Last hurrahs at Spatial@gov

I spent all of last week on the road in Canberra, for a few different reasons, but the one that took up most of the week was the Spatial@gov conference – and it turns out, this is the last time we’ll see that conference. Instead, a range of industry bodies (including our industry associations SIBA and SSSI) will group together to run a single joint spatial conference in March 2014.  That’s an exciting opportunity for the whole industry – and we really need some opportunities.

I provided some of our experiences and learnings about open technologies in my talk at the conference on Thursday afternoon. I’ve included the slides from it below via Slideshare:

We’ve done a fair amount of work with open technologies, and at Gaia Resources we deploy many of these in projects. I strongly believe that open source, open data and open standards are able to deliver opportunities to our industry.

The spatial industry is going through massive changes. Let me elaborate:

  • The rise of on-line and mobile mapping has truly taken hold, meaning that maps are something more and more people are familiar with – and can access without specialist help,
  • Open source spatial software is forcing a change of business models from “sell software” to “sell services”,
  • Open spatial data means the same thing for data resellers (services, not products), and is also being embraced by our governments (read Maurits van der Vlugt’s post for a great read on this),
  • Open standards make things possible we could never had dreamed of – like the Internet Protocol standard enabling us to have Facebook, and OGC standards letting people deliver better interoperability during emergency situations,
  • Our world economy is massively uncertain; the flow on effect from things we don’t often think about – like the price of iron ore – has a flow on effect directly to our industry (miners slow production, their suppliers make cutbacks, they pay less royalties to governments, who make cutbacks…).
  • As a small business owner, I’ve watched this for a while and seen many of our clients change what they ask us to do – and we’ve been evolving our business to embrace this change. But never before have I seen the pace of change increase so rapidly and profoundly. This is a big challenge for everyone in our industry, right now.

These changes (and the pace of it) are why Gaia Resources stepped up to join SIBA this year. In addition, I have taken two roles with SIBA, as the Western Australian Chair, and as a Director on the National Board. SIBA represents our industry in terms of businesses (whereas SSSI represents us as professionals) and I believe at this time we need to band together to speak with one voice. The first part of that is gathering our forces – so my remit in WA is to strengthen our local SIBA presence by delivering value to our members. Then I think that it’s time that we started to evolve as an industry.

There are two endpoints to evolution – you either evolve to your environment, or you are outcompeted. We are dangerously close to being outcompeted already as an industry, but there are many exciting opportunities in this space we can still pursue, and I think open technologies are part of that.


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