ARDC funding outcomes: Monash receives current funding for future tech

Monash University has secured $4.3m from the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) to lead four major data and cloud infrastructure science projects, which significantly advance the artificial intelligence (AI), data science and research technology capabilities at the university.

The administering organisation ARDC, which is run through the Federal Government initiative, National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), awarded four projects led by the Monash eResearch Centre (out of a total 14 national projects) which all focus on building scalable data environments for data-centric research, sensitive data and strengthening the use of AI techniques, such as machine learning (ML).

Monash will work in partnership with other leading research organisations and universities to deliver these projects, harnessing the combined resources and knowledge to achieve improved high performance data environments for researchers.

In one of these projects, Monash was one of four organisations that received funding to upgrade its node of ARDC’s Nectar Research Cloud.  This national research cloud infrastructure provides core services to more than 16,000 researchers in approximately 1,600 currently active projects, enabling Australia’s research community to store, access, and analyse data.

Improved use of data creates scientific success

Monash University’s Vice-Provost (Research and Research Infrastructure), Professor Ian Smith, says this funding is critically important given the research community is now generating more data than ever and needs new solutions.

“Researchers are producing incredible amounts of complex and in some cases, unstructured data. These four largescale projects will allow us to leverage our research technology platforms to strengthen and further build national infrastructure for research data technologies,” he said.

Professor Paul Bonnington, Monash eResearch Centre Director, believes the success is testament to the thriving research community at Monash and across its project partners, which are motivated to improving the research environment in order to keep up with exponential change.

“It is particularly encouraging to see the ARDC looking to Monash for leadership in the increasingly important area of infrastructure for sensitive research data, including health data, commercial data and government data,” he said.

Projects in detail

As stated by the ARDC, the successful platforms projects cover all of the National Science and Research Priorities and National Research Infrastructure Roadmap focus areas. The breadth of investment ensures Australia's world class research system continues to improve productivity, create jobs, lift economic growth and support a healthy environment.

Establishing Australia’s Scalable Drone Cloud (ASDC)
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), commonly known as drones, provide sensing capabilities that address the critical scale-gap between ground and satellite-based observations, and offer a competitive advantage for researchers through the ability to deliver near real-time societally-relevant information. ASDC will coalesce and establish a national best practice approach for experimental and scalable drone data analytics, driven by exemplar data-processing pipelines. The platform will integrate sensing capabilities with easy-to-use storage, processing, visualisation and data analysis tools (including computer vision / deep learning techniques) to establish a national ecosystem for drone data management.

Environments to Accelerate ML Based Discovery
The confluence of big data and ML techniques is permeating all aspects of our lives, but access for researchers to necessary tools, training and resources is still patchy and uncoordinated. This platform will accelerate adoption of these techniques by Australian researchers, building on an international survey of research groups. The platform will support core ML tools for preprocessing, annotating, training, and validation, and integrate with software development environments to provide a consolidated platform for ML-based research.

Australian Characterisation Commons at Scale (ACCS)

To succeed in science and engineering, it is essential to be able to characterise the properties of materials. The ACCS will develop a coherent and accessible compute and date environment that promotes collaboration, increases ROI for the characterisation instruments, and delivers value for thousands of researchers in domains including health, advanced manufacturing, soil and water, food, energy and transport, and resources. The proposed infrastructure, building on the Characterisation Virtual Laboratory, will be a rich ecosystem of computing systems, data repositories, workflows, and services, connected with instruments.

Infrastructure Refresh – ARDC Nectar Research Cloud at Monash (Generation 2)
Monash University is committed to significant continued involvement with ARDC’s Nectar Research Cloud. We welcome the ARDC’s support to refresh cloud compute and storage infrastructure for Nectar funded equipment that has reached the end of its useful life, and maintaining the capacity required to meet the demand for cloud resources from nationally prioritised research activities. Monash eResearch Centre is ISO9001 certified to co-design and co-operate digital infrastructure with research and we wish to co-design and co-operate with the ARDC to achieve this purpose at a local, state and national level.