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4IRAnnual EditionArticlesearth observationGKIOpen Data

Open data approach should become commonplace


Alison Rose, Chief of Place, Space and Communities Division, Geoscience Australia

Geospatial data and technologies are a critical enabler in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). They provide a basis for transformative change. The fusion of physical, digital and biological paradigms is occurring at a time of significant global challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Climate Change. The shift from physical to digital provides the government and industry opportunities to leverage authoritative, accurate and reliable geospatial information to bring benefits to the economy, environment and society.

As geospatial knowledge relies on rapidly evolving ecosystems of data that combine different sources, the ability to coordinate and evolve standards in a dynamic manner is important in a global context. Reliance on embedded technologies, such as positioning, requires continued attention to reliability around both the quality of data and its availability. Global efforts to combat the pandemic have brought about a shared sense of urgency, purpose and collaboration. In the geospatial sector, data is being shared between governments, industries, academia, and the public for better decision-making. This collaborative, open data approach should become more commonplace but with a focus on
data security and privacy.

Significance of positioning

Precise positioning is the fundamental enabler of geospatial data and technologies. Geoscience Australia’s Positioning Australia program is building the country’s national infrastructure; it enables new technologies to leverage improvements in precise, reliable, real-time positioning information. Many technologies driving that change in 4IR will rely on understanding and tracking a position in Space and time. The current leap, bringing Australian positioning information down to 10 cm accuracy nationally and 3-5 cm within mobile telephone reach, is a critical capability enhancement to a broad range of sectors of the economy.

Power of partnership

Collaborations with agencies like the United States Geological Survey are vital. We work closely with other Australian Government agencies like CSIRO, ASA and the Bureau of Meteorology, and engage with the international satellite EO community to promote access to analysis-ready collections of data in the Cloud. This allows us to focus on the next steps — extracting knowledge to support application and providing a data platform. Our engagement with the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is also critical as it gives us access to a global community facing the same opportunities and challenges as Australia.

Focus on Earth Observation

Implementing the Australian government’s Digital Earth Australia (DEA) program is a priority. DEA provides Australian businesses with access to free and open satellite imagery, creating opportunities for the development of applications that can improve productivity and sustainability. We want to ensure Australian users have access to a reliable stream of satellite Earth Observation data.

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