Reading today’s Spatial Business News (NO 368 (Vol 15, Issue 24) 27 November 2009; www.positionmag.com.au) an interesting article caught my eye regarding the closed door approach to the spatial industry by the NSW government. An annual spatial summit held in NSW, it was surprising to read that the private sector was held out from attending let alone exhibiting at the summit.
Engagement with the private sector and the building of public/private partnerships is one of the most important undertakings that a leading spatial government department can encourage. Taken from examples all over the world, most prominently the Ordnance Survey’s Partnership programs (http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/partnerships/) and Australia’s own SLIP Dev elopers Program, led by Landgate (https://www2.landgate.wa.gov.au/slip/portal/focus/partners.html), partnerships are necessary to identify new product offerings and how they relate to current issues, be innovative and foster close working relationships to leverage expertise where needed.
The issue with the NSW Spatial Summit seems to be that any number of new initiatives “could” have been discussed as well as other issues that are prevalent throughout agencies in areas such as data capture, maintenance, dissemination and integration. Call me a fool but one would think that just hearing about these issues could allow for the private sector to engage with the public to sort it out. I look forward to reading the summit proceedings when they are published although when that happens is anyone’s guess.
Engagement and fostering a healthy public/private relationships is included in any number of articles and discussions papers and is one of my main tasks working for a leading land agency in Australia. Just have a look through the ANZLIC (Australian New Zealand Spatial Information Council) about-us page (http://www.anzlic.org.au/about_partners.html) and it is detailed with information on how partnerships are necessary to drive the industry. SIBA (Spatial Industries Business Association: http://www.spatialbusiness.org/) is also a prominent body who partner and represent a large number of organizations and foster close working relationships across the public and private sectors. We could even go into the areas of the CRC-SI (http://www.crcsi.com.au/) and the Gov 2.0 Taskforce but I could be here for ages.
So the question remains, why in this day and age would state government agencies be closed minded on moving this industry into the future? The NSW Spatial Summit organizers claim (according to the news press) that it was the first time that local and state government agencies had an opportunity to talk to one another. If this is the case then it seems that something is fishy in NSW where no one has had a chance to discuss issues between departments. Perhaps we all need to take a closer look at the WALIS framework in WA (http://www.walis.wa.gov.au/) and where the recent WALIS Forum saw the private sector in a dedicated stream discussing new innovative offerings which was very well received by the audience.
The lessons here is that government cannot pretend to know everything and they certainly can’t maintain this guise of having to do everything 100% of the time. Identify the issues, engage and innovate and we can all move forward into the future confident that the spatial sector will lead on the front foot.