August 2017

Economic Value of Spatial Information in NSW

Report released

30 August 2017

The Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI) has undertaken an assessment of the economic value of the spatial services in NSW as there exists no regional based economic studies. The request for this assessment came from the then LPI (Land and Property Information) supported by the NSW Location Leadership Group (NSW Spatial Council which comprises representations from all NSW government departments) and the Location Intelligence Industry Advisory Committee. The last study conducted was at a macro level covering the entire country on the value of spatial information by the CRCSI in 2008. The report assesses the value of spatial information to the NSW economy in 2017 and the expected value by 2022. It also estimates the present value of benefits expected to accrue after 2022 from developments in a single digital cadastre and building information modelling (BIM) federated registries. This report draws on case studies and desktop research to estimate productivity impacts of spatial information. These estimates were combined with estimates of levels of adoption across specific industry sectors to estimate the state wide impacts. It also examines the impact of lives saved in the case of ambulance services. The findings of the report are based on direct benefits of selected case studies and are an indication of first round effects of the use of spatial information and services.

Highlights of the report:

A summary of the net benefits from improvements in productivity attributed to the use of spatial information, services and analytics in NSW shows total net benefits of $923 million in 2017 and $1,395 million expected by 2022. A summary of the net present value of benefits that are expected to accrue between 2026 and 2036 shows additional benefits of $918 million in present value terms, over a period of 15 years, are estimated to accrue from developments in the single digital cadastre and from the integration of the digital cadastre and federated 3D models. If the cash flow is extended to 20 years this value rises to around $3 billion in present value terms. These longer term benefits assume that a single digital cadastre is implemented in NSW by 2026 and federation of 3D models of the built environment (including BIM) is achieved. Adoption is assumed to start at 10 per cent in 2026 and reach 70 per cent by 2033.

To download the report, fill in the form here.




Satellite Based Augmentation System Test Bed

Alive and Signalling

Have you noticed your GNSS receiver is displaying more accurate position information since early June? The SBAS Testbed Project is underway, with the SBAS L1 Legacy signal now live. The PPP (precise point positioning) signal will be live in August and the SBAS Dual-Frequency Multi-Constellation signal shortly after, in October. SBAS (Satellite Based Augmentation System) provides a cost-effective way to improve the accuracy and reliability of GPS signals from around one metre to the ten centimetre level. It does this by broadcasting corrections from a geo-stationary communication satellite.

SBASThe first call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) for SBAS testbed demonstrator projects closed in late April. We received 65 submissions from Australia and New Zealand, with all nine selected industry sectors covered. Over $13 million was requested by proponents, set against the available funding of approximately $3.6 million in the first round.

We’ve evaluated the submissions and have identified some novel and high impact ideas that will clearly explore and demonstrate the benefits of the SBAS technologies. We aim to have some testbed demonstrator projects starting soon and look forward to sharing some good news about the projects shortly. Industry areas that will benefit from this first round include: aviation, agriculture, construction, maritime, rail, resources, road, spatial and utilities. Also covered are some consumer focussed areas – think: geo-marketing and advertising, mobile workforce management and tracking, as well as, sport and well-being games and apps.

The second call for EOIs will target specific sectors: rail, construction, utilities, aviation (unmanned aerial vehicles), resources, agriculture (horticulture) and consumer (including any health and welfare projects). It opens Friday 1 September, with all submissions due by 5pm AEST on Friday 29 September 2017. For more information, jump online: www.crcsi.com.au/sbas.

If you are interested in accessing the SBAS Legacy L1 signal using your existing GNSS receiver, or running your own project, please get in touch with the CRCSI’s SBAS team.  We are keen to find out how widely this more accurate positioning information can, or already has, helped you. Further information on how you can access the signal can be found on our FAQ page.

