49. Geospatial Friday - Something IoT should know

 
 

THE SHIFTING CONTINENT

Have you ever wondered why Australia is sometimes referred to as 'Straylia? If so you’re not alone - especially since the question is becoming increasingly relevant to world of IoT.

To Stray: "to go in a direction that is away from a group or from the place where you should be" (Miriam-Webster)

According to the New York Times the Lucky Country's continental landmass is moving away from where it should be. The reason is due to tectonic movement: the Australian continental (like all others) is floating on a tectonic plate which is slowly moving over a layer of the earth's upper mantle. What's more, the Australian plate, due to its unique geology is moving at one of the fastest rates on the planet - about 2.7 inches a year - almost three times the rate of the North American plate.

 
 

"BIG DEAL...RIGHT?"

As mentioned above, plate tectonics is somewhat more relevant to the technology professional than it was in the pre-IoT Age. Many IoT systems and next generation technologies rely on coordinate systems which are accurate to millimetre precision and tectonic movement is something which should be considered carefully.

Automated transport systems of the future will need to understand and navigate routes and networks which consist of linear, point and polygon geospatial data. If these datasets are not located in the exact right spot on the earth's surface then fears about the safety of automated transport will become even more justified. Meanwhile, in other increasingly automated industries such as natural resources and agriculture users will need accurate locational information if the benefits of precision tools are to be reaped.

Built in sensors and AI judgement software will most certainly have their work cut out if a driverless car ends up on a Sydney footpath!

 
 

"NO WORRIES MATE"

At the rate of just inches per year, tectonic movement is unlikely to lead to international territorial disputes between neighbouring countries any time soon. Nevertheless, the urgent need to address this continental shift is one which is well recognised in countries such as Australia. According to the Times, Geoscience Australia, the agency responsible for the national datum and coordinate system, has made four such adjustments in the past 50 years - previously in 1994 (by a whopping 656 feet) and next in the coming months when it will be adjusted by a more manageable 4.9 feet.

 
 

AN ALTERNATIVE THEORY

Of course there is another theory about why Australia is moving in the northerly direction that it is. Rugby fans previously suggested that the continent is distancing itself from Australia's biggest rival, the All Blacks. However, thanks to improved results by the Wallabies in recent years this theory has been discounted and tectonic shift is deemed to be a more likely explanation.

'Straylia mate.