ARDC project title

Australian Digital Observatory: Infrastructure for Dynamic Digital Data


Project summary

Social media is a rich source of data that researchers from the social and natural sciences increasingly incorporate into their research. However, researchers, particularly with limited funds or support, face multiple barriers, e.g., ensuring data quality, technical data pre-processing, and accessing advanced analytical tools. Social media datasets are also dynamic with new content arriving constantly, making storage and analysis complex.


Since 2014, many groups across Australia have independently collected significant (terabyte+) social media holdings to serve their local research community. This project will sustainably align and connect these platforms into a single unified national infrastructure that supports an extended and diverse array of research communities.

This ARDC Investment seeks to:

  • Establish a national platform for accessing and analysing dynamic digital data, including existing collections of national interest across Twitter, FlickR, YouTube, Reddit, Instagram and gaming platforms such as Steam;
  • Create an interdisciplinary team of researchers and support staff at key locations around Australia to provide transferrable skillsets that enable the use of these and future resources in projects of national interest across many research sectors; and
  • Improve the availability and scalability of existing infrastructures and enable reuse of rich data resources with other nationally significant platforms.


This project will ensure:

  • Equitable (FAIR) access to dynamic data with analytics support across the sector;
  • Significant savings in current and future research: by consolidating and scaling the underpinning infrastructure and removing duplication of development and maintenance costs;
  • Create a new national capability for developing, managing, and utilising large-scale research data through collaboration; and
  • Create new national skill-bases: diffusing digital skills supporting research transformation and acceleration.


Expected benefits and Impacts of this project:

  • A national platform providing live and curated digital data leading to better research practices; - New forms of research, including usage of multiple social media platforms on topics of global interest, e.g., disinformation on COVID-19;
  • Real-time delivery of research outcomes based on large-scale, evolving datasets;
  • Providing FAIR access to social media datasets and analytical capabilities at scale;
  • Cost-effective pooling of resources (data, expertise, governance, and analytics) through one platform, and avoiding duplication of effort across institutions; and
  • Critical concentration of skills and expertise to establish a community of practice that will promote knowledge sharing about the Platform.