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AURIN Data Provider (ADP) and qgis

Tutorial goals:

In this tutorial, our goal is to use QGIS to connect to the AURIN Data Provider and download datasets. You will learn how to:

  1. Install QGIS

  2. Connect to the AURIN Data Provider (ADP)

  3. Download AURIN Datasets

  4. View the dataset using QGIS

  5. Deal with large datasets

1. Install QGIS

QGIS is a free and open desktop GIS application that provides a range of features, such as viewing, editing and analysing geospatial data. Our tutorial is based on QGIS version 3.22. You can download QGIS from its home page.

QGIS provides download choices for Windows, Mac, Linux, BSD users. We recommend to download the most recent Long term release version to achieve high stability. Please be aware that the installation can take a few minutes.

2. Connect to the AURIN Data Provider (ADP)

Before commencing this step, please ensure you have generated your unique AURIN Data Provider (ADP) username and password in the ADP Access Dashboard.

To connect to the dataset from ADP via QGIS, please follow these steps:

Go to Layer → Add Layer → Add WFS Layer from the drop-down menu at the top of the application

(this is the same as go to Data Source ManagerWFS/OGC API – Features)

Click on the New button, and create a new connection naming it something like AURIN Data Connection.

For the URL enter https://adp.aurin.org.au/geoserver/wfs and then under the Authentication section in the Basic tab, fill in the Username and Password fields with the credentials you generated in the ADP Access Dashboard. You can set the Max.number of features as 10000 for now (more details about setting number of features will be discussed in section 5 of this tutorial: Deal with large datasets). When finished click Ok to create the connection (If a security warning is presented, please take note of the recommendation and click Ok when ready.

Click Connect.

3. Download AURIN Datasets

Once connected you will see a list of available datasets. To help find a dataset you can use the Filter and other options to search for a specific dataset by keyword. For example, if we are interested in searching for fire station locations in Victoria, we can use keywords: “fire station” to filter the relevant datasets.

Click on your chosen dataset, then Add and Close. The dataset will then be added to your QGIS project. Now you have successfully downloaded datasets from ADP via QGIS. The dataset we used for this tutorial is: “VIC DELWP – Vicmap Features of Interest – Country Fire Authority (CFA) Fire Stations (Points)”.

Tip: Choose ‘Use title for layer name’ to record where this dataset information

4. View the dataset using QGIS

One of the great functions in QGIS is to view datasets in a map. If the datasets have geospatial information, we can view its locations in QGIS. Before jumping into this function, we need to start with understanding the concept of Coordinate Reference System (CRS).

Understanding coordinate systems

A Coordinate Reference System, or CRS, is a method of associating numerical coordinates with a position on the surface of the Earth. Geospatial data in common formats such as shapefile or geojson is typically associated with CRS information. The same location on earth can be described or visualised differently using different coordinate systems to fit different use cases. If this is your first time hearing about coordinate systems, you may find the following terms are very foreign, such as GDA94, WGS84. You will gain confidence after using QGIS a few times. If you are interested to know more, please read this article that explains the difference between these two commonly used coordinate systems in Australia.

When you search through the AURIN Data Catalogue, you can find information about CRS in the Additional Info section for a specific dataset.

Such geospatial data can be easily transformed to other coordinate reference systems in QGIS. All AURIN data layers typically use the Geographic Data of Australia (GDA94) system and this may be transformed to another, such as WGS84, if you want to use AURIN data alongside other data which uses the WGS84 system such as measurements taken from a handheld GPS unit. When the CRS of the project is set to something other than GDA94, a choice of transformation dialogue box appears, asking the user to select a coordinate system to transform to from a list of options, as the screenshot below.

Choosing an appropriate transformation method to convert the source CRS to the target CRS can be a complex task. If you are unsure what transformation method to use, select the default transformation method. It should produce an acceptable result since QGIS will attempt to use the most accurate transformation available.

Viewing the dataset 

Your data should now appear in your QGIS project for you to view.

From here you can view the dataset’s corresponding table, change the symbology, perform further analysis, or export it to your local file directory in commonly used format such as GeoJSON or ESRI shapefile for editing in other tools or applications. Up to this point, we have successfully connected to the ADP and accessed data from the AURIN Data Catalogue in QGIS.

Adding Base Map (optional)

The current dataset display looks quite plain. We can add a base map layer for geolocation reference.

Click Plugins → Search “QuickMapServices” in the search box → Install Plugin.

Click QuickMapServices icon → OSMOSM Standard. OSM stands for OpenStreetMap.
This is the fire station point level dataset with base map display.

5. Deal with large datasets (optional)

Depending on the size of the dataset and your data connection, it may take some time for QGIS to retrieve the dataset. In this situation we recommend using programming software such as R studio or Python in Jupyter Notebooks to download data. We highly recommend you to go through our Python and R tutorials.

If you’d like to view a sub-set of these large datasets via QGIS, here we provide two options. Please keep in mind that this doesn’t solve the problem of downloading large datasets, this only provides a quick view of a limited number of dataset features.

Option 1:

Limit the number of features in the dataset by editing the WFS connection’s Max. number of features. The word “feature” here means one row of a dataset or one geometry record (i.e. for a dataset aggregated to Local Government Areas, one feature would equate to one Local Government Area). This may help you with understanding how to set the maximum level of features.

By setting a small number in the Max.number of features field, you are able to quickly download and view a subset of large data, providing you apply a suitable feature limit. We recommend a number between 500 and 10000 is a limit to begin with when trying to access large data. If the dataset you are trying to access has over 1 million features, please refer to our Python and R tutorials.

Option 2:

Use built-in SQL query to filter features by setting up certain conditions. When adding a WFS layer to your project, Double-click into the dataset that you’d like to download from the ADP.

Then you are in the SQL Query Composer. In Columns, you will find the dataset attribute list. You may find an attribute that define the data ID. In this example, it is osm_traffic_2021.ogc_fid. Please be aware that different datasets have different name for data ID.

In the section of Where, you can click the specific Columns and set the boundary for data downloading. In this case, we set the boundary as <=10. This will provide us 10 rows of data.

Tips for Timeout Issues

When making AURIN data requests within QGIS, the requests can occasionally timeout causing an error. You may have figured out to reduce the size of the data by applying the two filter options discussed in the previous section, either setting a maximum features limit or using an SQL query to avoid timeout issue.

In addition, you may be able to resolve the issue by increasing the timeout threshold for network connections in QGIS. This can be done by going to Options -> Network. Change the Timeout for network requests (ms) from 60000 (1 minute in milliseconds) to a larger number, we recommend 180000. 

Other ADP User Guides:

You can download a dataset from the Data Catalogue in different ways. Further information about this is available via the following AURIN Data Provider User Guides:


Learn how to connect to the AURIN Data Provider and explore AURIN data on Geographic Information Systems.


Learn how to connect to the AURIN Data Provider and explore AURIN data using popular programming languages.