Queensland Government funds world’s first biosecurity virtual laboratory

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities The Honourable Mark Furner

Queensland is at the forefront of a new project that could change the way biosecurity emergency responses are managed.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said the Queensland Government will co-fund an international-first biosecurity virtual laboratory.

“COVID-19 has shown how vital biosecurity data management and modelling is to our economy and way of life,” Mr Furner said.

“The new biosecurity informatics platform will operationalise data use for research and decision making to model biosecurity risk using best practices.”

Mr Furner said citizen science, geospatial and other data sets will be integrated to enable rapid, complex analysis of:

  • Species distribution models;
  • Biosecurity risk maps;
  • Surveillance design and intelligence;
  • Dispersal models;
  • Impact analysis;
  • Resource allocation; and
  • Proof of freedom models.

Mr Furner said the National Biosecurity Committee has identified a biosecurity virtual laboratory as the most strategic priority for development.

“Until now, Australia’s biosecurity models have mostly been developed for a single purpose, with the use of modelling tools limited to only a handful of people,” he said.

“The new platform aims to move away from bespoke licensed modelling systems to secure cloud-based environments.

The Queensland Government will provide funding of $500,000 over two years under the $5.5 million ‘Digital Transformation in Agribusiness Initiative’ which is part of the Unite and Recover Economic Recovery Plan.

Australian Research Data Commons and the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water are co-funding the $1.27 million project.

Queensland’s Griffith University will deliver the Biosecurity Commons informatics platform, building on an existing EcoCommons portal which is used to analyse, model and find solutions to ecological and environmental problems.

Mr Furner said he was pleased that the primary research capability will be based in Queensland.

“This will add to the development of Queensland’s reputation for agri-tech and a critical mass servicing our agriculture supply chains,” he said.

“I congratulate Biosecurity Queensland, Griffith University and the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis at the University of Melbourne on their successful funding application and wish them every success for this exciting project.”

Other key collaborators include James Cook University, CSIRO, AgResearch NZ, Agriculture Victoria and the Queensland Herbarium.

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