The Locate21 conference got underway this week, the main action taking place in Brisbane with satellite events in other capital cities and streaming presentations available for viewing online.
The theme for this year’s conference, “Convergence, Collaboration and Community – towards a stronger economy,” reflects the ways in which geospatial and location technologies are playing an essential role in empowering the digital economy.
In his introductory remarks, SSSI President Paul Digney commented on the disruption we have all experienced over the past year or more, and highlighting the role that “Locate21 provides [for] further opportunities for connection” within the spatial and surveying community.
He also praised the efforts of conference organisers in pivoting to a largely online format, and particularly for handling the snap COVID lockdown in Brisbane announced right at the start of the event.
He also made mention of merger discussions between SSSI and SIBA/GITA, and said that “we look forward to providing [information on] further developments as progress continues”.
Alistair Byrom, Chair of SIBA/GITA, welcomed the recent appointment of Danika Bakalich as the organisations’ General Manager. “With the appointment of Danika, SIBA/GITA is undertaking a restart, and we want to ensure all our continuing commitments to our members of the spatial industry”.
The following are just a few selected highlights from the first day’s presentations. (All sessions have been recorded, and registered delegates can view them online for the next three months.)
Dealing with the flood of data
Kicking off the first plenary session, Mike Kaiser, Acting Director-General of the Queensland Department of Resources, outlined how data collection and analysis is now vital for every aspect of the state’s wellbeing and development.
“We’ve recently taken the decision to elevate the concept of data to the status of a resource in the context of the Department’s name,” he said. “So now when we talk about the Department of Resources, we also explicitly mean not only the land and mineral resources of the state, but also the treasure trove of data that… we manage.”
“Just like land and minerals, spatial data needs to be managed sustainably and responsibly,” he said, adding that collecting data is an expensive process, so it is important that it is “collected once and used many times”.
He was followed by Professor Alan Duffy, Director of Swinburne University of Technology’s Space Technology and Industry Institute, who gave a fascinating overview of satellites and satellite constellations, and their myriad capabilities and uses.
Melissa Harris, Acting Chief Executive of Land Use Victoria (LUV) and Deputy Chair of ANZLIC, spoke about ‘Unlocking the power of the digital revolution,’ which is very pertinent given that LUV is the agency responsible for Victoria’s $45 million Digital Cadastre Modernisation project.
“Each of us… has more information at our fingertips than great global leaders had in recent history at some of the world’s most pivotal moments,” she said.
“The next decade is going to see dramatic opportunities,” she added. “It’s going to be on us to articulate the case for change and investment in geospatial capability so that we can help unlock the solution to so many of the world’s biggest problems”
Data to the rescue
Scott Dewar, Director of the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation, spoke of the importance of geospatial data for the defence and intelligence communities, highlighting the role it can play in helping to manage Australia’s responses in an increasingly unstable geopolitical environment.
Dewar particularly emphasised the need for Australia to develop sovereign capabilities in the production, collection and analysis of satellite data, and outlined several projects underway to achieve this.
“AGO will deliver an integrated suite of enhanced [geo-intelligence] capabilities for Defence through the GEOINT program,” he said. “It’s going to be an end-to-end GEOINT capability. The program will provide a consistent and seamless access point for GEOINT across the defence and national intelligence community.”
“To increase the ADFs self-reliance and resilience, we’ll develop and integrate sovereign GEOINT collection assets,” he said. “This includes a space-based imagery capability.”
Dewar was followed by Kellen Crouse, Senior Intelligence Analyst with the New York State Police, who presented a fascinating case study of how location data — specifically, mobile phone pings — helped to quickly solve a missing person case, which unfortunately ended up as a murder case.
“It’s about how we use GIS, and how it’s made such a difference to our work,” he said, adding that in law enforcement, “spatial science and GIS [is] maybe not exactly what you would think of as our job, it’s not exactly our realm,” but “we’ve learned to capture this and [learn] how it can mean so much” to achieving success in solving criminal investigations.
New Digital Twin group formed
Announced by SSSI during the conference was the formation of a new Spatial Digital Twin Special Interest Group (SDT-SIG), to be chaired by Wayne Patteson.
According to SSSI, the SDT-SIG aims to “educate, leverage and develop capabilities for surveying and spatial professionals in this emerging technology and to provide highly relevant learning and development opportunities for the members of SSSI”.
Specifically, the SDT-SIG’s goals are to:
- Encourage and promote the advancement of SDT knowledge
- Establish SSSI as an effective, trusted and well-recognised organisation and hub for surveying and spatial sciences and other digital twin experts in Australia
- Facilitate inclusive and collaborative partnerships locally, nationally and globally
- Foster and strengthen information sharing among SDT-SIG member agencies, and with government, community, industry and private sectors; and
- Enable access to information collected and shared by participants including knowledge of what information exists, and how and where to find it.
Six SDT-SIG working groups have been established: Events, Advocacy & Communications, Partnerships, Education & Training, Standards and Capacity.
SSSI has invited members of the surveying and spatial science community to register their interest to participate in the working groups.
Locate21 is a joint effort of the Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI), and SIBA|GITA — the Spatial Industries Business Association (SIBA) and the Geospatial Information & Technology Association ANZ (GITA).
Position magazine and SpatialSource.com.au are proud to be media partners of Locate21.
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