Enabling Australian environmental researchers to access ecological data results online

Enabling Australian environmental researchers to access ecological data results online
December 17, 2014 eRSA Marketing

Researchers working on TERN

Professor Andrew Lowe

“Building advanced computer software such as ÆKOS is a laborious task, we have about six or seven people working on it at any one time and Craig Patten from eResearch SA has been an exceptional member of our team”
– Craig Walker, Eco-informatics Coordinator

Enabling environmental researchers all over Australia to access ecological data results through one common network, the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) EcoInformatics facility at the University of Adelaide is opening up a world of opportunities for Australian research institutes.

The Australian Government, under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), established TERN to facilitate a national approach to Australian ecological data, and to develop associated data analysis and visualisation tools.

The University of Adelaide hosts two key TERN facilities, the AusPlots Facility and the EcoInformatics Facility, which are led by Professor Andrew Lowe, who has a joint appointment with the University of Adelaide and the SA Department of Environment and Natural Resources. eResearch SA has contributed staff and expertise to assist the TERN EcoInformatics Facility.

Craig Walker is the Coordinator of the EcoInformatics Facility, which is developing, a system called ÆKOS, the Australian Ecological Knowledge Observation System. Craig’s aim is to implement a system that can integrate the many disparate ecological datasets existing around Australia.

“This relies on a translation mechanism for converting the many different data structures around Australia into a core ontology, so that researchers and other users can query and reference across the entire system,” Craig says.

Craig Patten, a software developer and data analyst from eResearch SA, has been working on designing and implementing a system for delivering collection level metadata from the EcoInformatics project to the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) data commons.

The collection-level metadata is information from the different ecological data collections held within various data stores around the country. The information consists of: what the data is about, who generated it and maintains it, when and where it was collected, and what project or activity the data was collected under.

Craig has also been responsible for designing and implementing the cloud computing architecture that supports both the ÆKOS software system and the system for transferring collection-level metadata from EcoInformatics to ANDS.

This work uses cloud computing to provide elastic IT infrastructure, which can readily adapt to EcoInformatics’ various requirements in software development and operational/production services.

“Andrew and I have used eResearch SA to find staff to assist us with the development of this new software,” EcoInformatics Coordinator Craig Walker says.

“Building advanced computer software such as ÆKOS is a laborious task, we have about six or seven people working on it at any one time and Craig Patten from eResearch SA has been an exceptional member of our team.”

“His understanding of infrastructure and his ability to set up framework for the Java system has been very useful to the project. We hope we can work with eResearch SA more in the future.”

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