CRCSI Recognised for Leadership in Commercialisation

The Australia and New Zealand Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information received the Asia Geospatial Leadership Award for Commercialisation of Technology at GeoSmart Asia 2017 last night in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

Each year, champions of the industry – be they organisations or individuals – are recognised for the impacts their enthusiasm and innovative thinking have brought to the future. Anamika Das, Vice President, Outreach and Business Development, Geospatial Media and Communications, said that the CRCSI has been recognised world-wide for the high impact of its research and for adding value to the spatial marketplace.

“The CRCSI has been building expertise and working towards commercialisation of spatial research by bringing government, corporate and academic partners together,” she said. “This has provided opportunities for user-led, novel and foundation spatial research that solves complex problems of national significance. For the last 14 years, the CRCSI has played a central role in the thriving spatial industry, both locally and internationally.” 

Dr Peter Woodgate, CRCSI CEO, says that geospatial technologies are revolutionising most sectors of the global economy. “The march of geospatial technology is unstoppable, from autonomous transport to location-based high street marketing,” he said. “For nations to realise the maximum benefits, government needs to get the policy settings right, industry must work with certainty in the market place and the public research sector has to partner with technology providers and end users. Then we can tackle the really big nation-building challenges that pave the way for growth.”

GeoSmart Asia 2017 Award photo 23 August 2017

(L to R) Dr Zaffar Sadiq Mohamed-Ghouse, Director-International Relations CRCSI; YB Datuk Ir.Dr.Hj.Hamim Samuri, Hon. Deputy Minister for Natural Resources & Environment, Government of Malaysia; Mr Prashant Joshi, Vice President, Geospatial and Media Communications

“On behalf of the 120 partners of the CRCSI , from government, the private sector and the publicly funded research sector, I’d like to acknowledge the organisers, Geospatial Media and Communications, with sincere thanks. This is an honour for which we are most grateful,” says Dr Woodgate.

Dr Zaffar Sadiq Mohamed-Ghouse, Director-International Relations CRCSI, accepted the Asia Geospatial Leadership for Commercialisation of Technology award at the GeoSmart Asia 2017 Awards ceremony on Wednesday 23 August in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

For further information about this award, please contact: Stephanie Pradier, CRCSI Communication Manager on m. +61 424 568 314.

Creating our successor research entity

We have been busy creating our post 2018 entity with our partners. This has included designing and shaping our core research and business priorities, as well as working on our brand and identity.  Leveraging nearly 15 years of continuous collaborative research experience, our new entity will continue to formulate nation-building research initiatives and tackle major challenges – especially where it is not possible, nor cost effective, for any one organisation to do this on their own. We will broker and maintain high quality research project management, provide independent advice, and connect partners to the most capable people and organisations.

Our successor entity will be a more agile organisation, to rapidly coordinate and deliver research. Research that is driven by partner needs. Research that generates a lasting impact to their organisations in a time of rapid change.

The Steering Committee is currently made up of the chairs of our three colleges: government, academia and industry with additional members from the 43pl Board and Landgate. Its Chair is Steve Jacoby PSM, recently appointed Chair of the ANZLIC Council and Chair of the CRCSI’s Government College. WE have just expanded to include new members from 43pl and industry, Land Information New Zealand, Department of Finance, Services and Innovation – NSW Government, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning – Victorian Government, Department of Health – WA Government, Geoscience Australia. Also, Drew Clarke AO will join as an independent advisor. There will be close alignment with the goals of the 2026Agenda.

If you would like further details about our new entity please contact Graeme Kernich, Deputy CEO, gkernich@crcsi.com.au

Narelle Underwood awarded at UNSW women in engineering night

Congratulations to Narelle Underwood, NSW Surveyor General and Director of Survey Operations, on winning the Maria Skyllas-Kazacos Young Professional Award for Outstanding Achievement at the UNSW Women in Engineers Awards ceremony on Thursday 17 August. Narelle has had an outstanding career, when she was appointed Surveyor General, last year, she became both the first woman to hold the role across all Australian states, and the youngest in NSW for 200 years. A toast to Narelle from the entire CRCSI community. Read the full story on the UNSW website here.

