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Faculty of Asian and International Studies
Griffith University Nathan QLD 4111 (Brisbane), Australia

The Australian Centre of the Asian Spatial Information and Analysis Network (ACASIAN) was established as an Allied Centre in the Faculty of Asian and International Studies, Griffith University, in mid-1993 in order to fulfil the University's leading role in the Spatial Information Infrastructure for Asian Studies in Australia (SIIASA) consortium.

The Asian Spatial Information and Analysis Network (ASIAN) consists of designated academic units at the twenty-two Unified National System Institutions in the present SIIASA Project1. Since 1992, nearly one and a quarter million dollars has been obtained under Australian Research Council Infrastructure Grant Programs to establish and maintain SIIASA, which has the goal of providing academic researchers throughout the Australian university system with access to elaborate Geographical Information Systems (GIS) spatio-temporal databases covering all of East, Southeast, and South Asian countries.

A companion project, the Spatial Information Infrastructure for Russian and Central Euro-Asian Studies in Australia (SIIRCEASA), has also been supported by the ARC with nearly a quarter of a million dollars in Research Infrastructure funding in 1994 and 1995, and is producing comparable GIS databases for the entire former Soviet Union for use by its consortium of nine Australian Universities2.

The Australian Centre of ASIAN (ACASIAN) at Griffith University has also received substantial support from the University's Major Research Facilities Fund and from the Faculty of Asian and International Studies. As a result, is a major GIS research facility. It operates three UNIX workstations and a dozen or so networked PCs, along with a full-scale scanner and plotter. In addition to ARC/INFO in the UNIX environment and MapInfo on the PCs, the full suite of Intergraph's MGE software is available in both UNIX and Windows NT, while ORACLE is the major RDBMS employed. Economical and highly accurate spatial data capture methodologies have been developed and are employed by Centre staff in generating spatial data in MircoStation using ProVec, Scanfix and other utilities produced by Abakos Digital Images.

The major accomplishments of ACASIAN are the production of large amounts of very high quality spatial data covering most of Asia. Apart from the China GIS Project, the emphasis for other Asian countries has been the capture of low-level administrative boundaries matching recent census enumerations, which are fitted to the Digital Chart of the World (DCW - a 1:1m digital base map). As with China, when data for more than one census return is available for any country, changes to the matching administrative systems are incorporated into a sophisticated spatio-temporal database design. Such databases are completed or in an advanced stage of preparation for all of Southeast Asia and Mongolia, whereas those for Korea, Japan, and the South Asian countries as far west as the Persian Gulf are scheduled for production in 1997.

The same plan has been implemented in The Russian Federation and Former Soviet Republics GIS Project undertaken in conjunction with the Laboratory of Cartography, Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, with SIIRCEASA support.


The purpose of the SIIASA and SIIRCEASA Projects is the support of academic research in Australia utilising computerised maps and spatial databases for the analysis of geographically distributed attribute data, whether they are demographic, social, economic, environmental or of any other kind. GIS technology allows map features to be associated with disaggregated attribute data which can then be analysed in terms of their geographical contexts and spatial relations. Although not yet widely appreciated outside of geography and some related disciplines, the GIS approach has the potential to revolutionise academic research methodology in most of the social sciences and is becoming an essential tool in environmental research of all kinds.


The key to the SIIASA and SIIRCEASA Projects is the inclusion of low level administrative boundaries in the GIS databases; and those matching recent census enumerations are a priority. In addition to such demographic data, other statistics are usually available for the same administrative divisions, often in prodigious amounts as in the case of China. Historical data of interest exists at the county level for China going back well over 1000 years, while historical changes in other Asian countries and the former Soviet Union can be documented with statistically useful information for at least 50 years and in many cases for several centuries. Therefore, a time dimension to the SIIASA and SIIRCEASA databases is essential, and a database design that includes temporal as well as spatial referencing has been developed and is being implemented.


As the inclusion of spatial contexts and relations is essential for many development projects and promises to revolutionise socio-political and econometric research, it would be surprising if clients outside of Australian Universities do not become increasingly dependant on analyses derived from the SIIASA and SIIRCEASA databases by the Asian Spatial Information and Analysis Network.

SIIASA and SIIRCEASA spatial information and analysis is being marketed in order to support continued academic operations. As a result, the combined expertise of dozens if not hundreds of academics at all of Australia's major universities where significant research activity in Asian Studies and the former Soviet Union takes place are accessible through the Australian Centre of ASIAN and its consulting and commercial data licensing operations.

ACASIAN is always eager to explore opportunities for collaborative research with institutions and individual scholars who are interested in using our spatial data products for mutually beneficial projects.

Additional Information on the China GIS Project, the SIIASA and SIIRCEASA Projects, the Australian Centre of ASIAN at Griffith University, and the consulting and commercial activities of ASIAN can be obtained from Prof. Lawrence Crissman, Director, ACASIAN.

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This page last up-dated April 18, 1999