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Self-service environmental monitoring data with real-time open data

The Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (DSITI) wanted to improve the publishing of environmental monitoring data. Their goal was to increase efficiency of sensor data capture and publishing by enabling ’self-serve’ access for internal and external users in a controlled and secure way.

DSITI wanted to automate the publishing process and open environmental data through a single data Application Programming Interface (API) that would allow developers to create applications with real-time data, which will benefit the community. Better use of data standards (e.g. spatial formats) would allow users to use the data natively in their business software and applications.

The department worked with Axalon to tackle this 'self-service environmental monitoring' challenge Axalon captured data directly from DSITI’s environmental monitoring sensors which increased the frequency of reading from hourly to 5 minute intervals (near real-time). This data was aggregated and exposed via a standards-based API. Axalon have built sample web, mobile and voice interfaces to demonstrate the value of real-time open data exposed via an API.

The data

The datasets used for this project were DSITI’s environmental and natural resources data, which are freely available to the public via the Queensland Government Open Data Portal.

The environmental monitoring datasets from the Science Division is one of the most downloaded datasets from the portal. These datasets are available for both historical and near real-time sites throughout Queensland. The real-time data used in this initiative was:

  • Air quality
  • Water quality
  • Storm tide
  • Wave height

The user

  • Wave data is used by individuals, tourism and recreational businesses for planning of fishing or boating activities.
  • Mining companies use air quality data in addition to their own data to ensure they are staying within agreed limits.
  • Storm tide data is used by the Bureau of Meteorology as the basis of tide predictions, forecasting and modelling of extreme events.
  • During natural disasters such as cyclones, earthquakes or bushfires, multiple departments will access water quality, waves, storm tide and air quality data to inform their response.

The benefits

  • Application developers, researchers and other government departments can access any of the data in real-time without needing access to source systems or data models.
  • The automated solution improves the efficiency and timeliness in which open data is published and also provides an improved, simplified and consistent way for end-users to interact with all types of environmental monitoring data.
  • Data captured is automatically compliant with standards such as HyperCat and SensorThings to ensure Queensland Government data is open and interoperable in real time.
  • This standards-driven approach can be leveraged by local, state and federal governments to improve the usability of open data, cross-agency collaboration, data interoperability and service integration—helping to improve government services.

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