Innovative flood portal gets funding to target Queensland regions

The developer of a super-speed online flood information portal that has been hailed as a big success in the Lockyer Valley is one of 21 Queensland firms to share in $2.4 million as part of the Queensland Government’s recent Ignite Ideas Fund round 8. 

Brighton-based Spatial Innovation Pty Ltd received $78,000 in Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas funding to market their Flood Information Portal to regional and rural councils. 

Spatial Innovation specialises in spatial technologies – using digital mapping tools to turn geographic data from a wide range of sources into valuable online products. 

The company developed the portal initially for Lockyer Valley Regional Council, which engaged the company last year. 

The council had developed an award-winning manual flood information system following the 2011 floods to help people buying and developing properties in the area by giving them the information they need to ensure their investments are safe.  

On average the council receives around 250 flood-based enquiries each year, with council staff taking hours to process each request, and a turnaround time for clients of about 22 days. 

The council wanted something that was quicker and easier. So they turned to Spatial Innovation, which came up with an automated online system providing up-to-date and detailed flood information on properties in the Lockyer Valley in seconds. 

The portal is a real game-changer, particularly for businesses and residents in regional areas, with the capacity to provide much more in-depth information than currently available, helping people make key decisions about land-use. 

Given the success in the Lockyer Valley, the firm is now planning to on-sell to other councils in Queensland. 

This has become particularly pertinent following the major flooding event in South East Queensland in February 2022, with the risk of more frequent major flooding events accentuated by Climate Change. The United Nations-convened Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said the recent one-in-100 year flood in Australia could occur several times a year because of global warming. 

In fact, the recent flooding event was the second one-in-100 year flood in 11 years in south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales. 

According to Queensland Treasury, the damage bill from the 2022 floods will be more than $2.5 billion. 

In effect, what Spatial Innovation offers is an example of what we mean by climate adaptation – the development of key technologies to help us adapt to our changing environment. 

Spatial Innovation Managing Director Victor Nicholls said the firm began building their mapping system in 2016 after research identified a gap in the market. 

Mr Nicholls said of Queensland’s 77 councils, none had a system that delivered on key customer requirements including flood queries of specific points, automated report generation, and integration to council systems. 

“Some councils offer limited flood information, directing people to contact them for a manual report if more information is required. The information provided is often limited to a single flood layer and does not take into account that flooding events are not all the same.  

“For example, on larger rural properties, flood impacts can vary widely within the same lot – this type of detailed information is not readily available.” 

Mr Nicholls said the company’s initial target market was Queensland councils, but the aim was to go out to the broader Australian market – 537 councils – as well as ultimately target the USA with 3243 regional authorities. 

“Income is based on establishing the portal and then ongoing service support. Within five years, we hope to employ an additional 20 people.” 

Advance Queensland’s Ignite Ideas Fund supports Queensland based small-to-medium businesses to undertake commercialisation projects, create new jobs and launch into national and global markets. 

It helps Queensland businesses take their products and services to the next level, tap into new markets and attract new investment. 

It supports businesses from tourism, agriculture and advanced manufacturing to virtual reality and renewable energy to take on the world. 

The latest Round 8 funding will generate more than 100 new jobs in Queensland and includes a marine drone designed to save lives at sea, Artificial Intelligence technology that can do mine and major infrastructure inspections in a fraction of the time and cost of current manual inspections, and a robotic system that can pick and pack vegetables and fruit in minutes. 

The Ignite Ideas Fund program has awarded almost $48 million over eight rounds to more than 385 Queensland businesses. 

Last updated 14 Jun, 2022
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