Are you a member of the Spatial Industries Business Association (SIBA)? SIBA is an impartial idustry body dedicated to raising the profile of location intelligence in Australia and New Zealand. They have more than 500 members in Australia and New Zealand (including our Managing Director, Brett Bundock, who sits on their Board of Directors), and are growing every day.
To get an update of what’s happening in the industry, we met with SIBA CEO David Hocking. Here’s what happened….
EA: HI David, thanks for your time today. Firstly, now that you’ve poured over the results of our recent Benchmark Study… What are your overall impressions of the results?
DH: This type of survey provides credible evidence around issues that we have a gut feeling about. Of course such surveys are best conducted on a regular basis to ensure we are seeing positive changes that reflect on the good work of the spatial industries.
I am particularly pleased that one of our member companies has demonstrated its commitment to the local government sector as they are often overlooked by the state and federal governments as an important player in the spatial domain.
EA: What was the most surprising thing to come out of the Benchmark Study?
DH: I’m not sure that there is anything particularly surprising from my perspective as I have often felt that local councils are more enthusiastic about the value of spatial information and technologies than state and federal agencies. What I appreciate in the findings is confirmation that at least one government sector sees the broader value of GIS as a crucial business management tool for service delivery.
EA: From SIBA’s perspective, what are the most pressing issues facing local governments?
DH: The recent floods remind us all that location intelligence and technologies are a must for planning. The prospect of rising sea levels in the coastal zones is but one issue; we should also consider estuarine flooding as part of this work. Fires and floods have long told us that we are doing things wrong yet we continue to ignore the importance of quality spatial data as a fundamental infrastructure that should be used to support good decision-making. Recent advances in GIS modelling makes it much easier to develop planning guidelines that make sense to the community and local governments must use this to their advantage.
DH: Government have a very specific responsibility to their citizens to provide information that is relevant to their needs. This is not as much a driver for business. However, other drivers about location are certainly growing within other sectors from location of parking to location of outlets.
I believe that Australia is yet to catch up to the United States of America in terms of delivery of information for the public. The very good series from Pennsylvania State University on Geospatial Revolution demonstrates the use of GIS within mobile applications that provide details of bus timetables and location information about the bus itself. Perhaps it is time for Australia to provide an application tied to taxi availability and location.
The future is about real-time location. New innovations will drive this and more and more applications will take up the slack of businesses who have failed to utilise this powerful technology.
EA: From SIBA’s perspective, are you seeing an increase in organisation’s moving towards a more Enterprise GIS environment?
DH: I have not seen this for myself but I am aware that organisations are developing enterprise-wide GIS environments. One that does come to mind – and it happens to be an Esri Australia client – is Thiess. The interesting thing I have found is integration works best if there is a knowledgeable and driven champion within the organisation, as is the case with Thiess.
Integration of spatial systems into the complete business environment is a matter of demonstrating the power of location. The fact that the Australian Government is now talking about a spatially enabled budget process is a good example. Of course it is likely the case that the Australian Tax Office already has a location-based management system but do they have a full functioning GIS? I don’t know.
EA: What is a sector to watch in regards to location intelligence?
DH: Without a doubt the floods in Queensland have heightened the insurance sector’s interest in spatial information. They now recognise the urgent need for high resolution digital elevation data for flood mapping. This will provide them with far better information upon which to make risk decisions. This must also apply to the banking sector, but they have been less vocal (or perhaps more correctly silent) on the issue.
In the future banks will have to consider risk since they are lending for construction of everything from housing to office blocks. Surely they will want to understand the risk associated with location such as flood inundation, rising sea and estuarine levels, storm surges, fire risk, cyclone and earthquake risk? Or perhaps it is time for the spatial industries to look to those property professionals who advise the banks about risk – the property valuers.
Managing the new green interests will also form part of the driver for the property sector to better manage their building from the ground up. Traditional surveyors will have to learn about green drivers if they are to be part of the process.
I also believe that the transport and logistics sector is about to boom. The pressure from government over climate change will drive a green awareness and GIS will be a crucial tool in reducing green house gasses.
The emergence of new technologies will also change the spatial landscape from outdoors to indoors. Our environment is changing rapidly. We are in the early stages of the development of a new geography – indoors.
EA: Very interesting food for thought. Thanks for your time David.