Spotlight on: Spatial information in government

Tuesday, 11 July 2017 12:00 AM

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By SIBA|GITA
Around 30 leaders representing SIBA|GITA members in Victoria gathered at the Spatial Vision office on Tuesday afternoon for a lively and insightful discussion with local politician Daniel Mulino MP....
 
Mr Mulino is currently Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer of Victoria. His background in innovation portfolios and in federal government has ignited a passion for spatial information. Although not meeting us in a formal portfolio capacity, he shared some excellent tips on the opportunities for increasing government engagement in spatial, in Victoria and across the nation.
 
Mr Mulino told how he was inspired by experiences from previous roles in government, most notably the government and insurance industry response to the Queensland floods.
 
“The Queensland floods were a really good example of social institutions (in this case, insurers) not functioning well because of a lack of spatial information,” he said.
 
An overview of 2026 Spatial Industry Transformation and Growth Agenda was provided. It was noted that the Agenda sets out the key initiatives being undertaken to further develop the industry in Australia.  A video especially prepared by Victorian branch members highlighting local spatial projects was shown during the meeting. Mr Mulino made several references to a simulation of rising sea levels in the video, and the power offered by visualisation for connecting innovative technology with government priorities. “The spatial industry will be crucial for helping government as we grapple with climate change, congestion and those sorts of issues,” he said.
 
If the discussions after Mr Mulino’s presentation are a guide, his comments on the top 3 challenges for the spatial industry were most valued.
 
On government funding:
 
“The spatial industry needs to think bigger”
 
In the funding allocation processes within Government, pilot spatial projects aren't big enough for their own budget. This means spatial projects must scramble for a portion of allocations for larger programs and initiatives.
 
Possible solutions:
  • We will benefit from collaborative approaches with our growth sectors (as outlined in the 2026 Agenda).
  • Focusing on easily understood ratios (for example the benefit cost ratio) to demonstrate value delivered back to government, the economy and the community. Other comprehensible ratios palatable to the political narrative might measure productivity in agriculture returning land to natural resources, or squeezing more out of the road network.
 
On technology risk:
 
“Technological risk is challenging for governments, especially those with negative experiences in recent memory”
 
Spatial projects big enough to warrant a separate budget allocation also bring inherent technology risk.
 
Possible solutions:
  • Pilot projects, and government business enterprises (who are more nimble than government departments) are recommended. South East Water’s IOT-capable networks are possibly world leading.
  • Recognising and promoting government success stories, for example Spatial Excellence Award winners
  • Conducting a stocktake of productive projects will be highly beneficial
  • Advocate for a central spatial agency in government
 
On Communication:
 
“Focus on problem-solution match”
 
The spatial industry is very good at describing in highly technical detail what we can do, and government is good at describing in detail the problem for which they need a solution. Often, traction is lost because of too many iterations of a conversation looking for a way to align capability with a specified problem. We need to work on how best to communicate our capability in a way that matches government policy challenges.
 
Possible solution areas:
  • The federally funded Smart Cities program, which may include Launceston and Western Sydney in the first tranche, “will be a catalyst for really interesting projects” Mr Mulino believes.
  • Open data relative to the 2026 Agenda growth sectors will include lots of data for transport (notwithstanding some of the deidentification issues)
 
“It’s great to see the public infrastructure and entrepreneurship pillars in the 2026 Agenda, as that aligned with what was top of mind for me” Mr Mulino said.
 
SIBA|GITA CEO Deanna Hutchinson said the peak body has plans to pursue a range of the ideas discussed at the meeting.
 
“Our new strategy is about pivoting to include more focus on how our members service the growth industries” she said.
 
“We will soon be calling for expressions of interest to join dedicated Special Interest Groups whose function is to help us map out the current activity and work to be done in these growth areas.”
 
“We are also looking for opportunities to promote our Spatial Excellence Award winners directly to growth industries.”
 
The Victorian Spatial Excellence Awards close on xx date and will be announced at a celebratory event on 18 October 2017.
 
SIBA|GITA extends our appreciation to Spatial Vision for hosting the meeting, and acknowledges the work of Victorian branch members, in particular Anton van Wyck, for producing the video shown during the meeting.
 
 

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