NZ geospatial industry to join Aust association

NZ geospatial industry to join Aust association

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Australia – The New Zealand geospatial industry has voted to join ASIBA, the Australian Spatial Industry Business Association, move local businesses believe is vital for the industry.

The decision was made Wednesday during the Inaugural Geospatial Information Systems Summit in Wellington and was supported by the New Zealand Geospatial Office and Trade and Enterprise.

ASIBA represents the geospatial industry across Australia and was formed in 2001 to establish common standards at industry, State and Federal levels. It has since assumed a significant role in public policy making, enhanced the profile of the industry, helped identify new opportunities and provides financial benefits to members.

During Wellington conference, six top New Zealand geospatial businesses voted to “formally express the New Zealand industry’s request for ASIBA to extend its territory to include New Zealand.”

It is now up to ASIBA, which is meeting in August, to change its constitution to allow New Zealand companies to join the association.

IT Brief understands this change is likely to be passed as so many New Zealand companies already do business in Australia.

Steve Critchlow, executive director of Wellington-based geographic information company Critchlow, has helped spearhead the move and says it was spurred in part by a New Zealand Police decision in May to cancel a national address database project.

The National Address Register (NAR) project was meant to create a readily-accessible repository of geo-coded information detailing the location of all homes, parks, roads, railways and place names.

The aim was to reduce duplication and inaccuracies in government-held address databases, and was being led by the Police.

Critchlow says that at the time the RFP came as a surprise to industry as there had been no consultation on project parameters. “The industry basically had no choice but to participate in the RFP process and we all put in a lot of effort, only to have the plugged pulled because it was deemed too expensive.”

At the time, Police deputy commissioner Lyn Provost said that, “Despite the project showing considerable potential to reduce duplication across government and reduce costs, a tender process run by Police showed it was too expensive to proceed with in its current form.”

Critchlow said that one reason for the expense was that Police demanded unlimited liability from vendors making insurance prohibitively expensive or impossible, and that the Police wanted all terms to be negotiable.

“We cannot give away our IP, we have to make money too,” says Critchlow.

That failed RFP had convinced him and others that the industry needed to unite to better present its case to government, academia and other professions on establishing firm industry standards.

He said this will become all the more important when New Zealand joins world carbon trading schemes, as there will need to be accurate data on the location and ownership of forests, which are considered carbon sinks. Currently, this information is patchy at best and could cost the country millions, he says.