Narelle Underwood MAry OKane and Maria Skyllas Kazacos

(From L to R) Narelle Underwood, Mary O'Kane (Chair, CRCSI Board) and Maria Skyllas-Kazacos

Industry partnerships prove concepts in semantics have real impacts

Amristar, one of our proactive industry partners, has been working with our Spatial Infrastructures Program over the past twelve months helping translate core research concepts into practical demonstrators for our government stakeholders. Greg Stroot, who heads up Amristar’s Business Development, said that aligning the research effort between academic and commercial organisations to deliver solutions for government and industry is essential. “The initiatives of the Spatial Infrastructures Program, and its coordination by the CRCSI, has opened doors and fast-tracked our participation in the delivery of real-world, forward-looking solutions.”

Darren Mottolini, CRCSI Business and Research Development Manager, said that by working with the CRCSI program team, core government stakeholders could explore closer ties with research by engaging smartly to test and evolve research into areas of immediate need. “We first identified, in consultation with government stakeholders, where the issues and opportunities were. Then we planned some proof of concepts (PoC) to test how our solutions could deliver results,” Mottolini said. One of the proof of concepts took the manually demanding task of evaluating road name proposals and turned it into an automated decision process using semantics. The PoC was so successful three other jurisdictions are giving it a go: Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. Those seeking to develop land can now be given an indication, in near real time, on whether the road names they have chosen will be approved or not.

“Semantic data science has been around for ages,” Mottolini said. “We are embedding the specific spatial semantic data information into the semantic modelling, to automate processes and link data that otherwise were laborious or impossible to link.”  The other project creating real impact for our stakeholders has shown how to link flood risk data, collected in different formats and by different councils across New Zealand. This PoC has allowed Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) to improve their flood readiness and emergency response time. Amristar has over a decade’s experience in supporting both enterprise solutions and the spatial and location intelligence industry.

“Working alongside the CRCSI is very beneficial. While having our own R&D efforts, our engagement with the CRCSI's Spatial Infrastructures Program has been invaluable,” Stroot said. “From experience, it can be very time consuming and costly for 43pl to take research outputs and create demonstrators or pilots,” Mottolini said. “So, we have ensured that the PoCs can be handed over to other organisations with useful documentation and coded to a high standard.” “Working with the CRCSI has been beneficial to our staff advancement, and our product development, from establishing academic concepts through to demonstrable and impactful systems,” Stroot concluded. Further information on the research outputs from the Spatial Infrastructures Program.

UAV data quality assurance (QA4UAV)

Help us, help you!

UAV RGB image

The rise of UAVs, coupled with the success of our QA4LiDAR and QA4Mobile platforms has spurred us to start the ground work on a QA4UAV system. We will develop a standard workflow to help users set specifications for an acquisition and then check the quality of the supplied UAV products. This will ensure the products meet requirements and are fit-for-purpose.  To do this, we need your help! We’ve set up an online questionnaire so we can better understand how you use your UAV data.  Please complete the questionnaire by Friday 8 September.  If you have any questions, email Jessica Keysers.

2026 Spatial Industry Transformation and Growth Agenda Discussion Report released


The Australian 2026 Spatial Industry Transformation and Growth Agenda (2026Agenda) is a whole-of-sector initiative comprising business, government, research, academia and spatial-user organisations. Over the past 12 months the 2026Agenda team has collectively engaged more than 500 individuals to create a 10-year action plan and roadmap to accelerate growth in the spatial sector, communicate the collective intentions of government in building next generation spatial infrastructure, provide more certainty to industry to encourage greater investment and facilitate much closer collaboration between government, the private sector and the research sector. This action plan was released to the sector and public in March, with a very positive endorsement from The Hon Angus Taylor MP, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation.

