November 2016

Annual Conference 2016

Conference Research Highlights

18 November 2016

The CRCSI Annual Conference held in Sydney from 25-27 October (agenda) attracted over 280 delegates representing our partners across Australia, New Zealand and beyond. The conference focussed on the theme ‘Innovation to Transformation’ and allowed CRCSI partners to catch up on the latest research and its implications.

Rapid in the Real World

Rapid in the Real World featured interactive demonstrations about people movements, open rapid analytics, digital reporting and QA4mobile. This session used videos to cut across the know-how and the opportunities. To learn more about this work, or recap on this session, please watch the following series of videos.

People Movement with Kate Williams, GHD

Open Spatial Analytics with Alan Both, Geoscience Australia

State of the Environment Digital Reporting with TO Chan, DELWP

QA4MOBiLE with Jess Keysers, CRCSI

RAISE with Simon Gilkes, NSW Valuer General and Professor Chris Pettit, Professor of Urban Science and Associate Director – Future Cities, UNSW

To stay in touch with current research in rapid analytics and be involved in the forthcoming webinar series, please sign up here.

Building a Cohesive Community

Unlocking the potential of Greyfields

Unlocking the potential of Greyfields

The Building a cohesive community session highlighted the latest developments in spatial planning systems for unlocking the potential of Greyfields in urban regeneration for better social infrastructure and improved residential outcomes.

Adam Beck, Executive Director at Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand hosted the debate around the business case for spatial tools in the built environment.





New Zealand VIP High Tea

In a relaxed atmosphere, 12 New Zealand based researchers and users from both the private and public sectors were able to deepen and expand collaboration with Australian counterparts. 

Key areas of interest discussed at the High Tea:

Private sector

  • Providing better insight into the performance of transportation networks
  • Delivering real-time maps to the industry
  • Bringing autonomous driving to Australia and New Zealand.

Research sector:

  • Development or adaptation of geospatial tools for sustainable urban regeneration in New Zealand cities
  • New Zealand data infrastructure and access issues for decision-making in urban planning; how to create a common lexicon of data issues across the country, which tools? Which stakeholders?
  • Social amenities, communities and infrastructure – examining ways to enhance urban resilience in New Zealand
  • Cooperating with other researchers, universities, organisations and the industry to test existing and develop new ways of interaction with geospatial data and visualisation on mobile devices
  • Establishing advanced usability testing methods for the above aim, including using mobile eye tracking, remote observation, and reproduction of real contexts of use inside fully immersive virtual environments that allow natural movement and interaction with mobile devices and the environment.

Government sector:

  • The development of new LIDAR specifications for New Zealand and coordination of LIDAR capture across New Zealand
  • The development of a business case to improve the capture of accurate elevation data across New Zealand with the aim of developing a sub-meter DEM for New Zealand
  • A project to Join Land and Sea (JLAS) which will see the seamless mapping of New Zealand from the top of Araki/Mount Cook to the edge of the Continental Shelf
  • The capture of historic imagery in New Zealand
  • The development of the Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) Resilience Strategy for New Zealand will see LINZ taking a greater role
  • The development of an integrated vertical datum for New Zealand that will integrate the physical sea level datums with the geometric land based datum.

Dynamic Positioning

Dynamic Positioning told the story of instantaneous GNSS/RNSS positioning anywhere, anytime with the highest possible accuracy and integrity. This session showcased the research that will solve the signal processing and economic impediments to generating 2cm accuracies from multi-GNSS systems.

NPI technical hi res

Different applications demand different levels of accuracy, Image courtesy of Geoscience Australia

Agriculture and Natural Resources

Agriculture and Natural Resources: IoT and Smarter Industries and communities. Data cubes, digital natural resources, carbon capture and real-time biomass are just the beginning of the Internet of Things. Catherine Caruana-McManus from MESHED set the tone with a description of the IoT data network.

Spatial Infrastructures

Spatial Infrastructures – can I trust this information? Began with a two-hour technical tutorial to demonstrate the use of semantic technologies in next generation spatial infrastructure in Australia and New Zealand.

