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Data and Digital

Goal: Data, technology and digital services enabling the delivery of an outstanding customer experience.

The Data and Digital Group, partnering with other Bureau Groups, provides a platform to develop and deliver enterprise services and technologies underpinning the Bureau’s delivery to its customers.

The Group consolidates all information technology (IT) and observation technology, software development and digital and data management. It is instrumental in ensuring the Bureau’s effectiveness, innovation, security and sustainability in meeting customer needs through seamless delivery, from data collection to provisioning. The Group is critical for framing the future of the Bureau, delivering new architecture and capability.

The Data and Digital Group consists of six Programs as illustrated below.



Policy and Capability

Observing Systems and Operations


User-Centred Design

Solutions Delivery and Support

IT Operations


roadmaps, policies and standards

operation of the observing network

data governance and standards

user experience of digital services

delivery of ICT applications and platforms

reliable ICT operations

ICT architecture

observations delivery

data quality

user research and testing

digital services

systems security

life-cycle management

maintenance and sustainment of the network

data partnerships

user design and prototyping

testing and quality assurance

high-performance computing

data services


ICT support services

Throughout 2018–19, the Data and Digital Group focused on the delivery of four outcomes that support the delivery of the Bureau’s Strategy and purpose. The Group’s achievement in delivering each of these outcomes is discussed below.

Supercomputer uptime99.9% uptime of the Bureau's supercomputerInternet services uptime100% uptime of the Bureau's internet servicesNumber of automatic weather stations in the Bureau's observing network (at 30 June)OVER 700 automatic weather stations in the Bureau's observing networkUptime of the Bureau's radar networkREAL-TIME 97% radar data coverage was available for of the year

Outcome 1 - A globally benchmarked data and digital capability informed by deep customer insight and understanding.

Achieving the outcome

Delivering observations that meet Global Atmosphere Watch requirements

Australia takes part in the Global Atmosphere Watch international monitoring and research program coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) that aims to understand and control the increasing influence of human activity on the global atmosphere.

Several new instruments were added to the Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station measurement regime, so that the Bureau and CSIRO, in their joint science program, remain at the leading edge of chronicling changes in composition of the atmosphere that drive climate change and stratospheric ozone depletion. The new instruments increase the Bureau’s capabilities in measuring a range of pollutants including black carbon, nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide, aerosols, radon and minor greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances.

To ensure continuation of the long-term record of stratospheric ozone in the southern hemisphere, four Brewer spectrophotometers have been purchased that will be operated alongside the Bureau’s existing Dobson spectrophotometers for a multi-year comparison. Over a five-year period, the new Brewer instruments that take automated observations, will completely replace the Dobson instruments that rely on staff operation.

Analysing webservice customer needs

During 2018–19, the Bureau expanded its customer needs analysis to inform webservice enhancements currently under development. The enhancements will improve customer experience, especially with respect to weather services (see p. 52), providing quicker, easier access to the information that matters to them.

Maturing capabilities in customer analytics

The Bureau has strengthened its customer analytics focus, moving away from ad hoc analysis, to more investigative analytics including dashboard implementation for stakeholder management of service delivery. The creation of an Analytics Application Programming Interface (API) has further strengthened proactive analysis of customer activity and usage patterns.

Building a new weather webservice that our customers will love

The Bureau is developing an enhanced weather webservice to better respond to the needs of everyday, lifestyle customers. The service will include the latest and most relevant location-driven weather information, providing a user-friendly experience on all devices.

The new webservice was designed following in-depth customer research to understand public customer needs and the information they rely on for their weather-related decisions. The beta site was tested by thousands of customers within the Bureau’s BOMIdeas testing community, with suggested improvements incorporated into the design.

The upgraded service will be publicly released in the second half of 2019 with weather information that includes 7-day and 3-hourly forecast details, user location warnings, UV index and sun protection for up to four days ahead and a new-look radar map with intuitive navigation.

