Industry leaders, up-and-comers and changemakers alike are recognised for their effort and ingenuity at the 2019 Asia-Pacific Spatial Excellence Awards during the #Locate19 conference in Melbourne.
Opening the night’s proceeding at a packed Sovereign Room at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, president of SSSI Dr. Zaffar Mohamed-Ghouse issued a mantra to the assembled crowd, imploring us all to “create a positive impact on the world using geospatial technologies.”
It was a fitting sentiment for a tour-de-force of creative and judicious application of geospatial technologies and surveying nous that followed, targeted at issues from food security in the Pacific islands to the thorniest of engineering challenges.
The first of a long list of accolades was the SSSI undergraduate student award, won by Scott Johnson of Queensland. Scott’s project rigorously tested the precision and accuracy of multiple GNSS partnerships in a manner that accurately reflected field collection methods, impressing the judges with a pioneering approach and high technical competency.
Julian Thom of New Zealand was highly commended in this category for his entry, which challenged the origins, accuracy and purpose of old doctrines about property rights, highlighting field techniques to reduce risks and improve vector performance in the cadastral system.
The SSSI postgraduate of the year award was also awarded to a pioneering research project in the anlaysis of GNSS applications in Australia, won by Dr. Safoora Zaminpardaz of Western Australia. The adjudicator’s comments for her research were glowing:
‘Safoora showed innovation in testing novel combinations of satellite signals from different systems and analysing individual systems for their unique characteristics. She has been the first researcher in Australia to extensively analyse the data and models of the Indian NavIC and investigate its potential capabilities over Australia. She became a world-first researcher who demonstrated the quality of a future GLONASS (GLO-NAS) CDMA system using an ingenious multi-epoch measurement approach.’
Dr. Sofanit Girma Araya was highly commended in the postgraduate category for the exceptional research quality shown in her thesis, which presented and tested a methodology for spatial modelling of soil PAWC (Plant Available Water Holding Capacity), using multi-temporal remote sensing vegetation index data.
The SSSI Education development award was handed to Dr. Jonathon Osborn of Tasmania, for over three decades of outstanding service as an educator. Jon was recognised for his development and teaching of high quality, internationally-recognised educational pathways in surveying and spatial sciences at the University of Tasmania, proven consistently by exceptional student feedback.
Dr. Mohsen Kalantari was highly commended in this category for his role as course coordinator for the Master of Engineering (Spatial) degree at the University of Melbourne and his own research, which has developed solutions to replace the manual process of 3D indoor modelling in surveying and mapping companies with an automated workflow.
Next up were the awards for the inaugural Geospatial Information Competition, for which there had been over 20 entries since its establishment in 2018. Open to students in grades 7 to 10, the competition invited entrants to identify a challenge in their local community and use spatial technology to map out a solution.
Second place was awarded to Bede and Tom, in year 9 at Barker college in Sydney for their video ‘Solving homelessness in NSW using geospatial technologies’.
First place was won by Lizzie Peabody and Micah Edwards at Nowra christian college, for their story map ‘Using spatial technology to optimise nest box placement’. In accepting their award, Lizzie and Micah explained that they started an environmental club at their school, which pitched in to build a series of sugar glider nest boxes and they wanted to make sure that they utilised them as well as possible — so they mapped where the nest boxes could be best were best applied to optimise conservation of the unique marsupials.
With perfectly timed breaks for the assembled crowd to network and socialise while savouring the three courses of their meal and freely flowing wine, the accolades rolled on.
Deanna Hutchinson, CEO of SIBA|GITA, took the stage to present the Excellence award to AECOM, accepted by Antoine Burdett. Graeme Allan, Operations Manager of Dial Before You Dig presented the annual DBYD award to Telstra for their responding to a new set of criteria developed by DBYD to test the rigour of their underground asset management: time to respond, quality of map and quality of supporting documentation.
Next up was the SIBA|GITA for environment and sustainability award, claimed by Ethos Envrionmental from New Zealand for their project ‘Beyond Glenfern Sanctuary’. Scott Sambell’s team has been working to create a safe haven for threatened native species for over 20 years, and built a GIS to recording and analysing data on rat and feral cat incursions. Scott accepted the recognition with a heartfelt and dramatic video address from a remote sanctuary.
