Earth Observation (Research and Operational) Infrastructure

Building on the EO research infrastructure seminar we held in Canberra in May, and thanks to further impacts of our 10 year Australian EO Community Plan with support from other NCRIS facilities and lead agencies (Geoscience Australia, Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO), Earth Observation in Australia (Terrestrial, Atmospheric, Marine and solid Earth) across research and operational areas is at a turning point towards establishing a significantly expanded set of national capabilities.

Thanks to everyone who helped us develop a submission outlining Australia’s current EO research infrastructure and steps for how we could build this to more effective system as part of the National Research Infrastructure Roadmap and Investment Planning processes, 2017-2027. The attached PDF summarises the process and the information we have provided to the department running this process. We hope to hear outcomes from this in November this year.

The task we addressed in relation to the research infrastructure component of this process was:

To support consideration of the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap, in the 2017-18 budget, the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training is developing a Research Infrastructure Investment Plan.  The Plan will be informed by:  (1) the 2016 Roadmap; (2) an inventory of existing national research infrastructure; and (3) information on existing and future requirements from existing NRI facilities and where no facility exists, from independent experts. We have been asked to address items (2) and (3) for the “Earth Observation” priority, within the “Earth and Environmental Systems” focus area.

This process adopts the definition of Earth Observation a used in the Australian Earth Observation Community Plan – 2026 and by the Australian Earth Observation Community Coordination group: “Earth Observation — the suite of activities used to gather data about the earth from satellites, aircraft, remotely piloted systems, and other platforms.”

The two elements we were instructed to address are:

  • Enhanced capability in remotely sensed data infrastructure, including sensor and sensor networks, and calibration sites across Australia.
  • Enhanced capability to provide a wide range of new and innovative remotely sensed products and high quality field data to the research community, business, government and industry in real time.

A submission was provided to the Department of Education and Training and the basic details are outlined in the attached PDF.

A major part of this exercise was an inventory of EO research infrastructure and infrastructure used for research, the figures in this were very interesting with just over $150 million in initial major pa capital investment over the past 10 years.  We have tried to complete this as best we can, but acknowledge we may have missed items, apologies if we have. This is a first pass and when we do go forward with this, our first exercise will be to revisit the inventory and make sure it is complete.

We have placed a value  of approximately $15-25 million a year over 10 years to build this initial infrastructure up to specifically address the following  two priorities in the National Research Infrastructure Plan:

  • Enhanced capability in remotely sensed data infrastructure, including sensor and sensor networks, and calibration sites across Australia.
  • Enhanced capability to provide a wide range of new and innovative remotely sensed products and high quality field data to the research community, business, government and industry in real time.

Please note this is not a direct request for funds, nor have decisions been made about what will be funded and where the money may go. Nothing has been formally allocated to this. Once the government has finalised the National Research Infrastructure investment Plan we may have an opportunity to do this, and will engage the community again.

Thanks again for all of your help !

Stuart Phinn on behalf of the Submission team:  Alex Held (CSIRO), Jonathan Ross (Geoscience Australia), Cindy Ong (CSIRO), Tim Malthus (CSIRO), Edward King (CSIRO), Lyndon Llewellyn (AIMS), Karen Joyce (JCU), Agnes Lane (Bureau of Meteorology).