Catherine Ball

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.

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

Speaking topics

Integrating innovation as a tool for empowerment

Not only a business development tool, developing innovation frameworks and hubs across businesses means having great conversations with your staff. Retaining and Retraining, as well as naturally strengthening the team.

Future of business is not the same as the future of work

Current desires for work/life balance, and the ongoing battle between personal wellbeing and corporate lifestyle means that in 10 years' time, some 50% of Australians are likely to be self-employed. How will this work; and what will it mean for the future economy.

New technology as a problem, as well as a solution

In the Innovation Age, the use of tech can be as problematic as it can be a problem-solver. Knowing enough just to be dangerous can cause longer term ramifications, however, the new mantra of being 'able to fail', means pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone; but this doesn't mean being pushed into places of unnecessary risk; change can be the challenge.

Women as natural born leaders

Some say that in their communities the women are the silent leaders; the ones who lead by walking towards the problems we face. How do we ask the right questions of leadership, can we move away from the hierarchical ideas of 'who is the boss'? and take on a more holistic leadership paradigm?

For the Geek shall inherit the Earth, aka GeekChic and how to embrace it

As we enter a time of Gen Y in management, Geek is Chic again. As an avid Star Wars fan there is a lot to be said about the use of intellectual/smart/geek characters. Wouldn't it be great if we celebrating scientific achievements the way we celebrate sports?

Getting by with a little help from my friends

Having a set of interesting stories to tell of struggles and having to fight the good fight, there are times when we all just want to give up. But it is the small words of encouragement that we can used as rocket fuel. When people give us boxes of darkness, there is a way we can eventually see these as gifts. Walking down a memory lane of mental health and wellbeing, it is only when we recognise the darkness that we truly appreciate the light. And those who showed it to us.

Diversity and Innovation are 2 sides of the same coin

"If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking"... how to encourage diversity of thought, from how we hire to when we retire. How to recognise that strength of a company can be directly correlated to the diversity of staff.

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