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Australian Reference Genome Atlas Project

Project summary:At the moment Australia’s genomic data for our flora, fauna and fungi species resides across numerous international data repositories, museums or research labs, making it difficult to find and compare genomic data on Australian species. To consolidate this data, the Atlas of Living Australia, Bioplatforms Australia, Australian BioCommons and Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) funded via the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) are collaborating on ARGA, the Australian Reference Genome Atlas.

The new genomic atlas will mean that researchers can easily discover and access genomic data for Australian species in one place, making it easier to conduct research and inform decision making in areas including conservation, biosecurity and agriculture.
Project page:About the Australian Reference Genome Atlas – on Australian BioCommons
Status:In progress
Time frame:2022 – 2023
More information:Read more about the project on our ALA blog, or contact ALA@csiro.au

Biosecurity Alert Project

Project summary:With our vast nationwide base of data providers, the ALA is frequently the first platform where significant biosecurity risks are documented. Capitalising on this, the ALA works closely with the Environmental Biosecurity Office and the Australian Chief Plant Protection Office in the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment to provide automatic alerts for targeted species based on the lists provided by these two offices. When new observations of those target species are uploaded to the ALA, an alert is sent. Since the system has been in place, more than 70 notifications have been issued. We are working with DCCEEW to actively acquire additional datasets that will increase the surveillance of new incursions or range expansions of their target species.
Project page:Biosecurity Alert project fact sheet
Status:In progress
Time frame:July 2020 – Dec 2024
More information:Read more about the project on our ALA blog, or contact ALA@csiro.au

Core Infrastructure Upgrade Project

Project summary:The Core Infrastructure Upgrade Project is replacing the various components of the ALA occurrence record system with software developed by Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) with adaptations for the ALA’s specific requirements.

After 10 years of active development, the ALA’s core data processing infrastructure is approaching ‘end of life’. The Infrastructure Upgrade Project will enable the ALA to adapt to changing data and user requirements heading into our next decade of operation.

We are working closely with GBIF throughout the project and sharing updates with our user and stakeholder communities and the international Living Atlases community.
Project page:Core Infrastructure Upgrade Project
Status:In progress
Time frame:2020 – 2023
More information: Contact support@ala.org.au

Data Quality Project

Project summary:The Data Quality Project is continuing to develop products that improve access to data, and ability to assess fitness-for–use. Initially, the project is working to present a higher quality, clean, trustable data set to users by identifying and filtering out outlier records from initial search results. The project will then look at record improvement and data lineage tracking and reporting.
This next stage of data quality work aims to improve confidence in the data accessed via the ALA for use in research, analysis and decision support.
Project page:ALA Data Quality Project
Status:In progress
Time frame:2021 – 2023
More information: Contact dataquality@ala.org.au

EcoAssets Project

Project summary:In partnership with the Australian Research Data Commons, the EcoAssets project builds data linkages between three world-leading research infrastructures funded under Australia’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) to deliver integrated data for State of the Environment reporting and other environmental assessments.
Project page:EcoAssets project fact sheet
Status:In progress
Time frame:Phase 1 (launch): 2021-2022
Phase 2: ongoing
More information:Contact support@ala.org.au

Extended Data Model Project

Project summary:The ALA is our national biodiversity data infrastructure, aggregating occurrence records for plants, animals and fungi from across Australia. In 2021, the ALA dataset reached 100 million records. However, the ALA has some shortcomings. In a 2019 consultation, our stakeholders and users identified the lack of absence data as a weakness, and the inability to deal with new data types, one of the major threats. The Extended Data Model program of work aims to address both these issues.  

In the first phase (Feb-Aug 2022), the project will develop new systems in collaboration with GBIF – the Global Biodiversity Information Facility – that will enable users to upload, query, browse and download event-based biodiversity survey data. 

For researchers and policy-makers this will be a valuable addition to ALA’s capability. The changes will enable ALA users to model species population trends, as well as absence and abundance. These are important metrics in successfully managing and assessing the health of our ecosystems. As the work progress, the project will prepare the ALA to accept a wider variety of data types including but not limited to genome, camera trap, eDNA, and digital extended specimen data.
Project page:ALA’s Extended Data Model Project
Status:In progress
Time frame:2022 – 2024 
Phase 1: Jan 2022 – Aug 2022 
Data roadmap: 2022-2027 
More information:Please email ALA@csiro.au for more information

Recently completed projects:

Restricted Data Access Project

Project summary:Sensitive species data is critical for researching and managing Australia’s biodiversity. The data can include threatened species locations, biosecurity threats to the nation’s agriculture or privacy-related details about people who made observations.
Currently, these data are hard to access, and the ways people access them differs for all states and territories. The Restricted Data Access Project (previously called the Sensitive Species Data Pathways project) is the first of its kind to involve every state, territory and commonwealth jurisdiction, all relevant research infrastructures and data repositories, as well as peak community bodies working in the sector. 
This project will streamline processes and systems to enable the sharing of sensitive species data for users with appropriate authority. A national aggregated sensitive species data source will enable approved researchers and other users to be able to undertake species distribution models, locate possible populations for research, aid the listing of species to improve conservation and a multitude of other research and policy outcomes.
Project page:ARDC information page about this project
Restricted Data Access project information sheet
Status:In progress
Time frame:January 2021 – March 2023
More information:Read more about the project on our ALA blog, or contact support@ala.org.au.

Multi-regional Bushfire Citizen Science Projects

Project summary:The multi-regional bushfire citizen science projects are a partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. The three projects will support fire-affected communities to re-engage with nature and the science of recovery. Projects include: organising a series of BioBlitzes in fire-affected areas throughout the spring and autumn, prioritising insect digitisation and transcription based on a list of priority insect species post-fire, and developing a series of resources to enable active flora groups to monitor and record information post-fire.
Our partners to deliver these projects include: The Centre for Ecosystem Science at UNSW; Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University; the Australian Citizen Science Association; Minderoo’s Fire and Flood Resilience initiative and the National Research Collections Australia.
Project page:CSIRO – Citizen science to boost existing bushfire recovery activities
Status:In progress
Time frame:July 2021 – June 2022
More information:Read more on the project fact sheet, or contact ALA@csiro.au