Tag Archives: spatial information

Navigating the future of GPS

The world’s most accurate GPS service could be on its way to Australia, thanks to collaboration between the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI), Geoscience Australia and Land Information New Zealand.

The pilot project, called a Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS), will improve GPS accuracy from several metres to less than one metre – and potentially down to a few centimetres.

“This is the first opportunity we’ve had to test this technology in Australia,” says Dr John Dawson from Geoscience Australia. “It’s also enabling us to test the next generation of this technology, and it really will provide unprecedented positioning accuracy for Australia and New Zealand.”

GPS satellites orbit at a constant, relatively well-known height above the Earth. They transmit precise time signals by measuring the difference between those time signals and its own clock, a GPS receiver can figure out how far away the satellites are. With three or more signals from different satellites, the receiver can calculate where it is on the surface of the Earth.

But these signals from space aren’t perfect. They are affected by variations in the satellite’s clocks and orbit, and by conditions in the atmosphere between the satellite and receiver. These error sources mean that the usual accuracy of a position calculated using GPS is five to 10 metres.

SBAS will use stationary receivers across the continent to measure these errors, calculate a correction, then broadcast that correction to GPS users using another satellite. With this data, the accuracy of a GPS location can be improved to less than a metre.

“We anticipate that most Australians’ devices will be able to see that signal, and exploit the improved positioning,” says Dawson.

“What we’ll be trialling, for the first time in the world, is a new sort of correction message that has the potential to get accuracy down to 10cm,” says Dr Phil Collier, research director at CRCSI.

“Our role will be to work with organisations across industry to run trials, demonstrations and research projects to find out what applications exist for this technology, and what the benefits are to those sectors,” he says.

“For precision agriculture, for example, where tractors are driving themselves around, an accuracy of 5cm means they’re not running over crops in the paddock.”

CRCSI and Geoscience Australia are seeking expressions of interest from industry to test potential applications of the new system, which is expected to begin operation from July 2017.

“This capability opens up a raft of applications in many fields. Mining, agriculture, transportation – the higher precision is a very tantalising prospect,” says Collier.

For more information, visit crcsi.com.au

– Rockwell McGellin

Read more CRC discovery in KnowHow 2017

coastal flooding

Coastal flooding tool aids communities at risk

Coastal Risk Vanuatu is an open access website created to give individuals, residential groups, and local and national governments awareness and knowledge of how coastal communities in Vanuatu will be affected by sea level rise and coastal flooding.

Developed by NGIS Australia and the CRC for Spatial Information (CRCSI), the website is meant to empower people living on the coast to take proactive steps to act on sea level rise.

“The Coastal Risk Vanuatu website will build awareness regarding the challenges that Vanuatu faces with climate change, and will ultimately lead to more effective decision making”, says Director General of Climate Change Vanuatu, Jesse Benjamin.

Coastal Risk Vanuatu is a new initiative that builds on the work of the Pacific Island Coastal Inundation Capacity Building project and the Vanuatu Globe – previous research conducted by NGIS Australia and CRCSI in 2014.

This project, funded by the Australian Government, provided hands-on knowledge about mapping the coastline. It delivered coastal mapping and risk assessment capacity building and training to 190 people in four Pacific nations.

Coastal Risk Vanuatu is an open interactive sea level rise platform, based on the Vanuatu digital elevation model. It incorporates social media photos and Pacific Community UAV imagery captured during the first response recovery post Cyclone Pam in 2015; demonstrating the value of imagery during disaster recovery.

“Building on the technical capabilities drawn from Australian research agencies, we now have the ability to accurately map coastlines to understand the impact of changing sea levels”, says Dr Nathan Quadros, Program Manager at CRCSI.

“Given our previous work in the Pacific Islands and the strong ties we have developed in the region, it is fitting that we extend our knowledge and expertise to vulnerable coastal communities, governments and NGO’s,” says Quadros.

“Through this easy-to-use sea level rise visualisation tool Vanuatu will have access to the best information for their coastal adaptation planning”.

Insight into the impact of rising sea level is hoped to aide Government and local agencies and guide stakeholders through better policy decisions. It will also assist NGO’s and emergency services to prepare for worse-case scenarios during coastal storms and flooding.

“With growing interest in the Pacific Region to be “climate ready”, we envisage further localised coastal risk websites to be developed in the coming months”, says Quadros.

“We encourage you to explore the layers and coastal knowledge captured in this website and provide feedback to info@coastalrisk.com.au”.

– Jessica Purbrick-Herbst

This article on the coastal flooding webtool was first shared by the CRCSI on 14 December 2016. Read the original article here.

blockchain technology

Blockchain tech shaping spatial information

Blockchain technology is the innovation behind Bitcoin. It has the potential to disrupt many industries by making processes more democratic, secure, transparent and efficient, and is currently approaching the peak of its hype cycle.

In late October, the CRC for Spatial Information (CRCSI) hosted a Student Day Solvathon, which focused on blockchains in spatial technology. Paul X. McCarthy from Online Gravity and Mark Staples from Data61 facilitated discussion and inspired 20 PhD students to think creatively about how blockchain technology could be applied.

