September 2016

New Global Partnership Delivers Opportunities

1 September 2016

The CRCSI recently completed a joint international project to investigate challenges associated with satellite based radar data (Synthetic Aperture Radar or SAR).

This project was conducted on behalf of the UK Space Agency and led by the UK based Satellite Applications Catapult. A copy of the project report can be downloaded here.

The Satellite Applications Catapult is an independent innovation and technology company, created to foster growth across the economy through the exploitation of space. It helps organisations make use of and benefit from satellite technologies, and brings together multi-disciplinary teams to generate ideas and solutions in an open innovation environment.

Catapult is one of a network of elite centres established by Innovate UK to accelerate the take-up of emerging technologies and drive economic growth.

The CRCSI worked in conjunction with Geoscience Australia and CSIRO, along with UK companies CGG Services, NPA Mapping, Environment Systems and Carbomap and Aberystwyth University to investigate the technical and commercial feasibility of leveraging satellite derived services through a geospatial data infrastructure (ie Data Cube) for a number of Australian sectors including;

  1. Australian agriculture, particularly sugarcane and wheat
  2. National Forest Monitoring System service to public and private stakeholders within and outside Australia
  3. Operational water resource monitoring systems.

After completing the work, all partners are keen to continue the collaboration. As a starting point, the CRCSI has signed an MOU with Satellite Applications Catapult to begin building on current opportunities.

Further information about this research and opportunities for Australia can be obtained through Graeme Kernich, CRCSI Deputy CEO. e gkernich@crcsi.com.au

The Communication Nub

With Jessica Purbrick-Herbst

Hello Spatial News Readers

It’s September already and Team CRCSI is in busy planning mode for the annual conference in October. Located in Sydney this year, the event brings to life the Innovation to Transformation research of the CRCSI and our partners.

Invitations have been delivered to our partners, research community and our key influencers across the CRCSI research portfolio. If you haven’t received an invitation (or have misplaced it), please send me an email.

We have keynote speakers representing innovation, big data, new markets and smart people. Our program highlights the golden nuggets of our research portfolio and the opportunities to engage in commercialisation and further research.

Industry trends and the role of the CRCSI in the future of Australia’s and New Zealand’s spatial industry will be a focal point for debate.

The conference will be paper-free this year – all the details you will need will be available on our highly interactive conference app, including the program, delegate and speaker information, Q&A polling and feedback. If you have struggled with apps in the past, don’t panic. Our experts will be available at the registration desk to download the app and take you on a tour of its offerings.

Any questions, please get in touch with me on info@crcsi.com.au


Jessica Purbrick-Herbst


Project Updates

Each quarter, the CRCSI conducts a series of project meetings across the current research portfolio. This regular briefing provides project partners and the CRCSI with the opportunity to ask detailed questions about the research, utilisation and milestone achievements. This quarter, 27 projects were examined.

 Here are some of the take-outs:

  • A new version of New Zealand’s datum, NZGD2000, has been released which updates the deformation model for earthquakes in 2013 and 2016. At the same time, the results of the New Zealand national adjustment were publically released.  Data gathered after the latest earthquake (February 2016) is providing a testbed for deformation modelling. More about the project here.
  • AUSGeoid2020 will be a world first geoid model providing GNSS users with a capability to convert ellipsoidal heights to Australian Height Datum heights with rigorous uncertainty.
  • Piloting the Digital Reporting System for the ‘State of Environment’ report in Victoria. Project 2.21 established a pilot information management framework to digitally enable the Victorian environment reporting process. This framework is based on the Strategic Land Information Management platform (SLIM) that was created through recently completed collaborative and commissioned research by DELWP (Victoria), which has delivered a user friendly 3-view (map, chart and table) interface to using environmental information.
  • Crowdsourcing via an integrated citizen-science platform allows recreational divers to upload underwater images, which provide information about the health of the Great Barrier Reef. Citizens can simply explore the virtual reef website or can classify coral cover in 360 degree and 2D images. Statistical models are then fit to data extracted from the citizen-contributed images, which helps managers gain insight into the health of the reef.
  • In Victoria, landowners wishing to remove, lop or destroy native vegetation are required to identify an offset which makes an equivalent contribution to Victoria's biodiversity. Through Project 4.17, the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Queensland University of Technology are exploring the potential of K-Tree clustering techniques to more effectively and efficiently identify environmental offsets.
  • Biomass Business continues to build new features into its App to enable producers to better estimate pasture biomass from their handheld optical devices. The latest feature will allow the user to undertake their own ‘self-calibration’ of the sensor, in their own paddock under their specific growing conditions. Ultimately this self-calibration procedure will underpin the crowdsourcing of calibration data by the App from all participating farmers.
  • Landsat for forests continues to mine the Landsat archive to map disturbance across Southwestern Victoria. The method will be repeatable across Victoria's public forest estate.
  • Preparation is almost complete for a roll-out of a Swedish Sensing City, while in Christchurch a grid of high grade sensors is in place and collecting real-time environmental data with medical data for 50 patients and health tracker app proof of concept syncing data in the New Zealand based Sensing the City project. Project outputs will be practical methodologies and processes. 
  • The 3D-FAST tool automatically detects landmark facial features from a 3D scan of a patient, accurately measures these features and provides a visual output for clinical review, a process that up until now was very manual and invasive. Researchers are now developing the analytic capability of 3D-FAST to detect the nature of facial characteristics that are likely to be suggestive of some underlying genetic condition thus significantly improving upon existing methods of automated facial analysis for assisting in syndromic diagnosis.
  • Immersion stakeholder engagement with Christchurch City Council has been the recent work of the Greening the Greyfields team in New Zealand, along with working with the assets team to identify areas for social housing. There are opportunities to expand into Wellington. 

