CAUL Hub Project 2 – Data Integration

Project Leader: Professor Richard Sinnott, The University of Melbourne

Project Summary

Currently data about cities is dispersed and heterogeneous. Thus it is hard for either researchers or communities at large to form an integrated view of their function. This project will bring all the available data on the urban landscape together into a single web-based research environment. This will enable researchers and the community to combine many datasets about their city/cities of interest to understand the relationships among different elements of the city.


This project focuses on capturing the current knowledge of data and information on the state of clean air and urban landscapes across Australia. Many of the data sets and resources that are required to support the activity of the CAUL Hub are highly distributed and heterogeneous, or in many cases simply do not exist and have to be created. The role of Project 2 is to make these data available through a common web-based platform so that 1) they can be accessed and integrated and 2) knowledge gaps can be identified. As the project evolves we shall systematically extend the definitive data sets for Australia. In general, Project 2 contains the more technical tasks (such as interfacing new measuring devices for air quality to a centralized database) while domain specialists (e.g., ecologists, urban planners, specialists in population health and/or urban greening) will use their existing relationships and expertise to coordinate datasets relevant to their project. The key vehicle for delivering this project will be the AURIN platform, which not only hosts the technical capability to ingest new datasets, but it already covers a great deal of data relevant to CAUL.


The work of Project 2 can be divided into 3 sub-projects

  1. Integration of existing data
  2. Facilitating acquisition of new data
  3. Facilitating use of AURIN data sets and tools

Subproject 2.1: Integration of Existing Data

In undertaking the initial CAUL data identification activity, a key factor is to build on existing state of the art knowledge. Where possible the focus will be to identify national resources, however it may be the case that the work is only initially possible at the State or regional level. It is important that this is seen not just as a cataloguing exercise, but rather it is a systematic review of what we currently know and subsequently need to improve. Thus databases that are continually updated and allow fine-grained/localised analysis are more likely to be relevant than older historical snapshots of aggregated data that have not been formally substantiated.

Subproject 2.2: Facilitating Integration of New Data

CAUL will generate a great deal of new data, both extensions of existing data and some classes of data new to Australia such as personal pollution exposure data. It is cost and time efficient if researchers can incorporate data themselves since they best understand the necessary quality control and documentation. Making data available, discoverable and interoperable is vital for the success of CAUL and for interdisciplinary research in general. Project 2 will prepare a series of training modules to be offered to CAUL researchers.

Subproject 2.3: Facilitating use of AURIN data sets and tools

This subproject supports the research environment for all other projects by facilitating the use of AURIN and the analytical tools it provides. This will help ensure that CAUL data is widely accessible to both academics and non-academics in Australia. The project will establish protocols to ensure a smooth transition from data discovery and acquisition through quality control and assurance to curation and dissemination.

Expected Outcomes


  1. An enhanced, integrated data set on Australia's cities
  2. Functionality to ingest a wider range of real time data
  3. A variety of management or policy outcomes

Specific policy or management outcomes

Many of the tools developed for policy makers will be housed within AURIN so we see Project 2 as enabling improved policy formation


As an enabling project, P2 must be measured mostly by the value it adds to other projects. If we choose to use it as a platform for community engagement then its value can be measured in the normal ways of number of hits, downloads etc.

Further details can be read in the public version of the CAUL Hub Research Plan. Return to the overview of CAUL Hub research projects.