The Australian spatial industry is at risk of missing key growth opportunities, according to an announcement by the team behind a new cross sectoral initiative. To address this, SIBA and the CRCSI are leading a team developing the 2026 Spatial Industry Transformation and Growth Agenda, which aims to transform and realise the potential of the local spatial industry and to see it recognised as an underpinning element of the Australian digital economy.

A 2013 report by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) listed the spatial sector as one of the key industry growth sectors in which Australia has a global competitive advantage. This is thanks to Australia’s early adopter culture when it comes to spatial technologies.

However, in a rapidly changing operating environment the Australian spatial industry is at risk of missing key growth opportunities by failing to stay ahead of, or keep pace with, changes in technology, policy, governance, research and development and global investment in spatial capabilities. The PWC study estimated that there will be a 30 per cent per annum growth in geoservices globally, a level of change which is not currently refelected in the Australian spatial sector. While many individual company growth and development initiatives are taking place, national coordination is vital to ensuring that the the spatial industry’s growth opportunities are realised.

The team behind the 2026 Agenda see an opportunity for the sector to increase the Australian footprint as a global leader in spatial technologies and capabilities over the next decade. This will occur by starting a national conversation about the future growth of the industry and how all members of the sector might work together to achieve that growth, kicked off by the 2026 Agenda.

The 2026 Agenda provides the chance to engage with both the spatial industry and other key national industries to build a roadmap for the transformation and growth of the spatial industry over the next decade.

The Agenda aims to be developed in a “spirit of openness, and collaboration.” Participants will be asked to be adaptive to change, focussing on maximising the potential for growth for the whole sector, as well as to be “forward looking.”

As such, consultation will be broad, and a working group has formed to help to coordinate the activities. Current members of the group include SIBA, ANZLIC, the Australian Earth Observation Community Coordination Group, CRCSI, CSIRO (Data61), Landgate, Geoscience Australia, Queensland Government, and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Membership of this group is expected to change over time to reflect the evolving nature of the 2026 Agenda.

The 2026 Agenda team of Phil Delaney (CRCSI) and Eva Rodriguez (CRCSI and SIBA) will be undertaking targeted interviews over the next two months. This will be followed by a national series of workshops in September and October.

Delaney, who is a research program manager with CRCSI, expects that the Agenda will be continually updated and changed over this period to form a 10 year roadmap leading up to 2026.

“We will be aiming for a rapid process to create an agenda, roadmap and action plan, co-designed with the broader spatial sector, he said. “This will involve interviews, national workshops, significant engagement with other key industry sectors.”

“These will be combined in to a clear plan for growth, which will continuously evolve and change into the future.”

The first iteration of the Agenda will be delivered before the end of 2016.

If you or your organisation would like to get involved please contact Phil Delaney,, +61 3 9035 9936.

Source: Anthony Wallace

Earlier this year, Australia’s Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping (ICSM) held a questionnaire aimed at quantifying the awareness around Australia’s datum modernisation initiative. While it is true that the accuracy of modern positioning technologies will require us to move beyond the plate-fixed GDA94 onto an Earth-fixed datum, there is a lot of confusion and concern over just how GDA2020 will be practically adopted.

ICSM has now released the results of the survey, which are available on the ICSM website.

Surprisingly, the questionnaire revealed that a 67% majority of respondents did not envisage significant issues implementing GDA2020. While the questionnaire responses indicated there is a good level of base knowledge about the modernisation of GDA94 and the move to GDA2020, it also indicated a need to raise awareness of the change and details of the process proposed both within and without the spatial sector.

A perhaps concerning result was that some 25% of respondents answered ‘no’ to Question1.2 : Were you aware that all GNSS systems operate in an “Earth-fixed” reference frame that shows coordinates of features on the Earth’s surface changing over time, unlike GDA94 which is a static or “plate-fixed” datum where coordinates don’t change?


This is in fact a major feature of the proposed datum, which significantly changes how coordinates will be used and managed by members of the industry including surveyors and GIS professionals.