Profiling Women in the CRCSI

Q&A with Dr Susanna Cramb

Susanna CrambSusanna was a CRCSI PhD student. Her work on the Queensland Cancer Atlas led the Queensland Government to increase its patient travel rebate through the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme to encourage travelling for medical treatment. Additional Cancer Council Queensland regional support staff positions were created in response to the demonstrated survival inequalities and the results of the project 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.

Current Roles: Spatial modeller with Cancer Council Queensland; Visiting Fellow, QUT; and Associate Investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers (QUT).

Experience that led you to the CRCSI: My first full-time job was at University of Queensland and involved assisting with the Australian burden of disease study. For me, this confirmed that epidemiological and statistical research was where the action was!
Nine years ago I moved to Cancer Council Queensland. CCQ started investigating a range of issues around conducting regional analyses on the cancer data within a year of my arrival, and I became somewhat involved.
My PhD through QUT threw me into the world of complex small-area models, which led to involvement with the CRCSI.

Education pathway: Given my love of maths, in senior high school I did the straight maths/science course. I have completed a Bachelor of Applied Science (Medical Science), a Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Graduate Certificate in Science (Statistics) and a PhD in 2015.

Why the spatial industry? There is a huge need for high-quality spatial analyses in health. Often health data has some kind of spatial location available, but there are issues around patient privacy, data quality, and communicating results accurately and effectively. These issues become compounded as the size of the geographical area decreases.

A message to my young self from the future: Be open to follow what piques your interest.

Q&A with Dr Rita Dionisio

Rita Dionisio May 2016Rita is a core member of the Greening the Greyfields team. Located at the University of Canterbury her current research focuses on the development of evaluation instruments to assess and simulate the impact of urban design in redevelopment areas, with a specific focus in Christchurch.

Current Role: Post-doctoral Fellow Researcher at the University of Canterbury.

Experience that led you to the CRCSI: After finishing my PhD I was mostly interested in getting experience within a multi-disciplinary, dynamic and entrepreneurial team. That was my motivation to work with Greening the Greyfields, a project funded by the CRCSI. My background is architecture and urban design. I became interested in spatial sciences applied to urban planning during university time, and since then I have been connected to the field.

Why the spatial industry? Spatial sciences is an emerging field, with a lot of potential for urban planning. I am keen to be involved in this area in relation to liveable urban space and community engagement, and in the Greening the Greyfields project I am part of a pioneering application of spatial information for urban planning.

A message to my young self from the future: I would reassure myself that following what feels best is the best way to go.

Simple Semantic Web

Spatial Infrastructures (Program 3) is researching new, intelligent ways to improve the organisation, access and use of spatial data in Australia and New Zealand through: automation, methodologies to manage data, robust data tracking systems, and application efficiencies.

Three core areas of research are being undertaken: the semantic web, supply chains and geocoded addressing.

A new short report that introduces semantic web technologies has been released. In brief, the report describes the Semantic Web as the 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.

Using the example of implied relationships, the report examines spatial data as being held in relational databases that can be converted and managed with software to deal with different languages (vocabularies and ontologies) allowing further distribution of data and definitions.
The report can be downloaded here.

