November 2017

SBAS testbed has begun, first contracts signed!

SBAS L1 legacy, Dual Frequency Multi Constellation (DFMC) and PPP (over L1 and over L5) signals are being broadcast across the Australia and New Zealand region until 31 January 2019.

10 November 2017

 The CRCSI’s SBAS team has been finalising the first 20 projects, covering ten sectors -- agriculture, aviation, consumer, construction, maritime, rail, resources, road, spatial and utilities. SBAS Testbed Program Manager, Julia Mitchell, said that the projects are looking at SBAS in applications as disparate as livestock positioning for cattle and sheep to positioning for automated vehicles. “The interest in SBAS from a range of sectors is great. We’ve got projects tracking sheep and cattle, looking at driverless vehicles and connecting intelligent transport systems to asset management,” she said excitedly. “It really highlights that location technology and spatial information underpin a modern economy.”

Our SBAS team has been out in the field training project partners. The first two off the ground:

  • Orbica Ltd, with Reveal Infrastructure Ltd: Improving Australasia’s Field to Office Asset Data Lifecycle - An Applied Geospatial Perspective of SBAS technology in the utilities sector, with testing being conducted in and around Christchurch. The SBAS team recently met with the project team and provided SBAS equipment and training.
ORBICA and the SBAS team

ORBICA and the SBAS team

  • CQUniversity Australia are looking at increased accuracy in on-animal spatio-temporal monitoring for livestock sensing applications. CQUniversity will be conducting testing on cattle in Queensland and sheep in New Zealand. (More about this project in the press at FarmOnline).

Several other projects have now been signed off and are due to commence shortly. All current project details are now live on Geoscience Australia’s SBAS website.

“In September, we put out a second call for SBAS testbed demonstration projects,” Julia said. “In this second call, we were looking for projects in specific sectors where we had identified gaps. In total, we received 23 EOIs in agriculture, construction, consumer, rail and road requesting approximately AU$3m in cash and AU$1.5m in-kind contributions,” she said.

The team recently invited ten organisations to submit project proposals. “We have some interesting and innovative applications of SBAS to demonstrate through these selected projects,” Julia said.

And for the techs out there using project hardware, initial SBAS signal testing has shown we are receiving sub-metre information horizontally and under two metres vertically – as expected, for SBAS signals.

“In fact, our Melbourne tests have resulted in about half a metre horizontally and under a metre vertically,” Julia said. “For PPP [Precise Point Positioning], we have been receiving the expected accuracy of approximately 10cm horizontally and 20cm vertically, with a convergence time of 30-40min.

“As the days go on and we get deeper into testing and analysis, we look forward to informing you of even better results!” Julia concluded.

International Astronautical Congress

2017 attendance broke the records set across the 67 previous events

At the end of September, Julia Mitchell, Phil Delaney and Imogen Rea represented the CRCSI at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide. Over 4,500 delegates from around the world attended the week-long space conference. IAC is the world’s biggest space conference and this year’s attendance broke the records set across the 67 previous events.

The CRCSI was part of the Australian Government Big Sky, Big Ideas booth shared with 13 organisations and government departments at the front and centre of the exhibition hall.


 Julia pictured in front of the CRCSI Positioning section – this diagram was rea

Julia pictured in front of the CRCSI Positioning section – this diagram was really useful when describing SBAS!)

Phil said the announcement of the Australian Space Agency by the Australian Government set the conference off to a great start. “It was a buzz with excitement from the very start. And it stayed that way,” he said.

The CRCSI participated in several events throughout the week. Phil gave a talk on the value of earth observation data to the Australian economy, as well as the value and growth potential of spatial technologies in the future, before hosting a panel as part of the Global Networking Forum. The panel discussed Australia’s space and spatial capability in 2026. The panel involved a wide variety of representatives across the space and spatial industries, and had a particular focus on integrating these industries to connect end users all the way back to hardware design. Big thanks to the panel:

  • Dr Stuart Minchin – Chief, Environmental Geosciences Division, Geoscience Australia
  • Fabrice Triffaut – Managing Director of Intelligence Australia, Airbus Defence and Space Australia
  • Andrea Boyd – ISS Flight Operations Engineer, European Space Agency
  • Gary Maguire – Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Government of South Australia
  • Dr Naomi Mathers – Deputy Chair, Space Industry Association of Australia

“The audience was very involved in the topic,” Phil said, “asking many more questions than the panel had time to answer. Speaking with the panel afterwards, they all agreed that the space and spatial industries should be better integrated both to promote growth and visibility,” he said.

