The challenge

Spatial data is growing, fast

There is a growing amount of geographic location data being used and made available by governments and businesses all over the world. This data is often placed on custom maps in specialised websites which result in high cost of website development, poor reuse of the spatial data, and lost opportunities for innovation using the data.

Our response

Exploring multiple spatial data sets through TerriaTM

We've developed Terria™ , a software platform for web-based spatial data visualisation and analytics.

The platform includes TerriaJS™, advanced mapping software that provides access to large numbers of spatial data services directly from the original data custodian and allows users to search, explore, share and add to maps. New maps can be quickly developed, building on existing spatial data services as well as new cloud-based data services that can be rapidly set up.

Also included is a web-based Terria Spatial Inference Engine which provides a simple programming interface allowing a wide range of analyses to be developed for extracting insight from data sets. These tools are built from state of the art machine learning algorithms designed specifically for large-scale spatial inference.

As Australia’s population continues to grow, our nation’s urban needs are changing.

Cities are expanding vertically, and are growing increasingly rich in data.

The power to combine, visualise and interact with this data has never been so important, which is why CSIRO’s Data61 and the NSW Government have created the Spatial Digital Twin.

The digital twin is a powerful 3D+time live data sharing, collaboration and visualisation tool that can be used by planners, infrastructure owners, developers, policymakers and residents, to help better plan, design and manage our cities. 

Users can interact with a virtual replica of the Western Sydney region, adding and removing layers to visualise data and infrastructure, such as under- and above- ground utilities, live transport data, roads, schools and hospitals, building materials, property boundaries and valuations, strata plans, 3D trees, or any other data fed into the system.

“This visualisation service is quite comprehensive and sophisticated, and allows us to bring together data from government, from industry and from the community, place it all in the right context, and view it accurately and reliably. It's a very powerful communication tool."

"Without this Spatial Digital Twin, we can't have smart precincts, or smart cities or even a smart New South Wales, because this is the thing that actually coordinates and brings together all those different models and capabilities."

"Security is very important because we have a range of quite sensitive data, so the system is set up on a role-based user access arrangement, that allows the data owner to specify, quite specifically, who can see the data, and who's allowed to access it."

The digital twin also offers tools like a data splitter, allowing users to compare data at different times and see how infrastructure has changed.

“We’ve been working with the NSW Government to create an open-platform digital twin that can federate data from other digital twins and geospatial systems, so that previously locked away data can be made much more accessible and usable."

"The Digital Twin aggregates high-value data like planning,  property, infrastructure and environmental, straight from the owners of those datasets. This ensures that  governments and industry can use the same authoritative data to respond to many different issues in the built and natural environments.”

“This data sharing can also be used to plan for, prevent, and assist with recovery from natural disasters and climate change, and more broadly, can be used to consult and communicate with communities as these things happen.”

“This is only the beginning of the journey. Our goal is to create a national digital twin, to help understand our nation’s infrastructure and wellbeing, so that we can use data-driven decisions to plan for Australia’s future.”

See how CSIRO's Data61 can help you turn data into decisions. Visit our website to find out more.

Data61 Digital Twin


Built on CSIRO's Data61’s TerriaJS platform the NSW Spatial Digital Twin Visualisation Service leverages Data61's deep strength in web-mapping and visualising data in 3D + time (the ability to look forward and back in time) to build a real-world ‘digital twin’ prototype.

The results

Making spatial data accessible

Terria™ maps are being used for policy development, decision-support analysis and in the development of easy-to-use open data websites. For example, the web front-end of the Australian Government's NationalMap uses our TerriaJS™ software. It connects directly to data servers at each participating government agency using open protocols and open data formats.

00:00 - A shot of the Digital Earth Australia dashboard visualising Australian coastal data in the Sydney region. The cursor has clicked a hot spotted area on the St George region coastline (specifically Sans Souci). A pop up on the right side of the screen displays information detailing a -0.7 metre change (retreat) in coast line (0.3 metres per year) from 1988 to 2020.

00:13 - User zooms into the Dolls Point region coastline.

00:20 - User zooms in further to more closely detail the various coastline restructures, with coloured lines representing various years appearing.

00:35 - User zooms out and navigates to Victoria.

01:01 - User zooms in to Corner Inlet Marine Coastal Park.

01:04 - User clicks on a hot spotted area, identifying a -0.8 metre change (retreat) in coastline from 1988 to 2020.

01:07 - Video ends.

Digital Earth Australia


The US Geological Survey, Australian Renewable Energy Mapping Infrastructure (AREMI) and the UNEPFI Global Risk Map also employ TerriaJS™ software.

Using the Terria™ analytics tools we provide advanced spatial inference for a large number of industries including environment, energy, finance, and demographics.

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