Improving Access to Public-Sector Data Strengthens Australian Research

We're excited to announce a new investment of $1.63 million, with $1.742 million in co-investments from collaborating organisations, in five new projects under the 2020 Public Sector Bridges program.
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The Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) is excited to announce a new investment of $1.63 million, with $1.742 million in co-investments from collaborating organisations, in five new projects under the 2020 Public Sector Bridges program.

In August, the ARDC invited the research community to submit proposals to extend or improve the discoverability and access to public sector data to better support leading edge research. The Public Sector Bridges projects are designed to develop national scale data assets and to optimise use of and access to public sector data for specialised research purposes beyond the agencies’ core business.

These projects or ‘bridges’ will extend or improve the usefulness of public sector data for researchers by focusing on standards, access arrangements, interfaces, quality and governance.

The breadth of investment across environmental sciences, biological sciences, education, health sciences, law and legal studies ensures Australia’s world class research system continues to improve the health and economic outlook, provide new work opportunities and support a healthy environment.

Following a careful and thorough review process involving an international panel, the following public sector bridges projects were successful.

Lead: The University of Sydney

This project will standardise data inputs from all air pollution monitoring stations in Australia and will build a database containing all historical and current observations, such as particulate matter of 2.5 µm (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), sulphates (SO2), ozone (O3) and ultrafine particles (UFP).

Data will then be used in exposure models that accommodate predictors from chemical transport modelling, satellite, weather and traffic observations and land use and vegetation data to estimate exposures at high spatial and temporal resolution. These exposure data will be combined with age- and cause-specific mortality in sufficiently populated areas.

The harmonised and integrated air pollution and health datasets will help inform policy makers, epidemiologists and public sector agencies.


This project will develop a National Framework to enable the sharing of full resolution threatened and sensitive species data. The framework will address issues such as licensing, access and authority, governance and programmatic standards. The expected output of the project will be programmatic access to full resolution sensitive species data for users with appropriate authority.

Access to full resolution data across jurisdictional boundaries is critical to understanding the impact of threatened and sensitive species; and for planning mitigation and recovery efforts.

Lead: The University of Western Australia

This project will create an enduring database linking education and wellbeing data from multiple databases, including enrollment, attendance, behaviour management, academic achievement and wellbeing of students, over time to reflect the students’ journey throughout their school life.

A collaborative, coordinated approach will maximise the comparability of data while still permitting the use of data that differs across States and Territories. This data asset will provide the basis for an understanding of how our education system is performing and evaluate efficiency of interventions delivered in schools to support mental health of students.

Lead: The University of Melbourne

This project aims to establish a national, research ready hospital electronic medical record (EMR) Data Asset that will enhance data accessibility for rapid interrogation and evidence generation. Data will be transformed to an international gold standard Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP) Common Data Model (CDM).

Tools, mappings and experience gained will be made openly available, and a community of practice and a roadmap for continued national implementation will be built. The Data Asset will significantly improve the quality, accessibility and feasibility of EMR data warehouses by streamlining data governance, consent and ethics. The project’s outcome is a CDM platform, converting three Cerner-based data warehouses: Queensland Health ( State Public Health Hospital EMR), Austin Health and Western Health (Melbourne EMR). Learnings from the Cerner conversions will then be applied to the conversion of other data warehouse platforms including the EPIC EMR system which will be investigated in collaboration with the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Lead: University of New South Wales

This project will provide free access to coronial findings with recommendations available in digital form from all Australian jurisdictions in one central location on AustLII. It will also gather together and link responses made by agencies to coronial recommendations. Some earlier findings with recommendations that only exist in paper form, will be digitised and added to the collection. These resources will then be searchable and cross-indexed to the relevant legislation and case law through citation mining using data-mining.

This will provide an easy and accessible way to search for coronial findings and recommendations that make important contributions to public policy and legislation development.