The impact of #dataimpact

Andrew Treloar of the Australian National Data service discusses the #dataimpact campaign which explored how data is making a difference in Australia and beyond.

In early 2017, the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) published an ebook containing sixteen stories about the real-life benefits of Australian research data – a compilation of the most compelling stories from the #dataimpact campaign.

This campaign ran in 2016 to find good stories about the real-life impact of Australian research data. ANDS asked the research community to send in stories of data-intensive projects that have led to tangible benefits for Australia. The impact could be, for example:

  • saving lives: has the research data you have collected, managed or shared led to improved health outcomes, safer streets or quicker emergency response times?
  • protecting our environment and wildlife: has it helped increase the population of a particular species, saved water usage or improved air quality?
  • supporting the economy: has your data helped boost local business, saved money or perhaps led to new industrial investment?
  • influencing public policy: has your project directly or indirectly resulted in a policy change at a local, state or national level?

The stories we found stretched across a wide variety of subject areas, from bushfires to sunbeds to farming to birds. The best ones were published on the ANDS website, promoted on social media and featured in the ANDS News e-newsletter.

The best of those stories were collated into an eBook which is available to read, download and share from the ANDS website at The publication is licensed under a Creative Commons attribution licence, meaning the text can be reused and republished as long as it is attributed to ANDS.

This campaign was received very favourably – there was a lively discussion on Twitter, and the publication was viewed hundreds of times.

Importantly, the focus of the eBook was on the data and the ways it was being used to make a difference, not on the ANDS organisation itself. In fact, a number of the projects highlighted had not been funded by ANDS or had minimal ANDS involvement.


Stories included in the eBook:

  • Melanoma study leads to ban on commercial sunbeds (University of Sydney)
  • Using bee data to protect crops (The Global Initiative for Honeybee Health led by CSIRO)
  • Understanding wellbeing in regional Australia (University of Canberra)
  • Redmap helps protect marine life and monitor climate change (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at University of Tasmania)
  • Researchers measure health impact of controversial TV show (University of Sydney, Australian National University, University of New South Wales)
  • PetaJakarta turns tweets into flood alerts (University of Wollongong)
  • Mapping the impact of climate change on Australian wildlife (Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change at James Cook University)
  • HILDA survey shapes policy on tax and jobs (Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne)
  • Data on bushfire fatalities helping to prevent more deaths (Risk Frontiers based at Macquarie University, RMIT University and Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre)
  • Mapping sports data for better decision making (Victoria University, Federation University)
  • Data reveals folate during pregnancy prevents spina bifida (University of Western Australia)
  • DNA data supporting whale conservation (Flinders University and partners)
  • EverGraze project boosts Australian farming (Charles Sturt University and partners)
  • Citizen data monitors coral bleaching (CoralWatch based at University of Queensland)
  • Using health data to save babies’ lives (Health Informatics Research)
  • Waterbird survey guides conservation decisions (Centre for Ecosystem Science at University of New South Wales)

About the author

Andrew Treloar​ is the Director of Technology for the Australian National Data Service (ANDS). In 2008 he led the project to establish ANDS. His Twitter bio describes him as “Data-tragic, home-gardener, cycling-commuter, BodyPump-addict, urban-greenie, lapsed-linguist”, which sounds about right. More information at @atreloar.

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