Chair’s Message – SSI Qld Journal Jan07

From the Chair, Spatial Sciences Institute Queensland.
Welcome to the January 2007 edition of the Spatial Sciences Institute (SSI) Queensland Journal. Hope the festive season went well and that your new year resolutions are still intact.

2006 – Recognition
Last year was a year that inspired many to commit their efforts to your professional body, the Spatial Sciences Institute. It was also a year that continued to see the Queensland region grow from strength to strength. Membership in the preceeding six months alone saw our Qld membership grow another 5%. Much of this I put to the efforts of our young professionals (YPs) and committed Committee members who continue to reach out into their communities and forge new lasting relations with allied professionals.

Last year’s end of year function was indicative of the inclusive nature of our Institute and how pervasive the need for spatial information is throughout our society. The function was opened with a debate on a hypothetical question – where to locate Queensland’s nuclear power station? It turned into a lively discussion with many sectors of our society effectively represented by participants – while a panel of ‘experts’ provided some very thought provoking comments. Congratulations to all concerned, the event showed how diverse the understandings are within our professions and the talents that we have in providing both insightful perspectives and sense of wit on such a topical issue.

Last years closing function also gave us the opportunity to recognise the many individuals that exemplify our work and our committment to one another. I was honoured to announce that four of our Queensland members were accepted by the Institute’s Professional Board to be admitted as Fellows of the Spatial Sciences Institute (FSSI). This is a high recognition for both the individuals themselves and our Qld region. I would encourage that when these deserving peoples are noted at your local events, you applaud them with the same exuberance and respect as they were at this function. I also recommend that you look out into your networks and gauge the respective contributions of your peers. We, by nature are a quiet breed, not seeking accollades, however it is important that the leadership skills we have amongst us are promoted, that we promote to the public the achievements we have made in providing services to their communities. Look at your peers and consider nominating them to the SSI Qld Office, we welcome such recognition.

In addition to recogonising our new Fellows we also awarded those who have contributed to our Journal, those who have shared their learnings with us. Congratulations to the winners of last years prize for Best Article and thankyou to the voluntary Editorial Committee that have done a brilliant job in providing this valued service to the membership. Contributions to our Journal are always welcome so please put pen to paper if you have something to share with your fellow spatial professionals.

2007 – Communication
Your SSI Qld Committees are already at work preparing for the challenging year ahead – contributing and discussing many ideas on how to best increase services to you. While recently reviewing the Institute’s Strategic Plan for 2006-2010 (available at, it was encouraging to note that many of the elements within it are already being addressed here in Qld. I invite each of you to review the Plan yourselves and provide suggestions on how we could achieve our vision statement – to be ‘the voice and the place for spatial information professionals’.

The internet is to become an important media for the delivery of our services to you. The Institute has recently finalised contractual agreements to implemet a new web-based membership database. A database that promises to provide efficiencies for the Institute’s staff and control to its members. Some of the many tasks the database will perform will include a secure interface to services such as online registration to events and online viewing or editing of personal profiles.

With the implementation of the new database will be a revamped Institution-wide website. A new website that will facilitate the dessemination of up-to-date information pertinent to your interests as well as providing technologies where you can actively participate in the Institute’s decision-making processes. If you are interested in being apart of this exciting initiative please contact either myself or the SSI Qld Office – an office that is now ‘Wiki aware’ and embracing these new community-based web technologies.

As I said in my debut message in November’s edition, “The year ahead will be challenging. We need to maintain our strong growth and to foster our inclusive culture”. This year has already seen our open values grasped by allied professions. We now have official liasion with the Australian Computer Society (ACS) and plans are being discussed to deliver professional development opportunities that will address issues of concern and interest for members of both Professional bodies.

