GSKY – A scalable geospatial data service

Dr Ben Evans1, Dr Qurat Tariq1, Mr Edison Guo1, Dr  Sivaprasad1, Mr Chris Allen1, Dr Kelsey Druken1, Dr Nigel Rees1

1NCI Australia, Canberra, Australia


For researchers analysing, transforming, and integrating large geospatial datasets, the traditional approach has been to either download a relevant part of data and analyse these data subsets in an ad-hoc manner, or to requires skill in batch processing large numbers of files for further analysis. For many of our national datasets this has become infeasible due to the volume of storage space and the work needed to wrangle data at this scale. However, recent developments in significant data repositories with integrated data processing infrastructure opens the door for new ways of processing data on demand.

NCI has developed a scalable geospatial data server called GSKY, which provides a new capability for high performance data analysis. GSKY is currently being used in some national and international initiatives – providing fast access to programs and tools over the network, and allowing researchers to analyse NCI’s multi-petabyte nationally significant research data collections: from satellite data products, climate and weather simulations, and rich geophysics data.

GSKY supports on demand processing of data that provides interactive data exploration presented as an OGC standards-compliant services – Web Map Services (WMS), Web Processing Services (WPS) and Web Coverage Services (WCS). GSKY dynamically and efficiently distributes the requisite computations among computational nodes and thus provides a scalable analysis framework to provide high performance real-time access to these petabyte size datasets.

GSKY represents a new class of intelligent data services, that provides a new research capability by utilising the power real-time high performance services and big data.


Dr Ben Evans is NCI’s Associate Director for Research Engagements and Initiatives. He is responsible for driving innovation in future HPC and data-driven science with NCI major stakeholders in prioritised strategic activities, including NCI’s partners, research communities, and national and international collaborators.

Ben has developed NCI’s strategic programs in Climate, Weather, Environment, and Geoscience, which support research and national/international collaborations across the university and government scientific community. The goal has been to develop the computational and data-intensive science expertise to improve the performance of high-resolution models and provide sustainable research platforms which support both the novice user as well as more advanced science and innovative data analysis techniques.



AeRO is the industry association focused on eResearch in Australasia. We play a critical coordination role for our members, who are actively transforming research via Information Technology. Organisations join AeRO to advance their own capabilities and services, to collaborate and to network with peers. AeRO believes researchers and the sector significantly benefit from greater communication, coordination and sharing among the increasingly different and evolving service providers.

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