The Australian Government Digital Transformation Office is actively working to improve online government service delivery throughout the country. It is estimated that within a month, over 1 in 8 Australians ages 14 and older, will search online for government information and services. It was found that 55 percent faced problems while trying to utilise online government services.
This situation is one the Digital Transformation Office hopes to address.
OpenGov recently spoke to Mr. Paul Shetler, CEO of the Australian Government Digital Transformation Office (DTO). Mr. Shetler was brought to the DTO from his previous role with the UK’s Government Digital Services (GDS). He is now leading projects focused on improving public sector service delivery in Australia.
Mr. Shetler told us more about his main areas of focus, what he expects the future will hold for the DTO, and how he believes cross-agency collaboration will be key to transformation.
Department of Sport and Recreation as a Leader in Digital Transformation
Mr. Marc Dimmick, CIO, Department of Sport and Recreation, Western Australia & Content Director, OpenGov Asia was in on the conversation. He shared with Mr. Shetler his journey towards digital transformation, acknowledging that Mr. Shetler’s tasks at DTO are ambitious yet necessary.
“In the next 16 to 18 months, the transformation will be enormous,” said Marc Dimmick, “That is why it is important to get these leaders together to talk about these issues.”
Mr. Dimmick had then prompted the discussion of the opex and capex dilemma, to which Mr. Shetler was responsive. Mr. Dimmick relayed to Mr. Shetler that although he had well-thought out upgrades in mind, it was always difficult obtaining the budget to support his plans due to the opex and capex dilemma.
“This came as a real surprise to me when I came here from the UK – we did that all the time. Everything we did was cloud based, scalable, and easy to maintain,” Mr. Shetler said.
Mr. Dimmick shared how the work he has done at his Department has led to an almost complete shift to cloud services. “My department is working to lead this shift to the cloud as we are almost 85 per cent switched over, four blades left in the house; we no longer do backups, that is in the cloud; we have shut down regional servers, and we put fibre around the region, strangely everything seems to work!” he exclaimed. Mr. Shetler empathised with Mr. Dimmick’s journey and added that the other agencies should follow his lead.
Agile Service Delivery
The DTO has created a Digital Service Standard for the Australian public sector which agencies can use to guide their service delivery improvements.
Mr. Shetler and his team are currently working with a number of Commonwealth and state/territory government agencies on an initial series of six Digital Transformation Programme projects, including:
1. Improving appointment booking services with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection,
2. Improving the International movement of goods and Australian Import services with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection,
3. Improving retirement planning and senior citizen entitlement services with the Queensland Government,
4. Improving outpatient appointment booking services with the ACT Government,
5. Improving business registration services with the Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science, and
6. Improving Medicare enrolment services through the Department of Human Services.
Throughout the design process for each project, there are four stages: Discovery, Alpha, Beta, and Live. Throughout these four stages, DTO will research user needs, map out the service landscape to identify any constraints, and build prototypes which explore ways to meet the users’ needs.
Working on these projects requires a fast-paced, flexible and agile approach. “When we talk about agile delivery, you need to be able to order something on the same day. Procurement governance is there to enable delivery, not slow it down.
“This is one of the biggest issues we are dealing with right now,” said Mr. Shetler, “Our governance and procurement processes do not support quality of delivery expected by the user.”
It is clear that the team at DTO have a lot on their plate; in addition to managing these six projects, they are also responsible for the development of a nationally federated digital identity framework.
Trusted Digital Identity Framework
The DTO has been tasked with building a Trusted Digital Identity Framework for the whole of Australia. A nationally federated digital identity would improve efficiency, increase security measures, minimise costs, and ease the authentication process. These benefits were accepted by government as legitimate cause to create the framework.
DTO has just arranged for an expert to come in, join the team, and lead a formal discovery journey. This is because there are a lot of forms of identity and DTO must recognise what the users’ needs are.
“We need to figure out what we need to solve. What are the needs, the myths, the constraints, the applications, and the laws of identification,” said Mr. Shetler, “We must have ample time to make sure we are not rushing into a preconceived idea of what we should be doing before identifying the problem.”
Mr. Dimmick told Mr. Shetler that he is already looking to integrate digital signatures into his Department to help reduce and remove the need of wet signatures, and that he would be keenly watching progress on the the Trusted Digital Identity Framework.