In other news

Other news in Spatial Infrastructures is that Dr David McMeekin is acting Science Director for the Program. With an honors degree in computer science and a PhD in software engineering (understanding the cognitive levels that software developers operate at), David is based at Curtin University and joined the CRCSI in 2012 as a Research Fellow.

Originally tasked with identifying research areas that may underpin the Spatial Infrastructures Program strategy, David now works with and supervises the Program 3 research students as they look at how Semantic Web Technologies can be used to solve some of the issues within the Spatial Data Supply Chain. 

Read more about David here.

Positioning Ocean Drifting Data Collectors

Professor Bronwyn Harch, Director Future Environments Institute, QUT

A joint QUT and CRCSI funded Research Fellow from the University of Washington will build on current university work by continuing to research methods to exploit the 4D structure of coastal hydrodynamic flows and associated predictive (space-time) models as a means to control the position of swarms of drifting floats.

The Argo Float system – a series of ocean drifting data collectors – consists of over 3800 profiling drifters and has revolutionised the near real-time measurement of oceanographic properties across Earth’s entire open ocean. The data, transmitted from the floats via satellites to research stations, feeds information about ocean circulation and weather models. The current floats however do not operate in shallower coastal environments and drift without repositioning to maintain spatial homogeneity or repeat survey.

The new research proposed by QUT will develop control algorithms that allow low-cost drifters to maintain a sensing presence in a region providing rapid spatially diverse data in challenging environments.

This new system will provide persistent real-time, spatially distributed data from a range of parameters. Applications of this approach include: climate modelling, assessments for coastal renewable energy sites, detection and tracking of pollution, and tracking of marine mammal migration.

This project will significantly extend current research by the University of Washington and QUT into controllability and model-predictive control for 4D path-planning using swarms of under actuated Lagrangian (the fluid motion through space and time) drifters in tidal systems. The research goal is to obtain persistent and spatially diverse measurements across large spatial and temporal scales in these challenging environments.

This research will be supported by the NSF Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW) program and the Institute for Future Environments.


Open Source Topographic Mapping Software

Barista image


CRCSI’s Barista image analysis software calculates and compensates for biases in satellite position and orientation so that it is possible to use a single control point for a series of adjacent images.

Now open source, this software was developed initially as a research-use only tool in collaboration with the University of Melbourne and the CRCSI.

Barista is an easy-to-use photogrammetric software package, primarily for the generation of spatial information products from satellite imagery. Barista has been tailored for 3D geopositioning and feature extraction from single images. 

There is a range of applications for Barista in surveying and mapping.

The core technical features are:

  • High-accuracy geopositioning from high-resolution satellite imagery (HRSI) via bias-corrected RPCs (suited to IKONOS and QuickBird) which includes a rigorous physical model (eg for SPOT5 and ALOS) and the affine projection model
  • Ortho-image generation
  • Pansharpening
  • Monoplotting of points, lines and buildings to create 3D models from single images (requires an underlying DEM); affords building height determination.

The source code is hosted in Bitbucket and is freely available. It can be accessed via: https://bitbucket.org/crcsi/baristasource/overview

The latest stable builds are released as installers and are available for download at: https://bitbucket.org/crcsi/baristasource/downloads

The Barista team at the CRCSI welcomes contributions from the open source community to fix bugs, improve code, add functionality and provide documentation.

Please get in touch with Riyasdeen Basheerahamed e. rdeen@crcsi.com.au with questions and feedback.


Where Two Plates Collide

In partnership, LINZ, Geoscience Australia and the CRCSI are developing the next generation ‘algorithm’ to help better explain the tectonic movement of the Australian and Pacific plates.

A recent story in New Zealand’s online ‘Stuff’ featuring LINZ Chief Geodesist Graeme Blick said New Zealand is across two plates; Australia moving north-east and the Pacific moving north-west, and slightly twisting.

This movement equals about 5-6 cms per year – the equivalent growth of fingernails.

What all this twisting and turning means for New Zealand is that positioning coordinates that will allow for a future of driverless cars have changed.

Read the full story here.

Destination Spatial

DS Logo 2014Destination Spatial is curated by a volunteer run committee representing the private sector, education and research institutions, and industry associations.

Its mission is that Australia has a talented workforce which delivers excellence and sustainability to the spatial industry in Australia and around the world.Destination Spatial builds relationships with the private sector, government and education providers, to raise awareness of the spatial industry. It promotes the sector as an attractive career choice for secondary and university students to ensure the future workforce is capable of fulfilling new opportunities.