The students divided into four teams with each team given the challenge to design an innovative use of blockchain tech in an application area relevant to current CRCSI research programs and initiatives. They created four initiatives:

Blockchain Technology in the Red Meat Supply Chain

This idea taps into the $15.8 billion red meat industry in Australia. With only 35% of cattle currently meeting the Meat Standard Australia (MSA) standard, the traceable open ledger capabilities of a block chain implementation could provide consumers, farmers and suppliers with greater confidence on the certification process. Increased uptake on MSA certification positively impacts the Australian economy as every 1% increase of certified meat equates to $40 million of additional returns.

Differing from traditional centralised database systems, the open ledger system requires the complete life history of a piece of meat to be well documented and made available across all players in the supply chain. Automated transaction verification techniques using location and timestamp from GNSS, RFID or DNA barcode information is added to the blockchain database when the cattle or meat is transported from one location to another. This not only optimises the supply chain, but also adds value to the quality of meat sold to the consumer. All this information will be able to be accessed from a smartphone, where a series of displays showing quality metrics of great interest to the consumer: an environmental score; a wellness score; a taste score; and other extra data that supports the purchase such as recommended or optimised recipe selections for that particular cut. 

Blockchain Technology in Health

Attacks on hospitals and civilian targets are clear violations of international law and an urgent problem in war zones that can be addressed by a new arrangement of existing technologies and organisations. A systematic solution to this could be one which provides transparent, decentralised, immutable, publicly available records of humanitarian activity used to visualise the location of verified humanitarian facilities.

The decentralised nature of a blockchain could allow untrusting involved parties to agree or trust the validity of information. Records can be immutable and transparent, so there would be traceability and increased accountability. If this platform was augmented with crowdsourced data, there could be continuous verification from multiple sources agreeing or converging on the location of a hospital. In essence, this would be decentralising and democratising humanitarian map data in conflict zones to support policy makers, governments, negotiators, experts in international relations and law (UN, WHO) and humanitarian organisations (MSF, Red Cross/Red Crescent).

Blockchain Technology in Land Administration and Cadastre

A new distributed database maintaining transactions is disruptive to many industries. It is producing a time stamped auditing information record. Land administration title offices maintain registries, ownerships, boundaries of private and public properties and keep records of changes to the properties as they happen.

These changes affect mortgages, restrictions, leases and right of ways. Blockchain technology has a huge potential in land administration contexts as governments privatise land registries, or want to publish trusted copy for all stakeholders without delays. Blockchain protocols in land administration offer complete historical transaction of all land title transactions, reducing dependency on central cadastral databases and can minimise the risk of fraud in data manipulation by a single user. In many parts of the world traditional registry and cadastral systems have not been sustainable in this advanced technological world. Urbanisation is at peak and land parcels are increasing day by day and discrepancies still exist whether it is in the developed or developing world.

Blockchain protocol in land registries could have many benefits like cost reduction, smart contracts, efficiency, transparency and long term investment. 

Blockchain Technology for Road Tolling

Alternate fuel sources will require changes in how road user charges are calculated and collected. Deriving charges that are consistent across carbon based fuels, electric vehicles, and other alternatives (such as hydrogen fuel cells) may prove difficult.

Alongside the issue of equitable pricing is the well-known problem that continued increases in the number of road users will lead to increased traffic congestion. However, the emergence of driverless vehicles presents a possible solution to both these problems that can be implemented using the executable contracts that blockchains offer.

Currencies based on blockchain technology allow value to be held in escrow until certain conditions are met. Once these requirements are satisfied the value is distributed to the opposing party (or parties). This occurs based on how the contract is programmed into the blockchain and as such there is no need for a “middleman” (like a bank) or the fee they charge for providing this service.

Our solution is a market based system where travel on a particular road at a particular time is booked in advance (based on the origin and destination of the user). Before departing on the journey the user has certainty as to how much the journey will cost as well as its duration (they will not be inconvenienced by excessive traffic congestion).

This means all space on the road, tracked through time, is allocated. A non-urgent journey may take a less direct route in order to avoid popular roads and reduce the amount paid in road user charges. Alternatively, an urgent journey can be made via the most direct route at a higher price. Because journeys may utilise roads owned by various parties, the planning system will program the appropriate distribution of value into the executable contract. When the conditions are met (i.e. the journey is completed) the contract is executed within the blockchain and the transfer of value from the user to the road owners represents an alternative to traditional road user charges.

Next Steps

The CRCSI is now developing a one to two-year strategy for blockchain research in spatial technology. Seizing the early initiative with blockchain technology will be important for the spatial sector to lead activities in this rapidly growing research and development area.

To find out more, visit the CRCSI website or contact Nathan Quadros at nquadros@crcsi.com.au

– Dr Nathan Quadros, CRCSI Education Manager

This article was first published by the CRCSI on 18 November 2016. Read the original article here.