Alpha prototype for GOV.AU
Also in addition to the Digital Transformation Programme, the DTO recently announced a nine-week design process to create a GOV.AU prototype that would be built around the citizens’ needs, rather than government’s structures. W
With response to what the challenges were in creating such a prototype Mr. Shetler stated, “There are many levels as we must consider, jurisdiction, ownership, and many other things. But we are working on it.” He looks to Singapore’s Government Portal as a model for GOV.AU.
In 2016, Mr. Shetler will continue to look at data sharing and knowledge sharing across the whole of Australian government. "We're building a view of these analytics across the whole of government so we can improve the total experience of dealing with government," a DTO blog entry by Pia Waugh states.
Mr. Shetler plans to continue discussions with his colleagues across the country over the next few months to get more input and insight into the current IT landscape in Australia.
“We have to hold ourselves accountable and make things very transparent. Processes must be more agile, lean, and at the end of the day, public services will be in much better shape than they were 10 years ago,” Mr. Shetler said,
“What has happened in the UK is that people have realised that digital is here to stay. The GDS did that, and it has since spread across the whole of government. This has influenced teams and the policies they are creating. This digital transformation process has had a deep impact on the UK.”
Mr. Shetler is looking to capitalise on his learnings from working with the GDS and help drive further digitisation projects and influence cultural transformation to improve service delivery throughout the Australian Government. His department will be unveiling more about the development of their projects within the next few months.
In a bid to establish itself as a global mRNA vaccine hub, The Queensland government has partnered with a leading healthcare company to establish a world-first research centre in Brisbane. The AU$280 million Translational Science Hub will be established under an agreement between the company, the University of Queensland, Griffith University, and the Queensland Government.
The state’s Premier noted that Queensland will be the only jurisdiction in Australia to have a centre like this. She said that the Translational Science Hub will give them the platform to develop life-saving vaccines.
The Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development said the new Hub would help drive the development of new vaccines and healthcare solutions across the world. Through the Translational Science Hub, Queensland scientists will collaborate with global peers in the US and France on ground-breaking mRNA technology and vaccine development.
The Hub will bring more expertise, supply-chain capabilities, as well as clinical investigations to Queensland. It is expected to create up to 200 jobs for Queenslanders and strengthen the region’s biomanufacturing supply chain. mRNA technology is expected to deliver a new generation of vaccines that instruct certain cells to produce proteins that are recognised by the immune system to mount a defence.
The Minister for Science stated that Queensland is being recognised as a global research and innovation hub thanks to the government’s investment in state-of-the-art research facilities, talent attraction and partnerships between industry, academia and government.
She said that the agreement will make Queensland science even more competitive by accelerating the commercialisation of local research by linking university partners with a global industry leader to evaluate and develop new health technologies.
The government is also investing AU$17 million in the state budget to provide significant support to foster partnerships between universities and industry and accelerate the commercial application of major research being conducted in the state.
The Translational Science Hub in Queensland will work closely with the healthcare firm’s mRNA Centre of Excellence in France and the US to accelerate a new era of vaccine innovation, the firm’s Global Head of Vaccine Research and Development said.
The Vice-Chancellor and President, Griffith University, stated that Griffith is delighted to be part of the partnership building on the strengths and capabilities of the University’s existing biomedical leadership. The University’s researchers are internationally recognised for bringing disease-specific mRNA expertise to developing new vaccines and therapies while our Clinical Trial Unit is a leader in testing safety and efficacy.
The Vice-Chancellor, University of Queensland stated that the partnership builds on a commitment to bring the latest technologies to UQ’s internationally recognised vaccine and drug development programs. The shift in focus mRNA technologies was accelerated during the pandemic and UQ has invested in both the people and facilities to ensure mRNA for pre-clinical research can be developed and produced in Queensland.
The Translational Science Hub will be located across Queensland, using the laboratories and infrastructure of the University of Queensland, Griffith University, and the Translational Research Institute (TRI). The research is expected to start in Q1 2023 with an initial focus on a Chlamydia vaccine.
Chlamydia is the most common STI in the world with around 129 million infections a year. While Chlamydia can be treated, there is currently no vaccine to prevent infection. If left untreated it can lead to infertility and in pregnant women can result in foetal eye and lung infections.
The biomedical industry in Queensland contributes around AU$ 2.1 billion in gross value-added products and employs more than 12,000 people across the state. The industry is supported by the Queensland Biomedical 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan.
Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, helped launch construction of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Observatory’s SKA-Low telescope at Inyarrimanha Ilgari Bundara, the CSIRO Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory on Wajarri Country in Western Australia (WA).
The global SKA Observatory (SKAO) announced the start of on-site construction activity for both their telescopes, SKA-Low in Australia and SKA-Mid in South Africa. The SKA-Low telescope will be the first mega-science project co-hosted in Australia and will explore the Universe in more detail than ever before, transforming the current understanding of the cosmos and benefitting society through global collaboration and innovation.
The SKA project aims to help Australian expertise remain at the forefront of discovery as an example collaboration to drive innovation, especially the collaboration of the Wajarri Yamaji, Traditional Owners and native title holders of the telescope site.
The progress of the SKA project over the past two decades has allowed researchers to see further into the universe than ever before. It has driven innovation and inspired generations both new and old through the development of technologies to solve great challenges facing our planet by better understanding the universe.
The start of SKA-Low construction on site is the culmination of many dreams, both within CSIRO and the global astronomy community, and the next step on this journey of discovery. CSIRO is the SKAO’s operations partner for the SKA-Low telescope in Australia and holds multiple contracts for SKA-Low construction activities.
The SKA-Low telescope will spread across 74 km end-to-end at the WA observatory site alongside existing instruments including CSIRO’s ASKAP radio telescope.
The SKA-Low Telescope Director stated that the SKAO was pleased to have established operations and engineering centres in Australia, where SKAO works closely with CSIRO as operations partner. She noted that CSIRO has been involved in the SKA project since its inception and have been leaders in radio astronomy science and technology for more than 70 years. The SKA Observatory welcomes this partnership with CSIRO to build and operate the SKA-Low telescope in Western Australia, she added.
CSIRO is also a foundation member in other key SKA project partners in Australia, including the Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre and the Australian SKA Regional Centre.
More about CSIRO’s role in the SKA project
Australia is a member of the international organisation established to build and operate the world’s most powerful radio astronomy facility, the SKA Observatory (SKAO). The SKA Observatory will consist of two radio-telescopes, one in Australia (SKA-Low), and one in South Africa (SKA-Mid). The two telescopes will observe the sky at different radio frequencies and complement each other scientifically.
CSIRO will be the operating partner for the SKA-Low telescope, as well as hosting the telescope itself at Inyarrimanha Ilgari Bundara, our Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia.
SKA-Low will consist of an array of 131,072 Christmas tree-shaped antennas, grouped in 512 stations, each with 256 antennas. Several of these antenna stations will be placed in the centre and the rest will span out along three spiral arms, stretching 74 kilometres end to end. SKA-Low will operate at frequencies between 50 and 350 MHz, like FM radio and TV broadcasts.
In addition to its role as operations partner and managers of the telescope site, CSIRO will also contribute to the construction of the SKA-Low Telescope. CSIRO:
- Led the infrastructure design work and is collaborating with industry partners to manage the site infrastructure construction process. This includes its work with industry partner Aurecon to manage the infrastructure contracts in Australia, including the contract with an Australian-based business.
- Is working with university and industry partners to oversee the installation of SKA-Low antenna stations.
- Is managing the assembly, integration, and verification process – the work to connect and check all the individual sub systems and products are working correctly – together with international institutions.
- Is working with international research institutions to develop the central signal processing system of the telescope, the backend of the telescope that takes the signals from each antenna station and combines them before sending that information to the science data processing system.
- Is working with university partners to design the science data processing system, the supercomputer software that takes the data from the telescope and outputs the images astronomers use to study the universe.
Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, recently revealed details of an AU$15 million project to develop a national soil information system, aimed at improving the sustainable management of one of the nation’s most precious assets.
Supporting the National Soil Strategy, and funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Australian National Soil Information System (ANSIS) project is a collaboration between the government, research organisations, industry, the private sector and the community.
Using innovative processes and technologies, ANSIS will allow improved sharing of nationally consistent soil data and information through online access for users. This will help Australians to better understand their nation’s diverse range of soils and make better decisions about managing our important soil resources. Currently, soil data is collected using different methods, by different organisations, and at a range of depths in the soil. This makes it hard to access, compare and use data from diverse sources.
