A Letter from David Hocking: Geospatial Technology and the Economic Stimulus Package for Australia

By David Hocking

I read with great interest your article on the three submissions on how the spatial information industry can help to stimulate the US economy. Not surprisingly, Australia is in the same boat. Your magazine does very good things for the wider spatial community around the world and I congratulate you for that - it seems to be the only medium for letting us all know that we are not alone - well done Directions Magazine.

ASIBA [Australian Spatial Information Business Association] recently submitted a Paper to Infrastructure Australia (pdf); an agency established by the Federal Government to priorities the stimulus package expenditure on infrastructure - to propose similar spatial solutions (principally a National Spatial Data Infrastructure). We were told by Infrastructure Australia that, while they see spatial data as important, they cannot see that it is an infrastructure that they can recommend for funding. If I were a cynic (which I am) I would say that the main reason is that a Minister cannot easily open an NSDI in the same way that they can a bridge or road. Still, we never give up and the attached article from the Australian Financial Review demonstrates another tactic.

We have also responded to a Consultation Paper (pdf) on the Digital Economy Future Directions, which has put at least one spatial issue at the top of the agenda, following a fortuitous lobbying opportunity late in 2008. This submission is soon to be lodged.

I also provided these two submissions to our major business newspaper, the Australian Financial Review, and on Friday last week we secured a very good article (pdf), which has already had an impact of sorts. I have been approached by a senior bureaucrat to discuss the matter.

As an industry and by this I mean worldwide, we lack cohesion across borders. We all seem to have the same problems, we all seem to have similar ideas about how to fix them, but we never talk to each other, and we never share our knowledge and experience. We need an international association of associations! We have already started down this track at a regional level with our New Zealand cousins seeking to become a group of ASIBA (this will mean a name change of sorts). Our Board is very keen to start the process of expanding our knowledge and experience through our regional brand.

I have included a copy of the Australian Financial Review Article [noted above] to demonstrate the support we have in the key press. I am quite happy for you to use as much of our submissions as you'd like and to put them up as you have done with the others.

We at ASIBA are upbeat about the future for the spatial information industry, due in large part to the various governments around the world committing to infrastructure and also (at least in Australia) to various environmental programs.

David Hocking
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Spatial Information Business Association

Published Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Written by David Hocking

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