Biosecurity Commons

Intelligently managing our pests and diseases
Back view portrait of two modern farm workers wearing lab coats walking by row of cows in shed inspecting livestock, copy space
Who will benefit
Researchers, research organisations and government policy makers

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’re building the world’s first virtual lab for biosecurity research and decision-making. Biosecurity Commons will empower researchers and decision-makers to produce consistent and transparent models and analytics without coding experience or high-end IT equipment.

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

This will remove 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 will deliver tools that support planning and preparation to ensure timely and effective responses to biosecurity events, and will allow researchers and decision-makers to investigate a wide range of questions related to biosecurity risk and response.

The platform will allow 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 existing 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 is building a permissioned online environment for working securely, which will promote collaboration across state jurisdictions and disciplines of biosecurity.

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

Five biosecurity analysis workflows will each address a specific biosecurity question:

  • Where should we look? (surveillance design)
  • Where might an organism spread to? (dispersal modelling)
  • What impacts might it have? (impact analysis)
  • How long will it take to eradicate? (resource allocation/time to eradication)
  • When is a region free of a disease or a pest? (proof of freedom)

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

To empower and build capacity in the biosecurity community, video and face-to-face training material will be 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.

Who Will Benefit

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

  • Strong collaboration – Biosecurity Commons will establish a collaborative environment where jurisdictions and researchers co-develop publishable biosecurity risk analysis. The General Manager Strategy and Legislation within Biosecurity Queensland will chair the Steering Committee. An Expert Panel comprising biosecurity researchers, government practitioners and key users of the platform, will provide scientific expertise from the different biosecurity sectors.
  • Cloud-based modelling solutions – Decision makers and researchers will have access to cloud-based modelling solutions to produce evidence-based biosecurity analysis, to empower them to respond to current and emerging biosecurity threats.
  • Secure analysis environment – A secure, permissioned online analysis environment will promote collaboration across state jurisdictions and between disciplines of biosecurity research, which will support timely and effective responses to biosecurity events.

The Partners

Our partners are:

Target Outcomes

For the first time, researchers, government and practitioners across organisations will be able to 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.

Contact the ARDC

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April 2021 to June 2023

Current Phase

In progress

ARDC Co-investment


Project lead

University of Melbourne