The Project Lead at CSIRO stated that improving access to the best soil data and information can help promote digital agriculture innovation and is key to sustainably managing Australia’s soils. By using ANSIS, farmers and agricultural advisors will have access to more soil data and be better placed to more sustainably manage the soil on which they rely.
Soil is vital to agricultural production and natural environments, as well as health and well-being. This information system will help everyone care for this important natural resource. Productive, healthy, and resilient soil means more economic, environmental, and social benefits to Australia. Monitoring soil also helps scientific understanding of how the natural world is changing.
This work will provide insight into biodiversity, water resources, landscapes and coastlines, fauna, climate, and geology. By harmonising Australia’s soil data, we can make it accessible across many fields of science and exploration. The project is being delivered under the Federal Government’s National Soil Strategy, which is about prioritising soil health, empowering soil innovation and stewards, and strengthening soil knowledge and capability. The new ANSIS system will be available for use in 2023.
ANSIS will provide improved access to nationally consistent soil data and information needed to help sustainably manage Australian soil. ANSIS will provide:
- More soil data
- More data sets are available that in other soil systems
- Enables more certainty in products developed
- Opportunity to develop new products
- Improved access
- Multiple data sets are now discoverable and accessible
- National coverage
- Most up-to-date data available
- Efficient provision
- Organised and standardised data for immediate use
- Can feed into many users’ requirements
- Consistent delivery
- Substantial reduction in time to prepare information products
- Trusted location
- Certainty that data is from an authoritative source, verified and satisfies standards.
AI and other digital technologies could help solve some of the world’s most important social problems, like climate change, biodiversity loss, food insecurity and risks to public health, among others. Harnessing digital capabilities to promote a transformative system could be a game-changer for a sustainable and equitable global future.
Today’s consumers expect more than great products and services, and businesses are well aware of this. Clients want to feel like they are investing in a reputable, responsible brand. Consequently, the most market-dominant businesses are not merely profitable and have good products but those that have multiple alternate bottom lines – social, environmental and sustainable.
More than 90% of business executives agree that sustainability is crucial to their success. As consumer groups continue to publish reports on the increased desire for more environmentally friendly corporate practices, it is simple to see why green marketing strategies are gaining such importance.
The environment and sustainability are vital components in the strategy and operations of enterprises looking to be more conscientious. Organisations have been taking proactive steps to develop a greener future with their consumers, partners, stakeholders and workers. These efforts include environmental initiatives, community outreach efforts and business practices.
Advancing Environmental Sustainability and Resilience
“Everyone is becoming aware of the necessity for action to attain sustainability,” says Vivek. “There is a growing interest in corporate sustainability and how corporations can strive for it to meet the needs of stakeholders for social, economic, and environmental implications.”
Most businesses are considering ways to contribute significantly, which will need robust investment and efforts. “We see businesses quickening their momentum and considering effective climate innovations. A case in point is how electric mobility companies can be affected by the huge reductions in costs for climate technology.”
Vivek believes it is possible to adapt a company’s digital strategy to mitigate and deal with extreme climate change. Companies must include digitalisation and decarbonisation in their strategy, as industry 4.0 technologies will play a crucial role in meeting the emissions reduction goal.
Digital technologies can increase energy efficiency and decrease fuel consumption across multiple industries and sectors. Digitalisation has the potential to revolutionise the way people and technology interact by helping to analyse and calibrate necessary interventions.
By utilising digitalisation, businesses can identify the emissions sources, whether at the product level, manufacturing unit level, or equipment level. They can then determine the necessary interventions to reduce emissions, such as a change in the manufacturing or personnel settings, and then monitor whether the identified interventions are being implemented.
“Here is where I believe digitalisation and decarbonisation must go hand-in-hand, as this will ensure that industries undergo structural changes and reach their objective,” says Vivek.
Businesses need to be more conscious of the need to be prepared for the energy shift, and he has five relevant steps for how businesses should approach this:
- Develop an understanding of how energy shifts will affect your company;
- Think about a bold and ambitious target, such as considering how big of a carbon footprint reduction they intend to achieve with this energy transition;
- Consider various situations and their effects;
- Create a comprehensive plan that will serve as an overall strategy with well-defined and cascading targets;
- Think about implementation, where companies strike a balance between all the goals, e.g., carbon footprint and profitability
Right now, society is more conscious of sustainability and is calling for companies to shift their carbon footprint and be more conscious about emissions. This is causing profound changes in the corporate and government landscape.
