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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment overlay
15 March, 2019

Improving accuracy of information used for land management

Issues with access to geospatial data and satellite imagery for NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment researchers solved with custom AARNet high speed network.

A customised AARNet network solution connecting the New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) and the Copernicus Australasia Regional Data Hub (the Hub) located at the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) in Canberra means that DPIE researchers now have the fast and reliable access they need to satellite imagery and geospatial data.

The Hub facilitates the flow and access of data from the European Union’s Copernicus programme to NCI via GÉANT (the pan-European research and education network) and AARNet (Australia’s research and education network). Data, including the latest images of the Australian landscape beamed down to Earth from the constellation of European Sentinel satellites, are made available to DPIE researchers via the Hub. The Hub is managed by a consortium that includes Geoscience Australia and CSIRO, the state governments of Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, and New Zealand’s Centre for Space Science Technology.

The researchers use these data for remote sensing analysis, mapping and modelling to generate information about vegetation and water patterns and changes to the environment. This information feeds into government policy making and compliance for land use activities, and helps land owners manage stock and tree cover, as well as their interactions with wildlife, native vegetation and wetlands.

Imaging data needs a big network

DPIE Remote Sensing Scientist and Programmer Tony Gill said the DPIE sought expertise from AARNet when the network speed and capacity offered by commercial internet service providers proved to be unreliable for the daily transfer of thousands of high-resolution images required for their work.

“When we were reliant on commercial networks for transferring data from the Hub at NCI, the download speed was very slow. We had to be very judicious in the choice of imagery we used for analysis and this was impacting the accuracy of our modelling,” said Gill.

“What was great about working closely with AARNet to solve our data transfer problem was that we were able to come up with a solution for retrieving these data that doesn’t require costly investments in infrastructure and overheads,” he said.

Customised network solution

AARNet engineers worked with Gill and the DPIE IT team to develop the solution, which included the deployment of a new customized capability for accessing large data stores at the NCI and technical expertise to augment existing DPIE IT resources.

A low latency scalable 1 Gigabit per second AARNet connection coupled with the implementation of Science DMZ architecture at the institution border, to separate the big data transfers from day-to-day business traffic, ensures reliable access to exponential volumes of Sentinel imagery for the scientists at the DPIE.

“What used to take a week to download in an unreliable fashion, now takes 15 minutes. We can also now retrieve every image captured for NSW within a couple of days of being acquired instead of only being able to manage a small portion,” says Gill. “AARNet connectivity gives us more power to do more sophisticated analysis and makes our data more accurate.”

Meeting the unique needs of research

AARNet Chief Technology Officer David Wilde says this is a great example of how AARNet delivers services to meet the unique needs of the research community.

“We work directly with our customers to make sure that we not only solve the data transfer problem, but also optimise operations, manage risk and deliver measurable value to our customers,” he said.

Within a managed service framework, AARNet is continuing to work with the DPIE team to develop access to larger (petabyte) data sets and a range of data repositories.

“We’re very pleased to see DPIE really starting to use the network now with usage growing to pulling over eight terabytes of data down this year to date. Assisting customers to make good use of the national research and education network is fundamental to all the services AARNet now offers,” said Wilde.

AARNet connectivity gives us more power to do more sophisticated analysis and makes our data more accurate.”

New South Wales Government - Planning, Industry and Environment
Tony Gill

DPIE Remote Sensing Scientist and Programmer