Four proof of concepts were showcased:

  • Automation of Data Quality for M1 Requests: John Gallagher, Manager Data Services, Land Use Victoria.  The use of shareable business rules is allowing The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP) to streamline processes and ultimately reduce cost of rework.
  • Automation of Road Naming Process in WA: Matt Adams, Manager, Imagery Products and Services, Landgate WA. This project is automating and sharing policy to improve the Road Naming in WA.  Improving the timeframe for Road Name Approvals will have significant cost savings to the land development process both within Government and in the commercial land development sector.
  • Federating Flood Risk Data on the fly: Byron Cochrane, SDI Technical Lead, LINZ.  Byron showcased the time and quality improvements that many end users such as the Earthquake Commission and Insurance Commission New Zealand will have if they are able to bring the wide variety of flood risk data together automatically. CRCSI PhD candidate, Jeremy Fa’s research is able to bring data from a range of sources and schemas and present it in a consistent format.
  • Improved search: Keith Moss, Manager Open Data WA, Landgate. Keith showcased the journey that Landgate and many other Open Data initiatives are on as they look for improved search techniques that allow for a broader range of users and data to be connected.  The use of spatially relevant search teams and natural language techniques within CRCSI PhD candidate Tristan Reed’s research is supporting this journey.

Next Generation Spatial Infrastructures white paper was highlighted and will be released early 2017. The white paper takes the user from a data perspective to a knowledge perspective. The new concept of spatial Knowledge Infrastructures (sKI) moves the agenda on from more traditional SDI concepts, to automatically creating, sharing, curating, delivering, and using knowledge (not just data or information) in support of the emerging digital economy and the rise of spatially-aware and equipped citizens.  We are transitioning from a data to a knowledge focussed environment and from supplier push to user pull.

Next Gen SI White Paper

To stay in touch with the latest news about Spatial Infrastructures, please click here

Improve Health

Spatial Information Improving Health presented on the value of taking a strategic “whole” approach to health. Priority areas include:

  • Cost effectiveness
  • Using spatial information, including tracking, in patient pathways as they move through the health system
  • Using analysis of the level of adoption of spatial technologies in the health system (the ‘spatial maturity model’) to drive transformational change
  • Commissioning national level studies to learn from the best practice of other sectors
  • Linking spatial health data to other important data, information and strategies
  • Building more skilled capacity through training and partnerships.

Supporting this strategic approach to health is the recently published “Spatially Enabling the Health Sector” by Professor Tarun Weeramanthri, Chief Health Officer, Assistant Director-General, Public Health, WA Department of Health (and CRCSI Health Program Board Chair) in collaboration with Dr Peter Woodgate.

This open-access article can be downloaded here and includes a series of examples of how spatial tools can be used in the health sector, drawing on CRCSI examples and published articles.

Blockchain Technology comes to the CRCSI

By Dr Nathan Quadros, CRCSI Education Manager

The CRCSI Student Day Solvathon focused on Blockchains in Spatial Technology. It was great to get Paul X. McCarthy (Online Gravity) and Mark Staples (Data61) to get the ball rolling and inspire the students’ thinking around blockchain technology.

Blockchain is the technology underlying Bitcoin.

The technology is currently approaching the peak of its hype cycle and has the potential to disrupt many industries by making processes more democratic, secure, transparent and efficient. Blockchain technology has the opportunity to be implemented in many applications other than Bitcoin. With blockchain technology being applicable to a breadth of applications a broad range of industries including spatial are now taking an interest in the technology. 

The students were divided into four teams with each team given the challenge to design an innovative use of blockchain technology in an application area relevant to current CRCSI research programs and initiatives. Four initiatives were created:

Blockchain Technology in the Red Meat Supply Chain

This idea taps into the $15.8 billion red meat industry in Australia. With only 35% of cattle currently meeting the Meat Standard Australia (MSA) standard, the traceable open ledger capabilities of a block chain implementation could provide consumers, farmers and suppliers with greater confidence on the certification process. Increased uptake on MSA certification positively impacts the Australian economy as every 1% increase of certified meat equates to $40 million of additional returns.

Differing from traditional centralised database systems, the open ledger system requires the complete life history of a piece of meat to be well documented and made available across all players in the supply chain. Automated transaction verification techniques using location and timestamp from GNSS, RFID or DNA barcode information is added to the blockchain database when the cattle or meat is transported from one location to another. This not only optimises the supply chain, but also adds value to the quality of meat sold to the consumer. All this information will be able to be accessed from a smartphone, where a series of displays showing quality metrics of great interest to the consumer: an environmental score; a wellness score; a taste score; and other extra data that supports the purchase such as recommended or optimised recipe selections for that particular cut. 

Blockchain Technology in Health

Attacks on hospitals and civilian targets are clear violations of international law and an urgent problem in war zones that can be addressed by a new arrangement of existing technologies and organisations. A systematic solution to this could be one which provides transparent, decentralised, immutable, publicly available records of humanitarian activity used to visualise the location of verified humanitarian facilities.