Organisations can work toward more sustainable practices with the aid of corporate sustainability’s economic, social and environmental pillars. Businesses must alter their mindset from just profitability at the expense of the environment to a sustainable and profitable paradigm. There must be interdependence and a greater emphasis on operations and eco-innovation.
Adopting sustainable practices benefits the environment, but businesses have also demonstrated that these programmes can boost productivity, lower costs, make shareholders happy, and a host of other advantages.
“Corporate entities must take the initiative in determining pertinent technologies. Companies must implement technologies to decrease their carbon footprint. They are the ones that will bring about change. Governments can decide the legislation, but unless companies change, it will be difficult to achieve net zero,” Vivek firmly believes.
A green economy is the practice of sustainable development supported by public and private investment in creating an infrastructure that promotes social and environmental sustainability. A green economy refers to an economy in which individuals are increasingly aware of their carbon emissions and are taking steps to reduce them.
A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, that corporations and individuals generate.
There are numerous practical and effective approaches to implementing sustainable technologies at the national level. “I believe that each country will deploy different technologies; the mix of technologies, the adoption rate, and the deployment cost will all be very different. However, each country will need to consider what sustainable technologies are relevant to them, consider implementing them, and consider the reasons for doing so.”
According to Vivek, decarbonisation entails significant economic transformation. When new business opportunities arise in Asia, companies must contemplate how they will be the first to take advantage. To do this, they must seriously consider the technologies and industries they want to innovate in or implement and the various business models they should use to take these opportunities.
There will be an acceleration of the energy transitions if individuals in the nation change their behaviour, the government considers how the empowering regulations should be made, or how businesses decide how they will operate.
Vivek has led several large-scale transformations and new business builds across the region, such as for an energy conglomerate in Indonesia. From this experience, he is convinced that a fundamentally different way of thinking about any business problem is required.
It requires thinking about what the unique value proposition is going to be and thinking about getting new talent to build a business from the ground up. Some of his most memorable moments on this journey include realising the value of having the right talent.
Another thing he learned is that customer preferences change at very different levels. So, thinking about the organisation’s unique value propositions and how customers perceive them becomes very important. For incumbents, choosing different business models can also be essential.
Both private and public organisations are aware that change needs to occur quickly. Resources are becoming harder to come by while demand is rising, necessitating a balance to build a sustainable future. “Green technologies will help the world achieve sustainable levels and make the environment cleaner and safer for everyone.”
Urban Ideas and Solutions Through LKYGBPC
Vivek is on the International Judging Panel (IJP) of the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC), a biennial global university start-up challenge held in Singapore.
As a member of the judging panel charged with driving, developing, and upholding the entrepreneurial spirit of the LKYGBPC participants, Vivek is focused on the innovativeness of the solutions, such as how effectively the technology solves the problem.
He also believes that feasibility and how the different technologies are correctly implemented can significantly change the world. “These two parameters will be quite useful in considering how we are selecting, or how I would select various technologies.”
He acknowledges that innovative entrepreneurship talent can be cultivated wider in the broader community through such competitions. These serve as an illustration of how they are fostering innovation and entrepreneurship across society.
The competition is also one example of instilling a culture where the next generation is thinking about how things can be done differently. Competitors explore creative ideas and have a forum where they can share their thoughts, which can be a great example of nurturing innovation.
The competition, which is run by the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Singapore Management University (SMU), is centred on urban ideas and solutions developed by student founders and early-stage start-ups. It is positioned as a campus innovation movement that seeks to establish a global startup ecosystem with financial backers, including venture capitalists, corporate oligopolies, and governmental organisations.
“I believe many of our leading schools are doing a great job of instilling a culture where children are thinking about how things can be done differently and what are creative ideas,” Vivek opines.
There are numerous instances throughout the world where the technologies or solutions used by youth or larger communities have truly made a meaningful difference. “But it does take some significant effort to raise awareness and establish a forum where people can discuss their concerns, share their ideas, and obtain the resources needed to solve them,” Vivek concludes.
