VicRoads on the highway to innovation

MELBOURNE, WEDNESDAY 13 DECEMBER 2017: The future of driving was on show today at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, as VicRoads tested a highly automated driving (HAD) vehicle fitted with world-first satellite positioning technology.

Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Craig Laundy, said the test was part of the trial of a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) for the Australasian region, funded by $12 million from the Australian Government and $2 million from the New Zealand Government.

VicRoads launch

L-R:Mark Jackman (Bosch), John Dawson (Geoscience Australia), Rod Drury (Lockheed Martin Corporation), Andy Barnicoat (Geoscience Australia), Craig Laundy MP, Graeme Kernich (CRCSI).

“I’m pleased to see automated car technology being trialled with the increased accuracy provided by SBAS, showing the broad application space technology has right across Australia,” Mr Laundy said.

“VicRoads’ project is an exemplar of the innovation made possible by improvements to satellite positioning accuracy in Australia from 5 to 10 metres, to less than 10 centimetres.

“Over the course of this project, VicRoads will be comparing the accuracy of SBAS technology to commercial positioning services used to facilitate automated driving.

“VicRoads will receive up to $89,500 in funding for the project and is making an in-kind contribution of over $31,000.

“Developed in consultation with Geoscience Australia and the Australia and New Zealand Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI), VicRoads’ project is one of more than 30 selected from almost 90 applications to participate in the SBAS trial.

“The projects are spread across 10 different industry sectors, including road, rail, maritime, construction, agriculture and resources.

“Australian businesses and organisations are at the heart of this trial. Understanding how they can apply SBAS technology to lower costs and increase productivity is the key to realising its full potential.”

“Access to this type of technology through the SBAS trial will help industry and Government make informed decisions about future investments in space technology.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator the Hon Matt Canavan, said as part of the SBAS trial, VicRoads would have access to two technologies being tested for the first time ever.

JD in the car

John Dawson (GA) in the front seat on an autonomous lap of Albert Park Lake.

“In September, we switched on a second-generation SBAS (SBAS-2) signal at Lockheed Martin’s uplink station in Uralla, New South Wales. It is the first time anywhere in the world SBAS-2 signals have been transmitted. Australia is also the first country in the world to trial Precise Point Positioning corrections integrated into an SBAS service,” Minister Canavan said.

“Many countries around the world already use first generation SBAS, which provides accuracies of about half a metre. We are trialling not only this but also new technology that provides accuracies down to 10 centimetres.

“The SBAS trial is the first step to ensuring that Australia is not only keeping up with the rest of the world but is setting the pace.”

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said there were many ways Australia’s road sector could potentially benefit from the widespread availability of improved satellite positioning technology.

“The VicRoads’ project is focussed on how SBAS technology can be used to enable vehicle automation, which we know has great potential in the road safety space,” Mr Chester said.

“Other projects are looking at how it can be used to improve the 3D digital maps used by transport sectors, and how to apply the improved integrity and availability provided by SBAS.

“For Australia to keep up with the rest of the world when it comes to transport, we cannot have any black spots in our satellite positioning capability.”

Joint media release with the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Darren Chester MP, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator the Hon Matt Canavan, and Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Craig Laundy MP.


Group on Earth Observations Working Week

The CRC for Spatial Information was recently admitted as a Participating Organisation to the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and Graeme Kernich, CRCSI’s Acting CEO, attended the annual GEO Week in Washington DC in late October 2017.

The GEO is an intergovernmental organisation working to improve the availability, access and use of Earth observations for the benefit of society. GEO works to actively improve and coordinate global Earth observation systems and promote broad, open data sharing. There are 105 member countries and 115 participating organisations working together on GEO’s global priorities including supporting the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. GEO Week focussed on the use and applications of Earth observations in both the public and private sectors for the benefit of humankind.

Delegates at GEO Week

Photo caption: Delegates at GEO Week

Graeme said that the CRCSI contributes actively to the GEO agenda. “We have conducted joint research with CSIRO inside their GEO Flagship: Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) which aims to foster forest monitoring and assessment that is robust, reliable and achievable at reasonable cost,” he said.

Further details about this project are available here and using remote sensing to monitor deforestation here.

In addition, our partner Geoscience Australia is leading the development of Digital Earth Australia (DEA) which will deliver a unique capability to process, interrogate, and present Earth observation satellite data.

“The DEA will track changes across Australia in unprecedented detail,” Graeme said, “identifying soil and coastal erosion, crop growth, water quality and changes to cities and regions.”

Understanding the requirements of Australian businesses for Earth observations, data infrastructure and information products is integral to the success of DEA and to fully realising the benefits of spatial information.

