The introduction of smartphones and devices over the last decade has revolutionized the lives of billions across the globe, meaning that people now have vast amounts of data and information available at their fingertips instantly. Phone devices are no longer simple devices used to make calls and send text messages, instead they are heavily relied upon to deliver accurate information.

From Google to Apple News, individuals across the globe expect answers to all their questions and concerns, no matter how simple or complex.

However, when comparing this to the construction industry expectations differ immensely, with a 1.8 meter margin of error being the norm for most builders. Quick, accurate information online is no longer the case, with the majority of builders noticing inaccurate information in mapping systems when evaluating properties, and it’s all due to continental shift.

To put it simply, the movement of the earth makes construction a little bit tricky. . .

So, how does it work?

Every country has its own datum used to identify locations through points of latitude and longitude. Locations in Australia are defined using the Geocentric Datum of Australia 1994, otherwise referred to as GDA94. Simply, there are fixed latitude and longitude coordinates along the plate which allow for navigation, pinpointing an exact location.

However, with Australia sitting on the Indo-Australian Plate – the world’s fastest moving tectonic plate, the continent continues to shift at a rapid pace. Over the span of one year, the Indo-Australian Plate causes Australia to shift approximately seven centimeters, thus meaning in the last twenty six years since GDA94, Australia has shifted 1.8 meters. 

When using satellite imaging, it is evident that the properties have shifted in comparison to the mapping system. This is because of the 1.8 meter error experienced, making it difficult for companies, with builders being a prime example, to generate accurate reports on properties.  This is captured in the image below, whereby the mapping application does not line up with the boundaries of the property. The image depicted displays the 1.8 meter error explained, and it’s probably something you have noticed before.

Unlike most technology, mapping systems used in the construction field fail to provide accurate answers when utilising GDA94. However, since technology is constantly improving in society with the heavy reliance upon the growing market of self driving cars and automated machinery, it is essential that accurate geographical data is utilized when looking at the earth, culminating in the creation of GDA2020.

As time has progressed a new official datum data was released; GDA2020, which is already being used by applications such as Canibuild. GDA2020 utilises coordinates that are fixed to the centre of the earth, providing a more accurate reading as opposed to GDA94, meaning that Australia’s continental shift is no longer an issue. Image two depicts this, where the same property is now lining up with the mapping system through the use of GDA2020

Canibuild is an example of an application that has started using GDA2020 after the realisation of the inaccuracy of GDA94. Essentially, builders and clients can view properties on an accurate mapping system, that once again reduced the margin for error. This permits builders to analyse any property within Australia and it’s feasibility for a new structure.

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