19 Mar 2014

Intersect hosted a week long hackfest bringing together national teams working on consolidating approaches to storing and serving Australian gridded datasets. The group created a new open source tool, called the Spatially Explicit Data Discovery, Extraction and Evaluation Service (SPEDDEXES).

The hackfest was coordinated by the Australian Centre for Ecological Analysis & Synthesis (ACEAS) and led by Bradley Evans of Macquarie University and Siddeswara Guru of the University of Queensland. Specialist staff from Intersect have been on call to assist.

The tool will allow web users (via a portal) to query, extract and visualise national spatial datasets.

Participants included a mix of senior and developer representatives from TERN, the Bureau of Meteorology, National Computational Infrastructure, Geoscience Australia, CSIRO, IMOS, UNSW, University of Queensland, Macquarie University and Intersect.

SPEDDEXES will enhance the way ecosystem scientists discover and query data from multiple sources based on spatial, temporal and thematic parameters, and will output both data and statistics in a range of formats set by the client. The immediate potential use of SPEDDEXES is for visualisation and use of eMASTAusCoverIMOSBoM and GA high temporal and spatial frequency data. The ‘hacking’ process started with a cross institution exchange on best practice, recent projects and a half day scoping of technological potential.

Dr Bradley Evans, Director of eMAST said the aim of the hackfest was “to achieve a community developed tool that allows us to query each others’ servers and that provides immediate visualisation of data online”.

Adam Lewis of Geoscience Australia said, "we at Geoscience Australia are keenly anticipating the development outcomes of SPEDDEXES and the potential to incorporate them back into our development of the Australian geoscience data cube”.

Tim Pugh of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said, “we are excited to join this cross-section of technologist and environmental disciplines to explore new methods in scientific data access and visualisation. The complexities of the digital world can get in the way of work, so we need to hide the complex machinery inherent in today’s scientific investigations and make it a more natural extension of daily life.”

Dr Ben Evans from NCI said, “The SPEDDEXES workshop has provided a forum for us to work closely with the leading research communities using spatial-temporal environmental data in Australia.  The week gave an opportunity to quickly share access to our collective research data, install and access new advanced tools, and through demonstration and discussion with the technical experts, better understand methods needed by each community.”

The resulting tools and websites will be hosted by the NCI and will be made publicly available.

More about the group's activities can be found on the ACEAS web site

For enquiries contact bradley.evans@mq.edu.au or email aceas.tern@uq.edu.au

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