On Tuesday 20 June, the 2026Agenda team released a document to further complement their action plan. Action Plan: Discussed provides detailed information, reading material and explains how the action plan was created. It also includes:

  • Detailed feedback from the national consultation used to identify the barriers to growth, the needs and the development of the vision;
  • Learnings from sectors outside spatial;
  • Further details on the objectives, motivation and status of the six pillars for transformation and the related initiatives; and
  • Explanations for the consultation’s methodology, technical details and acronyms.

The Action Plan: Discussed is available online: www.2026agenda.com

Innovation award for Coastal Risk project

On Wednesday 24 May, the CRC for Spatial Information and NGIS Australia were recognised for the project Communicating Coastal Risk in Australia and the Pacific at the CRC Association's Awards for Excellence in Innovation. These awards began in 1999 to recognise outstanding examples of the transfer of CRC research results, knowledge and technologies.

Coastal Risk Australia is a world first website that empowers coastal communities to take action against climate change. Built with Australian expertise from NGIS Australia and the CRCSI, the high impact of this project led to the development of Coastal Risk Vanuatu. For the first time, Australians and Pacific Islanders can visualise how their neighbourhoods could be vulnerable to rising sea levels. These websites accurately map rising sea levels for the majority of Australia’s coast, along with the populated islands of Vanuatu. They do this using three internationally recognised scientific scenarios.

Nathan Quadros, CRCSI Program Manager, said that it was humbling to be recognised alongside other significant projects in the CRCA Excellence in Innovation Awards. “Being able to highlight the plight of our Pacific Island neighbours to our MPs was a significant moment for me,” Quadros said. “I enjoyed speaking on behalf of the project team about the incredible thirst our communities have for understanding sea level rise ¬– locally, nationally and internationally. The award will propel our team to look at new ways to help the public understand coastal risk."

Coastal Risk awards photo

Award winners (from L to R): Nathan Eaton (NGIS), Nathan Quadros (CRCSI)

Public interest has been overwhelming, with over 150,000 individuals submitting more than four million searches since we launched in April last year. Coastal Risk Australia incorporates area specific local tides and is built on cutting edge Google technology to dynamically process terabytes of detailed elevation data on-the-fly. This on-the-fly approach allows Coastal Risk Australia to interactively show how rising sea levels could encroach on specific neighbourhoods, towns and cities under three scenarios – low, medium and high.

Director General of Climate Change Vanuatu, Jesse Benjamin said that Vanuatu’s involvement in the project with our CRCSI team has helped their government and community take proactive actions to mitigate risk, adapt and ensure community sustainability.

“The Coastal Risk Vanuatu website will build awareness regarding the challenges that Vanuatu faces with climate change, and will ultimately lead to more effective decision making,” he said.

The Geoid and Ellipsoid, and the AHD

Knowing how high we are above sea level doesn’t just happen. There is a whole research area dedicated to it - dedicated to making it more precise, refining the theories and onboarding new technologies, such as satellites, as they become available.

Recent research within the CRCSI’s Positioning Program is not only making height data more reliable but it’s ensuring that people using this data know how suited it is for their particular task. The Australian Height Datum, or AHD for those in the know, tells us how high above mean sea level we are at different points across country – an important piece of information for many industries. How are you meant to build infrastructure without it? Think water (or sewage) flow. But why do we need to refine it? A map is a map and a height is a height, right? Wrong! You might not know this, but our continent moves north-westerly by 7cm each year. And, depending on the density of the land (so what’s buried beneath) the downwards gravitational pull changes. All of this needs to be taken into account to get the AHD spot on.

The model we use now to determine AHD is AUSGeoid09. It takes GPS height measurements purely mathematically. Satellites measure our height above the ground relative to a simplified mathematical representation of the Earth known as the ellipsoid – this ellipsoid sometimes sits inside the Earth’s surface and sometimes above, depending on where you, it is just a model of the Earth. Ellipsoid and AHD heights differ by between -30 and +70 metres across Australia. So, to have your height in AHD you must convert the ellipsoid height to AHD height. And this is why we have specialists working on the modelling work.

