Posted by Davina Jackson on 7 Dec 2012

Michael Haines, CEO of VANZI Ltd.

Melbourne logistics specialist Michael Haines is seeking investors in VANZI Ltd, a not-for-profit unlisted public company intended to broker development of computer modelling for all property-related activities across Australia and New Zealand.

Registered with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) in July 2009, his company Board is chaired by the CEO of the University of Melbourne-based Co-operative Research Centre for Spatial Information, Peter Woodgate. Other Board members include Bill Appelbe, David Platt, Stuart Cole, Melanie Plumb and John Mitchell.

Hosting a Sydney workshop attended by more than 70 stakeholders in July 2012, Haines said of the VANZI Ltd mission: ‘Imagine a complete virtual model of everything you can see, and every structural element you can’t see, modelled at engineering scale across the whole city, including all underground services.

‘The cost to capture and model some of this data is falling to near zero, with free iPad apps already available to produce photo-realistic 3D models from a series of 2D pictures.  … VANZ aims to extend this capability across the whole built environment by integrating building information modelling (BIM) with geographic information systems (GIS) – like Google Earth but in 3D – to place each building in its spatial context.

‘By adding regulatory overlays, it allows everyone to understand what rights and obligations attach to the property and to highlight regulatory clashes. It also enables stakeholders to collaborate to achieve better, quicker outcomes at less cost and with less risk, by showing proposals in their ‘real world’ context.’

Haines, a former CEO of Westgate Ports, recently helped to broker an allocation of $A800,000 by the University of Melbourne-based Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN) towards research on modelling freight and logistics at Westgate: a project earlier involving researchers at NICTA. AURIN also allocated another $A800,000 to geospatial researchers led by Professor Abbas Rajabifard at the University of Melbourne.

These moves by VANZI Ltd appear to be supported by the Property Council of Australia, which collaborates with other groups promoting ‘sustainable built environments’. Until recently, they were resisting proposals for new research organisations to apply geospatial technologies to urban development challenges.

In late 2008, NICTA funded and launched in Sydney ‘a national and global digital cities research network’.  But it promptly abandoned two specific proposals for ANZ cities research organisations – under pressure from its stakeholders  including the CRC Spatial Information, leaders of its partner universities QUT and UNSW, state and Commonwealth government officials and Ministers, and groups related to the Property Council.

A proposed Data Cities Research Alliance was to have included NICTA, the CSIRO and all other major directly funded Australian research organisations, as well as Canberra managers of the CRCs Association and Universities Australia.

Another NICTA funded concept, for a multi-university Eco Cities Research Agency to replace three overlapping urban development CRCs then at QUT, was abandoned in favour of the CRC Spatial Information’s second funding bid and a UNSW-based CRC for Low-Carbon Cities.

A competing CRC bid – on Designing Cities and Regional Communities, proposed by RMIT and UTS with other universities – failed to win funding approval from the CRCs Committee, chaired by Neville Stevens, who also chairs NICTA and ac3, the NSW government data storage centre.