Blog icon

By Alison Donnellan 11 September 2019 4 min read

Originally published by 

Mats Henrikson is the Web Geospatial Systems group leader at CSIRO’s Data61

As the world has become increasingly digitised, data is playing a critical role in almost every aspect of society. Data has the power to provide invaluable insights and drive innovation for policymakers, in turn, contributing to communities, the economy and even the local environment.

A recent study by Microsoft which explored the importance of data for Australian government agencies found that 88 per cent of leaders [Link will open in a new window]agreed on its crucial role in meeting citizen demands.

However, there is often a trade-off between the protection and the utility of data to empower insights and innovation.

As part of the national science agency, CSIRO’s Data61 is working with the Australian government to address this complex challenge of striking a balance between utility and privacy using innovative science and technology.

According to the Australian Government’s public data policy statement[Link will open in a new window], the nation’s capacity to remain competitive in the digital economy is contingent upon its ability to harness the value of data to enable economic growth, improve service delivery and transform policy outcomes for the nation.

We’re starting to see the outcomes through initiatives such as and the Consumer Data Right, enabling economic outcomes and creating new opportunities for industry, government and individuals.

Likewise, NationalMap [Link will open in a new window]is enabling new insights, innovation and economic outcomes by making easily accessible data on things like broadband coverage, locations of surface water, powerlines, vegetation and health services readily accessible.

NationalMap, which last month celebrated its fifth anniversary, is an online map-based tool which allows easy access to spatial data from Australian government agencies.

Launched in 2014, it was an initiative of the Department of Communications and the Arts, now currently managed by the Digital Transformation Agency. The underlying software was developed by Data61, working closely with Geoscience Australia and other government agencies.

Since it was launched, it has helped 543,700+ users make the most of high-value government data across 1 million visits. The data catalogue has increased significantly since then, and the NationalMap now federates over 11,000 datasets directly from, State and Local Government.

Such tools are transforming how we share data and are playing a crucial role in boosting the Australian economy. In fact, according to independent economic modelling, NationalMap has been forecast to generate almost $40 million in net benefits over the coming decade.

NationalMap is helping to address the national challenge of enhancing the resilience, sustainable use and value of our environments by mitigating and adapting the impacts of climate and global change.

Using TerriaJS, the underlying software powering NationalMap, new data platforms across a range of applications and sectors including drought services management, renewable energy and data-driven infrastructure.

National Drought Map

The National Drought Map[Link will open in a new window] is a Central Analytics Hub (CAH) project which aims to help meaningful support reach drought-affected farmers and communities. The map has helped to build a culture of data sharing and collaboration, aiming to give the public easy access to key information about droughts and helping to manage policy outcomes.

National Drought Map

Digital Twin

The NSW Department of Customer Service’s Spatial Services and CSIRO’s Data61 is developing an interactive platform, called the NSW Digital Twin[Link will open in a new window], to capture and display real-time 3D and 4D spatial data in order to model the urban environment.

The digital twin is a detailed 3D model of NSW showing assets both above and below the ground, providing ongoing opportunities for users to have access to aggregated spatially enabled information.

Australian Renewable Energy Mapping Infrastructure (AREMI)

AREMI [Link will open in a new window]makes it easier for renewable energy projects to get off the ground in Australia, by providing a ‘one stop shop’ for all open geospatial data relevant to the energy sector from government, industry and research.

It provides free access to spatial information for energy project developers while helping state and local governments with environmental and regulatory planning approvals.

Naturally, as the amount of available data increases, so too does the interest in its origins. It’s become imperative to question the reliability and quality of data and although this means that open data production won’t stop, it does mean that more privacy-preserving technologies are beginning to take centre stage.

Over the past few years, there has been an increasing number of web services as the main publication approach for custodians, ultimately helping to encourage more transparency and collaboration from all.

Initiatives such as the National Innovation and Science Agenda Platforms for Open Data, aim to facilitate the use of open government data by providing better search and discovery of more high-value datasets meaning more people have access to higher quality data while retaining privacy.

NationalMap will be on display at D61+ LIVE[Link will open in a new window], Australia’s premier science, technology and innovation event. Hosted by CSIRO’s Data61, the free two-day event will feature talks from data science experts and industry commentators as well as a showcase of data-driven projects from Australia’s national science agency.

Mats Henrikson is the Web Geospatial Systems group leader at CSIRO’s Data61

Contact us

Find out how we can help you and your business. Get in touch using the form below and our experts will get in contact soon!

CSIRO will handle your personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and our Privacy Policy.

First name must be filled in

Surname must be filled in

I am representing *

Please choose an option

Please provide a subject for the enquriy

0 / 100

We'll need to know what you want to contact us about so we can give you an answer

0 / 1900

You shouldn't be able to see this field. Please try again and leave the field blank.