Govt spends $12m on ‘positioning’ technology

POSITIONING technologies are already part and parcel of daily life and business across Australia – from using Google Maps on smartphones to emergency management and farming – but there is a lot more to come.

With increasing us and new technologies to come, the Australian Government has announced an investment of $12 million in a two-year program looking into the future of positioning technology in Australia.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the funding would be used to test “instant, accurate and reliable positioning technology that could provide future safety, productivity, efficiency and environmental benefits across many industries in Australia” including transport, agriculture, construction, and resources. 

Research used by the government indicated the wide-spread adoption of improved positioning technology had the potential to generate upwards of $73 billion of value to Australia by 2030.

Mr Chester said the program could test the potential of Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) technology in the four transport sectors—aviation, maritime, rail and road.

“SBAS utilises space-based and ground-based infrastructure to improve and augment the accuracy, integrity and availability of basic Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals, such as those currently provided by the USA Global Positioning System (GPS),” Mr Chester said.

The future use of SBAS technology was strongly supported by the aviation industry to assist in high accuracy GPS-dependent aircraft navigation.

“Positioning data can also be used in a range of other transport applications including maritime navigation, automated train management systems and in the future, driverless and connected cars,” Mr Chester said.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan said access to more accurate data about the Australian landscape would also help unlock the potential of the North.

“This technology has potential uses in a range of sectors, including agriculture and mining, which have always played an important role in our economy, and will also be at the heart of future growth in Northern Australia,” Senator Canavan said.

“Access to this type of technology can help industry and government make informed decisions about future investments.”

The two-year project will test SBAS technology that has the potential to improve positioning accuracy in Australia to less than five centimetres. Currently, positioning in Australia is usually accurate to 5-10m.

Mr Chester said the SBAS test-bed is Australia's first step towards joining countries such as the US, Russia, India, Japan and many across Europe in investing in SBAS technology and capitalising on the link between precise positioning, productivity and innovation.

The Minister said Geoscience Australia, with the Collaborative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI), would soon call for organisations from a number of industries including agriculture, aviation, construction, mining, maritime, rail, road, spatial, and utilities to participate in the test-bed.




New data breach notification rules warning for business leaders

BUSINESS owners and leaders will have to count extra cyber security and data breach contingency plans as part and parcel of everyday business from now on, with the recent passing of the Federal Government’s Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Bill 2016.

The Bill further enshrines Australian Privacy Principle 11, which requires all Australian entities to take reasonable steps to secure personal information they hold.

According to the ACS, the professional association for Australia’s ICT sector, the legislation will produce a heightened focus within the public and private sectors on all aspects of cybersecurity. 

The ACS said for ICT professionals, the Bill gives overdue recognition to the importance of data in the digital economy and the potential for serious harm where, through accident, malfeasance or cyber attack, a data breach occurs.

“As we transition to a digital economy, now more than ever the focus must be on ensuring Australia captures the opportunities of the information age, while protecting the rights of the individual,” ACS president Anthony Wong said. “This legislation will be a critical step forward in the elevation of data protection and cybersecurity issues on the C-suite agenda.

“In an era of Big Data, the protection and privacy of personal information must be a primary consideration in the planning and construction of large scale ICT systems, not an afterthought.

“Given the growing problem of cyber crime, the ACS strongly supports initiatives which demand both the public and private sectors act to prevent cyber threats and address their consequences.

“Over and above the specific legal mechanisms of the new Act, the ACS believes it will give issues concerning data protection and cybersecurity a new level of transparency, lifting overall awareness of cyber safety, how to mitigate risk and ultimately providing better protection for individual citizens. While nothing is ever 100 per cent secure, the Act promises to give Australians who provide personal information to government and business greater confidence,” Mr Wong said.

“To deliver on the promise of this new legislation it is critical to recognise that cybersecurity is a collective responsibility, relevant at all levels of an organisation.

“The ACS looks forward to working with government and industry on best practice approaches to ICT security systems and protocols and the education and training of ICT professionals to meet both the spirit and the letter of the new legislative requirements.”

Mr Wong said the ACS had for many years been a vocal advocate of regulation mandating data breach notification and strongly endorsed the guiding purpose of the Bill, “to allow individuals to take steps to protect themselves from a likely risk of serious harm resulting from a data breach”.




Making 3D maps: 2016 GovHack winners announced

WINNER of the No Boundaries Data Hack category in the 2016 GovHack Red Carpet Awards, Legends of Tomorrow, could open up new possibilities for predicting Australia’s regional futures.