“There were many other interesting discussion points,” Phil continued, “particularly around the benefits Australia has seen from being a global integrator of space technology, as well as providing advice to high school students in the audience about how to capitalise on the growth of space and spatial industries.”

Julia said that she enjoyed seeing the links between space and spatial. “Throughout the week, we saw the importance of downstream space technologies and the massive link they have with the spatial sector,” she said.

“At the end of the week, schools and the public visited the exhibition hall,” Julia said. “We were inundated with questions about our research and SBAS,” she said. “While it was a very busy week, we had a wonderful time promoting the work the CRCSI does and learning more about the space sector and the various activities happening now.”

Industry trial of Australian Satellite-Based Augmentation System officially launched

On 9 November 2017, the Australian Government today launched a trial of Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) for the Australasian region at an event at CQUniversity Australia’s Rockhampton campus.

The launch was attended by the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator Matt Canavan, who said CQUniversity Australia is leading one of over 30 projects that will test how industries in Australia and New Zealand can benefit from improved satellite positioning technology. “Using first generation SBAS technology, the CQUniversity-led project is testing the construction of virtual fencing for strip grazing, and looking at how the precise tracking of livestock can be used for early disease detection and more efficient breeding programs,” Minister Canavan said. The two-year trial is being funded with $12 million from the Australian Government and a further $2 million from the New Zealand Government. It is being managed by Geoscience Australia and Land Information New Zealand, in partnership with the global technology companies GMV, Inmarsat and Lockheed Martin. The Australia and New Zealand Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI) is managing the industry projects which will demonstrate the benefits and applications of improved positioning capability.

Senator Matt Canavan, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia

Senator Matt Canavan, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia

 Chief Executive Officer Dr James Johnson said Geoscience Australia was excited to be leading a trial that is working with 10 industry sectors to test three new satellite positioning technologies, including the world-first second generation SBAS and Precise Point Positioning. “This trial exemplifies the benefits of government working closing with industry to translate the latest in satellite positioning technology into real-world applications. “It’s all about government innovation supporting and driving entrepreneurship within industry,” Dr Johnson said.

The CRCSI’s SBAS Program Manager, Julia Mitchell said to date 11 contracts have been signed with participants from a range of industry sectors across Australia and New Zealand, including agriculture, resources, transport, construction, utility and spatial.

“It is great to see interest from a range of sectors, with the projects chosen demonstrating a wide range of uses from the livestock tracking demonstrated by CQUniversity today, to community safety applications, and testing driverless and connected cars.

“It really highlights how location technology and spatial information underpins our modern economy,” Julia said.

Dynamic cadastre research up and shifting

Having accurate property boundary data underpins the ability for Australian land agencies to protect people's land rights and titles. As more information aligns with property boundaries (think utility and environmental data) being certain that information is in its proper location is imperative. This research is the first step in making sure that where your GPS says you are, matches where the data says you should be!

Australia’s tectonic plate is moving 7cm in a north-eastern direction every year. Most basemaps, such as topographic maps and the cadastre (that’s a map of real estate or property boundaries), are measured against a ‘plate fixed’ coordinate system (or ‘datum’) that moves with the Australian plate. While the plate moves, the coordinates of a feature on the land stay the same. GPS devices on the other hand, use ‘earth fixed’ coordinates, that remain constant in relation to the planet. So, as the plate moves, the GPS coordinates for features on the land change, but their coordinates on our basemaps do not.

By the year 2020, Australia’s current datum (aka ‘GDA94’) will be 1.8m out of sync with GPS coordinates.

