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Geospatial Technology: Mapping our Future Cities


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Across Australia, there is a growing focus on empowering the design and construction of smart cities to ensure Australia maintains its strong position on the global economic stage.

This month saw Adelaide host the Smart Cities Summit, the result of a partnership between the Local Government Association of South Australia and the City of Adelaide. The summit shone a spotlight on the need for planning ahead when preparing for smart cities and keeping an open mind to the latest technologies.

One of the latest technologies made available to support the building of smart cities is geospatial technology. 

One of the latest technologies made available to support the building of smart cities is geospatial technology. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “geospatial technologies is a term used to describe the range of modern tools contributing to the geographic mapping and analysis of the Earth and human societies.”

To understand more about how this field is evolving and how it can be leveraged by the Australian construction industry, Jobsite ANZ spoke with Reza Ansari, Director of Geospatial Technology at Durkin Construction. Durkin provides professional engineering services to the construction and urban development industries within the Australian workspace. 

Boundless Plains to Geospatially Analyse

Put simply, Ansari explains, “geospatial technology in construction means enabling the works to be carried out in the right location to the right specifications.”

Google Maps and Google Earth are key examples of common uses for captured spatial data; both make finding the fastest route home an easy endeavour. However, within the wider construction industry, the applications of spatial data and technology extend far beyond. 

Ansari outlines that geospatial technology can be used for a myriad of projects, including generating thematic maps, preparing Basemaps for automatic navigation systems, providing Basemaps for Geographical Information Systems (GIS), providing engineering plans for civil works and urban development, and more. 

Building Roads With Accuracy

Geospatial technology is already being used, and Durkin Construction is one of the specialists in applying this technology to pavement testing.

“Geospatial technology enables accurate topographic survey plans and models to be used for designing and constructing new roads." 

Many major roads projects are costing the Australian government and taxpayers billions of dollars, such as WestConnex in Sydney, coming in at an estimated cost of AUD$16.8 billion. At these high costs, and considering the extensive amount of time these projects take to complete, even the smallest efficiencies and improvements in data accuracy could have significant budget and scheduling implications.

“Geospatial technology enables accurate topographic survey plans and models to be used for designing and constructing new roads,” Ansari says. “We can then monitor the construction of the new roads to be carried out as per the design. It helps to geo-reference the location of pavement tests so that the pavement test results can be correlated to the actual location for planning, design, and pavement rehabilitation purposes.” 

This is Just the Beginning

By 2030, 30 per cent of vehicles on Australia’s roads could be autonomous vehicles, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Economics. This is just one of the many rapidly changing aspects of how Australians are commuting, travelling, and working, which will have an impact on how smart cities of the future are built. 

Innovations, such as geospatial technology, will analyse and apply those vast amounts of data in the best ways. 

On another level, the data accumulated from these vehicles will have a significant influence on the way roads and traffic systems are constructed, and that is where geospatial technology will have a role to play. As an example, the average modern connected car has more than 100 million lines of code – twice the amount as the Large Hadron Collider. Innovations, such as geospatial technology, will analyse and apply those vast amounts of data in the best ways. 

Ansari concluded that there are many applications of geospatial technology, and the method is only going to continue to grow. In the future, they could be applied in 3D digital cities, horizontal projects for roads and runnels, improved functions for autonomous vehicles and more.

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