Geospatial group takes shape under Aussie auspices

Formal request okayed at Wellington meetup

Plans are afoot to set up a geospatial group in New Zealand under the auspices of the Australian Spatial Information Business Association (ASIBA).

A meeting of major participants at a geospatial conference in Wellington last week decided to formally express the New Zealand industry’s request for ASIBA to extend its territory to include New Zealand. The New Zealand Geospatial Office was present and supportive, says Steve Critchlow, executive director of GIS specialist Critchlow.

One of the drivers for forming a New Zealand branch was a tender issued late last year by police for a national address register.

“They wanted everything and they wanted to impose unlimited liability,” Critchlow says. “Three consortia were formed, we probably all spent around $200,000 working through the Christmas period, then the steering committee pulled the plug on the grounds it was too costly.

“We need to be able to speak to the government as a group. Already, many of us are working trans-Tasman.”

At a Govis mini-conference in May, the keynote speaker, former Australian special minister Gary Nairn, cited a study that found between A$6 billion and A$12 billion (NZ$7.6 billion and NZ$15.2 billion) was added to Australia’s gross domestic product by spatially enabling Australian government.

“Ninety percent of government activities have a spatial element, 65% by legislation,” he said.

There were big benefits in social services and in taxation from producing real-time information. Nairn said it was particularly important for the protection of critical infrastructure.

No similar study has been done in New Zealand.

ASIBA is an industry organisation, formed to condense around 35 former industry groups into one, with four pillars. They are: academics, individual professionals, business and government.

Last week’s keynote speaker was Jack de Lange, chief operating officer of ASIBA, who was brought to the conference to generate dialogue. He says ASIBA has 500 members and the potential for three times that.

“We’re also looking at setting up an Australian Spatial Consortium to do joint ventures,” he says.

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