The decentralised nature of a blockchain could allow untrusting involved parties to agree or trust the validity of information. Records can be immutable and transparent, so there would be traceability and increased accountability. If this platform was augmented with crowdsourced data, there could be continuous verification from multiple sources agreeing or converging on the location of a hospital. In essence, this would be decentralising and democratising humanitarian map data in conflict zones to support policy makers, governments, negotiators, experts in international relations and law (UN, WHO) and humanitarian organisations (MSF, Red Cross/Red Crescent).

Blockchain Technology in Land Administration and Cadastre

A new distributed database maintaining transactions is disruptive to many industries. It is producing a time stamped auditing information record. Land administration title offices maintain registries, ownerships, boundaries of private and public properties and keep records of changes to the properties as they happen.

These changes affect mortgages, restrictions, leases and right of ways. Blockchain technology has a huge potential in land administration contexts as governments privatise land registries, or want to publish trusted copy for all stakeholders without delays. Blockchain protocols in land administration offer complete historical transaction of all land title transactions, reducing dependency on central cadastral databases and can minimise the risk of fraud in data manipulation by a single user. In many parts of the world traditional registry and cadastral systems have not been sustainable in this advanced technological world. Urbanisation is at peak and land parcels are increasing day by day and discrepancies still exist whether it is in the developed or developing world.

Blockchain protocol in land registries could have many benefits like cost reduction, smart contracts, efficiency, transparency and long term investment. 

Blockchain Technology for Road Tolling

Alternate fuel sources will require changes in how road user charges are calculated and collected. Deriving charges that are consistent across carbon based fuels, electric vehicles, and other alternatives (such as hydrogen fuel cells) may prove difficult.

Alongside the issue of equitable pricing is the well-known problem that continued increases in the number of road users will lead to increased traffic congestion. However, the emergence of driverless vehicles presents a possible solution to both these problems that can be implemented using the executable contracts that blockchains offer.

Currencies based on blockchain technology allow value to be held in escrow until certain conditions are met. Once these requirements are satisfied the value is distributed to the opposing party (or parties). This occurs based on how the contract is programmed into the blockchain and as such there is no need for a “middleman” (like a bank) or the fee they charge for providing this service.

Our solution is a market based system where travel on a particular road at a particular time is booked in advance (based on the origin and destination of the user). Before departing on the journey the user has certainty as to how much the journey will cost as well as its duration (they will not be inconvenienced by excessive traffic congestion).

This means all space on the road, tracked through time, is allocated. A non-urgent journey may take a less direct route in order to avoid popular roads and reduce the amount paid in road user charges. Alternatively, an urgent journey can be made via the most direct route at a higher price. Because journeys may utilise roads owned by various parties, the planning system will program the appropriate distribution of value into the executable contract. When the conditions are met (i.e. the journey is completed) the contract is executed within the blockchain and the transfer of value from the user to the road owners represents an alternative to traditional road user charges.

Next Steps

The CRCSI is now developing a one to two-year strategy for blockchain research in spatial technology. Seizing the early initiative with blockchain technology will be important for the spatial sector to lead activities in this rapidly growing research and development area.

Any questions, please contact Nathan Quadros on e: nquadros@crcsi.com.au

2026Agenda: Jointly Creating the Future of the Australian Spatial Sector

By Eva Rodriguez Rodriguez

The 2026Agenda initiative has started the transformation of the spatial sector in Australia, and its team – formed by Phil Delaney (CRCSI) and Eva Rodriguez Rodriguez (SIBA/CRCSI) –  brought the national consultation right to the CRCSI annual Conference in October.

During the 30-minute presentation, Conference delegates were live participants in the challenges associated with real innovation and entrepreneurship. Use of cloud words to capture the flow of participation, the 2026Agenda team noted “90% of the room reported having had "a great idea", yet only 55% "transformed it into a reality".

Of those great ideas “66% delivered value to the economy" which indicates that in some cases value is being captured by others. 

The live discussion corroborated one of the key premises of the 2026 Spatial Industry Transformation and Growth Agenda: coordination will be paramount to ensure our growth opportunity is captured by the spatial sector.

The 2026Agenda is a whole-of-sector initiative that began in July 2016, and has so far consulted with more than 350 individuals, including 40 interviews with spatial leaders. This included Leadership Forums in most Australian capital cities and an outside sector consultation involving key representatives of priority sectors such as agriculture, health, transport or energy, amongst others.

