March 2017

SBAS Testbed leads to Accurate Positioning

Research collaboration using a satellite based augmentation system (SBAS) will lead to more accurate positioning services in Australia and New Zealand.

20 March 2017

The Australia and New Zealand CRC for Spatial Information (CRCSI) will lead a new industry program to evaluate applications for the newly announced SBAS testbed. CRCSI partners, Geoscience Australia and Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) together with three global companies GMV, Inmarsat and Lockheed Martin will implement the SBAS testbed through a two-year project to evaluate three positioning signals for improved accuracy and integrity over Australia and New Zealand.

The signals are (1) the current offering provided in Europe and the US (L1 Legacy signal), (2) a new dual frequency signal to be tested for the first time in both Australia and New Zealand (L5 Dual-Frequency and Multi-Constellation Signal) and (3) high-precision Precise Point Positioning (PPP) navigation corrections where decimetre level accuracies at user level are expected.

SBAS story image

In simple terms the SBAS satellite provides a cost-effective way to improve GPS signals from around 5m in accuracy to less than 1m.

Widespread adoption of improved positioning technology has the potential to generate $73 billion in value to Australia alone by 2030 (source: Geoscience Australia).

This research is supported by a $12 million investment from the Australian Government as announced in January and a further $2M from the New Zealand Government.

“The SBAS testbed will trial a range of SBAS signals for the first time in Australia, one of which has been never tested before. The SBAS signals provide an opportunity for many users to more readily access higher accuracy satellite positioning over Australia and New Zealand,” said Dr Peter Woodgate, CEO of the CRCSI.

“In March we will be seeking expressions of interest from our existing partners and other organisations to participate in trials in a number of sectors including agriculture, aviation, construction, maritime, mining, rail, road, spatial and utilities. Australian and New Zealand industry will be able to assess new and innovative positioning applications and build the case for further investment.”

The two-year testing will address specific accuracy and integrity requirements for each of these nine application areas.

The adoption of the SBAS technology will bring Australia and New Zealand into line with the United States, Europe, China, Russia, India and Japan who have already deployed SBAS technology and are driving new market applications at the interface of precise positioning, productivity and innovation.

Further details about this research, including registering interest in participating in the SBAS testbed can be found here.

QZSS Positioning in Australian Sugar

The first autonomous tractor trial for the Australian sugar industry took place in December 2016 on a sugar cane property near Mackay in Queensland. The trial, involving organisations from Australia and Japan, was managed by Hitachi Australia in partnership with the CRCSI and coordinated by local Mackay farm advisor company, Farmacist. The project was funded by the Japanese Ministry for Internal Affairs and Communications. 

The trial in Mackay succeeded in demonstrating QZSS LEX signal availability and performance for real-time precise positioning in Australia, based on PPP-RTK correction messages generated in Japan and Australia.

This project draws on 11 partners from Japan and Australia including: the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Hitachi Ltd, Hitachi Zosen, Yanmar, Hokkaido University, Hitachi Australia, Farmacist, RMIT University, UNE and SmartNet Australia.

Further details about this research can be found here.

Aerial Robotics

Ergon Queensland has partnered with QUT, the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision and the CRCSI to tackle the challenge of maintaining a network of hundreds of thousands of miles of power poles.

This new 12 month project, Aerial Robotics for Close Proximity Infrastructure Inspection, will develop and test UAV asset inspection technology for use in the utility industry to increase safety, improve the quality of collected data and reduce the need for pilot skill level for close proximity data capture. 

The research will assist the advancement of UAV deployment and regulatory approval towards "beyond line of sight" operations.

Two robotic technologies will be examined:

  • Force-field collision protection technology (a series of sensors that detect obstacles to avoid collisions) and to increase safety
  • Semi-automated inspection technology to improve safety and reliability of data capture and facilitate new operational modes.

Project Leader, Professor Peter Corke from QUT


Q4Lab – Automated quality assurance for point clouds

QA4LAB is a series of software tools for the quality assurance of point cloud data, created by the CRCSI. This series of software tools was initially based on LiDAR, but is now expanding into photogrammetric point clouds with QA4UAV.

This expertise includes:

  1. QA4LiDAR to simplify the quality assurance for airborne topographic and bathymetric LiDAR deliveries
  2. QA4MOBiLE, an easy-to-use, standard compliance and quality assurance checking mechanism for mobile laser scanning (MLS) data
  3. QA4UAV, a quality assurance tool for UAV imagery and photogrammetric point clouds.

The QA4LAB website hosts downloadable resources including quality assurance software packages, form editors and visual review platforms that allow operators to assess data quality.

