ecocloud: an ecosystem of data, tools and people working towards confidently predicting future environmental outcomes

Sarah Richmond1, Kheeran Dharmawardena2, Jonathan Yu3

1Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia,

2Atlas of Living Australia, Melbourne, Australia,

3CSIRO, Melbourne, Australia,


Access to good quality ecological and biodiversity data alongside analysis tools is critical to synthesising our understanding of the natural world and making forward projections into novel conditions. Recent technologies have enabled consistent and continuous collection of ecological data at high resolutions across large spatial scales, and there are a number of initiatives and institutions collecting this data. The challenge remains, however, to bring these data together and expose them to methods and tools to analyse the interaction between biodiversity and the environment. These challenges are mostly associated with the accessibility, visibility and interoperability of data hosted in disparate places, and the technical capacity, computation and analysis needs of those interpreting the data. This is where ecocloud comes in.

ecocloud is an online environment that works the way ecologists do. That is, it provides unprecedented access to datasets from hundreds of publishers across Australia in a single interface, and it connects this data with common analysis tools like RStudio & Jupyter Notebooks using Australia’s national cloud computing infrastructure. It also includes an innovative training and skills development program to help drive a skilled workforce of students, researchers, government practitioners and industry professionals working across the domain.

In line with the vision of the Science Clouds initiative[1] that established the ecocloud, it is emerging as more than another digital platform. ecocloud is beginning to provide an important collaboration vehicle across key partners within the ecosciences domain, and also across other domains such as biosciences, humanities and social sciences, and marine sciences. By leveraging the expertise of each project partner we’ve been better able to strategically align with national research priorities and a collective long-term vision of creating an ecosystem of infrastructure that provides capability to enable reliable prediction of future environmental outcomes.

In this presentation, we will showcase the ecocloud platform and the outcomes from the Ecoscience DEVL/RDC project as supported by the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC). We will also touch on our strategic vision, how we’re planning for a sustainable future for the platform and what success looks like to us. We expect this talk will be of interest not only to people working in the Ecoscience domain, but to anyone aspiring to build and maintain digital solutions for research and decision making in the long-term.

[1] The Australian Science Clouds Project. Available from, accessed 21 June 2018.


Sarah Richmond, BSc(Hons I), is a Project Manager in eResearch Services at Griffith University. Sarah currently coordinates the development and delivery of the Ecoscience DEVL/RDC Project (ecocloud), as well as the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory (BCCVL). With a research background in ecology, she has a special interest in enhancing environmental research through digital solutions by building integrated, user-friendly and supported cloud platforms for accessing data and analysis workflows. Sarah has both a professional and personal passion for tackling complex technical challenges to better allow researchers and decision-makers to efficiently discover and guide practical solutions to significant environmental problems.

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