A better air quality website and data delivery service for New South Wales

A wider scope and flexibility for our air quality data management, reporting and delivery system.

Air quality data acquisition, reporting and data delivery are a core business of the Climate and Atmospheric Science Branch (CAS), Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE).

Government agencies, research scientists, industry professionals and community groups use this data and information to assess actual or potential impacts of air pollution on the environment and human health.

Freely available, easily accessible information

The current Air Quality Monitoring System (AQMS) used by CAS has been in operation since 2008.

A more advanced and modern system is necessary to meet the increasing demand for reliable and dependable air quality data and information for New South Wales.

Air quality data services infographic showing data gathered from monitoring stations being available on mobile devices, email and SMS and the air quality APIThe Enhance Website and Data Delivery (EWADD) project is designed to ensure that all NSW Government data and information on air quality is freely available, and easily accessible by the community, researchers and decision makers.

The project was commissioned in 2019 and will be delivered over 3 years, to design and implement new ways for air quality data management, reporting and data delivery. It will progressively expand and enhance the AQMS capabilities in collaboration with a range of internal and external partners, to deliver an enhanced end-to-end data management system for the Air program.

Aims of the project

The EWADD project aims to implement a system for air quality data management, data reporting and data delivery that is fit-for-purpose, modular and adaptable to changing business needs and customer expectations. The project will:

  • reproduce and or enhance the current system’s functionalities to be more robust, stable and flexible, including additional internal data management and stewardship capabilities
  • make available simple and intuitive means of providing wider and more flexible access to data, to both internal and external users, and the general community
  • incorporate disparate streams of input data other than those currently sourced from traditional air quality monitoring monitors [such as Internet of Things (IOT) type monitors and sensors].

Project objectives

The specific project objectives are to:

  • develop and publish an open-access Application Programming Interface (API) for air quality and meteorology data delivery services
  • update the air quality data pages to provide access to one-hour and one-minute air quality and meteorology data
  • expand the website to include near-real time data updates from the Rural Air Quality Monitoring Network.

Project phases

The EWADD project will allow for better public access to air quality monitoring data, alerts and forecasts through the DPIE website via updated reporting tools, and supplementary tools for internal data management. These will be delivered as 2 major project phases to:

  • build enhanced public-facing air quality data/information service facilities, such as a new website and an air quality Application Programming Interface (API) and
  • implement a new system for data management and web reporting functions (the Air Quality Monitoring System, AQMS).

Progress updates

API release

We worked with a number of organisations to test a pre-release version of the Application Programming Interface (API), and feedback was embraced for a June 2020 release of the production API. The Application Programming Interface (API) went live, as scheduled, on 30 June 2020. For details, visit our dedicated webpage on the Air Quality API.

This air quality data streaming service has been used by a number of users from a range of organisations, for a number of applications – including health-related research and environmental influences on air quality. Soon, the Air Quality API will also be available through the Sharing and Enabling Environmental Data in NSW (SEED) website.

Updated website

The Department has an existing website to support the timely display and communication of NSW air quality data. As part of the EWADD project, this website is being redesigned to be mobile-responsive and have a modern information display and reporting environment.

We will adopt a ‘mobile first’ modular design approach, adhering to standards including the NSW Digital Design System, WCAG 2.0 AA compliance, and an updated approach to air quality data reporting. The proposed design is intended to be simple, efficient and relevant for the general public. The design is close to being final, with the subsequent development of the website to be undertaken during November 2020.

The updated website has been designed in consultation with key community and health department stakeholders. We also undertook subsequent engagements with the public following Australia’s black summer fires, to gather insights on health messaging and data preferences. This phase included conducting online user surveys, interviews with members of the general public, and evaluative research for usability testing of mobile prototypes with members of the public.

Ready for the future

A key component for the EWADD project is to implement a new data management and reporting system (the Air Quality Monitoring System, AQMS). The AQMS will provide ‘future state’ capabilities to support the growing need for air quality data and information services. Following an initial Expression of Interest, we are now developing a Request for Tender (RFT) embracing the detailed functional requirements for all stakeholders.

The RFT on the new AQMS will be released by December 2020.