Today, using high-precision GPS and other technologies, we can land a rocket to within 2 centimetres of accuracy. Without steering, a farmer can harvest wheat, travelling up and down paddocks on the same tracks as the year before to within 2 centimetres of accuracy.
Yet, it was less than 140 years ago that the line of longitude running through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, became the standard primary line of longitude, ending centuries of inconsistency among early map-makers who had variously chosen Jerusalem, Alexandria, Copenhagen, Saint Petersburg or Philadelphia, among other great cities. Combining latitude and longitude, we now have a system to record the unique location of any feature on the surface of the Earth.
Spatial information is now critical for disaster response, emergency management, civil engineering, industrial automation, agriculture, construction, mining, recreation, intelligent transport systems, land-use planning, hazard assessment, environmental studies and scientific research.
On 14 December 2020, the ARDC and the Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping (ICSM) formalised a strategic collaboration that encourages the Australian research community to share, use and attribute spatial data, research outputs, knowledge and skills to maximise research quality and impact.
ICSM is a standing committee of the Spatial Information Council, ANZLIC—the peak organisation for the collection, management and use of spatial information in Australia and New Zealand. Its role is to provide leadership, coordination and standards for assembling, delivering and maintaining surveying, mapping and charting datasets for the development and defence of Australia.
ICSM also helps Australia and New Zealand fulfil their obligations to the international surveying, mapping and charting community, and is an important forum for the exchange of information and ideas in the national interest and for trans-Tasman matters.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding, the ARDC and ICSM will collaborate on shared interests; for example, vocabularies, persistent identifiers, metadata standards, and technical solutions such as programming interfaces.
We hope to take part in ICSM’s various working groups and that their members, likewise, will join our various communities of practice—such as the Geospatial Capabilities Community of Practice—to share knowledge, skills, ideas and experience, and promote eResearch.
It’s not the first time we have worked together. We previously contributed to the production of the ICSM ISO19115-1 Metadata Good Practice Guide [PDF], which is informing the redevelopment of the Australian Ocean Data Network (the AODN Portal)—a network of marine and climate data from ocean-going ships, autonomous vehicles, moorings and other platforms.
In another collaborative example, ISO vocabularies that help research and government organisations create consistent metadata were published by ICSM on Research Vocabularies Australia, ARDC’s portal of vocabularies used in research.
These examples show our mutual support for harvesting data to catalogues, improving data/metadata interoperability, and helping governments, researchers and industry, nationally and globally, to discover and access these valuable resources.