2016–17 Annual Report - Case study 3 - Ultraviolet Radiation Services

Part 3: Case study 3 - Ultraviolet Radiation Services

Between 95 and 99 per cent of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun, and more than 2000 Australians die from skin cancer every year.

This is why ARPANSA maintains a network of solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) sensors in major population centres around the country. Information gathered by this network is displayed in near real time on our website to allow the public to better manage solar UVR exposure.
 
ARPANSA works in collaboration with partners at the Cancer Councils and Bureau of Meteorology. The UVR monitoring network provides data directly to the Cancer Council Victoria’s SunSmart app, a highly visible tool designed to assist in reducing the impact and burden of disease caused by over-exposure to solar UVR.

In 2016–17 ARPANSA began upgrading the UVR monitoring network to improve its reliability, efficiency and flexibility. The result is reduced ongoing maintenance costs, the potential for expansion of the network and the provision of enhanced access to UVR data.

Every aspect of the UVR monitoring network was revised, including the detection of solar UVR, data acquisition, storage and dissemination of information to our partners. The previous system was limited, relying on outdated and difficult to maintain hardware and software. The major upgrade of the UVR monitoring network uses advanced technology to design a cheaper and simpler system that continues to provide high quality measurements.

The process of evaluating, assembling and refining all the elements of the network equipment was a huge task requiring a major collaborative effort across ARPANSA. Areas involved and their contributions included:

  • Monitoring and Emergency Response Section trialled and evaluated new UVR sensors as well as built data acquisition systems.
  • Information Technology team ensured dedicated data storage servers and configured the 4G modems.
  • Information Management Section assisted with database and website development.
  • Engineering Support Services helped with the construction of detector and electronics housing.

The refreshed ARPANSA UVR monitoring network provides a much more flexible platform from which we can deliver services. It is now more reliable, cheaper to run, easier to maintain, simpler to reconfigure and has enhanced security features.  

This enables future network expansion and increased automation of data handling and analysis. The improvements will help us better meet the needs of the public and our partners, including providing high quality sun protection advice for the Australian community.

Visit arpansa.gov.au/uvindex/realtime to see our UVR charts.