The Australian Acoustic Observatory (A2O) is an acoustic sensor network operating in 90 sites across different ecoregions in Australia. The A2O collects long-term environmental acoustic data that are openly available to researchers, citizen scientists, and the public.

Continental Acoustic Data

A2O Australian Acoustic Observatory

The A2O data portal showing acoustic data from Uunguu Indigenous Protected Area (Wunambal Gaambera). Image source: A2O [screenshot]. Retrieved 25 January 2023, from https://data.acousticobservatory.org/listen/190243

The A2O aims to produce continuous longitudinal data and make it widely available for different users and applications, ranging from biodiversity monitoring to observing and responding to environmental events. Each of the projects 90 sites is fitted with four solar-powered acoustic sensors, two in wet habitats and two in dry habitats, and data are stored on SD cards. While these sensors are intended to work independently for extended durations, they are also maintained by field researchers, local rangers and communities. A2O data are stored on a cloud system and are open access.

In the terms of chief investigators Paul Roe and colleagues (2021), A2O "unashamedly" takes "a data-first approach", collecting large volumes of data for others to reuse and analyse. As with other open data and data-centric projects, such an approach can facilitate user-led projects of environmental monitoring, but also raises questions around who and what data are for, who shapes methodologies of data collection and analysis, and how open data principles (especially in settler colonial geographies such as Australia) interact with existing dynamics of land and data sovereignty.

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