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Working on Spatial Data quality and pragmatic enterprise solutions.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Spatial@Gov - Day 1

Yesterday the 2nd spatial@gov conference kicked off in Canberra, with among other events, an open day, a series of workshops and presentations, and the highly anticipated launch of the Bureau of Meteorology's GeoFabric.

The Open Day was a great initiative, allowing non-delegates to visit the exhibition and mingle. It worked well for especially locals to drop by, see the booths and the people, without having to pay the registration fee (even though these are very reasonable for a conference this size). Likewise, the exhibitors benefit from the extra traffic, and delegates like me from a larger networking audience. Win-win-win.

I then attended the ERDAS workshop in the afternoon. I thought I was going to be bombarded with hard-sell on their Apollo Suite. In part that was true (why won't salespeople learn that listening is often the best sales tool), but I was very pleasantly surprised by inspiring talks from guest speakers Gary Nairn and OGC's Steven Ramage. Gary spoke on SDI and lamented the lack of vision with Infrastructure Australia to recognise soft and smart infrastructure. Steven has a new role in OGC, coordinating and promoting the business aspects of spatial standards. Steven's main message was that in order to promote technology and standards, we have to focus on the business case and demonstrate the (economic) benefits in specific application domains or communities of practice. Nothing new you might think? Yet still very little adhered to in practice.

Finally, the ERDAS tech team Rob Clout and Chris Tweedie gave a mildly chaotic product demonstration. The one thing that blew me away though was the performance of the ERDAS tile server, exposed through an OGC WMTS service. WMTS does to OGC standards what Google Maps did to web-mapping: it makes it fast and sexy. Viewed on Google maps, and through a 3G card, the Apollo WMTS tiles just seemed to fly onto the screen, and easily kept up with Chris Tweedie's rapid zooming and panning. Awesome!

At the end of the day, people gathered in the exhibition room for drinks and the official launch of the Bureau of Meteorology's Australian Hydrological Geospatial Fabric (Geofabric). Though the launch itself was drowned (pardon the pun) a little in the lack of space and decent audio equipment, this doesn’t make it a less significant achievement. The Geofabric gives Australia for the first time in history a complete, fundamental and interconnected dataset of all surface water features, without which no serious national water observations, modelling or prediction would be possible.

Dare I say the Geofabric is a critical cornerstone of a national soft, and smart infrastructure?

Watch this space for more updates in the coming days…

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