Researchers at the University of South Australia are trialling a simple finger prick technology that could soon be all it takes to save the lives of pregnant mothers and their babies who are at risk of a dangerous pregnancy complication known as preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia affects four per cent of all pregnancies in Australia and can cause organ failure, blood clotting, restricted foetal growth and be life-threatening for the mum and baby. However, current diagnosis methods are complex and can take up to 24 hours in rural areas – time that is critical when dealing with the health of an unborn baby.
In a move which could revolutionise the diagnosis and care of the condition, scientists from UniSA’s Future Industries Institute have developed new technology which requires only a few drops of blood to test for preeclampsia – and the result returned within 30 minutes. This means the test can be done quickly and accurately in a rural setting by a primary healthcare team, without the need to send it to an advanced laboratory.
The Hospital Research Foundation Group is now funding the testing stage of their device, in the hope that earlier and more accurate diagnosis can improve prenatal care and save lives.
Chief investigators Dr Duy Phu Tran and Professor Benjamin Thierry said the device would be most critical in regional settings where emergency care is limited, with preeclampsia one of the main reasons for emergency retrievals by the Royal Flying Doctors Service.
The technology is designed to enable rapid and accurate point-of-care testing for preeclampsia biomarkers, allowing for quicker interventions and likely improved pregnancy outcomes for women living in rural Australia.
The current tests for preeclampsia in primary care involve a combination of blood pressure measurements, urinalysis and/or biochemical and haematological testing. Blood biomarkers have recently been identified but testing can only be carried out in large laboratories, for example, at the Women’s & Children’s Hospital.
Concurrently, preeclampsia can progress very quickly – in some cases hours – and have catastrophic consequences. We hope our device can bridge this gap in care for rural women.
An AU$132,000 grant from The Hospital Research Foundation Group will help accelerate the testing and commercialisation of the device through a trial of at-risk pregnant women in hospitals. If validated, the trial will then extend to mothers seen by the Royal Flying Doctors Service retrieval team, with the hope to then expand even wider with more funding. The 3D-printed device is being manufactured locally by the South Australian node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility at UniSA’s Mawson Lakes campus.
The Director of the National Emergency Response and the Public Health Research Unit at the Royal Flying Doctors Service said if the trial was successful, the technology would have a significant impact on prenatal care in regional areas. He noted that preeclampsia is a substantial risk during pregnancy, which is exacerbated in remote communities, where diagnosis and subsequent treatment can take significantly longer than in major city areas.
The hospital conducts roughly 750 retrievals associated with pregnancy per year, with pre-term labour, premature rupture of membranes and preeclampsia being some of the leading transfer reasons.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service has seen, first-hand, the impacts of poorly managed preeclampsia and this technology is an exciting and much-needed step forward in improving rural and remote patient outcomes and in closing the gap, he added.
Meanwhile, the CEO of The Hospital Research Foundation Group, said the organisation was pleased to be advancing testing of the device. He noted that women’s health and bridging the gap between country and city care are important healthcare needs. The revolutionary technology, if validated, will be an exciting development to give all mums and bubs the very best start in life, he added.
The CSIRO’s Next Generation Graduates Programmes are industry-university partnerships aimed at developing a pipeline of home-grown, job-ready graduates to unlock the immense economic opportunity offered by AI and emerging technologies.
In this latest round, 14 programmes were funded, with RMIT leading four, including two by its Centre for Industrial AI Research and Innovation (CIAIRI), one by its Enterprise AI and Data Analytics Hub, and one by the Sir Lawrence Wackett Defence and Aerospace Centre. RMIT will also support a further three.
These programs will provide generous scholarships to domestic PhD students which allows them to be part of a multi-disciplinary team aimed at solving real-world challenges. The programmes are:
1. AI for Next Generation Food & Waste Systems (RMIT led, La Trobe supported)
This programme addresses the skills shortage in adopting advanced AI technologies in the areas of food and waste, a critical national manufacturing priority. This will boost food productivity, improve food quality control and logistics, reduce, and better manage waste generated during the life cycle of food production and consumption.
Through a range of industry-driven research activities, this program will produce a cohort of graduates that are not only equipped with practical AI skills but also ready to integrate into food and waste related industry sectors to generate real impact.
2. Developing Digital Capabilities to Support the Aged Care Sector (RMIT led, Victoria and Newcastle supported)
One of the recommendations in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is to adopt technology to transform the aged care system so that carers’ time can be best used to deliver quality care. The report also recommended the use of technology to increase the connectedness of older Australians – to one another, families and carers, and to the broader community.
