Open Government Partnership – Australia
3.3 - Government information access - Environmental information
This commitment builds on progress made by the Australian Government in recent years to work with stakeholders to make significant environmental datasets discoverable, accessible and available to all Australians to help make better decisions about environmental management.
The Department of the Environmental and Energy is committed to improving the accessibility and discoverability of the data that underpins key responsibilities, such as the State of the Environment (SoE) reporting and research into the impacts of coal and coal seam gas developments on ground water.
This commitment will advance the OGP values of access to information and technology and innovation by enabling information and data reuse for economic and social benefits and increasing the accessibility, usability and discoverability of public data.
The State of the Environment 2016 interactive digital platform, SoE Digital, was launched on 7 March 2017. To date, SoE Digital has had 25,000 unique visitors, and two and half thousand hours on the site.
SoE Digital is a step-change in environmental reporting. User-centric design and advanced search and visualisation features make analysis accessible to anyone, anywhere.
Spatial data is explorable through SoE Digital, and datasets can be overlayed to find out new things. SoE Digital makes available over 330 government data sets, and enables previously impossible research and analysis for informing business planning and investment and policy and program design
All data used in State of the Environment reporting is stored on data.gov.au, the Australian Government's open data portal. All of the data available for download can be found at data.gov.au/organization/state-of-the-environment.
Spatial data used in State of the Environment 2016 can be viewed and explored using the SoE instance of NationalMap, available at https://soe.terria.io/. Datasets can be overlayed to find out new things.
Bioregional Assessments and the impacts of coal and coal seam gas developments
Information on the bioregional assessments, the approach, methods, products data and metadata are available on-line at http://www.bioregionalassessments.gov.au/.
Bioregional assessments involve a broad range of data from disciplines such as geology, hydrology, hydrogeology, modelling and ecology. The data have been provided by state and Australian governments, industry, technical experts, regional communities and individuals.
Making this valuable information publicly available is an important aspect of the program. The degree of openness and potential for re-use varies between regions due to differing amounts of information and licence restrictions. There are over 900 datasets available for download from Australian Government's public data information service (http://data.gov.au/organization/bioregional-assessment-programme).
Between January and June 2017 over 5,600 users, mainly from Australia, but with some users from the USA, UK and Japan, visited the site. They viewed nearly 24,000 pages of assessment content. There were over 1,100 returning users.
The information made available under the Bioregional Assessments program will be useful for the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development, state government regulators, natural resource managers, coal seam gas and large coal mine proponents, and interested community members.
To allow users to explore the data and assessments visually, the bioregional assessments team is working on an on-line mapping tool based on National Map.
Ministerial approval has been granted for the release of the two first two full assessments, Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine and Clarence-Moreton for July 2017. Results for the Maranoa-Balonne- Condamine assessment will be visualised through the Explorer tool with more results for the remaining assessments, Hunter, Gloucester, Namoi and Galilee as they are finalised during the year. Modelling in Clarence-Moreton indicated minimal changes to ground and surface water would occur so the results will not be visualised through the explorer tool.
Department of the Environment and Energy
Government: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Data61 (National Map); Department of Finance (govCMS); Bureau of Meteorology; Geoscience Australia
Non-Government: Private web development companies; researchers; non-government organisations; and businesses involved in defining user needs and user testing
Steps to implementation
The SoE 2016 content was developed by a team of independent experts supported by the Department of the Environment and Energy. This content was reviewed by stakeholders, fact checked and peer reviewed by subject-matter experts.
In parallel with the content development, the SoE Digital team worked on the information design and architecture. Strong partnerships with public and private enterprise helped resolve challenges in connecting govCMS as the platform and data.gov.au as the data host. User testing with researchers, non-government organisations, and businesses started in October 2016.
SoE Digital was launched on 7 March 2017.
(Mar 2016 - Mar 2017)
The Bioregional Assessment Information Platform was developed between February 2015 and March 2016. It went live in April 2016. The Explorer function has been under development with program partners since May 2016 and is due to be released for the first full assessment in July 2017. Visualisation of the remaining assessments will occur over the remainder of 2017. (Feb 2015 - Dec 2017)