Explore the opportunities of QA4LAB by clicking on relevant headings across the website.

Mapping the Great Barrier Reef

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is one of the largest living ecosystems on earth. It is 344 400 km2 in size and approximately 2 300km long including around 3 000 reefs made up of 600 types of hard and soft coral. The GBR was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, and remains a major attraction for snorkelers and divers from around the world. However, the GBR is under increasing pressure due to land-based pollution and poor water quality, crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks, and coral bleaching resulting from climate change.

Mapping the Great Barrier Reef using spatial technologies is the logical next step in gaining better understanding of the health and wellness of the reef in a contemporary and interactive manner.
The project “Monitoring through Many Eyes”, led by Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen and her team at QUT, developed an integrated citizen-science software platform during this pilot 12-month project, which can be used to engage with citizens to better monitor and manage the GBR.

The software platform allows crowd-sourced 2-D and 360-degree imagery taken by recreational and professional divers to be uploaded and geolocated within an existing digital map. Elicitation modules were developed to allow regular citizens to identify coral in the images, while marine scientists can be immersed into the digital environment to elicit information about reef health issues. This expert "prior information" can be combined with existing monitoring data to build spatio-temporal predictive models used to gain a better understanding of the ecosystem, inform spatially explicit management decisions, and guide future data collection.

A first of its kind, the interactive spatial platform www.virtualreef.org.au hosts the crowdsourced geotagged imagery to create a visual and virtual reality environment that can be viewed by the community and reef experts. This online platform also provides a way for citizens to contribute to data collection and processing, so that managers can make use of all the available information to make more informed, data-enabled management decisions in the GBR.

The pilot project is now finished and awaits its next stage of research which is to open up the system and allow citizen-scientists to classify reef imagery.

reef check


The CRCSI congratulates Professor Kerrie Mengersen on receiving the title of Distinguished Professor from QUT and for winning the Pitman Medal for outstanding achievement in statistics. 


Health Program Update

The Program is helping to answer the question, “Does my location affect my health?”

The Health Program was established in 2011 to assist in optimising health outcomes and service delivery through increasing spatial capabilities throughout the health sector. The Program is helping to answer the question, “Does my location affect my health?”. During this time, the CRCSI has co-funded projects with partners delivering a range of outcomes including: the development of an online reporting and mapping
application that has made a wealth of health information more accessible to staff within health agencies enabling faster, more efficient decision-making, spatial modelling methodology critical for disease burden estimation in areas with small populations; successful linkage of environmental data with medicine usage for patients with lung disease; assistive clinical diagnostics through an innovative 3D facial analysis tool and a systematic evidence-based approach to prioritising resources where most needed post exposure to disaster.

Now in its sixth year, spatial health research has garnered national attention and advocacy which has led to a new portfolio of research being undertaken which will build on existing research and provide greater capability for the health sector.

CRCS 3 banner

Five New Projects

National Cancer Atlas
Building on the success of the Queensland Cancer Atlas, this new national digital atlas will allow health agencies, policy makers and the community to understand the location and resource requirements for Australia’s most prominent cancers including breast, prostate and colorectal cancers. The National Cancer Atlas will use robust modelling to determine cancer screening, cancer incidence and cancer survival in Australia. The digital workability of the Atlas will analyse cancer in small local clusters without jeopardising privacy and confidentiality. This 18-month research project will influence Australia’s health policy and localised approach to cancer screening, intervention and treatment. Multiple agencies are involved in this research – the CRCSI, QUT, Cancer Council Queensland (CCQ), Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW) and the Australian Government Department of Health – which bring together leading skills in statistical modelling, digital architecture and a suite of data products. Future opportunities exist for broader disease mapping in digital atlas formats.

Equitable Hepatitis B Treatment
New research will model Hepatitis B in Australia to improve effective health programs in migrant and indigenous populations. Hepatitis B is a chronic disease over-represented in these populations.
This 14-month project with CRCSI partners RMIT, University of Melbourne and the National Health and Medical Research Council, will use location data to better understand demographics, mobility and the clinical care pathways for these at-risk populations located in Victoria and the Northern Territory.The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare will support the research through data interpretation. The outcome of the research will be dynamic spatial forecasts that map the future of Hepatitis B. In turn this information will allow planning of clinical strategies, resource allocation and the development of a static and interactive spatial Hepatitis B visualisation. These outcomes will be embedded in the National Hepatitis B Strategy that aims to achieve 15% treatment coverage up from the current five per cent.