Information displays from the Bureau’s new-look weather webservice.Information displays from the Bureau’s new-look weather webservice.

Next steps

Key activities to be delivered in 2019–20 to help achieve Outcome 1 include:

  • design and implementation of new digital web style guides and information architecture; and
  • development of a digital web and mobile content strategy that determines the digital experience of any new content and features in line with Bureau branding.

Outcome 2 - Secure, stable, resilient, accessible and responsive services all day, every day.

Achieving the outcome

New operating model introduced

In 2018–19, the Group operating model was updated—moving from a functional to a service-based model—and aligned to the outcomes of the ROBUST and Public Services Transformation programs and the Bureau’s Strategy. The Group is enhancing its service management capability, providing a single point of technology services focus to end-users, and bringing together the Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Observing Systems and Operations operating models. This is enhancing plan, build, run model capabilities to drive improved performance across all programs.

An assessment of the Bureau’s Informational Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) capability maturity has provided a number of recommendations that will be addressed as the ITIL and service management capability is further developed and integrated over the next 12 months.

Ensuring reliable and cost-effective observing sites

Enhancements to the Bureau’s observing facilities included:

  • installation of an extensive ground- and roof-mounted solar energy array at Laverton radar site as a proof of concept on the value of renewable energy in reducing costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The Bureau’s long-term vision is to rollout solar power installations, potentially with other renewable and innovative battery technology, to other sites where practical;
  • completion of substantial remediation works on Willis Island’s observing office building to reduce operating and maintenance costs and ensure the remote facility remains fit for purpose and is able to continue supporting important observations functions;
  • installation of two modularised containers at Learmonth, replacing the existing field station building and providing a secure, flexible and portable solution for remote unstaffed observing sites; and
  • enhancement of satellite reception facilities at Crib Point, Middle Point and Shoal Bay, including back-end refurbishment and upgrades to electrical systems.

Rationalising technology to reduce operating costs

Planning continued during 2018–19 to consolidate the Bureau’s infrastructure platforms. Storage infrastructure acquisition was completed to replace end-of-life storage appliances at the Bureau’s primary and secondary data centres. Computing and storage infrastructure consolidation activities will be implemented in 2019–20 to reduce complexity and the total cost of ownership.

Sustainment changes have reduced network-related incidents by 50 per cent in comparison to 2017–18. Renegotiation of the Bureau’s contract for satellite connectivity services is delivering savings of close to $1 million compared to 2017–18, while maintaining the same level of service.

The Bureau entered into an enterprise level agreement for the provision of cloud services, delivering transparency and savings for current engagements. Adopting the whole-of-government initiative is reducing overall expenditure by 10 to 15 per cent.

Delivering resilient and secure field operations

Throughout the year, Bureau staff have completed hundreds of field trips to maintain equipment and ensure observing systems are operating at or above agreed performance standards. Sea voyages to Tsunami Buoy locations ensured that equipment at all three sites—in the Indian Ocean, Coral Sea, and Tasman Sea—was operating well, with primary and backup systems in good order.

To ensure the resilience of the observing network, key field station and radar sites were upgraded with new, more secure networking equipment.

Efficiency improvements were achieved in the management of spare parts and rotatable holdings, including for key components such as radar magnetrons. Long-lead assets must be procured to accommodate annual usage rates and delivery lead times of up to 30 weeks. Stronger governance, improved management of contracts and the use of operational asset and sustainment agreements have led to greater stability in the cost and availability of critical supplies, as well as providing greater transparency in stock movement and usage.

Building new radar capability

In partnership with the West Australian Government, the Albany and Geraldton radars were upgraded to dual-polarisation systems, providing enhanced reliability and stability for observing real-time rainfall and storms, and enabling improvements to quantitative precipitation estimations. Planning for the rollout of an additional 20 dual-polarisation radars over the next six years, using a mix of new and existing radar locations, has been completed.