Respondents were also invited to nominate an appropriate date for their organisation to adopt GDA2020 as the operational datum. Nationally, 85% of respondents nominated a date before or during Q1 2018, suggesting that ICSM will be looking to establish a group of early adopters well ahead of this point in time.

A large proportion of respondents (68%) also indicated that they would require the property boundary layer to be available on GDA2020 before they could operate on GDA2020.

A list of over 100 different software platforms from over 80 suppliers used with spatial data were listed as requiring added support for the new datum.

ICSM have indicated they will look to fully consider the responses and address them in detail over the coming months. This will result in the development a raft of general resources, including updating FAQ’s, issuing guidelines and producing targeted communiques.

GDA2020 is intended to commence January 2017 and aims to ensure Australians continue to have access to the most accurate location information achievable.

To learn more and see the full results, please visit the ICSM website.

Source Anthony Wallace, Spatial Source

A new phenomenon is happening in the streets of the world’s cities and on the screens of mobile devices. Since the weekend you may have noticed more people than ever stopping in the streets with their phone enraptured in whatever is happening on the screen. What has happened is that gaming, mobile devices, GNSS positioning, augmented reality and the enduring success of the Pokémon franchise have all culminated in the widespread craze that isPokémon Go.

If you think this is just confined to the gaming community, think again. Despite the fact it technically hasn’t even been released yet, ‘Pokémon go’ is about to surpass Twitter in daily active users on Android. In the US, the Android Pokémon Go app is now installed on more devices than Tinder. In just a matter of days Pokemon Go has rocketed to the number one application on both the App Store andGoogle Play Store.

Currently the game is only officially available as part of a soft launch in select areas, including Australia and New Zealand. However, this hasn’t stopped desperate fans using workarounds to play along despite the risk of malware. As a result the servers supporting the game have been overrun, leading to delays in the global release of the game.

Why this is important for Spatial Source readers is the fact that the gameplay that is driving this craze is defined almost entirely by spatial means. As a result, Pokémon Go might be the first in a profitable new era of location-based gaming.

When playing Pokémon Go the majority of the gameplay is spent navigating a 3D map with a modified scale, based on a representation of the real world. Positioning established  by each mobile device’s GNSS receiver provides a means to navigate the features of the real world. As you can see from the imagery of the University of Sydney below, at first glance it appears to be based on the rich data of the Open Street Map (OSM), which defines public areas using a number of different layers. However, closer inspection reveals that Pokemon Go appears to have even more detailed data than OSM and Google Maps combined. As The Atlantic explain, where Pokémon Go got its map remains a mystery. The most obvious answer might be that they laboriously, or with the aid of machine learning, crafted their own. To do that on a global scale such as Pokémon Go’s developers have done is no easy feat and the resulting map has potential for navigation, emergency, logistics and security applications.

The map shows the streets, parks and basic features of areas globally, complete with geotagged locations known as PokeStops. There are also places called gyms, normally located at public parks, train stations and even public bars, where you can battle other trainers. To play the game, users travel about this map by navigating the real world in search of Pokémon. These are essentially imaginary monsters, but as we will see, the game is having some very real ramifications.

When players do encounter Pokémon, augmented reality is used to superimpose the creatures onto a real-world backdrop through the use of the phone’s camera. Players then attempt to capture them by throwing pokeballs at them, before heading on to catch more.

Even in the 1990s, The Pokémon Company were no stranger to branching out into different mediums. On the back of the success of the 1996 release ofPokémon Blue and Pokémon Red, they swiftly launched a TV series, card trading game, feature length movies, comic books and toys.

Fast forward to 2016 and many casual gamers like me who haven’t touched Pokémon since the 90s are rediscovering the passion for the game.  The Pokémon Company are now taking advantage of the ubiquity of smart phones to mobilise gaming.

This method of gameplay has a lot of people concerned. In addition to the fact this has seen the inherent dangers of using mobile device’s while walking in public go through the roof, there have also been examples of crime.

In Missouiri Armed robbers used the game to lure victims to an isolated trap. According to the police report by Sgt Bill Stringer,

“Using the geolocation feature the robbers were able to anticipate the location and level of seclusion of unwitting victims.”

