Executive Director’s report

Ross Wilkinson, ANDS

How can Australia address the challenge of living in bushfire prone city fringes? How can Australia most effectively farm and preserve our precious soil? How can Australia understand the Great Barrier Reef? No single discipline can answer these questions, but to address these challenges data is needed from a range of sources and disciplines.

Research data that is well organised and available allows research to make substantial contributions vital to Australia’s future. For example, by drawing upon data that is able to be used by soil scientists, geneticists, plant scientists, climate analysts, and others, it is possible to conduct the multidisciplinary investigations necessary to tackle truly difficult and important challenges. The data might be provided by a Terrestrial Ecosystems Research Network OzFluz tower, insect observations recorded by a citizen through the Atlas of Living Australia, genetic sequencing of insects through a Bioplatforms Australia facility, weather observations by the Bureau of Meteorology, or historical data generated by CSIRO over many decades. Each will provide a part of the jigsaw, but the pieces must be able to be put together. This requires careful collection and organisation, which together deliver enormous value to the country.

However, nationally significant problems are often tackled by international cooperation, so Australia’s data assets enable Australian researchers to work with the best in the world, solving problems of both national and international significance. Australia’s data assets and research data infrastructure provide Australian researchers with an excellent platform for international collaboration.

Australia has world-leading research data infrastructure: our ability to store, compute, discover, explore, analyse and publish is the best in the world. The ability to capture data through a wide range of capabilities, from the Australian Synchrotron to Integrated Marine Observation System [IMOS:] ocean gliders, the combination of national storage and computation through RDSI, NCI and Pawsey initiatives, the ability to publish and discover data through ANDS, the ability to analyse and explore data through Nectar, and state and local eResearch capabilities, highlights just some of the capabilities that Australian researchers are able to access.

Importantly, their international partners are able to work with them using many of these resources. As well, Australian research organisations are assembling many resources to support their research. These include policies, procedures, practical infrastructure, and very importantly – people! The eResearch team and the data librarians are always keen to help. This issue of Share highlights how the data resources of Australia are providing a very substantial national benefit, and how that benefit is being realised.

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