Powering Laverton radar sustainably

While much of the Bureau’s network of automatic weather stations uses solar power generation, larger infrastructure has traditionally relied on mains power and backup power systems. This changed in 2018–19, with solar panels installed at the Laverton radar in Victoria as a pilot to assess the environmental and financial benefits of renewable energy expansion in the observations network.

The Laverton radar was chosen as it presented many of the challenges, such as solar exposure and landowner requirements, that might restrict solar application elsewhere in the country. Additionally, S1 radars such as at Laverton consume significantly more power than other radars and make an outsized contribution to the Bureau’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The 30 kW solar panel installation is based on the traditional flat panel model but will set the scene for further trials on innovative flexible panel technology. Remote monitoring enables real-time identification of seasonal variation and allows for meaningful scoping of wider applications. The long- term vision is to expand solar power installations, potentially with other renewable or battery technology, and roll it out to other Bureau sites where feasible.

Solar panels installed to power the Laverton radar.Solar panels installed to power the Laverton radar.

Next steps

Key activities to be delivered in 2019–20 to help achieve Outcome 2 include:

  • rolling out automated meteorological balloon launching systems to seven sites; and
  • upgrading, installing and commissioning radars at five sites as per the seven-year upgrade schedule commencing in 2019–20.

Outcome 3 - Delivery of end-to-end solutions that optimise performance and efficiency in every process.

Achieving the outcome

Delivering new Observing Operations Hubs

Building of the Brisbane Observing Operations Hub is scheduled for completion in July 2019 with technical staff transitioning to the hub in August 2019. The new fit-for-purpose facility, complete with warehouse, workshop and offices will provide a base for dedicated technical staff, to support the Bureau’s observation network in central Queensland and northern New South Wales.

The site selection for the Hobart Observing Operations Hub, to support the Bureau’s observation network in Tasmania, is near finalisation, with concept designs and building approvals completed. The hub is expected to be operational early in 2020.

Expanding automated operations

New automated meteorological balloon launching systems (AMBLS) were procured to modernise and complete the automation of observation systems. This advanced technology provides more than double the existing balloon storage capacity, allowing for the efficient release of a greater number of balloons and making a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Bureau’s upper air program. The rollout will see 24 AMBLS replace ageing technology at operational upper air sites from late 2019.

Specifications for new automatic weather stations (AWSs) have been developed in partnership with the ROBUST Program to increase operational resilience and stability. Testing of the new design specifications is to begin in 2019–20 with the rollout planned for 2020–21. Automated evaporation pans are also adopted and will transition to operations in 2019–20.

Embedding the new delivery model as an enterprise solution

The Bureau established a delivery model as the process to systematically manage and deliver technology solutions across the enterprise, improving collaboration, ensuring alignment of new solutions with technology standards, and building transparency and accountability. The

administration of the delivery model has transitioned to the Bureau’s Enterprise Project Management Office which is expanding the model to capture delivery of all projects across the organisation.

New Automatic Meteorological Balloon Launching System

The first of the Bureau’s new generation AMBLS was installed at the Bureau of Meteorology Training Centre in Broadmeadows (Victoria) in March. The new AMBLSs are replacing both manual systems and existing automatic systems that are ageing, under an integrated program of delivery over the next three years.

The Bureau’s training centre was chosen as the first site for the AMBLS to train field staff on its operation and maintenance, and to allow the organisation to test the device before deployment to other sites across Australia.

The new AMBLS are more technologically advanced with an increased capacity to hold up to 60 balloons and radiosondes (the device, carried by the balloon that measures various atmospheric parameters) compared to the current unit capacity of 24.

Weather balloons are the only observing platform capable of capturing accurate in situ observations, with high vertical resolution of the structure of the atmosphere to a height of 25 km. They form part of the Bureau’s well-established upper air network which is distributed across the continent, remote islands and the Antarctic to report wind speed and direction, pressure, temperature and humidity.