This programme aims to reimagine the role of technologies like AI, AR/VR and sensors which are critical in ensuring the sustainability of the sector. Our industry partners are driven by these challenges every day thus, the research undertaken in this programme will have great significance and impact.
3. AI Techniques for Emergency Management and Critical Infrastructure (RMIT led, Sydney Uni supported)
This programme will produce a cohort of graduates with much-needed skills in AI to support critical infrastructure and community safety. Some of the common AI techniques across the selected projects are:
- computer vision -creating 3D reconstructions from 2D images of interior designs and detecting potential hazards and threats via surveillance videos
- agent-based modelling and simulation (ABMS) – which is becoming increasingly popular to model and simulate the management of disaster events such as floods and bushfires and
- digital twin technology – which involves complementary approaches of digitising models of infrastructure, people, and business processes and one of the projects investigates the integration of all three aspects.
4. Applied AI and Digital Innovation for Defence and Aerospace Applications (RMIT led, Charles Darwin supported)
This programme will deliver graduates capable of tackling Australia’s pressing current and future challenges in the defence and aerospace sectors through the application of AI and digital technologies. It will expand opportunities for diverse communities of students and create workers skilled in emerging technologies, including applied AI, digital twins and threads, machine learning, robotics, cyber security, and modern manufacturing.
This interdisciplinary program builds on the strategic partnership between RMIT University and Charles Darwin University (CDU), which will see the creation of a joint Aerospace and Defence Industries 4.0 TestLab in the Northern Territory.
5. AI for Clean Energy and Sustainability (Monash led, RMIT supported)
Delivering clean and sustainable energy and enabling energy transition is a global challenge. AI is expected to play a significant role in this transition by enabling more effective models and tools, accurately predicting reliable supply, optimising maintenance and operations, making smarter decisions and assessing risk.
This programme will focus on the Recycling and Clean Energy National Manufacturing Priority to teach a variety of HDR students innovative AI technologies driven by these industry priorities.
6. Central Bank Digital Currency – Infrastructure & Applications (Macquarie led, RMIT and UTS supported)
A Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) would be a new digital form of money issued by the Reserve Bank. It could be designed for retail or general use, like a digital version of banknotes.
The development and deployment of robust, efficient and trusted CBDC requires the design, engineering, proving and integration of a suite of technologies including blockchain, security and privacy-preserving solutions and regtech (surveillance, alerting and compliance) technologies and the skilled graduates to help implement them.
7. Artificial Intelligence of Things Empowering Industrial Digital Twin (La Trobe led, RMIT and Swinburne supported)
This programme will develop new digital twin solutions powered by a combination of AI and the Internet of Things (IoT), to meet the needs of industry partners, seeking improved productivity and reduced maintenance and management costs.
By representing physical objects digitally, digital twins can harness real-time IoT data and optimise performance using AI and data analytics. Several research and industry challenges will be addressed, including accurate 3D modelling, digital twin model optimisation, reliable connectivity between the physical world and the digital world, and edge AI models.
Both in normal circumstances and in times of crisis, Thai people are known to generate a lot of innovative ideas and continue to develop products that make their lives better. This encompasses and encapsulates the nation’s most recent campaign, Innovation Thailand, which promotes Thai creativity to a global audience.
The Innovation Thailand Alliance consists of partners from a variety of sectors including government agencies, private organisations, educational institutions, and civil societies. Through it, the National Innovation Agency of Thailand (NIA), is expanding the scope of its Innovation Thailand platform.
The fundamental goal is to use national/local ideas to revitalise the nation by promoting awareness of and pride in inventive Thai works. Allies will serve as ambassadors in the effort to promote Thailand as an innovative nation. They will be able to exchange knowledge and skills with one another at the same time.
All stakeholders are enthusiastic to help Thailand achieve its goal of being one of the world’s top 30 innovative nations by 2030 and turning Thailand into an innovation-driven country.
Innovation Capabilities of Thai People
The National Innovation Agency’s mission is to support and develop Thailand’s innovation system to promote economic restructuring and competitive enhancement.
“We began the Innovation Thailand campaign before COVID-19 because we faced a significant challenge in terms of how not only Thai people but also global clients, perceive the nation’s unique products and services,” explains Dr Pun-Arj.
