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RIR 2016 Fugure3
15 May, 2017

Australian Government releases national roadmap for research infrastructure

Following an extensive consultation period with the Australian research community, the Australian Government has released a roadmap outlining research infrastructure priorities essential for building Australian research excellence into the future.

The focus is on national, landmark and global research infrastructure rather than institutional infrastructure.

The 2016 Roadmap has identified nine focus areas for infrastructure investment:

  • digital data and e‑research platforms
  • platforms for humanities arts and social sciences
  • characterisation (techniques for understanding the properties of materials)
  • advanced fabrication and manufacturing
  • advanced physics and astronomy
  • earth and environmental systems
  • biosecurity
  • complex biology
  • therapeutic development.

AARNet commends the work that the expert working group has done to produce the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap. AARNet is pleased to see Data and eResearch platforms listed as a priority, the importance of Australia’s national research and education network acknowledged (page 27-32 ) and the need for further investment in the network identified to extend its reach to all regions and instruments. National extension and international expansion of AARNet will reduce the operational costs and increase the data-driven research impact of connected facilities, instruments, campuses and regions.

Digital Data and eResearch Platforms

AARNet strongly supports the bringing together of the Digital Data and eResearch platforms. These are inextricably coupled, and it is vital at this stage of the development of Research Infrastructure that there be coherence among all its eResearch elements.

“This national eResearch infrastructure area is a cross-cutting capability that serves research collaboration, modelling, data and data analysis needs. It comprises advanced networks; identity, access and authentication services; high performance and cloud computing resources; management of and access to research data; the development and adoption of new digital research techniques; and the integration of all those elements to create digital environments researchers use every day. Research increasingly depends on digital evidence and related data and on digital methods as a new means to progress ideas and advance knowledge. As such, the ability to support those activities through more effective digital data and eResearch platforms becomes critical.” (page 27).

Advanced Research Network

“The AREN* should be enhanced and expanded to reach as many researchers as possible. This must be done in a way that achieves the greatest strategic impact for research collaboration. Priorities include the expansion of the bandwidth to North America and into Asia, full domestic backbone provision at steadily increasing bandwidth to all capital cities and enhanced regional reach at ever higher capacities. This will support data movement between the locations of very large sources of data both here and overseas and the researchers that use that data. Consideration should be given to extending the network into regional areas where commercial services are not available and not likely to expand into these areas. Facilities and people in regional and remote areas are generating increasing amounts of data of potential interest to researchers working in areas such as precision agriculture and resource management. This will further enhance state and territory based monitoring. Without appropriate network access the value of this data may not be fully exploited.” (page 31-32)

*The AREN is operated by AARNet Pty Ltd.

Australian Research Data Cloud

AARNet is also pleased to see the need for a more integrated system (an Australian Research Data Cloud) to deal with the data-intensive, cross-disciplinary and global research identified (page 32).

However, as noted in our response to the draft Roadmap released for comment in December 2016, AARNet is very strongly of the view that AARNet, the AAF (Australian Access Federation), the Pawsey and NCI facilities, and representatives of Australia’s research institutions must be explicitly and formally engaged in the definition, subsequent deployment and operation of the Australian Research Data Cloud (in addition to ANDS, RDS and NeCTAR).

The Australian Research Data Cloud needs to be more clearly defined. Its success will need to leverage all the existing national e-Infrastructure service providers, associated compute, storage, network, identity and software platforms, and expertise within the sector.

More information

View the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap

Read the joint media release from the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science and the Minister of Education and Training

Image: National research infrastructure being used by a research domain, in this case to increase agricultural productivity and sustainability. Source: