Space & spatial governance arrangements, incl. disaster response


Climate change is the great challenge our time. In Australia it is causing devasting fires on a scale never before seen with predictions of much worse to come. Other natural disasters are expected to increase in frequency and intensity including droughts, cyclones, extreme storms and massive coastal inundation putting lives, livelihoods, ecosystems and critical infrastructure at grave risk over the coming century. These are occurring over increasingly greater areas. The role of space and spatial systems in providing monitoring capabilities and supporting forecasting, planning, and recovery operations will be vital.

So what more can be done, that has not already been identified to deploy space and spatial capabilities to greater effect in the effort to deal with disasters?


The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements found that better national coordination in response to natural hazards is needed. A series of recommendations supporting better decision making involve data management as applied to spatial data.

“Australian, state and territory governments should explore the feasibility and practicalities of developing and maintaining nationally consistent assessments and projections of the frequency, intensity and spatial distribution of natural hazards in Australia.”

The source of much of this data is earth observation satellites owned and operated by non-Australian entities . Submissions from every state and territory as well as the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO and Emergency Management Australia stated that improved data capabilities from sensors, including satellite-based sensors, was required [page 116 of report].

The report noted that recommendations for nationally consistent data for disaster information has been a recurring theme in reviews and enquiries since at least 2002.


The development of a nationally coordinated approach to the use of space and spatial capabilities is becoming an increasingly high priority.

1. Australia should consider the development and implementation of a national capability plan to exploit advanced satellite enabled communications and IoT connectivity technologies that augment current systems, especially through the ability to provide short notice emergency connectivity and the rapid restoration of medium-term communications during the response and recovery phases of a natural disaster.

2. Australia should consider investing in nationally coordinated and consistent approach to data management, data fusion and analytics systems with the objective of building the equivalent of an Australian Disaster Resiliency Digital Twin. This development could support the development of optimized and sovereign solutions to gaps in national capabilities for real- time data fusion and analytics. The outcome would be a national asset that supports more effective land management, planning, emergency response and recovery across the nation.