Successful first balloon launch from the new AMBLS at Broadmeadows.Successful first balloon launch from the new AMBLS at Broadmeadows.

Next steps

Key activities to be delivered in 2019–20 to help achieve Outcome 3 include:

  • delivery of a new public weather service that will deliver an enhanced customer experience; and
  • delivery of an uplifted mobile app that provides enhanced customer experience for mobile users, including notifications, a widget and new weather features to serve marine enthusiasts.

Outcome 4 - Sustained operational excellence during and after the ROBUST transformation.

Achieving the outcome

Providing security, resilience and stability

The Data and Digital Group worked closely with the ROBUST Program of ICT transformation activities to ensure a future-state operating model that considers both the transition to, and maintenance of the Bureau’s operating environment following the completion of the ROBUST Program. A service introduction and deployment framework was developed and endorsed to aid the transition activities from legacy to new services, and the integration of these services to provide seamless customer outcomes.

ROBUST—Secure, resilient and stable systems

ROBUST is a multi-year program to enhance the security, stability and resilience of the Bureau’s critical systems, applications and business processes. It aims to secure and strengthen all elements of the Bureau’s operating environment to provide continuous availability of critical services, mitigating the risks arising from the fragility of the existing ICT environment. In 2018–19 the ROBUST Program:

  • delivered a gateway to ensure a more resilient path to retrieve satellite data from the Himawari cloud service;
  • launched the Acceptable Use of ICT Resources Policy, a new online ICT security essentials training module for all staff, and an online policy portal;
  • implemented a major software technology upgrade to uplift data security across the organisation;
  • undertook a fencing impact analysis trial to determine the impacts of security fencing to the Bureau’s automatic weather stations;
  • enhanced the ongoing detection and reporting systems for suspicious activity based on defined security metrics; and
  • delivered the Microsoft Windows 2010 upgrade in October with two-step security encryption and USB Transfer Stations to uplift data security across the organisation.

Sydney office staff members Abrar Shabren, Louise Garbers and Agata Imielska examine the ROBUST Program delivery stream showcase panels.Sydney office staff members Abrar Shabren, Louise Garbers and Agata Imielska examine the ROBUST Program delivery stream showcase panels.

Integration Plan for High Performance Computing and the ROBUST Program

The High Performance Computing (HPC) mid-term upgrade project to upgrade the Bureau’s supercomputer, and the supporting ROBUST Tranche 2 infrastructure projects are working in tandem to establish an operational HPC environment within the Bureau’s new data centre. Improvements to key capabilities include better project management, solution design and architecture, use of automation including testing and agile delivery methodologies.

ROBUST Delivery Framework

The ROBUST Delivery Framework outlines how the ROBUST Program and projects are being managed and executed through consistent, transparent, repeatable processes and standards. This document encompasses the project control stages, process and deliverables to enable scalable and efficient project delivery. The framework has been developed to support multiple delivery methodologies and integrates the key components of multiple capabilities into a source document.

Supporting ROBUST communications

The ROBUST Program recruited transformation and communications professionals to support and engage Bureau stakeholders in transformational initiatives. Steering groups were established for each delivery stream with representatives from senior Bureau staff and the ROBUST Program. Reference groups were also established to engage stakeholders from across the Bureau in the work of the transformation projects.

A variety of internal communication strategies were developed to engage the wider Bureau in the progress of the ROBUST Program through multiple channels including showcases at the Bureau’s Strategy in Action workshops.

Next steps

Key activities to be delivered in 2019–20 to help achieve Outcome 4 include:

  • establishing a new platform as the primary means of delivering Bureau products and services to the broad user base of government agencies, partners, customers and the Australian public in a trusted, reliable and responsive environment;
  • uplifting the new data centre based on a common design pattern which improves security and resilience; and
  • progressing initiatives to ensure the underlying security for delivery of the new infrastructure.