Researchers at Curtin University and Geoscience Australia continue to refine the Australian coordinate system, so that the mathematics that convert the ellipsoid heights (measured by a GPS) to AHD is as precise as possible. This ensures our maps, surveying techniques and positioning technologies are at the cutting edge -- essential for a range of applications from precision agriculture (that’s driverless tractors) to LiDAR mapping of our coastline (important for elevation and climate change models).

Geoid story credit Geoscience Australia

Image courtesy of Geoscience Australia

The work being done with the CRCSI will provide the next version of AUSGeoid with a rigorous uncertainty value offset between the ellipsoid and the AHD, which will vary as function of location. The uncertainty estimates will allow global navigation satellite system users to determine how precise and accurate their heights are at every location – not presently possible, anywhere in the world. So rather than just having to add the same uncertainty to their measurements, no matter where they take them, surveyors, engineers and the like will be able to have a location based uncertainty factor added to their height measurements.
Currently, a blanket value of 30-50mm is given as the uncertainty for AUSGeoid09. Our new geoid model and its spatially-dependent accuracy statement will give users and producers of height information much more confidence in the quality of their results. The CRCSI’s Positioning Program and Australia’s National Positioning Infrastructure plan have the objective to provide real-time, centimetre-level positioning services anywhere, anytime, with the highest possible accuracy and integrity. This project plays a big role in that and will have impacts far and wide. Moreover, Australia will be the first country in the world to provide a combined nation-wide model with uncertainty estimates for each and every location.

Our project team has published papers relating to this project, get your fix of the science: Fourier-based error propagation for the planar gravimetric terrain correction and The first Australian gravimetric quasigeoid model with location-specific uncertainty estimates.

Spatial Knowledge Infrastructure Test Bed

SKI testbedGovernments worldwide are making more data openly available. The premise is simple – data availability drives economic activity. However, availability does not guarantee useability and both are required to achieve the economic outcome. While the volume of data available is dramatically increasing, useability is not increasing in step. There is now so much data available that users don’t know what information to trust.

Users are also asking more sophisticated questions, but don’t necessarily have the expertise or time to organise the data accordingly. Information is expected to be available on-demand, but we are publishing it in disparate systems, in different formats, and using different terminology. While users are looking to leverage technological advancements like machine learning to help discover and use more data, we are not publishing it in formats that can be understood by machines. These shortcomings need to be addressed to maximise the value that can be derived from data on the web. Useability and how to achieve it must become the focus.

The solution is a set of protocols that extend the building blocks of the World Wide Web to deliver a “Web of Data” rather than simply a web of documents, often referred to as the Semantic Web. The collection of interrelated datasets made available on the Web and published using these protocols is often referred to as Linked Data. This creates a rich ecosystem where data from different organisations can be combined, queried, visualised, and leveraged in many ways using machine to machine (M2M) interactions. With its recognised potential to unlock insights when combined with other data, spatial data is an essential part of that ecosystem.

The notions of the Semantic Web and Linked Data have been around for some time but the ability to turn the theory into practice that addresses the useability problem has been elusive. So to advance the spatial industry in line with other industry sectors and global trends, CRCSI’s Spatial Infrastructure Program has been undertaking research to support delivery of the next generation of spatial infrastructure. This research includes the use of Semantic Web technologies to enhance existing business processes within spatial supply chains. It is posited that these enhancements could increase the efficiency of certain supply chain processes by between 50%-70%. The team’s thinking is encapsulated in the Towards a Spatial Knowledge Infrastructure White Paper, published in March 2017.

In April, 2017 the CRCSI engaged Rob Atkinson to conduct a review of the Spatial Infrastructure Program’s utilisation pathway. The review identified a significant barrier to the broad adoption of Program 3 research due to the limited Australian implementation of spatial Linked Data upon which these solutions rely. There was also an identified absence of documented approaches to managing spatially linked data. The review considered the current Semantic Web environment and identified organisations with existing solutions, capability and institutional roles that could be leveraged to lower these barriers. Spatial Infrastructure Program Manager Kylie Armstrong said: “The review recommends the need to put components of the spatial knowledge infrastructure in place now, this way we can accelerate its maturity while conditions are favourable."