“Over the next 18 months, the DEA program will be working with us to develop an industry strategy that ensures the DEA will generate value for the spatial industry and the wider Australian economy,” Graeme said.

The CRCSI has also led several projects examining the value of Earth observations in space and in Australia and in data supply.

Building on this, the CRCSI is contributing to the GEO Community task: Socio-Economic Benefits of Earth Observations, which aims to assess the socio-economic benefits and impacts of information on individual and societal decisions. The primary focus of the task will be to identify methods, create user cases and assessments, develop examples that can be broadly understood and conduct training.

Turning people-centred spatial information into policy

In October, the CRCSI together with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) and the Australian Institute for Health & Welfare (AIHW) convened a Roundtable discussion to explore the challenges and actions outlined in a recently released paper, Location Matters – realising the value of people centred spatial information to inform policy. The Roundtable brought policy and spatial data experts together to determine how best spatial expertise can be accessed to meet the needs of policy development. Participants from the Roundtable worked together to modify and prioritise the actions highlighted in the report.

Duncan McIntyre, Assistant Secretary of the Data and Digital Branch at PM&C said, in his opening remarks: “When social policy data is integrated with authoritative spatial data, rich insights can be obtained for decision-making and policy development. Spatially enabled data and spatially enabled analytical platforms are critical for analysing data and visualising the findings.”

Health report image

AIHW CEO, Barry Sandison who hosted the event, fully supports the actions and any initiatives that will encourage better use and optimisation of spatial data. The paper commissioned by the CRCSI and AIHW outlined key challenges and several recommendations to meet those challenges. All participants on the day, however, highlighted an additional key issue: people involved in providing data (spatial or otherwise) need to understand what is involved in developing policy to be able to provide information in a timely and concise manner.

Feedback from the Roundtable was incorporated into the final report and recommended actions are being considered in both the future research priorities of the CRCSI as well as for inclusion in the 2026 Spatial Industry Transformation and Growth Agenda

Download the final report and the Roundtable Communique.

OGC announces new standard

In late October, the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) announced it had approved the Discrete Global Grid System (DGGS). This system will improve the way information is referenced to the Earth. DGGSs represent the Earth as hierarchical sequences of equal area tessellations on the surface of the Earth, each with global coverage and with progressively finer spatial resolution. Individual observations can be assigned to a cell corresponding to both the position and size of the phenomenon being observed. DGGSs come with a standard set of functional algorithms that enable rapid data analysis of very large numbers of cells and by their very nature, are well suited to parallel processing applications at multiple spatial resolutions.

The goal of DGGS is to enable rapid assembly of spatial data without the difficulties of working with projected coordinate reference systems. The OGC DGGS Abstract Specification standard defines the conceptual model and a set of rules for building highly efficient architectures for spatial data storage, integration and analytics. CRCSI partner Geoscience Australia has been instrumental in the development of DGGS.

Dr Matthew Purse, Senior Advisor at Geoscience Australia, co-Chair of the OGC DGGS Standards and Domain Working Groups and Editor of the OGC DGGS Abstract Specification said this new technology is revolutionary. “DGGS will revolutionise the way we perceive, work with, and visualise spatial information,” he said. “DGGSs allow the harmonisation of raster, vector and point cloud data in a common, globally consistent framework – enabling the spatial industry to overcome some key challenges presented by traditional GIS approaches; namely, the ‘raster-vector divide’, as well as the use of map projections.” 

Dr Graeme Kernich, the CRCSI’s Acting CEO said the CRCSI played a critical role in the initial thinking that seeded the DGGS through its National Data Grid project. “Our initial project looked at grid systems. Then, through a follow-up project at Geoscience Australia we developed the processes, the underpinning principles and infrastructure to standardise the information products from the Landsat Archive,” he said.

Further details about these projects can be found on our website: National Grid Data and Landsat Data Mining. More information on the DGGS release is available at the OGC website.


News Bytes

Congratulations Suelynn Choy 
Long time CRCSI researcher, Suelynn Choy, RMIT, has been promoted to Associate Professor. Big congratulations from all of us here at CRCSI. 

Postdoctoral Researcher Position
Our colleagues at the GeoHealth Laboratory, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand have a postdoctoral position up for grabs. Check the link for further details:
Closing date: Sunday 21 January 2018

Geospatial World Forum
Have you registered for Geospatial World Forum 2018? Don't miss out on this mega geospatial business event, which highlights the value and power of geospatial technology as an enabler in addressing global economic and socio-economic issues.

Congratulations Mike Ridout
Congratulations to former CRCSI Director of Stakeholder Engagement, Mike Ridout, on being the individual winner of Curtin University’s 2017 Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Awards for Professional Staff: Excellence in Engagement or Collaboration Award.