Since January 2021, AURIN has been involved in laying the foundation for an open-access Australian Environmental Health (AusEnHealth) Strategic Planning Digital Twin. This ambitious one-year pilot project aims to understand the landscape of Australian environmental health data collection at both state and national levels.
The AusEnHealth project has acted as a means for testing, learning, and evolving new ways of working with health data that relates to the creation and provision of high-quality environmental exposure and health indicators, to inform and enable policy makers, health managers, and researchers to identify vulnerable populations, predict future disease burden, and plan for a changing climate.
Phase one of the project concludes this month and has resulted in a successful, collaborative, multi-method, systematic synthesis of Australian environmental health data and various parameters. The results from phase one will help inform the discussion about an environmental health decision support platform for Australia.
AURIN’s contributions to the project include participation in data and visualisation audits, user journey workshops and data processing activities, as well as advising on metadata management and assisting with the development of the pilot application itself. Data is a crucial aspect of the AusEnHealth platform, meaning that the modelling, collection, storage, and so on, of datasets had to be carefully considered. It is for this reason that the project team adopted an evidence-based approach to data selection and visualisation. This involved the careful review of environmental health literature, as well as holding discussions with experts in a range of areas such as airborne diseases, air quality, and climate.
“One takeaway from working on this project is my realisation that while AURIN is known to provide researchers with access to datasets from various sources in one place, it is more than just that. For example, on this project we were involved in a range of activities from data and visualisation auditing to providing support for data integration and metadata management. As project partners, we provided support and expertise from the start through to the end of the project,” said Rohit K. Gupta, AURIN data officer.
In addition to AURIN’s targeted contributions, other AusEnHealth tasks were completed by collaborating organisations, namely: WA Health Government of Western Australia, Geoscape Australia, FrontierSI, Queensland University of Technology, Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mining and Energy, TERN, Curtin University, EPA Victoria, Victoria State Government, NGIS Australia.
The first paper for this project, to be circulated in 2022, will provide valuable descriptions of Australian environmental health, and present the resulting data integration, analysis, and visualisation processes employed in the AusEnHealth project.
What happens next?
The AusEnHealth project team is now planning to look at steps required to enter the pilot’s next phase, which may see it converted into a full-fledged, operational tool to support strategic planning and decision making across Australia.