NHRA Data Management Framework Development and Metadata Exchange

Development of a data management framework and pilot Metadata exchange catalogue for bushfire-related NHRA research outputs.  


The Challenge 

Bushfire research data outputs are a critical national data asset. They support future bushfire research as well as potential operational needs for emergency services, government agencies and NGOs. It is, therefore, paramount to ensure the integrity and accessibility of such valuable research information to foster collaboration and accelerate discoveries. Australia currently lacks a national centralised database and process for bushfire-related information. Due to this gap, researchers and bushfire-related practitioners are likely missing out on critical insights that could help support more effective responses to emergency activations such as understanding trends in bushfire intensity and extent or assessing the effectiveness of mitigation activities.  



The project was delivered for Natural Research Hazards Australia (NHRA), with support from the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC), in collaboration with UNSW, RMIT and NGIS. The project outcomes draw on the many contributions from industry, government and academic stakeholders who were interviewed and attended the workshops. 


The Solution 

NHRA endeavours to track and catalogue research project data outputs, both past and present. Developing a ‘line of sight’ to these datasets enhances their discoverability, and future application for research and operational purposes. The project delivered two key outputs for NHRA: 

  1. A data management framework providing recommendations for data management and governance procedures regarding search & discovery, security, licensing and access; all of which were implemented as part of the second key output. This document provides a foundation for improvement and standardisation of data governance procedures within the centre and with external collaborators too. 
  2. A proof-of-concept metadata exchange system developed as a ‘Search & Discovery’ web application based on CKAN, a popular open-source data management system. The application allows researchers and agency staff to discover and locate datasets for bushfire research, analysis and decision-making. While the exchange does not store datasets, the platform provides a line-of-sight to the location of each dataset as established by data holders. In the future, the exchange can be expanded to catalogue all natural hazard outputs from NHRA.  

As part of the project outputs, a scale-up and implementation guide for stage 2 of the data catalogue was produced, making the platform fully operational for all natural hazards. 



When fully implemented by NHRA, the metadata exchange system and data management framework will enhance data discovery and accessibility for researchers, policymakers and emergency responders. This is done through an intuitive and user-friendly interface that allows users to search for and discover datasets in a way that supports improved research efficiency and evidence-based decision-making.  

This discoverability will also help minimise research data replication, as existing datasets can be found and reused where practicable. It will help strengthen collaboration and comparative knowledge sharing of datasets, methodologies, and findings across the natural hazards research community, facilitating transparency and reproducibility in scientific research.  

Lastly, it will empower decision-making and policy development through the availability of valuable insights and evidence. Not only to inform their actions and policies but also to empower the wider research community to discover high-quality and reliable datasets produced by NHRA.   

The platform’s cascading impact allows for an understanding of the dynamics of natural hazards, assessing risks, and developing effective mitigation strategies. This will further allow stakeholders to explore relationships between natural hazards, housing, socio-economic factors, and other relevant variables, facilitating evidence-based decision-making and policy development. 



To learn more, contact FrontierSI at contact@frontiersi.com.au or connect with Project Director, Roberto Musotto, at rmusotto@frontiersi.com.au