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Thing 22: What's in a name?

Learn about the key players in Australia’s research data management ecosystem and how these players combine to make generation, management and publication big data possible.

  • Getting started: sample some acronym soup
  • Learn more: it doesn’t get much bigger than a telescope which is a square kilometre big!
  • Challenge me: explore some virtual laboratories and continental maps

Getting startedLearn moreChallenge me

Getting started

Thing 22: What's in a name?

Getting started: Who's who in the acronym soup?

Data is at the heart of the Australian national innovation agenda. The key players who help enable the innovation agenda float in an acronym soup. Let’s find out who’s in the soup.

Read this article that explains the Australian Government initiatives to foster innovation through publishing and sharing data.

Put simply the main players in the Australian research landscape (a.k.a. research alphabet soup) are:

  • Universities - 41 universities generate data, graduate and train new researchers (ANU, UWA, UQ, UTas, UNSW etc)
  • CSIRO - have visited the CSIRO Data Access Portal several times in 23(rd) Things
  • Funders - ARC and NHMRC
  • Governments - state and federal departments fund research and produce their own data (e.g. Bureau of Meteorology for weather, Geoscience Australia for geoscience, ABS for statistics etc)
  • Medical Research Institutes (MRIs) and hospitals - conduct research and produce data
  • Businesses reuse research and government data and generate their own data. The Business Council of Australia brings together the big names in data production and use
  • National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) is funded by the Australian Government to drive research excellence and collaboration between 35,000 researchers, government and industry to deliver practical outcomes.

Let’s focus on NCRIS - it’s amazing.

NCRIS is designed to take a national approach to providing the world’s best research infrastructure for Australia. NCRIS facilities provide storage for data (RDS), research computer networking across Australia (AARNet), tools and virtual laboratories for researchers (NeCTAR), very, very big data crunching (NCI), as well as lots of specialised research facilities. ANDS is also one of the 27 NCRIS facilities. In 2018 ANDS, Nectar and RDS were combined to create the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC).

  • Browse over some NCRIS case studies to get an idea of what data and activities are produced by NCRIS facilities.

For NZ: what's happening in NZ?

  • NESI (New Zealand eScience Infrastructure) is New Zealand's computing research infrastructure, providing high performance computers and support systems to enable the country's researchers to tackle the world's largest problems.
  • Declaration on Open and Transparent Government.The New Zealand government wants public services to be radically transformed for the benefit of all New Zealanders - and ICT is a key tool that will make this possible.

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Learn more

Thing 22: What's in a name?

Learn more:  Big data: the sky is not the limit!

We often hear terms such as “big data” and “data deluge”.

And it doesn’t get much bigger than astronomy and satellite data. Let’s look at two big data projects that are only possible because of national collaborations - most of whom love acronyms.

Option 1: ASKAP - reaching for the stars

The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope is made of 36 identical 12-metre wide dish antennas.  These produce some 2.5 gigabytes of data per second, equivalent to 75 petabytes per year.

Learn about managing this big data project by hearing from the researchers who use ASKAP - watch this video (3 min).

Storing, analysing, managing and publishing such big data usually requires a collaborative effort across a number of organisations. In the case of ASKAP data for example:

  • the data is captured at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO), approximately 315 km northeast of Geraldton in WA.
  • it is then transmitted 730 km to the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth where it is processed and stored.
  • the processed data is then published via the CSIRO Data Access Portal with metadata records harvested to Research Data Australia to enhance discovery.

It’s hard to imagine just how many organisations work together to make this apparently simple workflow possible. Consider for example:

  • funding bodies (NCRIS, federal and state governments)
  • research organisations (CSIRO, Swinburne University, University of WA)
  • infrastructure providers (AARNet, Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, ANDS).

Option 2: the Data Cube- satellites mapping the earth

The Australian Geoscience Data Cube is another example where collaboration between a number of organisations has resulted in new ways of organising, analysing and managing the large amounts of data collected from Earth Observation Satellites (EOS).

This video (4.35 min) explains the concept behind Geoscience Australia's Data Cube and the partners who made it possible. By collaborating, Australian organisations including Geoscience Australia, CSIRO and the National Computational Infrastructure have created an outcome that any one of these organisations in isolation could never have achieved.

Consider: why big data is often publicly available, yet the so called 'long tail of research data' (smaller data sets) are often not published.

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Challenge me

Thing 22: What's in a name?

Challenge me: National infrastructure supporting Australian research

Option 1: Virtual Laboratories

Explore one or more of the Nectar Virtual Laboratories - who uses these laboratories and what do they do?

  • Explore in words
  • Explore in videos
  • Pick one or two and explore in depth

Option 2: Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN)

AURIN is a powerful mapping tool with a wide range of inbuilt datasets. Watch “how to use AURIN” video (3.52 min) to see how it can be used to build national or small maps, particularly for social science and health.

Consider: how researchers can use NCRIS facilities to help generate, manage, share and publish their data.

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