Disaster research centre opens

Tuesday, 17 February, 2004

Disaster management, through the tracking of bushfires like the one that swept through Canberra suburbs at the start of 2003, will become a more accurate science with the opening of Australia's largest commercial investment in geospatial technology.

Federal Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane has officially opened defence industry specialist Raytheon's Geospatial Operations Centre in Canberra. "Australia has a small but high-achieving spatial information industry which exports about $50 million of data every year. Having this centre based in Australia will be a significant boon to the industry and the country's standing as a supplier of geospatial information," said Macfarlane.

"The Howard government is working closely with the industry, through the implementation of an Action Agenda, to develop a whole-of-government approach to data access and pricing as well as implement strategies for better market access and export facilitation," he said. Through the Action Agenda the industry is working towards establishing itself as "a global leader in the innovative provision and use of spatial information." Raytheon Australia's Geospatial Operations Centre will handle and store the 20 TB of imagery and raw data that is collected in Australia by Raytheon every year from satellite overpasses.

The Centre has the capacity to store more than 200 TB of imagery, roughly the equivalent of 3 million standard CDs. "The geospatial material which is collected by Raytheon has a tremendous array of applications. The eyes in the sky can provide a completely fresh perspective of many situations here on the ground," said Macfarlane.

"This imagery will be able to help with agricultural monitoring, by identifying the spread of diseases or natural crop damage, provide tactical information for military and law enforcements and provide graphic illustration of environmental change, like increasing salinity," he said. The Centre is further indication of Raytheon's faith in the Australian economy where it has been supplying smart electronics for over 30 years.

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