A focus for SSI Qld this year will be in fostering relations between Towngroups and their local communities. Many of the Towngroups in our Northern and Central Group Regions already embody these strong relationships, mutually providing resources and learnings with both one another and their respective communities. The SSI Qld Communication plan seeks to emulate these bonds, to strengthen relations between the Towngroups, and relations with their local schools and organisations, particularly in SEQ. The SSI Qld Office will play a major role in coordinating these activities and in keeping you better informed on the needs within your areas by having liasion with the Qld Spatial Information Council (QSIC) Education Working Group. It is our intent to have the spatial industry build stronger relationships within society, providing support, advice and mentorship to our children (and their teachers). I strongly recommend you consider getting involved in this rewarding initiative and provide your support to the children who are showing interest in our industry. Contact the SSI Qld Office and we will put you in touch with the people who will appreciate your help. It is very rewarding when I see students involved in new spatial studies and projects that I have personally helped develop with my local school.

The years ahead
I see the years ahead as exciting, we have the wisdom of our ‘wise ones’ and the energy of our YP’s to carry through. An important action in this process however is the need to continually promote ourselves. There are many people who actively promote our wonderful industry. December saw an exciting launch of “Surveying Queensland 1839-1945: A Pictorial History” by Bill Kitson and Judith McKay. The book launch by the Governor of Queensland was attended by many dignitaries from the surveying and spatial industry, Government Departments, Queensland Museum and families of people recognised in the book. Surveyors are the unsung heroes of the European settlement of Queensland. They explored new territories, blazed paths for communications, laid out towns, marked property boundaries, mapped land and sea and defined Queensland’s borders. As men of learning, surveyors also played a leading role in science, culture and government. The labours and achievements of the State’s early surveyors are recognised in this timely and fitting tribute, based on many years of research by Bill Kitson, one of Queensland’s best known surveyors, particularly for his love of history. The book is richly illustrated and many photographs are shown here for the first time.

I for one, see the ‘Surveying Queensland’ publication as a foundation for Spatial Science professionals (and hobbyists) to publicise and highlight our leadership and contributions to society. With Queensland’s 150 year Celebrations occuring in 2009, we have three years ahead of us where we can promote our achievements towards making Queensland what it is today. For each township where we live, we can highlight how the old and the new learnings and technologies of our profession have contributed to our town’s economies. This story can be told time and time again, not only for the early years, but for the recent, current and future years. Our skills were requred then, are now and will be tomorrow. We have the opportunity to sell ourselves, to inform society that their position is often due to the skills and leadership of their spatial industry professionals. The SSI Qld office would be happy to hear of your thoughts and to help coordinate and resource any stories in association with the Queensland Spatial Information Council (QSIC).

The Institute’s own International Conference is only months away – May in Tasmania is a refreshing time of year. The Spatial Sciences Institute International Biennial Conference 2007 is themed: The Spatial Sciences Revolution – Powering the Information Generation and will be one of the main highlights of the SSI calendar. Located in Hobart, Tasmania, the program will offer a wide selection of local, national and international keynote and invited speakers. As per past SSI Conferences, a variety of half and full day workshops will be available prior to the conference program. Poster presentations will also play a key role in the scientific program. So for those of you who are still adventurous, wishing to learn more of what our industry offers or simply wish to enjoy networking with new and old friends, get prepared for a pleasant visit to our southern most capital.

In 2010, Australia will host the next International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) Congress in Sydney. The international organisation now uses a broad definition of Surveyor so in reality this conference will encompass all the spatial science fields. There were many Queenslanders at the recent FIG 2006 Congress in Munich who showcased some of our spatial industry and promoted the Sydney Congress. I would like to invite Queensland Spatial Scientists to be aware of and to get involved in this huge event, it will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the Australian and Queensland spatial industry to the world.