Normally sedentary gamers have also complained of sore legs due to the increased exercise they are getting. One user in Wyoming actually uncovered a dead body in her search for Pokémon.

There are also serious cyber security risks. If you register for Pokémon Go with your google account, the app can read your emails and view your search history.

In the Northern Territory the police are getting involved whilst including some safety tips of their own. The Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services posted the following on their Facebook page:


“…whilst the Darwin Police Station may feature as a Pokestop, please be advised that you don’t actually have to step inside in order to gain the pokeballs.

It’s also a good idea to look up, away from your phone and both ways before crossing the street. That Sandshrew isn’t going anywhere fast.

Stay safe and catch ’em all!”

The Pokémon Company have issued their own warnings, posting the following on the game’s website:

“For safety’s sake, never play Pokémon GO when you’re on your bike, driving a car, riding a hoverboard, or anything else where you should be paying attention, and of course never wander away from your parents or your group to catch a Pokémon.”

Where Pokémon Go will end up remains a mystery, but it’s safe to say that it is the start of something big. This is by no means the first location-based game. Pokémon Go’s developer, Niantic, previously developed a similar game known as Ingress. With a launch in 2012 Ingress never saw anything like craze that Pokémon Go is now undergoing, even in four years of availability. Now, on the back of an already successful franchise, Pokémon Go can now be considered the tipping point towards the mobilisation of gaming in a what may become a new wave of spatially-enabled play.

To get a better idea the best way is to play it yourself by downloading the app free on either the App Store or Google Play Store. Or, if you are already onto it, here are some tips to secure your Poke-success.

Written by Anthony Wallace

Australia Post is currently trialling new technology to deliver small parcels by Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS, also known as drones or UAV). The move makes Australia Post the first major parcels and logistics company in the country to do so and will see Australian customers as perhaps the first to benefit from unmanned logistics.

The closed-field trial will serve as an important next step in testing the new technology which will also support faster transportation of time critical goods like medication to remote or inaccessible locations.

On the back of this, a new conference and exhibition has been launched based on the last mile of the home delivery supply chain. Home Delivery Asia Pacificwill take place in Melbourne on 16 November at the Automotive Centre of Excellence and will address the shift to on-demand retail services.

Brent Stafford from foundation sponsor and mapping innovation companyHERE commented that “this year we have seen rapid growth and competition between many innovative solution providers.”

“Home Delivery is certainly THE hot topic with the likes of our partners at Navman Wireless & Dominos setting the pace and others such as Menulog, Deliveroo, Foodora and most recently Uber Eats going live.”

“Around the APAC region it is a similar story with GrabExpress, Foodpanda, Grubhub, McDonalds and Jollibee. A fiercely contested market spanning not only food delivery but also home shopping and parcel delivery.

“With many strategic alliances being formed right now, new payment methods and even autonomous delivery being explored and an explosion of the sharing economy generally, this event is perfectly timed.”


Simon Cooper Managing Director of event organisers Interpoint said “we are experiencing an age of faster deliveries and higher customer expectations. And we are seeing localised customer service and low cost delivery options.”

Home Delivery will address issues such as optimising fulfilment, bringing stores to customers and helping small, local businesses reach new customers. It will include transport options, different payment methods and many of the new IT technologies and apps that are rapidly becoming disruptors and innovators in the last mile of the supply chain.

Australia Post’s first customer trial is expected to follow later this year. Depending on its success, and the legal, security and privacy provisions that will need to support it, RPAS will be landing on your lawn soon after.

For further information please visit

Written by Anthony Wallace

A small Victoria firm is intent on making a big splash in the Alberta oil and gas market with a new online tool that puts the power of water into the hands of exploration companies.

Foundry Spatial, a six-year-old environmental consulting firm, has just launched the Alberta Water Tool, which provides real-time information on the quantity of water available in any location where exploration may take place.

Founder and chief executive Ben Kerr said the tool draws water information from 30,600 surface and groundwater allocation points and 185 hydrometric stations for 181,000 unique watersheds in Alberta. He said that means companies will be able to make better exploration decisions and in a more timely manner.

