Geospatial Conference Returns to Sydney!

Excitement is building throughout the geospatial sector as the Geospatial Council of Australia’s (GCA) Locate conference returns to Sydney from 7 to 9 May 2024.

Well over 1,000 delegates will enjoy three days of presentations, panels, workshops and exhibits as they catch up on the latest developments in the field and network with colleagues old and new.

The venue will be the International Conference Centre (ICC) at Darling Harbour in the heart of the city. The ICC is a premium venue that conveniently combines conference and exhibition spaces in a single place, within easy reach of multiple modes of public transport. There’s also plenty of undercover parking available.

The conference will kick off on Tuesday, 7 May with 11 different workshop streams covering topics such as harnessing synthetic aperture radar for hazard monitoring, leveraging digital twins for local government, progress on the ICSM Cadastre 2034 project, hands-on satellite imagery training for NSW government agencies and councils, and many more.

The workshops will be followed by the official conference welcoming reception (canapes and drinks), beginning at 5:00 pm.

Plenary Program

The main program on the 8th and 9th of May will comprise four plenary sessions plus technical workshops and concurrent speaker sessions.

The opening plenary will be chaired by Kate Lundy, Chair/President of the GCA, who will unveil the highly anticipated ‘Economic Impact of Geospatial Information’ report. She will be joined by Narelle Underwood (NSW DCS Spatial Services), Martine Woolf (Geoscience Australia) and Paul Farrell (NGIS), who will present industry case studies.

The second plenary will focus on ethics and governance in the field of generative AI, with a panel of experts — featuring Ian Oppermann (Service Generation), John Valastro (Simplyai) and Prof. Fang Chen (UTS Data Science Institute) — to discuss the governance of AI and how it will affect the geospatial sector.

The third plenary, titled ‘Sustainable horizons: Integrating culture, community and environment for a brighter future,’ will bring together Prof. Deen Sanders (University of Newcastle), Carys Evans (Director Digital Twin Victoria, Department of Transport and Planning), Dyan Currie (Brisbane City Council) and Dr James Johnson (Geoscience Australia) to lend their expertise to a thought-provoking discussion on sustainable horizons, covering a diverse range of topics including indigenous mapping, smart cities, economic growth and sustainable development.

The fourth plenary will bring together leaders such as Brian Nicholls (Woolpert), Lisa Bush (Geoscience Australia), Dr Victor Khoo (Singapore Land Authority), Prof. Sisi Zlatanova (UNSW) and Tony Wheeler (GCA) to share their experiences, insights and applied learnings on how current and emerging geospatial programs, technologies and trends are shaping the future of geospatial ecosystems.

Substantial Sessions

As you’d expect, the Locate24 speaker program will see a who’s who of the Australian geospatial sector come together to provide overviews of developments across a wide variety of topics — GIS, surveying, hydrography, remote sensing, aerial imagery, LiDAR, 3D, BIM, PNT, spatial date and many more — all aimed at offering solutions to problems and challenges faced by the wider community.

We’re pleased to also announce that Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points have been officially approved for all Locate conference sessions and workshops. Enhance your professional expertise while engaging with the latest advancements in geospatial technology. For a full list of CPD point allocations visit

Here’s just a small selection to illustrate the range of the presentations on offer:

  • The value of PNT in underwriting Australia’s GDF — Martine Woolf (Geoscience Australia)
  • Extending your GIS toolkit for science and research — Dr Sharyn Hickey (UWA) and Jennah Williams (Esri Australia)
  • Faster, smarter, stronger disaster response — Ericka Martin (Planet Labs)
  • Spatial Vision’s Women in Spatial Program — Amanda Tyrer (Spatial Vision)
  • Transforming environmental monitoring with AI — Nathaniel Jeffrey and Dr Yang Chen (Department of Transport and Planning, Victoria)
  • Machine Learning to aid in bathymetric LiDAR data processing — Mick Hawkins (Fugro Australia)
  • Capturing history: Digital twin of heritage buildings — A/Prof. Zahra Gharineiat (UniSQ)
  • Automating building code compliance through integration of geospatial AI and BIM — Nikoo Mirhosseini (University of Melbourne)
  • How spatial is at the centre of smart places — Rory Brown (Transport for NSW)

The full program can be viewed and downloaded from

Community Conference

The convenor of this year’s conference is Narelle Underwood, Surveyor-General of NSW and Executive Director of NSW DCS Spatial Services. She has been working closely with the GCA as part of the Steering Committee and Program Committee.

“I think this will be my fifth Locate conference,” she says. “There’s a lot on offer across the three days — plenary sessions, workshops, technical presentations, panel discussions, the exhibition and the awards dinner.”

