Dr. Catherine Ball is an author, founder, and ethics advocate working across global projects where robotics and new technology meet environmental protection.
A sought after voice in industry, Dr. Ball is now the CEO of an Australian startup working with the application of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) aka drone technology across remote communities, schools, industry, and citizen scientists. Dr. Ball is leading the call for discussions around the ethics of spatial data, aka geo-ethics.
Dr. Ball’s biggest passion is found working on projects that have a humanitarian aspect, ranging from the use of RPAS for emergency response, to recording cultural heritage, and agricultural assessments. Dr. Ball has travelled and worked globally on cutting edge projects that combine science, entrepreneurship, empowerment, education, and training.
Dr. Ball was the chosen ‘drone advisor’ to DFAT InnovationXChange’s “Pacific Humanitarian Challenge” and is continuing to support these efforts, as well as initial talks with the UN’s World Food Programme on using drones to distribute food aid, especially in conflict areas, such as Syria. Catherine continues to advise federal and state government across Australia. Her most recent works in Queensland involve the training and education of indigenous rangers to use drones as part of their work, thereby reducing health and safety risk, and increasing the efficiency of data collection. This will lead to indigenous owned “drones as a service” companies being created, and the data analysis and GIS training also provided to support the rangers, and create economic enterprise.
Dr. Ball is also talking with a number of Queensland schools about the processes to establish ‘Drone Academies’ on site, as the new drone economy is estimated to be worth some USD20B per annum by 2020, with 10% of future jobs attached to the drone economic ecosystem. Catherine believes there needs to be discussions around flying safely and ethically, and these need to start as soon as possible.
Dr. Ball continues to support Australia as being the world leader in the non-military application of drone technology, also known as “drones for good”. A believer in appropriate data, not open data, Dr. Ball is currently starting a new business looking at the future data management needs across our geospatial industry, especially when faced with new technologies, such as drones, that produce a lot of data very quickly.
Dr. Ball holds a BSc Honours (Environmental Protection) and a PhD (Spatial Ecology, Descriptive and Predictive Statistics) from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the United Kingdom. In March 2017 she was appointed to the Australian National University's Business and Industry Advisory Board.
Some of the awards Dr. Ball has won include:
• 2015 AFR BOSS Magazine Young Executives of the Year - Winner
• National Telstra Business Woman of the Year 2015, Corporate and Private Award
• Queensland Telstra Business Women's Awards Winner 2015: Queensland Business Woman of the Year, Queensland Corporate and Private.
• Innovator of Influence, 2015 at Innovation Week
• Courier Mail Q Magazine: Queensland 50 Best and Brightest, 2015