It’s been a busy few days at Esri Australia as we prepare to attend CEDA’s (Committee for Economic Development of Australia) ‘Inventing the Future’ series in Western Australia. We’ve blogged about this before, but as a quick recap, we have been working with CEDA to create a GIS application that ‘maps the issues’ of WA.
This is a really exciting event to be part of – there will be lots of brilliant minds in attendance discussing very important issues. Our very own Tom Gardner, Manager Business Development – WA, is chairing the event. We were able to pull him aside today for a quick chat about tomorrow’s event.
EA: Tom! Thanks for sparing a few minutes out of your very hectic schedule! Now, tell us all about this CEDA event your attending tomorrow.
TG: CEDA has a fantastic reputation nationally for being a focal point for discussion around the important issues that Australia faces now and in the future. We became a member of CEDA here in WA early last year and since then, we have been working with their WA office on their CEDA Series – ‘Inventing the Future’ – Shaping WA 2010 – 2050.
This series provides a platform for discussion about the key issues that this state needs to address over the next 40 years, including areas such as population, employment, infrastructure, culture, education, energy, water and food. The event in the series we are involved with is about Population Dispersal and Sustainability. To support the discussion, Esri Australia and MapData Sciences (MDS) have developed a simple mapping application using our location intelligence capabilities. It will provide a geographic context to the issues that have been discussed in the series. We are very proud of being involved with an organisation like CEDA, and believe that we have the ability to assist in the positive future development of the economy of Western Australia.
EA: Yes, it certainly sounds like a great opportunity for both Esri Australia and CEDA. How did the idea of ‘mapping the issues’ of WA come about?
TG: I’d like to claim this as my idea but it was not… Robin McClellan (the previous State Director of CEDA here in WA) approached us soon after we became members. She had reviewed what Esri Australia provides in the location intelligence arena and she saw a fantastic fit for us to be part of the CEDA series. The concept of providing context to those in the state (and further afield) was a fantastic one and I’m indebted to Robin for working with us on this – she had the insight to understand the ability for location to be a key way of visualising and interpreting information within WA. It is great to see that the idea is coming to fruition.
EA: Absolutey. So why do you think the mapping application will be so useful for this purpose? Why not just bullet point/graph the information?
TG: WA is the largest state in Australia, covering over 2.5 million square kilometres and many of the issues that we face over the next 40 years relate to the geographic isolation and distribution of people, water, energy supplies and our significant mineral and petroleum resources. In the next four decades, there will significant growth in the state’s population and there is a real need to understand where the demand and increased population is, and what the implications on the current and future infrastructure, workforce etc. will be. Being able to represent the location of major resource projects, current infrastructure, and population growth changes over different areas of the state is of great importance.
I recall a speech by Premier Colin Barnett highlighting the value of showing people a map back when they were proposing a new gas pipeline… he said something along the lines of “…they did not understand it properly until they saw it on a map…”. At the end of the day, that is one of the key things that Esri Australia does – we provide location intelligence to our clients so they can see the whole picture.
TG: We will be adding further information to the application in the coming months – based on the future events in the series; however just looking at some of the basic ABS data for regional population growth, there are strong indications of the steady drop off of population in the agricultural areas, and a growth in the mining areas of the state. In addition to this, the map provides a good understanding of the current distribution of key infrastructure in the state and this can be compared to the planned major resource project locations to understand potential future needs and demands that can assist with planning processes. We’re looking forward to putting further information up on the application to provide a wider understanding of the issues.
EA: How can location intelligence help other businesses?
TG: Well, the majority of information (some say as much as 80%) held within organisations can be associated with a location – be that an office, the location of an asset, an address or suburb. With this prevalence of information that can be linked to a location, there is the potential to use this to develop new insights, new ways of analysing their business, and the potential to reveal new opportunities of working.
In more recent times, we have seen a growth in the use of GIS and location intelligence capabilities with businesses, especially to provide an operational awareness of their business activities. This includes things like reporting of performance over regions, tracking staff and assets, understanding customer demand and many other functions. This growth in ‘mapping’ information about a business is only one small component of what we do with clients – however it is one that can provide great insights to managers and directors of an organisation.
EA: Why does Esri Australia feel it’s important to support CEDA in this way?
TG: Esri Australia is supporting CEDA and this event due to our belief that many of these issues can be more readily understood, interpreted, and represented using a geographical perspective. After all, if a picture paints a thousand words, this application offers a fantastic way of communicating information to the decision makers and the public of the state. The provision of this application through our sponsorship should help people reveal the opportunities that this state has for a very bright and vibrant future.
EA: You have the big task ahead of chairing the event… What would you say you are particularly looking forward to?
TG: Yes, I do have the massive task of chairing the session, so there will be little time to relax until then! Mainly I am looking forward to three fantastic speakers – Hon Brendon Grylls as keynote, as well as Tim Shanahan and Brian Haratsis. I can’t wait to hear their their ideas, observations, and opinions about the geographic distribution of the state’s population now and into the future.
What’s more, this looks to be a bumper event with over 350 key government and business leaders in WA present. It will be a great opportunity to help an influential group of people gain some insight into the value and importance location intelligence has to play in decision making and communicating issues.
EA: Sounds like it’s going to be quite a day! Thanks for your time Tom. Best of luck for the event tomorrow!
TG: I’ll let you know how we go!