Kerr, who started the company after working as a computer mapping specialist for the provincial government for eight years, said water has become a huge issue for the oil and gas industry, where hydraulic fracturing and shale gas are key players.

“It’s changed the whole industry. They need water to produce petroleum,” he said.

Kerr said the data they mine is readily available, but it can take days or weeks for consultants to pull it together in what is often a very costly report.

Instead, Foundry Spatial has built technology and a delivery system that allows exploration firms and government ministries to log into the database and produce a customized report on a specific area in real time.

“We do it at a fraction of the cost,” Kerr said. Foundry Spatial charges by volume. A single report would be $1,000, but a company that needs them often could pay as little as $400 each. “Companies want to do it themselves and do it now,” said Kerr.

The tool was originally developed by Foundry Spatial for the B.C. government, and the company is paid to maintain its technology and continue to provide the product.

The first version of the engine was developed in 2012 for the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission and was recognized with a B.C. Premier’s Award for Regional Innovation.

“It helps resource managers in government as well as water users get access to information about how much water there is, what existing demand is for it and what the environment needs all in a matter of seconds,” Kerr said.

The technology developed by Foundry collects the data, builds a computer model and extrapolates information from that about areas that are unknown.

“It lets you choose any spot you’re interested in and produce a report describing that exact location,” Kerr said.

Though it was just launched two weeks ago, Kerr has already secured one Alberta client, with another five expected to sign on in the coming months.

He said the quiet oil and gas market has helped, rather than hurt. “Our value proposition is efficiency,” he said. “So it’s an ideal time to launch a product in Alberta if a product is about saving people money.”

While oil and gas is driving the market for the product right now, Kerr said it has applications for mining, agriculture, forestry, First Nations and basically anyone who requires water.

“This technology [is] of interest to every single industry because every single industry depends on water,” he said.

The company has also developed tools that help people find and access environmental monitoring information, and is working on a product that will allow people to look at a specific location — such as their homes — and see what effect a massive earthquake would have on it.

“It will let them see what could potentially happen to their property and offer suggestions on how to mitigate the damage,” he said.

Written by Andrew Duffy

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New research into the global impacts of invasive species by Australia’s government-funded research body, CSIRO, has identified the countries most threatened by invasive species. The research has found that sub-Saharan African countries are most at risk, while China and the USA pose the greatest threat.

The research, which is published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that although the chances of invasive species entering Australia were relatively high, the overall threat to agriculture is lessened due to our robust management practices.

The research examines the worldwide distribution of nearly 1300 invasive pests and pathogens, international trade flows, and each country’s main agricultural production crops, to determine potential invasion risks and impact.

This is the first analysis of invasive species’ threat to global crop production on a country-by-country basis, calculating the total potential cost of these species invading each of the 124 countries.

Senior researcher Dr Dean Paini said the research found that the most vulnerable countries were located in sub-Saharan Africa.

“These countries generally do not have diverse economies making them disproportionately more dependent on agriculture,” Dr Paini said.

“As a result any threat from invasive species can potentially have a greater relative impact on these countries.”

The study also determined which countries present the greatest threat to the rest of the world given the scale of agricultural export and the invasive species already established.

The USA and China posed the greatest threat as a source of invasive species, however this is not surprising given the high number of pests already present, the scale of their agriculture export industries and their role as regional food hubs with an extensive network of trade partners.

Conversely, as the countries with the largest agricultural export industries, the USA and China could also experience the greatest absolute cost from further species invasions.

However, their ability to manage or mitigate the impact via means such as pest management, plant breeding, crop substitutions, or imports, means that their agriculture industries are not as vulnerable as those of developing countries.

As trade volumes continue to increase and more trade connections are made between countries, the pressures from invasive species will only intensify.

“This research provides insights that will enable the first steps towards the management of invasive species at the global scale,” Dr Paini said.

“By identifying the countries and regions that are most vulnerable, governments can make informed decisions regarding the deployment of resources necessary to protect their borders and agriculture industries by limiting the further spread of invasive species.”

