Hinchinbrook’s collaborative GIS venture

Since 1996 Hinchinbrook Shire Council in Far North Queensland has been an integral partner in the Herbert Resource Information Centre (HRIC).

Based in Ingham, the HRIC is a not for profit collaborative community based partnership which provides access to Geographic Information System (GIS) tools, information and expertise for decision makers in the Herbert River Catchment. It is recognised as the premier collaborative GIS venture in Australia.

“The centre provides an economy of scale for GIS services, and a service oriented, objective and collaborative capacity supporting our whole community,” said Hinchinbrook Shire’s CEO Robert Clark. “We have attracted national and international interest, with many regions across Australia now trying to establish similar operations.”

HRIC substantially assists in the sustainability and viability of Hinchinbrook’s local sugar industry, its major commercial industry worth in excess of $250 million annually, through the provision of better information for improved decision making.

In 2008 the HRIC won the Sugar Research and Development Corporation Innovation Award for an innovative solution to a complex problem, the significance and magnitude of the benefit to the Australian sugarcane industry and the extent of teamwork and collaboration undertaken to achieve results.

In a recent development, the centre has released a web based Enterprise GIS.

The web based system accepts information in real time from the field, allowing property owners to map their own pests and weeds, and makes GIS data available via the web in a secure and managed environment.

“This system is world class, because it connects business information systems across organisational boundaries through extensive ‘firewalls,’ including making expensive GIS software available across the internet,” Robert Clark said.

“This is only possible through extensive cooperation and collaboration.”

The HRIC has led to better informed decisions and synergistic planning in resource management in Hinchinbrook Shire with all organisations ‘working from the same page’.

The new web based Enterprise GIS solution, for example, is the information management system for precision farming systems in the area.

It will enable farmers and landholders to significantly reduce the amount of fertiliser applied while retaining and even increasing productivity, leading to a healthier Great Barrier Reef.

For further information contact Robert Clark on (07) 4776 4600.