Patient Tracking to Minimise Cross-infection
This project is taking a staged approach to determine what technologies are available to undertake real-time indoor tracking of patients to minimise the risk of cross infection. The first stage currently underway is a desktop review and assessment of academic and commercially available solutions indoor tracking solutions. The Cystic Fibrosis Infection Control Guidelines suggest that cystic fibrosis patients are at risk of contracting cross infection in health care settings (hospitals, surgeries, inpatient care) and as such recommend a two-metre distance between all patients. A feasible and affordable solution to track patients in a hospital setting is yet to be developed. Further phases of this project intend to validate the most feasible solutions in a real-world environment with the aim to then pilot the preferred technology at the Sydney Children’s Hospital. Ultimately if successful, the indoor tracking system could then be deployed across other hospital and health care settings to minimise cross infection risk. Project partners are University of NSW and Sydney Children’s Hospital.

Image for health

Burns Assessment and Treatment
Teaming with the Fiona Wood Foundation Burns Unit, Curtin University photogrammetry specialists will determine the feasibility of integrating 3D imagery technology and automatic analysis to provide a more accurate and objective measurement of burn assessment leading to improved clinical outcomes (patient recovery). Using non-invasive imaging techniques for burns management could significantly assist clinicians to make timely decisions in order to optimise the chances of recovery and minimise scarring.The initial project will investigate the potential of photogrammetry and photogrammetric image analysis to:

  1. Determine the surface areas of a burn wound in 3D (geometric analysis)
  2. Provide an objective measurement to analyse the blood supply and depth of injury based on the correlation of the depth to the spectral appearance
  3. Analyse the burn wound over time using objective measurements (geometric and spectral).

A second stage project will examine standard imaging techniques and methods.

Project partners are Curtin University and the Fiona Wood Foundation.

Integration of Data into Policy and Planning
The Australian Government Department of Health has for the first time released Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) data to each state to determine if new knowledge or insights can be gained through the analysis of the data. CRCSI partners, WA Department of Health and Curtin University, will analyse this detailed primary health data and associations with selected hospitalisation examined to assess the value of these data to inform strategic planning and system policy development. Mapping of Medicare Benefits Schedule and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme utilisation data as well as rates of potentially preventable hospitalisations will enable spatial analyses to investigate the associations between primary health care utilisation and rates of potentially preventable hospitalisations. While the project will assess the value that primary health care data adds to the evidence base for strategic planning and system policy development, it will also demonstrate the importance of inclusion of primary health care data in this process and highlight the need for ongoing access to more detailed data from the Commonwealth. Project partners include the WA Department of Health, Curtin University and the WA Primary Health Alliance.

A full list of current projects in the Health Program can be found here

Student Profile – Polishing off the PhD

Written by Elizabeth-Kate Gulland, Spatial Infrastructures, Semantic Web Technologies, Curtin University.

As I write up my thesis (on semantic spatial search with online agents) for submission, it seems a good time to reflect back over my time as a PhD Candidate! When you start a PhD, you expect to learn a great deal about your research topic, and that certainly happens – but you’re not always aware of how many other things you’ll learn, or how many people will become your teachers. Everything from technical skills – writing, presenting, coding, software, research itself – to life skills like project management, travelling efficiency, self-reliance, and staying balanced.

In my research, I am interested in matching the contexts of users and data resources for searches on spatial data, by using online software agents to estimate data’s relevance to a question. Just because you asked about “nursing stations” when a dataset description says “GP clinics”, or meant the Scottish “Perth” instead of an Australian one, doesn’t necessarily mean that the data isn’t relevant!  I found that travelling to present my own work and discover what else was happening in my field was important for broadening my ideas and clarifying my direction. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Singapore (photos below) and Korea as well as CRCSI conferences in Christchurch, Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney.

EK photos composite

WI-IAT (Web Intelligence – Intelligent Agent Technology) Dec 2015, Singapore

The annual CRCSI conferences have been a great way to meet with other candidates at different points of their studies, to share tips and advice about what works, what doesn’t, and what is to come. They are also helpful for seeing how the academic and non-academic worlds can blend and merge. 
20161026 CRCSISydney IMG 1676

CRCSI 2016 Conference Dinner with (l-r) Petra Helmholz, E-K and Charity Mundava

Many thanks to my supervisors and to my scholarship providers CRCSI and ANU for helping me to get to this point. And best of luck to all of my fellow CRCSI students for the journey ahead!

E-K Gulland is a CRCSI Scholarship Student, located at Curtin University in Western Australia. Her research will have impact across two research themes; Spatial Infrastructures and the Health Program by “helping people more easily find the online data they need, regardless of the language they use to describe it.”

