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New Digital Technology Rebuilds the Anzac Legend


New Digital Technology Rebuilds the Anzac Legend

The Spatial Industries Business Association (SIBA) has today announced a new project which will seek to build ‘digital cities,’ starting with New Zealand and Australia’s major cities represented as they were during the ANZAC period (1900 to 1915).

SIBA is the peak body for the spatial industries and will drive this project – known as MIMOSA (an acronym named after a star in the Southern Cross) - forward thanks to an alliance between its Australian and New Zealand chapters, combined with support from the ANZAC Centenary Foundation. The spatial industries combined economic impact on GDP across New Zealand and Australia is currently approaching $15 billion. Internationally spatial is a $274 billion industry and one the fastest growing technology sectors.

Today’s announcement is the first major development for the Queensland Chapter of the Association under new CEO Richard Simpson, who said the project was about showcasing spatial information’s ability to ‘discover stories’ on its way to revolutionising the use of spatial data in urban design and living.

“Spatial data enables us to make the invisible visible, the intangible more tangible, and can help us to discover stories not only about places from our past like the time of ANZACs, but also better understand our present and our future,” said Simpson, who recently relocated to Australia from New Zealand to take up the SIBA role.

“The need to build digital cities has proven critical– from managing climate change to building more robust communities and forward-planning emergency response; the application of spatial knowledge can show us our past, our present and our future while informing better decision-making for everyone.

“I am really proud that we are able to dedicate the start of this pilot program to the time of the ANZACs – it is an identity-building era and a part of our history which holds a special place in the hearts of all New Zealanders and Australians. The 1900 to 1915 era also provides a perfect starting point for building the next generation digital cities framework we wish to achieve.

“We are so honoured to be able to play a small part in telling their story through this spatial media, and anticipate that the ANZAC pilot of the MIMOSA project will be ready for public review and access by 25 April 2015 – marking the ANZAC Centenary.”

To make the project possible, SIBA and its collaborating partners will use spatial information to create a common framework which allows users to visualise places across time, while facilitating for upcoming precision advances in global positioning, 3D surveying, and earth-observation satellite systems.

“Through this project, not only will we be able to use today’s data, but we can also extract information from the data of the past to forensically reconstruct forgotten places and people in rich 3D,” said Simpson.

The CEO of the State Library of Queensland in Australia, Janette Wright, said SIBA’s concept provided the opportunity to add value to the documentary heritage of Queensland.

“All State and National Libraries of Australia and New Zealand have embarked on a program of digitising their collections. This is a rich historical resource, and when made accessible in a digital space could be considered a new national treasure,” said Wright

“Through SIBA’s vision and collective action, this information can be brought to life like never before - first by creating 3D digital cities using our photographs and our records, and then who knows – maybe one day they will even be able to create visualisations of people from the time as well.

“I am very excited about seeing this technology transforming the information we so carefully preserve here at the State Library into the age of the future.”

Not only does the project offer the chance to take a step back in time, it also positions New Zealand and Australia at the forefront of creating world-first technology, moving data collections from the domain of the filing clerk into an interactive and accessible spatial paradigm, allowing the acceleration of knowledge through the direct publishing of historic and scientific thought into an innovative common open forum.

“In today’s day and age, we are witnessing a ‘metropolitanisation’ of our global economies. That is, most of our world’s population now live in cities and this majority is growing fast,” said Simpson.

“If you take all of the major cities of New Zealand and Australia you have a population of just under that of the single city of Shanghai.

“If we can work together and deliver the proof of concept in the two years before the Anzac Centenary (2015), we will be delivering technology which will introduce economies of scale and change the way the world uses spatial information, while positioning us as truly competitive within this new world order.”

SIBA Chairman of the Board Alistair Byrom likened what SIBA is proposing to do with taking current world-viewing technology and putting it on steroids.

“We are stepping into an era of ‘big data’, and so we must find better ways to manage the sheer volume, variety and velocity of the information that comes at us from every direction in our rapidly changing world,” said Byrom.
“Imagine being able to see the natural and built environment integrated into a common model, to go inside buildings and trace internal services through to the utility networks, to see a more complete picture through new visual perspective?

“That is what this modelling can do, and yet it is so much more than that, it can provide a portal through which to amplify knowledge from unlimited sources, collating it and presenting it in a way which will allow for the better stewardship of our communities and places we live.

“We can even use these models to benchmark cities – want to know about broadband capabilities, climate change readiness or air quality of a specific location or even performance of a building? All of these and more could be part of the integrated model, providing vital information at the end of every decision makers’ fingertips.

“Our success will be dependent upon the removal of the organisational silos which currently hold vital information, and in the development of ‘evidential trust’ in data. Our vision at SIBA is to build this into an open and innovative forum, creating an ecology of digital content, technological innovation, policies, and research-informed knowledge.”

The information which will drive SIBA’s modelling concept will be provided by governments, private enterprise and individuals, said Sir Bob Harvey – Chair of Waterfront Auckland and a member of the New Zealand Government’s ANZAC World War I Consultative Panel.

“Governments are already starting to open their information vaults to make this a reality, and as more governments and even private organisations share their information, the more depth and richness this concept can access,” said Sir Bob Harvey, who hosted SIBA’s Richard Simpson in delivering a workshop on the ANZAC initiative at the Waterfront Auckland recently.

“More information means better decisions, and if this concept can do what we hope it will do, the effects will be wide ranging from government departments to private business to the everyday man – change will be everywhere, from how building approvals are handled to how you can access information about the risks, natural phenomena, and assets above and below the ground.

“For the cities we are looking at for this first stage, there are plenty of practical applications – for example, Christchurch in New Zealand is attempting to rebuild following earthquakes so you can look at seismic risk, while Brisbane is on tenterhooks about flooding, and Melbourne is concerned about fires. Each city will offer experience and international best practices into a common forum.

“The diversity of the cities SIBA will model, starting with the ANZAC period and then moving forward, will provide an incredible amount of potential not only for use in New Zealand and Australia, but for creating a technology that can propel urban design and environmental stewardship forward the world-over.”

The Spatial Industries Business Association (SIBA) represents more than 200 companies and organisations working in the private enterprise sector of New Zealand and Australia’s growing and vitally important spatial industry.
SIBA members are significant producers, managers, innovators, users and adopters of spatial information and technologies. They are pioneers, providing inventive, value-added services to governments, business and industry and they range in size from large local and international companies and organisations, to small to medium-sized enterprises, many with ten employees or less.

For more information on SIBA, please visit


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