The Space+Spatial 2030 RoadMap was released in March 2023, with a vision of making Australia “a global leader in space and geospatial systems and services” through a National Action Plan to accelerate growth of the space and spatial industries working together.
The RoadMap was developed as an industry driven initiative that involved substantial collaboration between the peak bodies, namely the Space Industry Association of Australia; Spatial Industries Business Association and Geospatial Council of Australia (at the commencement, SIBA-GITA and SSSI participated separately); Earth Observation Australia (EOA); and SmartSAT CRC. Leading government bodies including the Australian Space Agency, the Australia and New Zealand Land Information Council the Department of Defence, Geoscience Australia, Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, amongst others, also contributed.
The original RoadMap outlined nine objectives, such as progressing national space missions, developing Spatial Digital Twins (SDT), upgrading positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) and enhancing the National Mapping Base and its foundational geospatial data.
Since its release, a number of changes have occurred, including:
- Cancellation of the National Space Mission for Earth Observation
- A redefinition of the Australian Space Agency’s role; it is currently no longer proceeding with the development of a national space and spatial strategy
- The federal government has moved away from the prior government’s industry development objectives for Australia’s space industry
- Government industry policy seems to be focused on advanced engineering/manufacturing
- The concept of sovereign capabilities is still being clarified
- The Government is no longer proactively supporting individual sectors, instead seeking to frame initiatives to meet key objectives and/or drive economic growth
These changes have required somewhat of a pivot needed by industry to enable constructive co-operation with federal government to ensure it objectives are met. The objectives above were assessed in terms of which issues are now key to national priorities. The conclusion of that review was:
- National Blueprint for the development of the Space and Spatial industries would still be highly beneficial
- Industry policy needed to facilitate growth of Australia’s space and spatial industries, but framed to achieve government’s priorities
- Publicly funded research in space and spatial industries still would benefit from being strengthened and coordinated
- Australia’s space and spatial workforce needs greater capacity for future needs
- Australia’s capability in Spatial Digital Twins still needs development support
- Australia’s PNT capabilities would benefit from additional investment to meet future national needs and to capture a bigger global market share
- Australia’s sovereign capability in critical space and spatial infrastructures continues to require development
- Australia’s Defence requirements will continue to be heavily dependent on space and spatial capabilities
- Enhance the national mapping base and its foundational spatial data
On the latter point, Australia’s current map base, upon which all map-based data relies, from land ownership to vehicle navigation, is in need of fundamental improvement to meet the future needs of government and industry. Work is underway to modernise these geospatial resources so that they are fit for purpose, but the need to do so is insufficiently recognised and funded. Greater priority and resources are required to meet the enhanced mapping and analytical needs of Australia in the 21st century.
The next steps are to reinforce understanding of the role of government procurement and R&D support and the need for government ‘lead tenancies’ for some technologies. Other steps are to reinforce the need for the development of a strategy for capability development and advocate for better mechanisms that allow better focus and coordination of national research and development activity; a stronger emphasis on start-up and incubator programs; and increase government investment in critical space and spatial infrastructure.
An updated RoadMap is expected to be released during the first half of 2024.
Article courtesy of the Geospatial Council of Australia.