One quarter of the industry does not understand GDA2020

Posted by | July 20, 2016 | News

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

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