The SIBA|GITA award for innovation and commercialisation was claimed by Decipher & NGIS Australia, for their Decipher platform for farmers and agronomists, transforming crop nutrition practices in Australia with the mapping of 8 million hectares across almost 100,000 individual paddocks. Nathan Eaton of NGIS accepted the award.
Pacific Flying Labs received the 2019 SIBA|GITA People and community award for their Technology and Tradition project in the Pacific Islands, which aims to enable communities to monitor their own local environments in the context of climate change. Under the umbra of the University of the South Pacific, the projects combined scientific methods, traditional knowledge, and ICT to help communities collect and record important data that will enable them to make informed decisions on changes in their local environment over time.
In accepting the award on their behalf, Peter Kinne was asked what kept taking him back to the Pacific Islands. “It’s the passion of the people,” he said. “They put so much more heart and soul into what they do. We talk about agriculture here, but they talk about food security.”
The prestigious SSSI young professional of the year award for the 2019 APSEAs went to Nick Brown, who now leads a team in the national geodesy program for Geoscience Australia.
Elaine McAlister of New Zealand was recognised by SSSI as the professional of the year for 2019. Judges noted her role in leading the development of first commercial national road centreline of New Zealand and was instrumental in the GIS capability project, which formed the building block to establish the future geospatial direction for the NZTA, as well as establishing the Women in Spatial group (NZIS).
Dr. Kathryn Salm of New Zealand took out the SSSI women’s leadership award,in her current role as the New Zealand Geospatial Leader for Aurecon in New Zealand, where she is part of a team that plays an integral role in the Christchurch rebuild program.
The SIBA |GITA award for technical excellence went to Bennett + Bennett surveyors for their work on the Sundale bridge expansion project on the Gold Coast. Judges noted the ingenious use of a high-detail 3D photo-textured mesh model to enable effective community engagement, and impressive innovation to overcome access and accuracy challenges for the project.
The award for spatial enablement, recognising projects transformed by the application of spatial technology went to Monitum, the monitoring arm of Land Solution Australia, for their Herston quarter project, impressing the panel with the deep insight into the public’s perception of the construction industry they demonstrated.
Dr. Zaffar Mohamed-Ghouse returned to the stage to present the SSSI professional eminence award to Gary Johnston of Geoscience Australia, for his outstanding public service in improving national and international scientific program delivery in satellite positioning and geodesy, in his role as Branch Head of Geodesy and Seismic Monitoring.
Zaffar then presented the SSSI president’s award to another of Geoscience Australia’s outstanding earth sciences team — Dr. Stuart Minchin. Dr. Mitchin spoke humbly, indicating that he chose to accept the award for three reasons he struggles to explain what he does to his kids, and it would help him show that “I do good stuff and it’s recognised by others.” The other motivator was for his year 9 geography teacher who said had no future in geography, and finally — on the condition that he only accept the award on behalf of his team, who do ‘all the hard work.’
As dessert was cleared and the hubbub in the room now at a much buzzier note, the SSSI conferral of honorary fellows was handed out to Gaby van Wyk and Michael Giudici, and the SIBA|GITA chairman’s award handed down to the 3D Queensland task force for their 3D queensland roadmap project.
The stage was set for the announcement of the JK Barrie Award, named in honour of the selfless commitment of Keith Barrie, and the highest award the judges can confer on APSEA entrants.
This most prestigious recognition was awarded to Decipher and NGIS Australia for their Decipher project.
In accepting the award, Paul Farrell of NGIS noted comments of young Micah on the complexity of maps he’d witnessed, with a call to making front ends intuitive and simple for users, regardless of the sophistication of back end components.
Finally, he ended with a call to arms for industry on a vital issue of alarmingly little traction to date — efforts and initiatives to involve traditional owners and first nations people in the geospatial industry.
“Traditional owners and first nations peoples have been mapping this land with their stories for generations,” he said, with an invitation to the assembled room to engage him in discussion on concrete plans in this space.
And thus a stellar evening of recognition for the heroes of the regional geospatial industry concluded.
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