Vale: Bruce Thompson, visionary space leader


Bruce Thompson has been a leader, mentor and innovator in the Australian space sector. Image courtesy of CSIRO.

The Australian space community has lost one of its giants with the death on October 10, 2021, of Bruce Thompson, executive director of space services in the NSW Customer Service Department.

Bruce was greeted by family, friends and colleagues at Bathurst Cemetery on October 18. Among those in attendance were Victor Dominello, Minister of Customer Service for New South Wales; Secretary of the Customer Service Department, Emma Hogan; GCIDO, Greg Wells; NSW Surveyor General, Narelle Underwood; and director of space operations, Wayne Patterson.

Bruce had spent over 30 years in the space industry, primarily in the governments of Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, including during a period as chairman of the Australian and New Zealand Information Council on land (ANZLIC).

In a statement posted on LinkedIn by DCS Spatial Services, Bruce was described as “the architect and leader of many successful companies” that “have had a significant impact on the public sector at the jurisdictional and Commonwealth levels.”

“His impact on the space industry, particularly at DCS Spatial Services, will be lasting, especially his work to develop the vision and support for the NSW Spatial Digital Twin… which will bring many benefits to government, industry and to the community. “

“His many accomplishments include the implementation in Victoria of a fully operational CORS network, known as Vicmap Position – GPSnet. Another was a key first role in designing the concept of a data cube which, after several iterations and 10 years, became Digital Earth Australia at Geoscience Australia.

“Bruce was a strategic thinker, a brilliant visionary, innovative and ahead of his time. While he was dedicated to his job, his lasting legacy was that of a leader who cared about the people he worked with, whose kindness, friendship and sense of humor will be missed.

Among his many accomplishments, Bruce created the Victorian Mapping and Address Service, Victoria’s first space web services environment for the delivery of space services to the public and private sectors. And he developed and delivered the National Address Management Framework, a key part of the policy and standards that underpin the use of spatial information.

Between 1999 and 2003 Bruce served as Deputy Director, Land Information Group, Victoria Department of Natural Resources and Environment. From 2003 to 2010 he was Director of Spatial Information Infrastructure in the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, and from January 2011 to April 2013 was Director of Information for that same department.

From April 2013 to January 2015, Bruce served as Assistant Secretary for Corporate Services at the Victoria Department of Environment and Primary Industries. Then, from January 2015 to March 2016, he was Director General of Lands Services at the Victoria Department of Environment, Lands, Water and Planning.

His last role, from August 2016, was Executive Director, Space Services, in what is now NSW’s customer service department.

“Outside of all of Bruce’s professional accomplishments and successes, Bruce always devoted time to the people he worked with,” said Wayne Patterson, director of space operations in the customer service department. “One of the real gentlemen in life, he has given so many people in the space industry the knowledge, the opportunities and the environment to succeed and grow. We have lost a great leader and visionary whose legacy will live on. “

“I have had the privilege of working alongside Bruce for over 20 years, first in Land Victoria and then as our respective state representatives on ANZLIC, PSMA, CRC-SI and many other space initiatives. Said Steven Jacoby, executive director of Spatial Information. in the Queensland Department of Resources.

“Bruce was unique, always interested in ideas no matter who had them, a great communicator adept at describing future visions at one point in time and solving immediate problems the next day,” Jacoby added. “Still the smartest person in the room, but I don’t remember Bruce taking credit for it, it was always the work of the team. A great role model not only for the space industry, but a trusted colleague and friend who cannot be replaced.

Bruce has received numerous awards throughout his career, including:

  • 2006 Victorian Spatial Professional of the Year
  • 2006 Asia-Pacific Spatial Excellence Awards: Spatial Professional of the Year
  • 2006 Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) Exemplary Systems in Government Award: Victorian Mapping and Address Service
  • 2005 Asia-Pacific Spatial Excellence Awards: JK Barrie Award for spatial excellence, Victorian Mapping and Address Service
  • 2004 Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) Exemplary Systems in Government Award: Vicmap Topographic

Leading the tributes on LinkedIn, Victor Dominello wrote simply: “A true visionary. A humble leader. A great heritage. Valley.”

Melissa Harris, Managing Director of Land Use Victoria and President of ANZLIC, wrote that “Bruce was an inspiring and influential leader and a wonderful and supportive colleague, very passionate and knowledgeable on all things space and innovation. . As a former president and vice-president of ANZLIC and a long-time member, he provided exceptional national leadership for many years and his significant contributions to the geospatial capacity of our country are too numerous to mention. His legacy is vast and enduring and he will be sorely missed. “

Graeme Kernich, CEO of FrontierSI, described Bruce as “a truly humble, respectful and thoughtful person. A visionary and daring thinker and innovator. A colleague and a united leader.

Brian Nicholls, Director of the World Geospatial Industry Council (WGIC), wrote that “Bruce’s contribution to the space sector in Australia and New Zealand has been enormous. Bruce was a great leader and supporter of the people working in our industry. Bruce will be sorely missed.

Muhammad Usman Iqbal, senior associate director of the Abu Dhabi government, wrote that “his impact was not just local for [the] Australia Space industry but also global. He also offered great advice to Abu Dhabi 3D initiatives.

Bruce is survived by his wife, Susan. A fundraiser was held for the Smith Family charity in memory of Bruce, which can be contacted via

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