Intersect News #32 May 2011

1 Jun 2011

“Exactly how a researcher would design it”: PHRNi prototype

The PHRNi live demonstration was presented by Tim Churches from the Sax Institute & Joanna Khoo from PHRN NSW/ACT.

The Population Health Research Network Infrastructure (PHRNi) project has realised a key milestone. The fully functioning prototype of the SURE (Secure Unified Research Environment) system was presented to 60 Health Data Linkage specialists on 26 May. This followed an earlier demonstration of SURE to the PHRN Management Council on 13 May.

The Secure Unified Research Environment (SURE) is a virtual laboratory providing researchers with a set of tools to analyse linked patient data. The live demonstration was presented as a scenario of use by a typical health data linkage researcher.

Prof Louisa Jorm, Principal Scientist of the Sax Institute said the (first) demo was “very well received by the national PHRN Management Council: summed up by the comments of the Victorian member: “it is exactly how a researcher would have designed it! “”

The PHRN-i project is building infrastructure to provide NSW & ACT researchers with a remotely accessible, secure workspace and tools that enable analysis of de-identified data from a diverse range of health data sources. The Sax Institute awarded the tender to Intersect in late 2010, and the project will complete in Q4 2011.

Strategic Roadmap feedback public

193 submissions to the 2011 Strategic Roadmap for Australian Research Infrastructure have been made public at

RDSI Consultation for Sydney

Following the RDSI workshop on its NoDe program’s “strawman model”, there will be “tinman” consultations for more detail on the emerging NoDe program. This will lead to the Call for Nodes later in 2011.

The Tinman Consultation in Sydney on 9th June 2011 is open to all interested parties.  Details at

Biomechanics Data Capture Progress

The Australian National Data Service (ANDS) has provided the University of Wollongong (UOW) with funding to build software that assists UOW in data capture, data management and research promotion whilst also achieving the goals of ANDS – increasing discoverability and reusability of Australian research data. Intersect is building the software to manage the data from multiple projects, involving data collection from a diverse range of participants, using highly specialised laboratory equipment in the biomechanics laboratory. The software will assist researchers to organise data collected from specialised equipment, build meaningful descriptions about the data and collection methods, permanently store the data coupled with descriptions and publish the descriptions to the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC).

The project is more than half way through development and the system will be deployed in the lab around mid September this year.

The ARDC is a searchable database administered by the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) that allows like-minded researchers to search and locate information about the existence of research data sets that may be useful to them. Importantly, the ARDC will not allow public access to the actual data. Instead, requests for access to the data will come directly to the custodian of the data and are subject to ethics approval.

Digital Humanities

An Australasian Association for Digital Humanities has been formed. The association will act to support and extend links between digital humanities researchers, improve professional development opportunities and provide international leverage for local projects and initiatives.

In the first year the committee will develop a sustainable membership model for the association.

New appointments

Kali Waterford has joined Intersect as a Quality Assurance Engineer, Leo Yang and Sean Lin are our new software engineers. Both Leo and Sean are currently seconded to work at AustLII (Australasian Legal Information Institute) as software engineers.

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