Action for the future

Image: NASA
10 April 2017

A new ten year Action Plan will support the growth of Australia's spatial industries sector.

Spatial technologies such as aerial and satellite remote sensing imagery and computerised geographic information systems (GIS) have traditionally focused on analysing the earth’s surface.

But the location information they produce is becoming increasingly relevant across many other areas of the economy. For example, the Global Positioning System (GPS) is now an integral part of applications that we use in our daily life.

A 2013 industry sector analysis by PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) estimates that globally geo-services are set to grow by around 30% each year. And Australia was found to have a strong competitive advantage in this area because of its early adopter culture.

We are a leading user of Global Navigation Satellite Systems, and we perform strongly in areas of natural disaster management,  earth observation and resources management, satellite communication, and weather and meteorology.

Direct benefits to Australia resulting from earth observation are expected to grow from currently around $500 million to $1.7 billion by 2025.  And the  contribution to the Australia's GDP by precise positioning technologies is estimated to increase from over $2.3 billion in 2012 to more than $8 billion in 2020.

But there are concerns that Australia's spatial industries are not achieving their full potential in a rapidly changing technological and operating environment in which innovation is a main driver of growth.

Thus, the 2026 Spatial Industry Transformation and Growth Agenda reported last year that in a survey with industry leaders 95% of respondents believed spatial services were either not achieving growth potential, or that the growth was being captured by other industry sectors.

Led by the  Spatial Industries Business Association and the CRC for Spatial Information, the 2016 Agenda aims to identify and address potential barriers of growth.

The release of an Action Plan is a first step towards accelerating the development of location-related technologies in Australia.

It details 32 initiatives through which the sector's industries will be able to better capitalise on upcoming opportunities in key sectors of the economy that include transport, agriculture, smart cities and health.

The initiatives are placed within a framework of six key pillars of transformation. They are

  1. Public Infrastructure and Analytics: accelerate the nation-wide access to location-related data and analytical tools that are easy to use, and facilitate the implementation of new ideas and growth in the private sector.
  2. Innovation and Entrepreneurship: foster spatial innovation and entrepreneurial skills, capitalising on technological advances to evolve business models and open new markets and opportunities.
  3. Outreach: clearly communicating the value and contribution that location intelligent and related services to the industry to Australian society.
  4. Research and Development: coordinate location-related R&D in Australia to collaboratively solve problems of national interest.
  5. Education, Training and Capacity Building: introduce location-related training and education at all levels of education, nation-wide and including regional communities, to develop a well prepared and diverse workforce.
  6. Representation: consolidate the voice of the spatial industry, and provide effective leadership and advocacy for the industry.
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