Data playground for research students

November 27th, 2015 by tanya

Research-ready data opens opportunities for studentsHobart masterclass

  • Can greenery in the city be maximised to address climate change challenges and the urban heat island effect?
  • How can urban planning promote walking and improve people’s health?
  • Can transportation and demographic data open up alternative transport plans and policies?

AURIN’s ‘big data’ resources are giving researchers and students access to the numbers to answer these questions and more. AURIN, the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network, provides access to thousands of data sets from 40 diverse providers including the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Geoscience Australia, state health authorities and city councils.

“AURIN data sets and tools allow researchers to jump in and ask big questions of big data without first spending years getting access to the data,” says Andrew Dingjan, Director of AURIN.

Making sense, visualising and mapping big data will be made easier through AURIN’s analytical tools, which are available through the online AURIN Workbench.

“The beauty of AURIN is that I can bring students here and they can learn how to use a geographical information system,” says Dr Stephen Glackin, a Research Fellow at Swinburne University.

“They have access to the data: a lot of data and data from many different areas. It’s a very rich educational experience and ultimately provides significant resources to urban researchers in the future.”

Anyone with an ‘—.edu.au’ email address can log in and use the AURIN Workbench, making it a readily accessible resource for students planning research projects and doctorate topics. Having access to this data means students can allocate more time to analysis instead of data collection. The diversity of data available through AURIN can also inspire innovative ways for student researchers to combine different data sets to provide new insights into urban planning challenges.

The data sharing agreements arranged between AURIN and data custodians also saves the time and effort normally required to arrange individual student use of data.

Accessible research tools available to students

AURIN e-research infrastructure:

  • brings together and streamlines access to more than 1700 datasets previously difficult, time consuming or costly to obtain
  •  unparalleled single point of access to curated, geo-spatial data on almost every aspect of Australian society
  • is accessible online to research students, who can log in using their ‘—.edu.au’ email address with their regular institution login details.
  • provides the online capability to combine data at various levels of scale from multiple sources
  • delivers online access to open source e-research tools to interrogate, model and visualise data
  • provides analytical capabilities, including statistical and spatial modelling, planning and simulation tools, graphing and mapping routines (including 2D and 3D visualisation)

Student and research leader comments on AURIN

Stephen Glackin, Research Fellow, Swinburne University

“The beauty of AURIN is that I can bring students here and they can learn how to use a geographical information system, they have access to the data – a lot of data and data from many different areas – it’s a very rich educational experience and ultimately provides significant resources to urban researchers in the future.”

Professor Bill Randolph, Director, City Futures Research Centre, Built Environment, University of New South Wales

“Having a suite of datasets available creates a ‘data playground’ for researchers. Exposure to these diverse datasets allows us to come up with serendipitous new insights and analyses, which may not have occurred without being exposed to the information. For example, housing, health and social disadvantage are closely related. Putting the data from these areas together allows you to play with these ideas.”

Claire Boulange, PhD candidate, University of Melbourne

“What I like about AURIN is that it’s one spot where I can access data, analyse it and display my results. It’s a one-size-fits-all tool.”

Datasets and sources available via AURIN

AURIN e-research infrastructure brings together datasets from more than 30 organisations, including:

Australian Bureau of Statistics

Australian Financial Services Authority

Geoscience Australia

Sustainability Victoria

Centre of Full Employment and Equity

National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling

Public Health Information Development Unit

University of Queensland eResearch

Various state government authorities and departments for health, human services, primary industries, planning, education and environment.

Various local governments