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Australia’s new AI project aims to deliver archive reform

The automating the archiving of petabytes of data relies heavily on machines learning the context of government records.

Thus, the federal government has announced millions of dollars in grants to Australian tech companies, to help spur innovation that will solve some of the trickiest technology challenges it currently faces.

Under the Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII), six businesses have been granted $1 million each to develop their proposed solutions. That $6 million is in addition to $1,465,597 allocated in feasibility study funding.

The Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology stated that some businesses are working to use intelligent data to keep the nation’s tourism industry at the leading edge, while others are ensuring the country can manage risks of hitchhiking pests on shipping containers.

This funding will help businesses which have completed feasibility studies further develop their innovative solutions.

The BRII program challenged tech companies to solve specific problems within the following topic areas:

  1. Providing fast and secure digital identity verification for people experiencing family and domestic violence.
  2. Using intelligent data to transform tourism service delivery.
  3. Upgrading the government’s capability to help deliver world-leading digital services.
  4. Managing the biosecurity of hitchhiking pests and contaminants on shipping containers.
  5. Automating complex determinations for Australian Government information.

Amongst the $1 million recipients working to protect Australia’s flora and fauna from pests, diseases and contaminants that can arrive on sea containers is Industry Spec Drones, which proposes to use unmanned flight technology to manage biosecurity risks, and Trellis Data, which will use detection technologies such as microwave and infrared to manage potential biosecurity threats.

Another firm, WEJUGO, will use its $1 million grant to develop a visitation and tourism analytics platform that combines data from transactional, telecommunications, social media and other digitally sourced data into a 360° view of tourism impacts across economic, environmental and cultural performance metrics.

And Surround Australia will leverage existing tech platforms to build a solution that “identifies the cultural and heritage dimensions of records.

Automating data determinations

The overall aim of the BRII’s ‘Automating complex determinations for Australian Government information’ theme is to develop an accurate and scalable way to decide the value of government digital information and data and to determine whether it should be preserved or destroyed using artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, data management and analytics, data science, archiving, business process management technologies.

This challenge is not just a theoretical construct. The National Archives of Australia (NAA) has a real problem on its hands with dealing with the volume of data generated by government and deciding which records need to be kept and for how long, or whether they can be destroyed.

Currently, this process is done largely manually, which imposes a huge cost burden on the NAA and government in general.

According to BRII program guidance, the National Archives is looking for an automated, innovative, accurate and reliable solution to create and manage complex decisions about the value of information and data.

Humans can then redirect their efforts towards exceptional and complex decision points. This product would be attractive to governments at all levels, as well as any private sector or not-for-profit organisation that manages information and data.

One company aiming to tackle this challenge is Canberra-based Lenticular, one of the $1 million grant recipients. The firm aims to develop a system that aims to help the government make informed decisions about record-keeping by developing and crafting contextual knowledge, and accessing this knowledge through user-configurable rules.

Lenticular was co-founded by two members of the team behind the Parliamentary Document Management System (PDMS). The PDMS connects Australian Government agencies and parliament under the whole-of-government Parliamentary Workflow Solution system. It is used by more than 50 agencies, has 26,500 registered users and processes an average of 302,000 records every year.

Lenticular’s NAA-challenge inspired BRII project is partly a response to its experience in developing the PDMS and will rely heavily on artificial intelligence.

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