Even though this may not be directly related to innovation, the NIA has attempted to communicate and brand national innovation in such a way that it can be easily connected not only with Thais but also with international customers – this is how they started the Innovation Thailand platform.
Thailand is a tourist destination and one of the top three in the world, which has caused the country to innovate their lifestyle as well as their livelihood.
Thai culture places a high value on craftsmanship and attention to detail. Thai innovation for artful living is a process created exclusively by the fusion of modern technology and knowledge passed down from one generation to the next.
“We have created ingenious solutions through this method that enhances the standard of living in terms of society, prosperity, health, safety, and the environment,” Dr Pun-Arj furthers.
They began to construct a community to exchange ideas, develop, and manage innovation that would result in delivering some information or any significant strategic movement that the government could initiate.
They are recruiting more Chief Innovation Officers from not only the private sector but also the public sector and universities, as part of their primary target group.
Dr Pun-Arj is looking to enhance the opportunities brought in by innovation, particularly at the regional level in the city. This is because they are working not only on economic development but also on the skillset of the social innovation division and platform.
“As a result, our primary focus is on regionalisations of innovation possibilities, as well as startups – innovation-based firms,” reveals Dr Pun-Arj.
He believes that every successful community is built upon a robust and well-functioning infrastructure. Hence, Thailand’s industries and infrastructure will be modernised to meet upcoming challenges.
“In the past, one of our five-year priorities included buildings which we identify as system integrators. As the system and ecosystem become more robust, we are transitioning from system integrators to full core facilitators.”
He emphasised the need to consider the impact of being a system integrator before transforming themselves into focal facilitators. Furthermore, the country wants to make better use of the enormous resource of innovation in universities to conduct research and technology in collaboration with other organisations across the world.
Through the City Innovation Index, which focuses primarily on districts and cities, the NIA promotes and monitors the constant innovation and evaluation of diverse organisations. Periodically, they performed surveys in particular industries to evaluate and propose answers for the difficulties they face.
A strong innovation strategy will evaluate the overall objectives, the target portfolio for innovation initiatives, and the process for allocating the necessary resources. The portfolio clearly defines innovation-critical benchmarks and bounds. Therefore, the nation will become democratic and transparent.
“I believe the government’s most essential innovation strategy focuses on three specific concerns. You must have highly strong and capable businesses of all sizes that will establish a very strong enterprise on its own. And secondly, you must have laws and regulations,” Dr Pun-Arj asserts. “In addition, governance is also required and identifying future risks.”
Thailand is struggling with several issues, including inequality, which includes limited access to public services, digital technology, education, and environmental problems. High manufacturing costs and new types of competition in the global supply chain became challenges for Thailand, with this, innovation has emerged as the country’s answer.
Additionally, there are many challenges in terms of digital transformation and government service and the nation is pushing for innovation that can deliver a good policy and deploy it into practice.
In the previous five-year plan, NIA primarily focused on the job of system integrator into four core facilitators. “That is why the short-term strategy is to train management in the methods, programmes, and activities that we have implemented over the last five years.”
NIA is primarily concentrated on strengthening the potential of regional innovation in several key sectors such as new technologies, assistance for startups, venture capital creation or investment for innovation, and internationalisation of Thailand’s innovation.
Dr Pun-Arj envisions a stronger Thai economy and society, with innovation playing a key role in propelling it. The Bio-Circular-Green Economy (BCG) model is a plan for the country’s growth and post-pandemic recovery. The BCG model focuses on four strategic sectors: agriculture and food, wellness and medicine, energy, materials, and biochemicals and tourism and creative economy.
It emphasises using science, technology, and innovation to turn Thailand’s comparative advantage in biological and cultural diversity into a competitive advantage. The primary aim is to support the sustainability of biological resources, develop local economies and communities and make Thai BCG industries more competitive and resilient to societal changes.
The approach is meant to make Thailand’s economy, society, and environment more sustainable and inclusive. “To achieve the 2030 goal, we must work incredibly hard to encourage innovation in this BCG economy. At the same time, the national policy needs to be improved.”
Dr Pun-Arj has been recognised as a pioneer in the domains of foresight and innovation management in the country. He counsels anyone aspiring to be a great innovator to fully comprehend the concepts of uncertainty and failure.
“Innovation will help us grow as a community or nation by making ourselves and others aware of the importance of innovation,” Dr Pun-Arj concludes.