“Personally, the part I enjoy most is being able to network face to face with a wide variety of professionals from our industry from across Australia (and from overseas). Catching-up with people I’ve known for a long time and meeting new people — the conversations I have at Locate often lead to valuable collaborations.

“I always look forward to discovering the latest advancements in technology and methodologies that are shaping the industry. Things like innovative software tools, techniques for data collection and analysis, as well as best practices for improving efficiency and accuracy in our work.

“I love learning about the new applications that geospatial data is being applied to and the benefits it provides to the community.”

Underwood said the themes of plenary sessions highlight some of the main challenges and opportunities facing the geospatial sector.

On the economic value of geospatial information, she says that “We’re often the silent enablers of outcomes that have significant impact or provide beneficial outcomes for clients and the community. But we’re not always the best at articulating our impact and celebrating our success. This session will be an opportunity to share the research, reflect on the findings and consider how we can continue to grow the value of the geospatial section in Australia.”

The same goes for ethics and the governance of AI. “Every area of society is being impacted by AI and there are lots of opportunities to address the national skills shortage in the geospatial sector and improve productivity through AI,” she says. “The NSW Government is integrating the NSW AI Assurance Framework with the NSW Digital Assurance Framework to ensure that our state is leading when it comes to AI and project standards.”

“I’m keen to hear from the industry and academic experts on how organisations should be thinking about AI and how AI will impact the geospatial sector into the future.”

She’s also keen on the value of integrating culture, community and environment for a brighter future. “How can we use geospatial data to address global challenges at a local scale and build a more sustainable future?” she asks.

Economic Impact

Kate Lundy, Chair/President of the GCA, says that Locate24 will “give us all the opportunity to reconnect, reflect, learn, collaborate and inspire”.

“Geospatial is a sector that grows in relevance and size every day as the ongoing digital transformation of our society and economy reaches deeply into every part of our lives,” she says. “Geospatial information helps us understand what is happening in, and to, the world around us.”

Lundy says the conference represents the perfect opportunity for the GCA to discuss its strategic priorities in pursuit of this purpose with members and stakeholders.

“The Geospatial Council continues to adapt and respond to the needs of our business and professional members. To guide our priorities, we have updated our strategic plan which articulates our purpose: to sustain a vital, diverse and thriving geospatial community for the benefit of the nation,” she says.

With regard to the report on the economic contribution of the geospatial sector to Australia, which will be launched Locate24, she says “Telling the story of the geospatial sector and its enormous impact on so many facets of everyday life is a key objective of this study. Helping the sector be recognised by the community and decision-makers for its profound impact and relevance is one of the GCA’s strategic objectives, building geospatial industry recognition in Australia.”

“I am also really pleased that the GCA has adopted a comprehensive Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy to augment our efforts to make participation in the geospatial sector even more appealing. You can find it on the GCA website,” she adds.

Awards, Exhibition and Registration

Of course, a highlight of the conference will be the presentation of the annual Geospatial Excellence Awards, which will take place during the Gala Dinner on the evening of 8 May. The Awards are an opportunity for the sector to acknowledge the work done by individuals and teams across the land, recognising excellence and commitment to the greater good.

Categories range from students to future leaders, community impact and international partnerships, and many more (see Tickets for the Dinner and Awards can be booked during the conference registration process at

Indeed, registrations are now fully open, with a range of options and pricings available for individuals and groups, including special rates for students and young professionals — see the aforementioned registration page for full details.

Finally, don’t forget the Locate Exhibition, which will feature dozens of product and service providers, large and small, each of which will be displaying their latest offerings and with experts on hand to answer any questions. The Exhibition will be open to all full delegates, plus casual attendees will be able to explore it free of charge from 12:30 pm until 4:30 pm on Tuesday, 7 May (although registration will still be required).

“There are so many benefits to attending Locate,” says Underwood. “The conference provides professional development and an excellent opportunity to stay informed about the latest trends and developments in the geospatial sector. Locate24 will be a great place to collaborate, share knowledge, and learn from each other’s experiences. This can help improve communication and cooperation across the industry, leading to greater efficiencies and innovation.”

Lundy agrees. “I am really excited to hear about technical developments in digital twins, applied AI/machine learning and sensor interoperability. However, it is people who sit at the heart of technology and its uses, so most importantly, I am keen to hear more about the skills pathways, career promotion and future workforce. I hope to see you at Locate24!”

In summary, Locate24 promises to be a fabulously enjoyable and informative event, bringing the community together for its annual celebration of the fundamental and vital role geospatial plays in our modern world. Make sure you don’t miss it – registrations still open at

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