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Australia: Agencies Highlight Growing Importance of GIS
Source: futuregov.asia
Source Date: Monday, October 31, 2011
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, ICT for MDGs
Country: Australia
Created: Oct 31, 2011

The growing importance of GIS in councils and governments across Australasia has been affirmed with Ozri, the spatial industry’s leading conference, drawing more than 550 governments, commercial, and not-for-profit professionals from Australia, the Asia Pacific, and the U.S.A – the largest crowd of delegates in its 25 year history.

According to Kellie Lacey, Technical Director of Ozri, the calibre of presentations and exposés of GIS innovation from some of the nation’s leading government departments demonstrated the heightened role of spatial technology in initiatives across Australia.
“GIS is making a material difference to key projects around the region, such as with Australia’s first national bushfire prediction system developed by Landgate, and the Queensland’s Reconstruction Authority’s (QRA) Interactive Flood Map,” said Ms Lacey.

Major General Dick Wilson, Chair of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority and head of Australia’s largest-post disaster reconstruction effort said spatial technology had an increasingly important role in coordinating recovery from natural disasters.

“Queensland was hit with seven separate disaster events in just a few short weeks,” said General Wilson.

“Much of the State was affected by wind or water – sometimes several times over. The sheer size and scope of the disasters meant that we needed ongoing ways to rapidly acquire and share accurate information about areas hardest hit, and to monitor the reconstruction effort.”

The QRA’s Interactive Flood Map was developed in consultation with Esri Australia. The map uses GIS technology to identify the interim flood line so Queenslanders can see the impact of waters in their area and provide feedback if the information needs to be refined. Mapping was undertaken for more than 200 towns and cities across the State.

The Interactive Map contains updated reconstruction imagery, information on the pipeline of reconstruction works, and floodplain mapping information to help local councils with any future development applications in flood-prone areas.

Another best practice technology solution unveiled at Ozri was Australia’s newest bushfire prediction tool. The tool uses data such as a fire’s location, weather forecasts, and topographical and vegetation type, to generate maps that plot the predicted path of a blaze.

The results can then be communicated to emergency services personnel and the public via mobile devices and an early warning website. Landgate Senior Systems Analyst Gerrit van Burgel said Esri’s ArcGIS 10 software underpinned the simulator’s crucial visual interface.

“The UWA Bushfire Simulator itself is quite complex, so we needed a user-friendly, visual interface which enables users without a GIS background to use it,” Mr van Burgel said.

“The control panel enables users to input information that will inform the UWA Simulator, such as the fire’s location and topographical and fuel load datasets. The digital maps generated provide users with a visual picture of the fire’s predicted path.”

Mr van Burgel said the simulator would be important for testing fire fighting techniques, fire management strategies and managing the up-coming fire season.

“The system will enable emergency services personnel to test how a range of bushfire fighting techniques, such as fire-break location and design and back-burning, would work against a current or hypothetical fire,” he said.

“They can also gauge the effectiveness of those interventions in protecting lives, property and infrastructure in any location in Australia. The simulator could also be used to assess what changes to the layout or location of infrastructure could be made to reduce bushfire risk.”

Mr van Burgel said the Bushfire Prediction tool was part of a larger project funded under the Australian Government’s Digital Regions Initiative.

“The existing FireWatch website delivers critical bushfire information from emergency services and the public – and it will be expanded into a national early warning system,” Mr van Burgel said.

Ozri is organised and hosted by the nation’s leading location intelligence specialists Esri Australia, and for 25 years, it has carved out a reputation as the Asia Pacific’s premier showcase for the latest advances in GIS technology.

Ozri 2012 will be held from 5 – 7 September in Sydney with the theme A Spatial Odyssey: New Frontiers in GIS.
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