Biosecurity Commons

A cloud-based decision-support platform for modelling and analysing biosecurity risk and response
Back view portrait of two modern farm workers wearing lab coats walking by row of cows in shed inspecting livestock, copy space

The Challenge

A dispersed and unconnected network of diagnostics, analytics and intelligence hampers Australia’s current biosecurity modelling capability.

The Response

Together with our partners, we built the world’s first virtual lab for biosecurity research and decision-making. Biosecurity Commons empower researchers and decision-makers to produce consistent and transparent models and analytics without coding experience or high-end IT equipment.

The project improves access to computing resources, IT expertise, and addresses issues such as intellectual property and licensing concerns, and silos between jurisdictions and sectors.

This removes barriers in the existing framework where biosecurity models are often inaccessible and frequently developed for a single purpose, based on a single pest or disease, and are rarely reused or shared.

Biosecurity Commons has tools that support planning and preparation to ensure timely and effective responses to biosecurity events, and allows researchers and decision-makers to investigate a wide range of questions related to biosecurity risk and response.

The platform lets jurisdictions to share analytics and modelling to demonstrate that the right decisions are being made; and to improve modelling research by working collaboratively.

Biosecurity Commons leverages the EcoCommons platform architecture and components, which offers a suite of common approaches for building analytical modelling outputs, as well as integrating a vast array of geospatial data.

The project built a permissioned online environment for working securely, which will promote collaboration across state jurisdictions and disciplines of biosecurity.

Authorised users can access and analyse restricted data securely; all users can upload their own data to use privately, share with collaborators, or share globally from within the platform.

Five biosecurity analysis workflows each address a specific biosecurity question:

  • surveillance design – where should we look?
  • dispersal modelling – where might an organism spread to?
  • impact analysis – what impacts might it have?
  • resource allocation / time to eradication – how long will it take to eradicate?
  • proof of freedom – when is a region free of a disease or a pest?
  • species distribution modelling – where in Australia do climatic conditions match the pests’?
  • risk mapping – where in Australia is a pest most likely to arrive and establish?

An expert panel consisting of biosecurity scientists and key users informed workflow development.

To empower and build capacity in the biosecurity community, video and face-to-face training material were developed. This will transform the status quo, particularly for government users, of running analyses on excel spreadsheets and agency-specific models into automated user-friendly workflows in the Biosecurity Commons.

The Outcomes

Access Biosecurity Commons, launched in May 2023. Read the launch announcement.

For the first time, researchers, government and practitioners across organisations can securely share biosecurity data and reproducible models and analytics. This will build trust, transparency and confidence in model outputs, and accelerate research through the reuse and repurposing of existing models.

Who Will Benefit

Researchers and decision makers in the government, university, environment and agriculture sectors benefit from the project’s core features:

Strong collaboration

Biosecurity Commons established a collaborative environment where jurisdictions and researchers co-develop publishable biosecurity risk analysis. The General Manager Strategy and Legislation within Biosecurity Queensland chaired the Steering Committee. An Expert Panel comprising biosecurity researchers, government practitioners and key users of the platform, provided scientific expertise from the different biosecurity sectors.

Cloud-based modelling solutions

Decision makers and researchers now have access to cloud-based modelling solutions to produce evidence-based biosecurity analysis, empowering them to respond to current and emerging biosecurity threats.

Secure analysis environment

A secure, permissioned online analysis environment promotes collaboration across state jurisdictions and between disciplines of biosecurity research, which supports timely and effective responses to biosecurity events.

The Partners

Contact the ARDC

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April 2021 to June 2023

Current Phase


ARDC Co-investment


Project lead

University of Melbourne