Success will be measured by the increased number of students studying spatially related courses. Core university and TAFE supporters will continue to host spatial courses that cover the primary facets the growing spatial industry requires across science, technology and information. The focus of these courses is to develop a deep discipline knowledge along with workplace attributes such as written and oral communication skills, collaborative working, critical thinking and project management.

Destination Spatial connections will underpin the career pathway for students, parents and educators, and industry engagement.

To find out more and explore how you and your organisation can get involved in delivering excellence and sustainability to the spatial industry in Australia and around the world please contact Lynnette Terrett, Destination Spatial Victoria Chair on e. lterrett@iconyx.com

Further details about Destination Spatial including how to get involved can be found here.

A Retirement of Distinction

NEED CURTIN PERMISSION Group photo Graeme Wright farewell Curtin Uni 1 July 2016

In July, Emeritus Professor Graeme Wright retired from Curtin University. Peter Woodgate summed up Graeme’s contribution to the CRCSI.

“Graeme has every right to be well pleased with the wonderful contribution he has made through his various roles at Curtin and elsewhere. He has been an exemplary role model for many; highly competent, respectful of others and generous of spirit. Moreover, his gentle sense of humour coupled with his humility all combine to mark him as a person of great character.

He has filled a number of senior roles in the CRCSI including; member of the Governing Board since 2010, Chair of the Research Investment Committee since 2010 – the most senior committee in the CRCSI – Chair of the Research and Education College that represented all of the university partners in the CRCSI, and informal advisor and mentor to a number of our staff. His calm and measured approach always sets the right tone. And he has filled all these roles with distinction.

It has been a privilege to work with Graeme through the CRCSI over the past 13 years and to have moved in his circles for the past 20 years. He carries our very best wishes into the next phase of his life.”

Graeme continues to fulfil roles at the CRCSI as a Board member and as Chair of the Research Investment Committee.

Image: Photo by Alana Blowfield. © Curtin University

Group on Earth Observations Wants Your Input

Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is a global partnership that seeks to create a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) that will link earth observation resources world-wide across multiple societal areas to enhance decision-making. Key beneficial areas include:

  • Biodiversity and ecosystem sustainability
  • Disaster resilience
  • Energy and mineral resources management
  • Food security and sustainable agriculture
  • Infrastructure and Transportation Management
  • Public health surveillance
  • Sustainable urban development
  • Water resources management

GEO is seeking engagement from the commercial sector as a key strategic partner to achieve its vision and it needs your input. Please take this online survey to share your views about connecting with and strengthening commercial engagement and developing collaboration. GEO believes there are partnership opportunities with earth observation providers, cloud services providers, application and software developers, and big data analytics within sector specific businesses.



New Geography Course Needs Real-World Spatial Help

The Geography Teachers Association of Victoria (GTAV) has recently developed course work for secondary school students with a spatial information overlay. GTAV is looking for industry and research expertise to provide examples (one paragraph and relevant URLs) that will assist students and teachers provide examples of how government and decision makers use spatial information in real-world examples.

GTAV is particularly interested in the students being able to source information to explain the role and effectiveness of spatial technologies for the development and implementation of strategies developed in response to population issues – in ageing populations and growing populations. 

At the end of the course work students will be tested. The best students will give real life case studies and strategies of governments or organisations and NGOs, using spatial technologies to develop and implement strategies for managing the ageing and growing populations, and the issues that arise in a particular country.

An idea of the types of examples the teachers would like include:

  • Working out where infrastructure is inadequate now or will be inadequate in the future eg. in relation to meeting related healthcare and social service or other needs
  • It could be gathering data on environmental effects of growing populations eg. deforestation in some countries from satellite remote sensing, assessing water supply or pollution or potential flooding with climate change sea level rise in areas that people are moving to, or the population is growing into
  • It might relate to spatial technology analysis being used to show the movement of migrants/refugees from or to particular countries as a result of the population ageing or growing too rapidly
  • It could be the use of spatial data to propose public transport solutions for growing populations or alternatives for ageing populations. 

Example countries relating to growing population issues are: 

  • Bangladesh
  • Saudi Arabia
  • China
  • USA

Example countries relating to ageing population issues are:

  • Japan
  • Germany
  • Singapore
  • Australia
  • China

Can you help? If you are able to assist with a paragraph or two plus URLs of real-world examples, please get in touch with Steve Latham, GTAV e. eo@gtav.asn.au