Dynamic datum and the cadastre

Maurits van der Vlugt, Mercury Project Solutions, says mobile devices with ever-increasing accuracy are becoming ubiquitous. “Soon, there will be millions of personal devices – in phones, autonomous vehicles and drones – with highly accurate GPS-enabled locations,” he said.

“To align basemaps and GPS coordinates, Australia will modernise its datum to ‘GDA2020’,” Maurits continued. “As the name suggests, by 2020 plate-fixed coordinates and GPS coordinates will match!”

However, even with that correction, from 2020 onwards, basemaps and GPS coordinates will be increasingly out of sync at a rate of 7cm per year. So, what do we do?

"Over the first year, this won’t be such a big problem," Maurits said. "But as the years pass by, it will be an increasing problem for autonomous vehicles, UAVs, precision agriculture and asset management. We don't want autonomous farming vehicles to be ploughing the river, or worse, have people dig into a high voltage powerline, because they got the coordinates wrong.

“To fix this issue,” Maurits said, “from 2020 onwards, Australia will also adopt a so-called ‘dynamic datum’, which will align plate-fixed and GPS coordinates, so that they will always match.”

Adrian White from Cadastre NSW, tells us this CRCSI project looks at the impact of introducing a dynamic datum to one of the most fundamental geospatial datasets: the cadastre. “For those that don’t know, the cadastre is a map of the real estate boundaries or the property titles of a country,” he said.

“The cadastre is one of the most critical layers of spatial information held and managed by any jurisdiction. Huge volumes of other spatial and non-spatial information are directly linked to and affected by changes to the cadastral fabric,” Adrian said.

The project will examine how a dynamic datum will impact the acquisition, management and dissemination of cadastral data, and what tasks, tools and procedures would be needed to ensure the adoption will be as smooth and painless as possible.

“If these issues can be resolved for the cadastre, the findings and outputs can be translated into the management of other layers of geospatial information,” Adrian said.

Maurits concluded: “The project will run until June 2018 and will deliver a clear understanding of the impacts of a dynamic datum, the tools and procedures to manage these impacts and a national implementation roadmap.”

Find out even more about this project here!

RAISE rises to the top

RAISE is a spatial data tool that allows users to quickly estimate and visualise property value.

The Committee for Sydney hosted their first Smart Cities Awards Ceremony and Reception on Thursday 19 October. The Rapid Analytics Interactive Scenario (RAISE) toolkit won the Best Industry-led Partnership Award. The Best Industry-led Partnership is awarded to “an initiative where partners came together to tackle a problem unable to be solved by one entity alone”.

Exactly the kinds of projects the CRCSI has been funding and delivering for the last 15 years.

RAISE is a spatial data tool that allows users to quickly estimate and visualise property value. The property values are calculated using one of the automated valuation models built into the toolkit. From proximity to a school, to building a new train station or hospital, RAISE estimates how property values are affected. The generated values are visualised on a map and can be overlayed with other geospatial information layers relevant to investigating trends in property price.

Professor Chris Pettit, inaugural Chair of Urban Science at the University of New South Wales and the CRCSI’s Smart Cities Director said this was a significant accolade for the CRCSI and UNSW project team. “RAISE was initially built and evaluated across four Western Sydney Councils. It could easily scale across all of Sydney or New South Wales and be redeployed interstate or even overseas,” he said.

“The RAISE toolkit is transformative and can be applied to any big infrastructure investment,” Chris said. “It provides a strong data driven approach to understanding and valuation, and the likely value uplift from infrastructure decisions across Sydney.”

Dr Nathan Quadros, the CRCSI’s Rapid Spatial Analytics Program Manager, said he hopes being recognised by the Committee of Sydney will help RAISE gain traction in other jurisdictions. “Everyone wins with this tool. And nothing else like it exists. No other toolkit has been developed to calculate land value increases on the fly, enabling real-time exploration of "what if?" scenarios,” Nathan said. “We can compare, in moments, the difference between building a new metro route from points A, B, C, and D to one from E,F,G and H.”