The team is currently working on the first 2026Agenda Roadmap and Action Plan, which will present a program of new initiatives to transform the spatial sector. If you want to be involved, please visit www.2026agenda.com

Spatial Information Global Outlook Report, 2016

The CRCSI has launched the Global Outlook Report 2016 for the spatial information industry.

Following on from the 2014 edition, authors Dr Isabel Coppa, Dr Peter Woodgate and Dr Zaffar Mohamed-Ghouse have come together with this compendium of published material covering technology developments that relate to the spatial technologies or operate in support of these technologies.

A copy of the report can be downloaded from here.

Benchmark Visit to Australia – National Geospatial Master Plan for Malaysia

The CRCSI recently hosted the Malaysian Centre for Geospatial Data Infrastructure (MaCGDI) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) delegation for a benchmarking visit to study Australia’s geospatial infrastructure during late October 2016.

The benchmarking visit allowed the visitors to meet with key spatial policy makers within the federal, NSW and Queensland governments and private sector companies to understand the challenges leading to a sustainable collaborative spatial information arena, research, infrastructure, policy and smart management of geospatial data within states, territories and federal stakeholders.

The major learnings about Australia’s spatial infrastructure and supporting policies are:

  • The collaboration of jurisdictions is undertaken through a willingness to share spatial data
  • The PSMA, a company set up by the state and federal governments is able to work with jurisdictions to develop national spatial data products and services. The geocoding data is available under the governments’ open data policy
  • ANZLIC-the Spatial Information Council has been successful in bringing jurisdictions and the federal government together without legislation or mandated policy
  • Open data policy has been a driver for state and federal government initiatives and key to the success of utilising spatial data amongst citizens. 

CRCSI Annual Awards 2016

Interviews by Jane Inall

Image awards winners 2016 banner

This year’s CRCSI annual Awards Ceremony took place during the 2016 Conference dinner on 26 October in Sydney. The event, in its third year, celebrates and recognises the single contributions to our successes as a CRC across four award categories.

The winner of the 2016 CRCSI Student Excellence Award was Dr Daniel Hogg from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

This award recognises an outstanding research contribution to a CRCSI project outcome. Daniel's PhD identified spatio-temporal clusters of adverse mental health outcomes, such as mood and anxiety disorders, that could be related to different exposures of the 2010/11 Canterbury earthquakes. The results of the research enable health care providers and planners like the New Zealand Ministry of Health (MoH) and Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) to better plan their mental health services and better prepare mental health intervention programmes for future disaster events in New Zealand. Due to the demonstrated increased need for mental health services a $20 million extra package for mental health services in Christchurch has been announced by the Minister of Health Dr Coleman. A highly regarded member of the Ministry of Health described Daniel's work as "exceptional", while his examiner wrote "in my experience this thesis is amongst the best I've examined." “It's a great honour to receive the 2016 CRCSI Student Award”, Daniel said. “I would like to thank the CRCSI for the award, supporting my PhD research and giving me the opportunity to be part of this Oceanian circle of spatial excellence. A special thank you to my supervisor Professor Simon Kingham for encouraging me throughout my PhD and helping me to accomplish my studies with such a success.”

Professor Kerrie Mengersen is the winner of the 2016 CRCSI Research Excellence Award.

This award recognises researchers who undertake high impact, collaborative research, demonstrate exceptional leadership, use novel and innovative research methods and are well regarded for their integrity, vision, reliability and competence. Kerrie is a Research Professor in Statistics at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers in Big Data, Big Models and New Insights. She holds a prestigious ARC Laureate Fellowship. Kerrie works exceptionally hard to establish and maintain collaborative research relationships and is noted in the CRCSI for her efforts to build teams and nurture the growth of early career researchers. Her skills in spatial and temporal statistical modelling are world class and have brought considerable value to the CRCSI across a range of projects. In collaboration with Cancer Council Queensland, Kerrie led a team that studied the spatio-temporal distribution of cancer detection and mortality in Queensland, the outcomes of which led the Queensland government to increase travel assistance to people in remote areas to access cancer screening and treatment services. This work has expanded to a new CRCSI project involving the Cancer Council of Australia, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and cancer registries across Australia to build an on-line national cancer atlas – a first for the nation. Kerrie is also leading work to improve environmental monitoring and management of the Great Barrier Reef. This exciting and innovative project has secured substantial support from the Queensland government and is generating significant media and community interest. It employs citizen science, immersive visualization technologies, statistical modelling and expert elicitation techniques to inform improved decision making and management.

