Adelaide Airport GIS takes flight

Geographic Information System (GIS) used to prevent bird strikes
An aerial GIS map of Adelaide Airport showing the number of silver gulls in the area.

An aerial GIS map of Adelaide Airport showing the number of silver gulls in the area.

Air traffic controllers at Adelaide Airport are using a new system to track birds flying over the airport in an attempt to prevent them straying into the path of oncoming planes.

The airport has partnered with location intelligence company, Esri Australia, to implement Geographic Information System (GIS) technology into its wildlife hazard management program.

GIS draws on 20 years of bird strike data collected by the airport’s staff to generate real-time digital maps of bird congregation over the site.

According to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, most bird strikes in Australia occur within five kilometres of airports.

Adelaide Airport environment officer, Renae Eden, said in a statement that before it introduced GIS, bird census and bird strike reporting involved lots of paper-based maps.

“Having to look through all of our data and compare it with the maps was a very time-consuming process and didn’t provide us with a real-time map of what was actually occurring across the airport as far as bird populations and bird strikes were concerned,” she said.

“Now, once we enter the data in the GIS, we can produce real-time maps, which make it easier to examine where bird populations have moved over subsequent seasons.”

According to Eden, the bird mapping tool means staff can be proactive rather than reactive, and mitigate hazards before they occur. It also uses the GIS to map stormwater monitoring points and fuel spill kit locations.

Eden said that using the GIS had been so successful that the airport is into towards expanding it beyond managing wildlife.

“For example, we’d like to get to the point where if the property department wants to develop a particular area, they can view the map and see information regarding contamination issues, biodiversity or heritage values on the site,” Eden said.

In October this year, Esri Australia implemented GIS technology at Perth Airport to map new areas of development.

The company also won a contract last year with the government agency, VicRoads, to measure what areas of roading need maintaining in Victoria using an application called Connect Maps.

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