Science Director), and Eva Rodriguez (Workshop Project Manager). Dr Peter Woodgate (CRCSI CEO) and Dr Phil Collier (CRCSI Research Director) participated as key speakers.

The workshop participants prioritised three projects for the RSA Program which are being developed for the CRCSI Research and Investment Committee meeting in November 2015. The three projects are defined as:

  • Open Spatial Analytics – Designed around Fundamental Spatial Datasets
  • What If? Analytics – Using property information and valuations as case study
  • Where Are People Going? – Analysing and reporting on real-time people movement

A new Board

The RSA Program has a new board. The role of the Program Board is to provide strategic guidance, advice and oversight of the Program to ensure the needs of end users are accommodated in the design and delivery of the research projects. The RSA Program Board will encourage and facilitate the utilisation of research outputs by participants.  

The RSA Program Board will:

  • Work with the Program Manager and Science Director to set the strategic direction of the Program
  • Overview, guide and formally endorse the formulation of all projects in the Program
  • Consider new project proposals and review existing projects
  • At times of project review, make recommendations on continuation, variation or termination of projects based on progress, achievements, continued relevance and impact of internal and external factors
  • Advise on the appointment of candidates to positions of research leadership.

Who’s on the new Board

The Program Board has members drawn from public and private sector partners with a strong interest in the direction and outcomes of the RSA Program.  

The RSA Program Board members are:

  • Simon Gilkes, Valuer General NSW – Board Chair 
  • Kate Williams, Senior Spatial Consultant, Service Line Leader – Spatial Sciences (GHD) – 43pl
  • John Blackburn, Business Manager  (AAM) – 43pl 
  • Tim Neal, A/Assistant Secretary, Data Policy Branch, Department of Communications – Government

Spatial Tools Reduce Costs

The NRM Spatial Hub continues to create impact across rural Australia through its online mapping tool that allows farmers and land managers to map and analyse 30 years of data in just a few minutes. The data results create information knowledge that allows farmers to develop best practice applications to increase profitability on a paddock-by-paddock basis and increase probability outcomes that can reduce the costs of capital borrowings.

The NRM Hub is an initiative of the Rangeland NRM Alliance members comprising 14 NRM regional bodies; the CRCSI, the Queensland Remote Sensing Centre, the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the NT Departments of Primary Industries and Land Resource Management, and multiple other organisations across Australia.

Hub Update

Property mapping is now well advanced or completed across all of the states and territories. GIS and farm mapping specialist Lee Blacklock has recently completed property visits in the north-east corner of South Australia and will soon complete any remaining properties in central-northern SA before the summer heat sets in. Rangelands WA staff are looking after the properties in Western Australia, and to the Northern Territory properties prior to the wet season.

GIS and farm mapping specialist Mike Digby has been busy translating data provided by the South Australian and Northern Territory governments, as well as properties mapped by Ross Brown and Lee Blacklock along with data provided by property owners.

Mike has also been carrying out quality assurance checks on OPPIS (online tool) and product testing of the online system.

Additional details can be found here including sign up for quarterly news.


Commercial Opportunities

The CRCSI has developed through collaborative projects a number of ready for market intellectual property and commercialisation opportunities. A full list can be found online.

Land assets managed by air is an example of research to commercialisation with Ergon ROAMES.

A Snapshot

The CRCSI developed the eFAS system which permits aircraft to accurately scan the condition of powerlines providing savings of $14M per year.

Ergon Energy manages 150 000 kms of powerline assets over 1 million square kms of rural Queensland. Routine inspection and maintenance of these assets and repair of damage caused by cyclones, floods and fire can cost up to $100M per annum.

Working in collaboration, the CRCSI, Ergon and QUT developed a novel 2D automated aircraft flight system known as eFAS that permits aircraft to accurately and efficiently scan the condition of these assets using LiDAR (a way of remotely examining the surface of the Earth to capture data to make maps). Now known as ROAMES this system saves Ergon around $14M per year.

Recently, the CRCSI developed a new automated 3D flight management system called 3PD (under provisional patent). In trials 3PD is up to 30% more efficient than eFAS. 

Success in Education

CRCSI PhD student Susanna Cramb recently submitted and was successful in obtaining her Doctor of Philosophy through the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

The results of Susanna’s work led to an increase in the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme, which offsets some of the costs associated with travelling for medical treatment. Additional Cancer Council Queensland regional support staff positions were created in response to the demonstrated survival inequalities.

The results of this thesis have been used by Queensland Health to formulate cancer health service strategies for the next decade, with a focus on reducing variations in cancer outcomes throughout the state.

Following is an abstract of Susanna’s thesis: Spatio-temporal modelling of cancer data in Queensland using Bayesian Methods.

Cancer is the leading contributor to the disease burden in Australia, accounting for almost one-fifth. Broad geographical inequalities in cancer outcomes were known to exist within Australia, but few small-area cancer analyses had been conducted, and none within Queensland.

This research aims to develop and apply Bayesian (statistical inference such as the degree of believe and interpretation of probability) hierarchical models to facilitate an investigation of the spatial and temporal associations for diagnostic and survival outcomes for Queenslanders diagnosed with cancer. The key objectives are to document and quantify the importance of spatial inequalities, explore factors influencing these inequalities, and investigate how spatial inequalities change over time.

The first objective, and the foundation for further analyses, was to identify cancers with evidence of spatial inequalities. Cancers tending to have higher incidence rates in more urban areas included breast, prostate, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, male kidney and bladder. In contrast, cervical, male lung and male oesophageal cancers had higher incidence rates in more remote areas. For survival spatial inequalities, a consistent pattern of lower survival among remote areas and higher survival among urban areas was observed for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, lung, colorectal, female breast, male leukaemia, male stomach and prostate cancers.

Next, the influence on diagnostic spatial patterns by area-level factors such as remoteness, socioeconomic disadvantage and Indigenous proportion of the population was considered. The remoteness of an area was found to be a key influence on spatial incidence inequalities for several cancers, while Indigenous ethnicity was an important influence only for cervical cancer. Socioeconomic disadvantage interacted with remoteness for melanoma, breast (females), cervical, lung and prostate cancers.

When survival was predicted by cancer stage, localised breast cancer had quite similar survival across all statistical local areas. However, 5-year relative survival varied between areas by up to 7% for advanced breast cancer, with more remote areas tending to have poorer survival. In contrast, even localised colorectal cancers showed maximum differences in predicted survival of almost 5% between areas, and up to 14% for advanced tumours, with survival generally decreasing as remoteness increased.

Important methodological contributions resulted from this project. A fully Bayesian approach to quantify premature deaths from spatially structured variation in cancer survival inequalities was developed. The advantages of this include obtaining measures of uncertainty, the ability to adjust for prognostic influences, and excluding deaths considered to result from random variation.

Practical benefits for Queenslanders diagnosed with cancer also directly resulted from this project. The Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme, which offsets some of the costs associated with travelling for medical treatment, was increased after lobbying using our results. Additional Cancer Council Queensland regional support staff positions were created in response to the demonstrated survival inequalities. Results were used by Queensland Health to formulate cancer health service strategies for the next decade, with a focus on reducing variations in cancer outcomes throughout the state.

Further details about this work can be obtained by contacting Susanna Cramb on susannacramb@cancerqld.org.au