"I was taken by complete surprise with this award”, Kerrie said. “I was worried about accepting an award for research in spatial information because I had lost my way getting to the function! However, I was delighted to accept it on behalf of my amazing collaborators. All of my research is conducted as part of teams, and the award reflects not only the excellence of the team members, but also the very positive environment for interdisciplinary and collaboration that comes from working in QUT and with the CRCSI. The CRCSI pushes us to move right across the gradient from theory to translation, so we see impact not only in our own research domains but also in the application of that research. I am proud to be a statistician, and proud to be part of the CRCSI, since spatial information is so important in almost every field. As spatial statisticians, we can poke our noses into so many problems, from saving the Great Barrier Reef to improving the lives of cancer patients, so we get to work with our heads, on a professional level, and with our hearts, on a very personal level. Thanks to the CRCSI, and thanks to my collaborators."

On behalf of the AAM Pty Ltd, Scott Ramage, the company’s Chairman, collected the 2016 CRCSI 43pl Company Award.

This award recognised AAM for its long-term and sustained contribution throughout the life of the CRCSI. From the early days when AAM was a foundation member of 43pl back in 2003 and throughout a 13-year partnership, it has contributed significantly to the CRCSI’s activities within research, program advisory and at a governance level. AAM has been involved in 15 projects since 2003 and has contributed toward the successful completion of several high impact CRCSI projects including: systems development of the NRM Spatial Hub Project, which provides a web-based management tool to 400 properties covering 50 million hectares of Australia’s rangelands; and as a member of the Pacific Island Coastal Inundation Capacity and Planning Project. This project won a 2015 United Nations Lighthouse Award for its work in four Pacific countries to train and prepare for sea level rise. AAM’s proactive contribution to the CRCSI’s activities demonstrates the tangible benefits which can be derived through sustained, long term partnerships with industry, government and research organisations.

“AAM was extremely proud to receive recognition for its contribution to the CRCSI”, Scott said. “The recognition is particularly pleasing for the many AAM senior staff who have made contributions at board, program and committee levels over the entire life of the CRCSI. The company has provided support through its expert technical advice and experience, test environments and financial contributions. An active private sector participation is critical to good CRCSI outcomes and this has been at the forefront of AAM’s commitment to the CRCSI.”

Professor Mary O’Kane AC, Chair of the CRCSI Board, presented the fourth award of the evening, the 2016 CRCSI Chair’s Award to Dr John Dawson.

John is Section Leader-Geodesy, Geodesy and Seismic Monitoring Branch, Community Safety and Earth Monitoring at Geoscience Australia. John has been the Program Manager of the CRCSI’s Positioning Research Program since the inception of CRCSI-2 in 2010. It is the largest and most far-reaching of the CRCSI’s seven programs. John was instrumental in developing the CRCSI-2 bid in 2008 and 2009 and in designing the Positioning Program. He was, and remains, a key architect of the National Positioning Infrastructure, one of Australia’s leading spatial strategies. Through his leadership and support, the research of the CRCSI has become an essential component of this strategy. The research is far-reaching; influencing the next generation datum for Australia, weather forecasting through research into the troposphere, precise positioning to the nearest few centimetres anywhere outdoors, and relationships with Global Navigation Satellite Systems providers in the US, Japan, China, Russia, the European Union and India. The seamless relationship that John manages between the research and its operational implementation epitomizes the best of a user-driven research program.

“It was a great honour to be recognised for my work within the CRCSI’s Positioning Program”, John said. “I think the award is a reflection of the success of the Positioning Program, a success which has only been achieved through the contributions of the partners and research teams. Working with the CRCSI’s partners has been enormously rewarding, and I think ultimately our research will really make a difference to Australia and New Zealand. Our work in the CRCSI has underpinned the development of a new national datum and the national positioning infrastructure which I think will be flagship research outcomes used by society for many years to come.”

Professor O’Kane then awarded Certificates of Appreciation to Paul Harcombe and Dr Chris Pigram.

Paul, who recently retired from Land and Property Information in the NSW Department of Finance, Services & Innovation, has been associated with the CRCSI since its inception in NSW. He’s been instrumental in driving the CRCSI research utilisation within the NSW Government, particularly related to the CRC’s Positioning research program during his tenure as the Deputy Surveyor General of NSW.

Dr Chris Pigram, who will be retiring as CEO of Geoscience Australia in February 2017, has also been involved with the CRCSI from its early days, on its Board and various Committees. Chris provided visionary leadership in establishing research priorities for program and critical support in the execution and validation of research findings.

We congratulate all those honoured at this year’s ceremony.

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