By Anthony Wallace

what3words has garnered widespread attention of late, following the adoption of the innovative addressing system by the Mongolian national postal service. The adoption by Mongol Post marks the largest scale adoption of the addressing system to date.

what3words uses a unique combinations of three words for each 3mx3m square on Earth. The adoption of what3words by Mongol Post makes a lot of sense in a nation where addressing is notably inadequate for the needs of its citizens. A large proportion of the Mongolian population live nomadic or semi-nomadic lives, meaning that their postal addresses will shift wildly over time. For these purposes Mongolia’s existing addressing is inadequate across its huge geographic area of 1.6 million square kilometres- almost the size of Queensland. Even in urban areas, the addressing is often insufficient and based by a means of reference to nearby features.

what3words and Mongol Post have addressed this issue (excuse the pun) using what3words to provide a unique address for every 3m x 3m square across the nation. Mongol Post will be making the address system integral to its service. It is expected this will help drive the country’s economic development, especially as it is adopted across other applications such as emergency services, logistics and personal navigation.

The move is perhaps a part of a larger wave of adoption of what3words, whose popularity is driven by the universal simplicity of the system.

what3words claim that its addressing system is already being used in over 170 countries by logistics firms, navigation apps, travel guides and NGOs.

Closer to home, Australian firm Mercury Project Solutions this month partnered with what3words in anticipation of the demand for implementing location-based solutions where traditional addressing does not exist or is inadequate. Mercury’s local spatial business consulting services will be utilised for integration of what3words across Australia and New Zealand.

The system has already been adopted by Land Tasmania, which has integrated what3words search capability into LISTmap. In Tasmania, many areas in the south-west of the state have inadequate addressing and people struggle with communicating a precise location easily. To overcome this, the ‘Locate Me’ of LISTmap now includes what3words addressing in addition to traditional coordinates.

what3words can be used by anyone by using the online map or downloading the free app (Google Play/iTunes).

By Anthony Wallace

Imagery suppliers DigitalGlobe and global maritime data experts exactEarth have announced a strategic alliance to offer joint services to the commercial fishing industry and to aid in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

IUU fishing is currently recognised as a major threat to achieving sustainable fisheries, with the potential to cause an irreversible change in ocean ecosystems. Several decades of overfishing in the world’s major fisheries has created large declines in commercially important fish populations.

The alliance will see exactEarth’s advanced automatic identification system (AIS) maritime information services integrated with DigitalGlobe’s high-accuracy, high-resolution commercial satellite imagery.  Both organisations’ big data and predictive analytics capabilities will be used in order to help governments to address IUU fishing and also their broader maritime surveillance.

“26 million tonnes of fish, representing approximately $23 billion in lost revenue, are taken each year through illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,” said Peter Mabson, CEO of exactEarth. “This has created a compelling case for governments and commercial organisation to find a solution to stem their IUU losses.”

“With DigitalGlobe we believe we have the solution required and we will be first-to-market with a satellite-based AIS system to solve this problem. Our Alliance will enable governments and commercial organisations to monitor fishing activity in and around their borders, respond to suspicious activity and hold vessels accountable for their catch.”

Tony Frazier, SVP & GM of Services for DigitalGlobe says that the partnership represents the first commercial solution to combat illegal fishing: “Illegal fishing costs countries billions of dollars each year and impacts livelihoods of millions,” he said.

“The Alliance will enable our customers to receive AIS data covering a broader territory, which in turn will help them to enhance their overall maritime governance decisions and increase transparency for our changing planet.”

Written by Anthony Wallace

Comments Off on Cubesat testing takes off at Mount Stromlo

Cubesat testing takes off at Mount Stromlo

Posted by | June 17, 2016 | News

Researchers from around Australia have begun testing satellites at the Mount Stromlo space testing facilities at The Australian National University (ANU) ahead of a mass satellite launch from the International Space Station later this year.

Three CubeSats, satellites built from cubes about 10 centimetres per side, have been developed by researchers at ANU, the University of Sydney, UNSW, University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia. They will be launched into space as part of the European Union’s QB50 launch of 50 satellites.

