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CeRDI Newsletter Summer 2021

Message from the Director

Associate Professor Helen Thompson  

Associate Professor
 Helen Thompson


Data federation for public access is gaining interest and momentum across academia, government and industry as the possibility and potential for data sharing and data access are realised. Robust discussions are occurring about the foundational principles under which data federation can be established and operationalised as part of ‘business as usual’ practice.

The Visualising Australasia’s Soils (VAS) project provides a test case for developing guidelines and protocols around data sharing for soils research. As phase one of this project draws to a close, the milestones for data sharing have become essential for guiding and enabling future practice. Associated documentation has become an important and enduring output – one of many – associated with the VAS project.

CeRDI has commissioned a new documentary video to conceptualise and highlight the scope and value of data federation. VAS is featured in the short film to support discussion associated with data federation. I invite you to watch this short film, and to view the other films that have been commissioned by CeRDI, about concepts associated with data federation and data democracy:


Data Federations in Agriculture

CeRDI’s Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus  

CeRDI’s Associate Professor
Peter Dahlhaus


CeRDI recently launched a new documentary video: Data Federations in Agriculture . This is the latest in a series of short films commissioned by CeRDI, exploring big data and data federation. This documentary examines the application of technology for federating research data through the lens of agriculture, an industry of focus for data technology advances by CeRDI.

Data Federations in Agriculture outlines the opportunities available to Australia’s agriculture industry by sharing research data and unlocking new production opportunities through data discoveries. CeRDI’s Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus, together with Mr Paul Box, Social Architect at CSIRO Land and Water are featured in the documentary, which was directed and produced by Wind & Sky Productions. Peter provides the core commentary, outlining the concept behind data federation and the immense opportunities and challenges for the industry in sharing data. Visualising Austrasia’s Soils (VAS), provides the backdrop and project exemplar for exploring and discussing the concept of data federation within the film. 

Visualising Australia’s Soils

Visualising Australasia’s Soils (VAS) data portal with spatial mapping  

Visualising Australasia’s Soils (VAS)
data portal with spatial mapping


CeRDI, under the leadership of Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus, is finalising the key milestones associated with Visualising Australasia’s Soils (VAS) Stage 1. The project, which involved the development of a cloud based research data federation, commenced in late 2018 following the awarding of funding from the Co-operative Research Centre for High Performance Soils (Soil CRC). Project investment of $1.1M was awarded.

Assoc Prof Peter Dahlhaus and the CeRDI team have conducted extensive foundational work with the 16 industry partners around data governance, to both understand, and demonstrate, the value of data sharing and data access and usage. Subsequently, stakeholder insights have been used to inform the development of the VAS  web portal, which provides access to shared public and private soils research data. Developed by the technical team at CeRDI, the portal comprises broad functionality and contains a sophisticated spatial mapping feature.

Decision Wizard

Food Agility CRC Data Constellation  

Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre


The Decision Wizard is a new Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre project that will culminate in the development of a pilot web application to guide farmers to make informed decisions about their farm business operations.

The project is a collaborative partnership between CeRDI, Nicon Rural, Marcus Oldham College and Southern Farming Systems and is the first project associated with Food Agility’s Better Data for Better Decisions research constellation program which is being led by Federation University. 

Over the next six months, the Decision Wizard project will become the vehicle that will inform, develop, and launch a desktop-based tool to support farmers’ decision making. The decision-making component of the tool will initially comprise a set of five real-life decision scenarios, applicable to farmers in Victoria.

Livestock hazard map

Livestock hazard map  

The animal welfare hazards
map portal, Pheobus


CeRDI’s Chris Bahlo recently launched the animal welfare hazards map portal, Pheobus . This online spatial mapping portal was conceptualised and informed during Chris’s PhD and is based on a case study which was designed to explore the potential for public datasets to inform decision support for livestock welfare in Australia. The current portal is a demonstration version focused on cattle.

Welfare elements for the case study were extracted from Australian animal welfare standards. These were used to inform the dataset search of several public data catalogues, which was conducted using software scripts developed during the PhD project. The availability of suitable public data enabled the development of a geospatial animal welfare portal that identifies environmental hazards to livestock across Australia.  


LitterWatch Mapping Portal  

The LitterWatch mapping portal is a
publicly accessible system


LitterWater Victoria , an initiative of the Victorian Government’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning  in collaboration with CeRDI, was recently featured in Map it Out , a newsletter outlining spatial news from across the Victorian public sector.  

The LitterWatch portal is a publicly accessible system to manage and view litter monitoring datasets contributed by community group and agencies. The mapping page provides simple analytical tools to compare litter data from different locations and time periods, based on repeat surveys conducted by groups and agencies in different parts of Port Phillip. The mapping portal is intended to guide reporting, planning, policy making and engagement in relation to litter pollution and control.

PhD submission

Congratulations to Chris Bahlo on the submission of her thesis for examination. Chris’ thesis is titled Open data and interoperability standards: Opportunities for animal welfare in extensive livestock systems. Principal Supervisor for this PhD was Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus with Associate Professor Helen Thompson as associate supervisor.

CeRDI news snippets

Recent publications:

Muir, A., Heyes, S., Morgan, J., Hoebee, S., Enright, N., Whelan, R., Geschke, A., Bennett, A., Walsh, S., Weatherly, W., & Milne, R. (2021). Conservation challenges for Victorian Banksias: Workshop May 2020. Ecological Management & Restoration.

Staff farewells
In December, Dr Angela Murphy retired from CeRDI having made a significant research contribution to the Centre since 2012, and the University more broadly.

Dr Judi Walters has stepped down from CeRDI work and her role as a research coordinator with the Online Farm Trials team.

Dan Ferguson has left CeRDI to pursue a new role in the financial technology area.

We extend our thanks to Angela, Judi and Dan and wish them all the very best in the future.

CeRDI postgraduate news

Recent Publications:

Attanayake, R. R., Weller, S. L., & Singarayer, F. K. (2020) Seed germination response of a potential rangeland weed Psilocaulon granulicaule to selected environmental conditions. Australian Journal of Botany, 68, 363-368.

Public Repository of source codes:
Some of the software scripts for querying data catalogues and running the FAIR assessments have been published in association with Chris Bahlo’s PhD research. The public repository containing the source code for the scripts is available at

About CeRDI

The Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) is a research centre at Federation University Australia focused on:

  • the application of information and communications technology (ICT) and the development of innovative, world class knowledge management systems;
  • significantly advancing the digital literacy and knowledge management capabilities of partner organisations;
  • fostering partnerships for the development and implementation of eResearch with industry, government and academia; and
  • measuring the impact of eResearch and digital innovation through longitudinal research.

Contact CeRDI

For further details about CeRDI’s diverse portfolio of research please visit our website:, or contact Director, Associate Professor Helen Thompson:

Mailing Address

Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation
Federation University Australia
PO Box 691
Ballarat Vic 3353

Office Location

Suite 15, Greenhill Enterprise Centre
Ballarat Technology Park
University Drive
Mount Helen Vic 3350

Phone: +61 3 5327 9314
Fax: +61 3 5327 9895

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