Profiling the CRCSI

Dr Anna De Raadt, New Zealand Director, CRCSI


Current role: Director CRCSI NZ which means that I am responsible for the various operational activities of the CRCSI in New Zealand. This makes work very varied and enriching.

Experience that led you to the CRCSI: I have experience in a number of areas - a narrow and deep background in science research and teaching which I conducted at a European university. After this I branched out with a business degree and changed careers to policy and then government investment into science and business innovation. My current role leverages my skill base very well which I find very satisfying.

Education pathway: Science, science and more science! My science career culminated with being an Associate Professor in my field of expertise – I loved this role but decided to return to New Zealand, broaden my horizons by doing a business degree and thereby change careers. This move opened doors to many opportunities.

Why the spatial industry? I aspire to make a positive difference in this world and supporting the spatial industry is a way of doing this. I very much appreciate the value that geospatial information can generate by improving decision-making quality and raising the productivity of what we do.

A message from the future: I believe that there are a number of things that are good to think about and balance: think about what you are passionate about, your strengths and future trends that will impact what we will be doing in the future. All of these things will help you work towards your career goals. This is all probably hard to do, but it will be worth it!

2026Agenda Update

By Eva Rodriguez Rodriguez

Progress on the transformational 2026 Agenda has continued at a rapid pace with the draft Agenda released to the industry for comment in December 2016. A total of 34 submissions were received, 27% were from academia (both individuals and organisations), 12% from associations, 32% from government (both individual and organisations), 3% from international organisations and 26% from the private sector. Feedback has been constructive and overall very supportive of the Action Plan.

A refined Action Plan including the gathered feedback has been approved by the Working Group overseeing the 2026Agenda. The updated Action Plan incorporates the feedback gathered in the Darwin Leadership Forum, which took place in February. The Northern Territory Government representatives were supportive of the plan and highlighted its good fit and alignment to their own strategic plans.

It is expected that the final Action Plan will be released before or at Locate 17/10th International Digital Earth Symposium conferences, with a keynote address to be given on the 2026Agenda by Co-Chairs Glenn Cockerton and Peter Woodgate.

In the meantime, the 2026Agenda Team is finalising the plan for the implementation of the first year of initiatives. Conversations with interested collaborators will commence in the coming weeks, followed by a formal engagement program to deliver the high priority initiatives. Keep up to date with developments here.

Spatial Infrastructures White Paper

Innovative Growth of Spatial Data White Paper to be launched in Canberra

The innovative "Growth of Spatial Data" White Paper will be launched in Canberra on Friday 24 March 2017. Co-hosted by SIBA, the interactive breakfast will include key speakers:

  • Dr Peter Woodgate, CEO of the CRCSI; what is the case for change and how will industry meet the digital economy challenges.
  • Professor Matt Duckham, RMIT and White Paper author: empowering the consumer, adding value to data through the creation of knowledge.
  • Kylie Armstrong, CRCSI Program Manager Spatial Infrastructures and White Paper author; planning for change.

The breakfast will be opened by newly appointed SIBA CEO Deanna Hutchinson. Further details about the breakfast including registration can be found here.

Emeritus Professor Bill Charters AM

Vale Emeritus Professor Bill Charters AM, foundation Chair of the CRCSI

On Wednesday 15 March, we learned of the passing of Emeritus Professor Bill Charters AM. Bill was the inaugural Chair of the CRCSI from 2003 to 2006, remaining on the Board as an independent Director until December 2009. He played a key role in chairing the working party that brought together the 55 foundation partners of the CRCSI and then deftly guided the establishment of our Board processes that have served us so well ever since.

Bill photo for website storyPrior to joining the CRCSI Bill was Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Melbourne. He was a pioneering researcher in solar energy and advised the UN for over 30 years, primarily in developing countries. Bill served as Chairman of the UN’s International Solar Advisory Panel. He was also Chair of the Victorian Solar Energy Council for many years.

Bill will be remembered as a humble and inspiring person who commanded great respect. His guidance and leadership were instrumental in our formative years and he remained a wonderful supporter of ours.

He will be sadly missed.

Peter Woodgate

Reports, News and Events


Research Theme News

  • Rapid News; updates and actions across the rapid spatial analytics program. Sign up here.
  • Spatial Infrastructures News. Sign up here.

LOCATE17/10th Digital Earth Symposium, 3 - 6 April 2017, Sydney

Visit team CRCSI at Booth #30. Drop in and say hi. All the latest program details are here.