Vale Peter Woodgate

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the tragic death of Dr Peter Woodgate, Chair of AURIN’s Board, who passed away in late December. Over the last five years, Peter has been instrumental in guiding AURIN through tumultuous times, overseeing essential transformations and supporting the executive team with unwavering enthusiasm and an ambitious vision. Peter contributed to the establishment of AURIN as a key institution between academia, government, and industry, providing national research infrastructure to enable the development of an Australian sovereign capability for urban digital twins.

“From my invitation to join the AURIN Board to my role as incoming director, I know how much I owe Peter,” says Prof. Pascal Perez, AURIN Director. “I will miss his vision, his mentoring, and his enthusiasm. Although his death constitutes a huge loss for our community, his legacy will continue to shape our future.”

A forest scientist by training, Peter’s career changed course in the aftermath of the devastating Ash Wednesday bushfires. He realised that addressing the magnitude and scale of such natural disasters needed the contribution of innovative spatial information technologies. This was the start of a pioneering journey and stellar career across space and spatial information technologies, working at the interface between Australian research and industry for more than thirty years.

From the humble beginnings of Spatial Vision in the 1990s to the creation of the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRC-SI) and its later incorporation as Frontier SI, Peter has been a trailblazer and undisputed thought leader in Australia.

In addition to his role with AURIN, Peter also chaired the SmartSat CRC, Canthera Discovery (a cancer research organisation) and was a Board member of Public Sector Mapping Agencies (PSMA). Peter had just been appointed as a director and inaugural president of the newly created Geospatial Council of Australia (GCA).

He was also an honorary fellow of the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute, a life member of the International Society for Digital Earth, and a graduate of the Institute of Company Directors.

Beyond his leadership and enormous contributions to the geospatial community, Peter will be remembered for his integrity, kindness, calm demeanour, good humour, generosity of spirit and energy. Peter was AURIN’s first and most powerful supporter. His death is a huge loss for AURIN; however, his legacy lives on and will continue to shape our future.

Peter is survived by his wife Janet and his children Bronwyn and Will. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues.

A statement from Jane Hunter, a former AURIN Director who worked with Peter the longest period during his time as Chair

I was devastated to hear that AURIN’s chair Peter Woodgate passed away this week. I had the great pleasure and honour to work with Peter from 2019-2020, whilst he was Chair of AURIN and I was Director.

Peter was an exceptional person and his passing will be an enormous loss to the geospatial information sector in Australia. During the period we worked together, AURIN was undergoing a lot of transition. Peter’s calm, rational, well-considered advice and support was indispensable to overcoming major, daily challenges and making difficult decisions.

Peter embodied a unique combination with exceptional knowledge in geospatial sciences, corporate governance, strong interpersonal skills, and strategic planning. Without a doubt, his tenure as Chair at AURIN provided the foundation for AURIN’s long term sustainability. But most importantly, Peter was an honest, decent, kind and caring person with enormous integrity. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very sad time.