Creating a Location-enabled Australia


Australia has a vast and rich landscape. Geographic data provides the nation with a complex view of the country’s landscape through time. Geoscience data and information are a significant national resource with enduring value for the Australian community. Knowing when and where events and activities occur is essential for government, industry, researchers, and the community to make decisions and improve economic, environmental and social outcomes for Australia.

Our Role

Geoscience Australia provides trusted fundamental geographic information and advice to support evidence-based decision making.

10 Year Targets

  • We will deliver positioning accuracy of 10 cm across Australia, and enable 3 cm accuracy in mobile phone range, adding at least $200m annually to the Australian economy over the next 30 years
  • We will deliver a satellite data platform that supports better-practice Government environmental decisions, helps Australian businesses to use satellite data and underpins the contribution of over $5b annually to the Australian economy by the rapidly growing geospatial sector
  • We will contribute to environmental forecasting capabilities that support better management of Australia’s natural resources
  • We will provide trusted information on Australian geography that is accurate and easy to use, for everyone, everywhere
  • We will underpin faster, cheaper and smarter approaches to decision-making and location-based activities through integrating digital mapping, satellite data, and real-time precise positioning.

Work Activities and Capability

Digital Earth Australia

The Digital Earth Australia (DEA) program provides decision-ready satellite data products and services that can be used by Australian governments, businesses and individuals to make more informed decisions about the management and use of Australia’s natural resources.

This program translates satellite imagery into evidence of how Australia’s land and water bodies change over time and delivers it ways that benefit the user most, that is, openly-accessible, routine, robust, of high-quality and in unprecedented detail.

This information helps governments and industry better understand soil and coastal erosion, the impact of land management practices, deforestation, urban development, and water quality and availability.

Digital Earth Africa

The Digital Earth Africa program establishes a routine, reliable and operational service using Earth observations to deliver decision-ready satellite data products and services that can be used by African governments, businesses and individuals to make more informed decisions about the management and use of Africa’s natural resources.

Digital Earth Africa is an Australian government program, partly co-funded by a US Charitable Trust. This program will be institutionalised within Africa to establish an African-based capability, and build the world's largest platform for accessing and analysing satellite imagery. The information from this continental-scale platform will support improved planning and sustainable development of land and sea resources by government, industry, the community society and development agencies working in Africa.

Australian Spatial Data Framework

The Australian Spatial Data Framework program provides trusted, accurate and easy-to-use information on Australia’s geography, and the ability to integrate other data with geography, to enable government, businesses and the community to make decisions faster, cheaper and smarter.

Technology makes it possible for anyone, anywhere to have digital mapping at their fingertips. This drives demand for information on Australia’s cities, transport, water, environment, property and administrative boundaries that is fit for purpose, nationally consistent and easy to join up with other information.

Maintaining access to trusted information on Australia’s geography, and the ability to use location-based technology for decision-making, is now essential to: growing Australian business faster and smarter in a competitive global economy; the success and defensibility of government policy and operations; and helping people connect with government.

Positioning Australia

The Positioning Australia program will deliver more accurate, reliable positioning in real time across Australia and its maritime zones. The program is building a national satellite positioning capability that all Australians can access, including in remote areas without mobile phone or Internet coverage. This will meet the growing need for position and navigation information across industries.

The program will contribute to the enhancement of the Global Geodetic Reference Frame, and improve Australia’s Geospatial Reference System. It will also undertake targeted geodetic monitoring activities in support of other organisational programs.

In support of this work, the Australian Government has committed $224.9m over four years for improved GPS through the 2018-19 Budget. This includes $160.9m to develop a Satellite-Based Augmentation System and a further $64m to upgrade Australia’s ground network of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) sites through the National Positioning Infrastructure Capability (NPIC).

New open source software and data analysis capabilities will further allow Australians to improve existing technologies and to generate new location-enabled innovations.

Strategic Priorities and Performance Criteria

Geoscience Australia’s work program impacts six key areas of society. For each area, the environmental context, the role of the organisation, the long-term targets, and the work program activities and capabilities are described.

Geoscience Australia’s performance will be assessed using a number of qualitative and quantitative measures to communicate a comprehensive view of performance that will be presented in the organisation’s annual performance statement. Performance measures will include assessment against key work deliverables, key performance indicators and case studies.

Performance Measures 2019-2020 2020-2021 2021-2022 2022-2023
Digital Earth Australia        
Program deliverables        
Deliver decision-ready satellite data and information products to government and industry users
Program key performance indicators        
Availability to users of decision-ready data 90% 95% 99% 99%
Digital Earth Africa        
Program deliverables        
Establish Institutional hosting arrangement in Africa for the Digital Earth Africa program office      
Deliver analysis-ready satellite data & decision-ready information products to government and industry users  
Australian Spatial Data Framework        
Program deliverables        
Deliver the Location Index pilot as part of the Data Integration Partnership for Australia      
Establish governance rules with Australian Government, and state and territory entities to better manage datasets and infrastructure for Australia’s Foundation Spatial Data Framework
Modernise the data infrastructure and the supply chains that maintain the national datasets in the Foundation Spatial Data Framework
Provide digital mapping tools and technology for government policy priorities
Program deliverables        
Delivery of static and time dependent reference frames available for use in Australia      
Completion of the satellite-based augmentation system follow-on program and the National Positioning Infrastructure Capability program      
Completion of initial GNSS network refresh and extension      
Program key performance indicators        
Availability of GNSS network to support continuous, real-time positioning applications 95% 95% 98% 98%
Case Study
Using positioning infrastructure to help predict storms
Storms cause great damage to Australians and their property. The state-wide blackout in South Australia, and in 1999, the biggest single insurance loss in Australian history of $1.7b caused by the Sydney hailstorm serve as important examples.
This case study will showcase the work Geoscience Australia has undertaken in partnership the Bureau of Meteorology to use the Positioning Australia GNSS network to infer atmospheric water vapour content that is radically improving storm forecasting.