Being able to find, analyse and rapidly share data around the world has been a key factor in the battle against COVID-19.
This highlights the critical role that data plays in society.
Along with addressing COVID-19-related challenges – identifying potential vaccines, tracking the spread of the disease and uncovering ways of minimising exposure – data has also been instrumental in improving treatment for premature infants, monitoring the threat of bushfires and empowering Indigenous Australians with greater access to their cultural heritage, during 2020.
The Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) is helping ensure that crucial, high quality data can easily be accessed, used and shared by the Australian research community to help strengthen Australia’s health, environment, economic and social outlook.
Over the past year the ARDC has led a $66.4 million investment in data-related projects and programs to ensure Australia continues producing cutting-edge research. This includes ARDC investments of $27.2 million with $39.2 million co-investments from collaborating organisations.
Along with enabling innovative research, the ARDC is also leading the way in promoting collaborative activities and FAIR data principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable), which are increasingly important to our global research environment.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the value of making data FAIR in order to rapidly respond to infectious disease emergencies, and the importance of research collaborations across national and international borders.
“Through our programs we’ve catalysed and brokered new partnerships, cementing a culture of collaboration. We’ve also driven transformations across the eResearch ecosystem by leading the culture change for how data is stored long term and addressing real-world problems through digital infrastructure solutions,” said Rosie Hicks, ARDC Chief Executive Officer.
One of our recently announced programs, the Public Sector Bridges, includes a project to help integrate Australian air pollution and health data. This will create the first Australia-wide source of evidence-based information for public health and policy makers.
Another new project, the Biosecurity Commons, will create the world’s first biosecurity virtual laboratory for diseases and pests. The project, which is part of the ARDC’s 2020 Platforms program, will enable researchers to access, share and reuse crucial biosecurity data around risk, transmission, distribution and estimated impacts of disease.
“Our programs and activities aim to accelerate research and innovation by driving excellence in the creation, analysis and retention of high-quality data assets,” said Rosie.