Project Homepage:

Data collections can be seen on:!/group=AuScope/tab=collection

Software is available at:

Project Members:

Robert Woodcock (Data Source Administrator,

Ryan Fraser (Data Source Administrator,

ANDS Contact:

Julia Martin (

Project Status:


Australian Spatial Research Data Commons

AuScope, CSIRO

Project Description:

The ARSDC project is concerned with spatial data discovery and access. Spatial data underpins a great many fields of research in environment, energy, climate, social sciences, minerals, biology, urban environment and other fields. The project took the lessons and technologies from the AuScope Grid ( in the geosciences and applied it to Government and other organisation which held public sector spatial information of use to researchers in Australia.

A substantial amount of useful research data is held by public sector organisations in Australia. Improving the discovery of and access to that data stands to provide considerable benefit across the national innovation system. The importance of the ANDS funded ASRDC project is highlighted by the impact statements from key stakeholders (see attachments). This work has been essential to assist some key government organisations in transforming their operations and publishing their catalogue’s and spatial data collections to the public in ways more amendable to current research needs and technologies. This project has opened up previously undiscoverable data available from various federal bodies and made them accessible to the research community in a unified and consistent way using open standards and web services.

Government and other public sector organisations collect curate and publish a tremendous amount of data useful to Australian researchers. As research problems have moved to more complete systems analysis where data is required from multiple organisations, the different methods for data discovery and distribution used by these organisations has itself become a barrier to research. The costs of obtaining “free” data across organisations is increasingly higher than the cost of performing the actual research.

The ASRDC project addressed the issues by;
* Establishing open standards spatial information models for common data types across organisations
* Deploying open standards based web services to allow harvesting of consistent discovery information from Government organisations by ANDS Research Data Australia for us in the unified discovery portal.
* Deploying open standards based spatial data web services for data held by the participating organisations to allow direct access to data by researchers using standard GIS packages, web portals of their own choosing and tools of their choice.
* Establishing governance mechanisms in these organisations and often groups of organisations to sustain this approach beyond the life of the ASRDC project
* Doing this whilst limiting operational changes to the organisations infrastructure and processes since they already had independently established internal mechanisms in most cases. The problem occurred when others had to use them together.

The use of open standards and the resulting creation of a community of practice with common goals and governance has a tremendous downstream impact for the integrated discovery and use of public sector data. Having worked past the initial barriers to adoption and created a broader understanding of the issue, multiple government organisations are now working together to ensure publication of data and discovery information is more consistent regardless of the internal operational differences of the organisations. For researchers this means a simple bounding box query and display of data from multiple organisations is almost as simple as clicking on a link in their favourite mapping tool. Previously this would have involved multiple phone calls, postage of data on DVDs, and file format conversion and integration. ASRDC has quite literally demonstrated data access and query times being reduced from months to seconds for an individual researcher.

The approach used addresses a genuine need in the research community and in the Government organisations involved. It also provides production capable technology and appropriate training to the organisations in the publication of data. Importantly, it does so in a manner that fully recognises the potential cost of operational changes in the Government organisations. With tight collaboration and involving the stakeholders within the development process the ASRDC project ensured uptake, ownership and knowledge transfer. Success is evidenced in the growing number of follow-up projects led by the Government organisations which further sustain and expand the activities started in ASRDC.

Organisations that have worked with ASRDC have publicly exposed their data holdings for discovery and provided mechanisms (via SISS) to allow direct access to the underlying data in a consistent manner regardless of their internal differences. For researchers outside those organisations, it means the discovery and integration of data from multiple independent sources is now more consistent and substantially cheaper. This should enable more cost effective research and has the potential to open up new avenues for research previously to prohibitive to undertake. The organisations publishing data themselves have reported the potential for significant improvements to inter-organisational data exchange in support of Government research and policy initiatives which increasingly require data from multiple departments. The National Plan for Environmental information is one example and has selected the SISS used in ASRDC as the reference implementation for information nodes.

At the time of writing in excess of 15000 collection records were available for discovery via the ANDS Research Data Australia portal.

At time of writing this report, access restrictions were still in place at the Bureau of Meteorology; however they did have an active plan to make these collections accessible and were close to exposing them to the public. The use of different license regimes at Government organisations also creates a barrier for access when using data together. This has been reduced somewhat by the Government directive to use Creative Commons licensing by default. It will take some time for this to translate into policy and process changes but this is already being seen and the ASRDC project has added momentum to the change.

Project public information
• Project website URL (if any) -
• Primary contact information – Ryan Fraser
• Team members - Ryan Fraser, Robert Woodcock, Simon Cox, Pavel Golodoniuc, Rini Angreani, Florence Tan, Derrick Wong, Jackie Githaiga, Ben Caradoc-Davies, Bruce Simons

• Key Collaborators
Bruce Simons, Lesley Wyborn, Andrew Woolf, and many others at the various organisations who deployed the services.

• What documents, information, guides, policies or software did this ANDS project deliver, and where can they be accessed?
All documentation associated with the deployments/engagements of the ASRDC project are accessible via the Project wiki:

The primary product of the ASRDC project is the Spatial Information Services Stack (SISS) –

All datasets are discoverable via RDA and is recommended for coarse discovery of services and data collections made accessible via the ASRDC project

The ASRDC project has been tremendously successful with key government organisations in assisting them in discovery and delivery of their data to the research public. Letters of support and appreciation have been attached in Appendix B from key groups engaged with the ASRDC project.

This engagement has lead to several follow up activities funded by the organisations themselves, NeCTAR, AuScope and the CSIRO.

The SISS used by this project has also experienced great growth during the project from contributions from various external parties and large uptake in Australia and now internationally.

Data Type:

geothermal, water and soil

High Level Software Functionality:

Features: "GeoServer:
Geoserver is an open source reference implementation for the Open Geospatial Consortiums Web Feature Service (WFS). WFS provides a web service interface for querying and storing structured spatial information.
The following features will be added to the previsous SISS and AuScope developments of Geoserver:
. Polymorphism of data types in the XML output
. Usability improvements and simplification of the data mapping configuration
. Conformance testing framework for the complex data types
. Controlled vocabulary mapping configuration
. 3D and 4D geometric primitives
. OGC Standards updates for: WFS2.0, GML3.2 and Filter 2.0

GeoNetwork Registry: to be intergrate with the ANDS Collection Registry by providing descriptions of collectiosn, activities and parties, persisistent identifers and controlled vocabulary services. ";