Find out more about the RAISE project here.


Pictured (L-R): Prof. Helen Lochhead, Dean of UNSW Built Environment, Assoc. Pro

Pictured (L-R): Prof. Helen Lochhead, Dean of UNSW Built Environment, Assoc. Prof. Hoon Han, UNSW and Prof. Chris Pettit, UNSW and Director of Smart Cities, CRCSI.

A lifetime achievement for Professor Clive Fraser

Image result for clive fraserSeptember saw our Defence Program Manager, Professor Clive Fraser, bestowed with an Honorary Life-Time Achievement award from the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Clive has been a leader in our Imagery and Feature Extraction Programs since the CRCSI first began back in 2003. He was interviewed about this award for the September issue of Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing.

Read Clive’s wise words here.

Lesley Arnold presents the Spatial Knowledge Infrastructures white paper at the UN-GGIM

The CRCSI's research on the Next Generation Spatial Knowledge Infrastructure (SKI) was presented by Dr Lesley Arnold, CRCSI Research Fellow, at the UN-GGIM Academic Network Forum and Legal and Policy Framework Forum of the Seventh Session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), which was held at the UN Headquarters in on 2 - 4 August in New York. This network provides counsel and guidance to UN-GGIM concerning strategic knowledge, research, and education and training.

The CRCSI has Observer Status through its membership of the UN-GGIM Private Sector Network. For more information on this, contact Dr Zaffar Sadiq Mohamed-Ghouse, Director International Relations, CRCSI.

Our SKI research strategy was well received. The next generation SKI concept aims to put decision-making capabilities in the hands of everyone through improved geospatial information management, automated spatial data supply chains, real-time spatial analytics, natural language processing and knowledge inferencing. A White Paper on the SKI concept is available here.

The CRCSI, together with UN-GGIM and Geoscience Australia, will work with legal practitioners to better understand the legislative and regulatory processes and legal issues that impact geospatial information management, particularly regarding changing norms stemming from the increased use of remotely piloted aircraft systems, autonomous vehicles and other disruptive technologies that present unique legal and policy challenges in the way geospatial data is collected and used.

In addition, there is a global need for the CRCSI, through its partners to provide advice, support and deliver geospatial information education and capacity building programs globally. A partnership approach will deliver a range of programs from fellowships and study tours to training and outreach programs, and include advice on setting up geospatial innovation hubs, undergraduate and postgraduate programs in geospatial information sciences.

As a global citizen, the CRCSI will be seeking to bring to the attention of UN-GGIM Member States contemporary research on global geospatial information, automated spatial data supply chains, and rapid spatial analytics that will lead to better social, economic and environmental policy setting. Initial contributions will be in the form of white papers that contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN by putting geospatial data and decision-making capabilities in the hands of everyone.

Congratulations to our partners recognised at recent Spatial Excellence Awards

Congratulations to all CRCSI partners who received awards at the following state awards:

NSW’s SIBA|GITA Spatial Excellence Awards on 9 November 2017:
• Spatial Enablement Award: Jacobs Group Australia
• Innovation & Commercialisation Award: AAM Group

Victoria’s SIBA|GITA Spatial Excellence Awards on 1 November 2017:
• Award for Spatial Enablement: GHD
• Award for Environment and Sustainability: RMIT University
• Award for Technical Excellence: Spatial Vision
• Women in Leadership: Kellee Ireland, Spookfish
• Young Professional of the Year: Danielle Cherubin, Spatial Vision
• Professional of the Year: Mark Shortis, RMIT University
• Thornton Smith Medal: Brian Marwick, the University of Melbourne

WA’s SIBA|GITA Spatial Excellence Awards on 13 October 2017:
• Award for Innovation and Commercialisation: Spookfish
• Award for People and Community: AAM Pty Ltd and WA Department of Health
• SSSI WA Education Development Award: Petra Helmholz, Curtin University
• Award for Export: Spookfish
• Award for Technical Excellence: Jacobs Group Australia