Spatial Infrastructure Program Board Chair, and PSMA CTO, Joseph Abhayaratna had this to say: “This is an exciting time, where a broad community is organically coming together to address the issues highlighted in the April 2017 review. Many organisations and communities of practice have been working within the constraints of these challenges for quite some time. Largely, the review served to document what these experts already knew. But to realise the vision espoused in the CRCSI White Paper and truly unlock the potential of Linked Data, spatial or otherwise, we need to work together to overcome them. The CRCSI has a key role in building awareness and appreciation of these solutions within the geospatial community.”

In response to the review, the Spatial Infrastructure Program Board approved a recommendation to support the iterative build of the spatial knowledge infrastructure discussed in the white paper, starting with the publication of some Foundation Spatial Data Framework (FSDF) recognised administrative boundaries and address datasets from Australia and New Zealand. This includes PSMA Australia’s G-NAF – made available to the public under a modified Creative Commons End User License Agreement by the Commonwealth of Australia in February 2016. This has prompted a collaborative activity with significant contribution from organisations including: Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australian National Data Service (ANDS), Australian Government Linked Data Working Group (AGLDWG), CSIRO, Geoscience Australia, Land Information New Zealand, PSMA Australia and the University of Melbourne.

Datasets that are recognised as high value to the economy will be published using open standards in a M2M readable format and the impact of this activity will be felt widely through Australia and New Zealand. Nicholas Car of the AGLDWG said: “Imagine an environment where health data from state governments can be used with address data from PSMA Australia to work out what emergency medications need to be delivered in a disaster area. Linked Data can also allow renewable energy investors to choose where to put new solar farms, using solar data from the Bureau of Meteorology and population data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to develop algorithms and run them on the most up to date data available."

The CRCSI is proud to be a part of this community, working with stakeholders towards the creation of a Spatial Knowledge Infrastructure.


Global Perspectives on the Nature of Geospatial Information








CRCSI friend John van Genderen, Emeritus Professor from the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation at the University of Twente, writes in the introduction to the recently published special edition:“The theme was especially selected to show the wide range of different perspectives, approaches to, and applications of geospatial information. In this issue, we have included major contributions of the leading geospatial information science practitioners and organisations that have shaped this dynamic field. ”The special issue contains 13 papers written by authors from 13 different countries highlighting how spatial information is affecting policy, standards, science education and industry at global and national levels. All papers in the special issue are open access and can be downloaded here: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/tgsi20/current

Intangible Assets - Review of Australia's Space Industry - Pacific Exposition

Changes to intangible assets depreciation

National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) recently reported that changes to the tax treatment of acquired intangible assets will make investing in startups more attractive. This is because innovative companies are more likely to hold a high proportion of intangible or knowledge-based assets, such as patents, intellectual property and copyrights. Investment in these assets is crucial to innovation and growth, but has in the past been risky. Find out more about the changes and how they may affect your next investment on the NISA website

Review of Australia’s Space Industry Capability

This is a quick reminder that the consultation process for the Review of Australia’s Space Industry Capability is under way. Stakeholders are encouraged to register for roundtable meetings (taking place from 24 August to 14 September). More information on the review can be found here

Innovation Showcase at the Pacific 2017 Exposition

The Defence Science Institute is taking expressions of interest from industry, startups and research organisations to take part in the innovation showcase at the Pacific 2017 Exposition, in Sydney, on 3- 5 October 2017. The showcase will include a series of pitches aimed at demonstrating Australian innovation, research collaboration and development strengths. Find out more at the DSI website http://www.defencescienceinstitute.com/2017/08/11/eoi-innovation-showcase-pacific-2017-exposition-closing-31st-aug/  or get in touch with Craig Butler, Defence Science Institute: craig.butler@defencescienceinstitute.com


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