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Current News > 11 Dec 2002 : CRC for Spatial Information successful

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11 Dec 2002 : CRC for Spatial Information successful (8 January 2003)

The Hon Peter McGauran MP, Commonwealth Minister for Science has announced that the Commonwealth Government is to provide funds for a Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRC-SI). This is an exciting development for the spatial information industry in Australia.

The Commonwealth released the Spatial Information Industry Action Agenda in September 2001. The Action Agenda identified a number of actions needing to be taken by governments, the private sector and academia to build a robust spatial information industry focussed on meeting the needs of all sectors in society for spatial information services and products. Research and development was recognised as a key enabler of industry growth.
Industry leaders recognised the need for a strong R&D capability and identified the benefit of proposing a Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) focussed on developing this capability. ANZLIC commissioned the University of Melbourne to prepare a feasibility study, which found a good case for creating a CRC. Subsequently, the Chair of ANZLIC, Mr Warwick Watkins, facilitated a meeting of interested parties in Melbourne in November 2001. A consortium was formed as a result of the meeting. A Steering Committee chaired by Professor Ian Williamson and comprising representatives of the consortium members prepared a business case for a CRC-SI and submitted the proposal in May 2002.

The mission of the CRC-SI is to develop the concept of a Virtual Australia, uniting research and commercial innovation in spatial information. The Centre will harness Australia's recognised research and commercialisation strengths in spatial information technologies to create new opportunities and increased prosperity for all Australians. To the technology end-user, spatial information is often defined in terms of how it is presented. Examples are digital topographic maps, land titles, thematic maps from satellite imagery, 3D landform models, computer visualisations, or outputs from a Geographic Information System (GIS). Behind the presentation of spatial information lies the necessary components of data acquisition, analysis and processing required to both integrate multi-source spatial data and convert this data into usable information products. Associated with these operational themes are the issues of local, state and national spatial data infrastructures, quality and standards, and access and public policy.

The benefit of having a well resourced centre attracting and creating intellectual property for the spatial information industry and its customers cannot be over-emphasised. The scale of funding from the Commonwealth Government and contributions from core and participating partners will total around $A80m over the next seven years. Partners include government agencies, business enterprises and academic institutions from around Australia. Such an alliance and pool of funding is a first for the spatial information industry in Australia. It is now up to all players in the industry to take part in this exciting venture.

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