Before heading into space, the satellites will undergo rigorous tests in the ANU space simulator at the Advanced Instrumentation Technology Centre (AITC) at Mount Stromlo to make sure they are space ready.

“It is very pleasing to see satellites being built and tested in Australia again. With the new AITC facilities this will be the beginning of a sustained activity in Australia that benefits universities and industry,” said facility manager Mr Mike Petkovic.

The European Union QB50 program has 27 countries building satellites for the mass launch from the International Space Station, including China, US, Brazil and Russia.

The ANU Centre at Mount Stromlo provides researchers and industry with a comprehensive one-stop shop for pre-launch testing. It will play an important role in the growing multi-million-dollar space industry.

One of the three Australian CubeSats is being developed by ANU, University of Sydney and UNSW. It carries an impressive payload of Australian-designed instruments, said collaboration leader Professor Iver Cairns from University of Sydney.

“These first three Australian CubeSats in space will be doing research with significant public good. For example, they are looking at space weather and solar activity, which are important for vital systems such as GPS, financial systems and electricity grids,” said Professor Cairns, who is also the Secretary General of the Australasian Space society.

The CubeSat, which has been developed in collaboration with UK and Norwegian scientists, carries radiation counters, a GNSS receiver, a photonic spectrograph and a new probe to measure the ionosphere.

A second CubeSat will carry new instruments to measure atmospheric water and carbon dioxide. It was developed by University of Adelaide and University of South Australia with support from the South Australian Government and the Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith fund.

The data from the new instruments will be in demand from weather and climate scientists, said Dr Matthew Tetlow from the University of Adelaide.

“This is a big opportunity to develop innovative technology. It has really ramped up our ability to compete at an international level,” Dr Tetlow said.

UNSW space engineer Dr Joon Wayn has announced that UNSW have built a third CubeSat, which will carry four separate experiments into orbit, including a specially designed GNSS receiver and electronics with the ability to self-repair.

“If the satellite gets hit by radiation and something breaks, we want to be able to reconfigure another part of the circuit to do that job, as well as fix the broken bit,” he said.

CubeSats are emerging as a space industry standard design for low-cost space research. Originally conceived for student projects, more than 100 CubeSats have now been launched around the Earth and even around Mars.

Source: Spatial Source

Geospatial technology supplier 3D Laser Mapping has launched an innovative ‘three-in-one’ multi-platform mapping system.

Known as ROBIN, the new platform is the first of its kind on the market and provides three alternative mapping options rolled into one solution. The versatile system allows users to benefit from the ability to map areas via walking, driving or flying.

ROBIN provides a multi-purpose all round system, integrating a 12 MP camera (for drive) and 18MP (for walk and fly), two GNSS antennas, GIS grade IMU navigation system, touch screen control unit, three mounting systems, capture software, a post-processing software package and has a field of view of 330 degrees. Long-range and precision versions are also available.

“ROBIN is an extremely exciting product for the industry and is the first on the market to offer a three-in-one system.” said Graham Hunter, executive chairman at 3D Laser Mapping.

“Covering a wide range of terrain, ROBIN allows high quality data capture from areas such as footpaths, forests and coastlines that are only accessible by foot. Our customers are looking for flexible solutions that can support a high return on investment – and this product offers a unique value proposition”

“GeoBusiness is recognised as one of the leading trade shows in our sector and we’ve been in attendance for the past three years. It’s an event where we’ve made some quality new business leads, as well as strengthening relationships with current clients, so we decided this would be the perfect place to showcase ROBIN for the very first time.”

Mark Hudson, managing director of consulting geospatial engineers and chartered land surveyors, Geoterra, is looking forward to seeing ROBIN enter the market after receiving an advanced preview.

“Geoterra is very excited about the launch of the new ROBIN multi-platform mapping system,
Hudson commented. “It’s become evident that there’s a gap in the sector for this kind of product and we’re sure it’ll prove to be an extremely popular addition to the marketplace.

3D Laser Mapping also has also revealed plans in place to launch an indoor mapping SLAM upgrade for ROBIN later in the year.

For more details on 3D Laser Mapping and ROBIN visit

By Anthony Wallace