Satellite imagery of Australia takes a big leap forward

Find out why the Digital Earth Australia (DEA) team were winners at the recent Australian Government Digital Awards.

Two men standing in front of a plat wall. One is receiving an award from the other.
Caption: David Gavin from the Digital Earth Australia team with DTA CEO Randall Brugeaud

As we continue to recognise the great work being done across government in digital transformation, we will showcase each of the Digital Awards winners over the next few weeks. You’ll see what they worked on, and what set them apart from the competition.

Digital Earth Australia, Hybrid Cloud Platform for exploiting satellite imagery of Australia, Geoscience Australia

The Digital Awards recognised the Digital Earth Australia (DEA) platform team from Geoscience Australia, for outstanding digital service platform.

Back to the future

Users of the DEA platform can view, download, transform, and integrate satellite images of the Australian landscape, from as far back as 1986 to as recently as 12 hours ago. DEA uses open data from the European Space Agency and the United States Geological Survey.

The new technology provides users, whether they are farmers or policy makers, opportunities for new insights, access to a rich archive of Australian continent satellite images, and daily satellite views to monitor events in real-time.

Taking industry standards global

DEA provides Australian businesses with access to industry standard Analysis Ready Data (ARD) and analytic capability, encouraging industry to innovate and produce new products and services to compete in a global market.

The multidisciplinary team, made up of sensing scientists, DevOps engineers, software developers, and data scientists, followed the agile principles of the Digital Service Standard with great success. Users of the platform can enjoy rapid, iterative product development.

The team met with government stakeholders throughout and monitored progress at each stage. They also partnered with FrontierSI to engage directly with the Australian commercial sector, to develop an innovative grants program for greater use of satellite imagery.

An open, rich, re-usable platform

All data is available and free-of-charge for users of the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) and Amazon Web Services (AWS), and open publicly.

DEA is now the leading contributor to the Open Data Cube global initiative. The richness of the platform means users have direct access to data, with the ability to explore and test new ideas. It uses diverse software, along with working connections and collaborations with partners such as NCI, Data61 and AWS.

Reusability of the platform through the adoption of DEA’s scientific methods, software and architecture, includes various institutional bodies, space agencies and scientific communities around the world. For example, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico (INEGI), Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies of Columbia (IDEAM), South African National Space Agency (SANSA), The Pacific Community (SPC), Satellite Applications Catapult UK, and UN Environment/GRID-Geneva.

DEA continues to explore the different applications of satellite imagery and information. It continues to put Australia on the global map of platform innovation.

We thank all nominees for this Award. It’s great to see digital transformation taking place across federal, state, and local government.

For any questions about the Awards, please email awards@dta.gov.au

Steve Hibbins is a content designer at the DTA.