17 December 2012

Coordinating Earth Observation Activities in Australia

Prof. Stuart Phinn, The University of Queensland and Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network; Dr Adam Lewis, Geosciences Australia; and Em. Prof. John Trinder, Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Commission, Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute of Australia are in the process of establishing a new national discussion and coordinating group for collecting and using earth observation data in Australia.

Earth observation is now used  more widely than traditional spatial sciences or geomatic engineering areas, and has become a critical resource for ecological, atmospheric, oceanographic and social sciences, as well as development and maintenance of critical government and private infrastructure.

As a consequence of recent advances in Australia’s policies and activities using satellite image data, a need has been established for a coordination group enabling the wider earth observation community to engage with Australian government policy, planning and operations.

The “Australian Earth Observation Coordination Group”  group will meet formally and provide advice to relevant national agencies, state agencies,  the private sector, research institutions and academic institutions concerned with coordinating and funding earth observation.

The aims and preliminary responsibilities of the “Australian Earth Observation Coordination Group” are outlined below.

It is proposed that the group will have two formal meetings a year, each with two parts:
Part 1 –  whole of community virtual meeting
Part 2 – coordinating members face to face meeting

The group will be formally supported by the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Commission of the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI) of Australia and Geosciences Australia, and will include the provision of a web-page, meeting planning and coordination (web-based conferencing) and secretariat support.  Participation will  be open and there is no need to be a member of SSSI to participate.

We will be in touch shortly to advise of the processes being used to established an interim steering committee and the preliminary dates for the group’s meetings in 2013. Please pass this email on to any others you feel would be interested in attending and contributing.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Australian Earth Observation Coordination Group


To provide a national forum for regular communication and coordination of earth observation data collection, distribution and validation across all levels of government, research agencies, universities, private sector and non-government organisations.

The Australian Earth Observation Coordination Group is intended to provide a broad base of national level involvement at all levels of EOS activities to complement and inform the Australian Government’s Space Coordination Committee, formed as part of Australia’s draft Satellite Utilisation Policy, to ensure that Australian government plans and activities are informed by the needs and capabilities of State and local government agencies, research, private sector and non-government groups.

The group’s roles and responsibilities are to

  1. Enable agencies and institutions involved in or dependent on EOS, to meet in a neutral context and location, to promote open discussion and sharing of knowledge; 
  2. Identify and record current and planned activities and future EOS and derived data needs by all  agencies and institutions involved in or dependent on EOS;
  3. Contribute to the periodic update of national plans for the continuity of earth observation data, for operational and research purposes (the CSIRO CEODA satellite-data dependencies review documents) and the anticipated rolling review of requirements;
  4. Based on the discussion of common EOS activities, and defined gaps in data, knowledge or ability to collect and process EOS data, propose joint activities to address these issues;
  5. Identify potential duplication of EOS activities and seek remedies to reduce them and increase sharing of data, processes and knowledge;
  6. Act as a forum to identify, prioritise and coordinate future multi-agency/multi-jurisdictional co-investments into ground and space-based EOS infrastructure (eg new ground reception antennas or contributed new sensors on partner space-agencies)
  7. Review and revise the 2009 Australian Strategic Plan for Earth Observations from Space from the Australian Academy of Science, and the Academy for Technological Sciences and Engineering for Australia;
  8. Identify training needs and higher levels skills and research leads to  be used for guiding EOS activities in higher education;
  9. Establish a clear direction and pathway to government links for research in the EOS sector;
  10. Act as a coordinating and entry point for industry, government and research in Australia to EOS resources and activities;
  11. Provide reports or briefings on the above activities to meetings the Australian Government Earth Observation from Space Working Group, so that Australian Government work is guided by the views and capabilities of the wider EOS community.

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