Societal/Environmental Wellbeing

Optimising the Workforce: STEM and Diversity

 There is a significant opportunity for the space and spatial industries to work more closely with Australia’s strong educational and vocational training systems. The need to attract, train and retain people with advanced Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills to support long-term and sustainable growth across the sector has been identified by many reviews. A key task will be to review and extend the current analysis of the skills gap being undertaken by the Australian Space Agency and SmartSat CRC to ensure that it identifies both space and spatial skills that are not adequately meeting these industry’s current and future needs.

For the space and spatial sectors to be able to sustainably grow, innovate and deliver leading and useful research in the coming years, a diverse and inclusive workforce will be needed. It is proposed that the Space, Surveying and Spatial Diversity Leadership Network (SSS-DLN) continue to leverage, amplify and expand existing successful D&I initiatives and actions plans at sector level and that peak bodies take a leadership role in advancing efforts to improve the diversity of our sector. A key outcome should be to benchmark, monitor and report on the state of D&I in the sector on a regular basis. Best practice outcomes from this network can be applied more broadly across the space and spatial sectors.

At the Commonwealth Government level, the Thodey report into the Australian Public Service pointed to the need for urgent improvements so that Australia can leverage the full potential of digital systems and data analytics facilitated by suitably skilled people. This observation is particularly prescient for space and spatial. One option is the development and implementation of a space and spatial awareness program for the public services operating at all layers of government. This program could be aimed at enhanced understanding of policy, technological and regulatory implications of space and spatial systems and services across Australia’s society and economy as a formal part of the implementation of the Thodey review. Case studies of existing best practice would inform the awareness program.

Essential Systems for Climate Resilience

Increasing bushfires, floods and other natural and human-induced disasters are sharpening the focus on the responsibilities of Federal and State Governments to improve coordination and response to larger scale natural disasters. This has come under close scrutiny in recent years. The 2019-20 fire season has brought this issue to the fore. Many inquiries, especially the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, have examined these issues from a national and regional perspective. 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 natural disasters?

The current paradigm for earth observation systems supporting broader economic and environmental objectives involves data collection to monitor ecological/environment systems with data analysis informing decision makers on actions that may deliver certain outcomes. Moving to a management-focused approach requires access to a wider range of data with better data governance, coupled with advanced analytics/machine learning techniques and greater use of spatial digital twins. The key is to develop phenomena-specific systems purposely designed to respond to societal, environmental and economic pressures to produce the highly valuable information products that end users need, rather than just creating more low value data.

Ongoing and cross-agency collaboration across industry and governments is key to improving spatial information capability and datasets to inform decision-making across the environment portfolios of governments. In addition, next generation data governance and clearly defining accountability for data collection, storage, management and integration across agencies could provide a systematic approach to ensure high quality data capture to empower analytic methods including artificial intelligence and machine learning. It is important that end users of spatial technology are regularly informed of megatrends in spatial technologies so current information and understanding can be applied to their land and environmental monitoring, management and decision-making processes and diminish the barriers to adopting new technologies for sustainable environment management