Legends of Tomorrow, developed by the Shape the future team from Victoria, used a range of government population, environment and weather data to project the future of neighbourhoods, including population, cultural backgrounds, environment including vegetation and waterways,  and potential future climate conditions. 

The 2016 GovHack Red Carpet Awards were held in Adelaide on October 22. The event is backed by Geoscience Australia and entrants to use government data from multiple states and territories to unlock the value of data across borders..

The winner of the Geoscience Australia's Exploring Underground bounty prize was a 3D printed geophysical data model, created by Victoria's Petrified Data team. Using a series of 2D geoscience datasets from Geoscience Australia, the team created a series of hand-painted 3D printed models including a cool-looking 3D map of geothermal temperatures across the Australian continent.

Geoscience Australia judges also gave a mention to the On Earth, We are On Earth team’s Flood Watch entry which aimed to use datasets published by Geoscience Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology to develop a real-time flood warning app.

GovHack is a three day ‘hackathon’ that sees teams from across Australia and New Zealand compete to develop new applications using open government data. The volunteer-run event is sponsored by large technology companies, several government departments and a range of high-visibility start-ups and innovators.

As part of its contribution to the 2016 competition, Geoscience Australia offered key datasets and sponsored the Exploring Underground bounty prize. Together with PSMA Australia, Geoscience co-sponsored the Major GovHack prize for the best No Boundaries Data Hack. Both prizes were presented at the awards ceremony by the Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy.

Geoscience Australia encourages use of its data for real-world outcomes, and helping people to engage in, understand and use scientific information in their everyday lives. As the national geoscience agency, it holds a vast range of geoscientific and geographic data that supports the management of Australia's precious water resources, hazard modelling for safer communities, exploration for mineral and petroleum resources, as well as helping to manage Australia's maritime jurisdictions.



Eight technologies essential for business to understand – PwC

TECHNOLOGICAL change is happening as such a pace that business leaders can rarely keep pace – yet they must do so in order to make vital decisions on company futures.

Global advisory firm PwC has prepared a report on the ‘megatrends’ of technological breakthroughs and identified eight essential aspects business leaders must get their head around.

For its report, Tech breakthroughs megatrend, PwC evaluated more than 150 technologies globally and developed a methodology for identifying those which were most pertinent to individual companies and whole industries. 

The result is a guide to the ‘Essential Eight’ technologies PwC advisors believe will be the most influential on businesses worldwide in the very near future: artificial intelligence,  augmented reality, blockchain, drones, the internet of things (IoT), robots, virtual reality and 3D printing.

The specific technologies that will have the biggest impact on each industry will vary, but PwC believes the list of eight comprises technologies with the most cross-industry and global impact over the coming years.

To arrive at the Essential Eight, PwC filtered technologies based on business impact and commercial viability over the next five to seven years – shortened to three-to-five years in developed economies.

The specific criteria included a technology’s relevance to companies and industries; global reach; technical viability, including the potential to become mainstream; market size and growth potential; and the pace of public and private investment.

“Most companies have laid a foundation for emerging technology, investing in areas such as social, mobile, analytics and cloud,” PwC’s global new business leader, Vicki Huff Eckert said.

“Now it’s time for executives to take a broader view of more advanced technologies that will have a greater impact on the business.”


Ms Huff Eckert said companies continually waited for the “next big thing,” believing that a particular technology trend either would not amount to much, or that it would not affect their industries for years to come.

However, she said, disruption is happening today at a faster rate and higher volume than ever before.

“Innovations throughout history have tipped the balance in favour of the innovators. In that sense, technological breakthroughs are the original megatrend,” she said.

“The ubiquity of technology, with increased accessibility, reach, depth, and impact are what will expedite adoption of the Essential Eight.”

PwC believes the Essential Eight technologies will shake up companies’ business models in both beneficial and quite challenging ways. Across industries and regions, the emerging technology megatrend will influence strategy, customer engagement, operations and compliance.

As a result, the report outlines, leadership teams should find effective answers to three fundamental questions:

Do we have a sustainable innovation strategy and process?

Have we quantified the impact of new technologies? If not, how can we do that—and how soon?

Do we have an emerging-technologies road map? If so, are we keeping it up to date?

According to PwC’s report, executives should not treat the Essential Eight technologies as a sort of checklist to delegate to the chief information officer (CIO) or chief technology officer (CTO).

Rather, exploring and quantifying emerging technologies — and planning for them — should be a core part of a company’s corporate strategy, involving all levels.

Ms Ms Huff Eckert said before developing an innovation strategy and exploring and quantifying emerging technologies, executives “should educate – or re-familiarise – themselves with these technologies and what they can do”.