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Australia’s datum is changing.

Australia will soon be changing to the Geocentric Datum of Australia 2020 (GDA2020) to bring its coordinates into line with those from global satellite positioning systems. The change not only affects the spatial sector, such as surveyors, but applies to all users of location-based data. Industries that use location-based data may need to transition their own systems and processes to support GDA2020 data.

Australia sits on one of the earth’s fastest moving tectonic plates and by 2020 there will be an error of approximately 1.8 m between a location’s GDA94 coordinates (the current standard) and its coordinates from global satellite positioning systems. This is because the GDA94 datum is plate-fixed and moves with the Australian continent whereas global satellite positioning system coordinates are fixed to the centre of the earth.

The transition to GDA2020 is being facilitated by the Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping (ICSM) and Geoscience Australia. South Australian government agencies are working together to ensure a collaborative approach and are planning to implement GDA2020 as the operational datum for South Australia in the first quarter of 2019.

South Australian government mineral and energy legislation, policies and guidelines will be updated where they refer to an older datum or coordinate system. Progress will be reported under ‘Latest Updates’ on the Minerals and Petroleum websites as we complete testing of our systems and databases.

For all suppliers and users of South Australian government spatial data, a session ‘Are you ready for GDA2020?’ will be held at the annual Spatial Information Day (SIDx2018) on Friday 26 October 2018 at the Adelaide Hilton. Register via the conference website.

More information

– Iain Campbell and Peter Buxton, October 2018

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