Our future is undoubtedly our Young Professionals (YP’s), as long as their committment to our profession is strong, the spatial sciences will continue to prosper. It is then encouraging to see our YP’s enthusiastically continuing their strong involvement in promoting the Spatial Sciences through interactions at High Schools and Universities as well as supporting recent graduates joining the workforce. On the back of successful involvement with schools, the YP’s have been working closely with Education Queensland in supporting events such as the Spatial Technologies in Schools (STiS) Hypothetical workshop. Our YP’s will again be attending the highly successful Tertiary Studies Expo (TSXPO) as well as organising many new and exciting events during 2007. The YP’s are also continuing to support university students and recent graduates through presentations such as “Effective Communications” and “Financial Success” workshops, mentoring programs, university site visits and many social opportunities to network with other young professionals (and “Wise Ones”) in the spatial industry. In addition, our YPs are active in promoting our Industry’s heritage, they are currently planning a tour of the Queensland Survey Museum – hosted by Mr Bill Kitson – to illustrate to the next generation of spatial professionals the footsteps of there predecessors. I see our YPs as the refreshing faces of the new spatial sciences, an active bunch of people quick to promote our Industry to others, and if you are a young professional, I would encourage you to get in contact with the YPs and attend some of the wonderful events they put on. The Christmas Bowls function saw a big group of YPs networking and having a great time. Also for the not-so-Young Professionals like myself, the YPs tell me that we are always welcome to attend functions and to network with them – our learnings may yet have a receptive audience.

Our Future
In closing I would like to share with you a story that the Principal of my local primary school gave to over 450 excited Year 7 students, dignitaries and proud parents at last years graduation ceremony. It is a story that could not only guide the new year resolutions we may have, but also exemplifies our profession. She opened by saying how she was one of many in our society who was “spatially handicapped” (verbatim), always having difficulty trying to go to meetings in parts of the city that she had not been to before. Then on a recent trip to the other side of town, she found herself in a car that had a black box – a car navigation system equipped with a GPS. She spoke of how she followed the instructions and set her intended destination on the instrument panel and how, at first, she was concerned about following voice commands such as ‘turn left 100 meters ahead’ being broadcast from the box. However it was not long before she had gained trust in the instrument and was confident on making her meeting on time. Then while speeding along the freeway the instrument says ‘turn right 100 meters ahead’. She misses her turnoff and anxiety sets in. She looks at the instrument for guidance and sees lights flashing all over the panel (I think the worse for our lot). But instead of giving-up, the black box calmly responds with ‘I see you have just missed your turn, I am now recalculating a new route to your destination’. In short time the instrument responds with new directions to her destination and her confidence in reaching her goal was re-established. The School Principal then went on to advise the young graduates, who were about to embark on the their next educational journey into high school, of the importance to set goals – whether it be 1 month, 1 year or 1 decade ahead – and to trust the guidance of their personal GPS (Guiding Parental Support) which will continue to be there to recalculate and advise on the best known route to their destination.

To me the story epitomizes our profession as a leader in society, guiding others to reach their goals. Surveyors are recognized as the pioneers of our country, who led parties into new frontiers and/or became leaders of their township. Today, new spatial technologies are providing directions for our societies to reach their goals. As noted earlier in the article, the Institute recently published its Strategic Plan, defining its goals for the next 3 years. The Institute’s goals are important as they inform members (and the public) of what the Institute represents and where it is heading. At the Qld Regional level it is our task to calculate ways to reach those goals and to implement proposed plans. But to get to our goals requires more than just knowing our destination and calculating the best route. It requires drivers to take us there. It requires resources and troops to support us. Without your support for the Institute we cannot make it to our destination. Over the coming year the Qld Regional Committee will continue to open up its communication channels to you, the 880 strong Qld contingent; to keep you informed of the routes we are navigating. I ask that if you can see other paths that can be followed or wish to help drive on to our destinations please let us know, communicate back to us and participate in securing the visions of your professional body.

As one of my fellow surf life saving volunteers once said – “we are a voluntary band of workers, if you see something that needs to be done, take the initiative, and do it”.

Tom Taranto
Chair SSI Qld


One Response to “Chair’s Message – SSI Qld Journal Jan07”

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