Australia: Australia is still lagging badly in providing a comprehensive, detailed and nationwide network of spatial data which is essential in most areas of government, from handling natural disasters to adjudicating between militant farmers’ groups and coal seam gas extraction projects, according to the Spatial Industries Business Association (SIBA).
A report published in The Australian Financial Review, observed that the association is using a review of the New South Wales (NSW) planning system to outline the importance of bringing public sector activities in all states and territories within a spatial guidance framework.
SIBA has been pressing for a spatial information system that would be readily available to federal and state government departments, local councils, businesses, academic institutions, farmers, resources and construction groups, and others. The data would need to be in a consistent format to promote interoperability and be available as required, without needing lengthy processes to locate it from around the country.
Given the versatility of the internet, parts of the data could be maintained by current providers, who would be responsible for the accuracy and updating of the data, provided there was an effective system for making it generally available in compatible formats.
The objective of the NSW planning legislation should be to ensure that all land-based activities are brought together into a single spatial framework, observed SIBA.
This would include population growth, rail transport, road layouts and upgrading, shipping ports and associated logistics, zoning and development assessment for residential and commercial development, infrastructure such as communications, energy, water supply and water resource management, transport, and resources and energy such as biofuels and coal seam gas extraction.
The list covers risk assessment for issues such as vulnerability to floods, rising sea levels and bushfires; food security and forestry; and environmental management, including conservation, native title, carbon sequestration and heritage.
The framework would outline the interconnectivity of different elements in the decision-making process to give ministers and public servants a clearer picture of competing demands, long-term perspectives and immediate pressures, and effective use of public funds.
A standards-based interoperability framework would not only promote cost efficiency (collect data once and use it many times), it would facilitate the discovery of data and provide access to publicly held information and encourage innovation. Having custodians for individual data sets would reduce duplication and inconsistencies.
Source: The Australian Financial Review