The Australian Federal Government has created a National Data Advisory Council in order to manage data better and to drive innovation and economic growth.
The advisory council was created based on a recommendation of the Productivity Commission’s 2017 review of Australia’s data sharing and release arrangements. It also recommended a new Data Sharing and Release Act to replace the complex web of rules and regulations that have restricted data sharing between government agencies.
Advisory Board to focus on ethical data usage and data best practice
“Work on this legislation is already well advanced and will enshrine the principles of privacy and security, while also ensuring that Australia can continue to capitalise on the enormous benefits that data can deliver when used correctly,” said Minister for human services and digital transformation Michael Keenan.
The purpose of the council is to guide the Office of the National Data Commissioner on ethical data usage, and technical best practice. This follows the Government’s plan to develop a new framework for sharing and managing public sector data announced last year in July.
“Data held by Government is a hugely valuable national resource that, when used correctly, can drive innovation and economic growth, help to better inform public policy, and deliver breakthroughs for researchers and scientists,” Minister Keenan said.
Advisory council representative of all Australia
There are nine representatives in the council, including are associate professor Nicholas Biddle whose research includes examining how to deliver economic and social benefits to Australia’s Indigenous population. Ellen Broad, an independent consultant in open data, data sharing and artificial intelligence ethics.
Paul McCarney, the co-founder of Data Governance Australia with more than 20 years of experience in data, technology and digital business. Joshua Meltzer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC who has examined the significance of the internet and cross-border data flows for international trade.
Also in the council is Lauren Solomon, CEO of the Consumer Policy Research Centre, an independent, non‑profit, consumer research organisation; and professor Fiona Stanley, 2003 Australian of the Year and research professor of paediatrics and child health at the University of Western Australia.
The Government members of the council are Australian Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk, Australia’s Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, and Australian Statistician David Kalisch.
“But maintaining public trust is crucial in order to unlock the full potential that our data holds. That is why I’m pleased to have a council advising us that represents the full range of community views, including those of civil society advocates, researchers and industry” Minister Kennan added.
The Government of Western Australia, through Horizon Power, will invest $21 million in Kimberley infrastructure projects focused on renewable energy technologies to kick-start the State’s economy as part of the WA Recovery Plan.
The Kimberley region will receive a suite of innovative, clean energy projects that will create jobs and improve the State’s renewable energy footprint.
Broome and Yungngora will benefit from the installation of its own Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) as part of a $12 million investment and will be installed early next year.
Each BESS project will enable more customers to install, connect and enjoy the long-term benefits and savings of rooftop solar and will create approximately 20 jobs during design, construction and installation phases.
Four new standalone power systems will be deployed to the Kimberley as part of the McGowan Government’s overall $9.92 million investment into Standalone Power Systems across the North-West of the State.
Standalone Power Systems use solar and battery technology to generate and store electricity and will allow more customers to benefit from safer, higher quality and more reliable power, 24 hours a day.
In addition, the Shire of Derby will benefit from a $5.2 million investment towards the installation of solar panel systems across its portfolio of public buildings.
All of Derby’s conventional street lights will be replaced by smart LED street lights which are more efficient, reducing operating costs and environmental impacts.
The new, LED streetlights aim to reduce night-time crime and other traffic-related issues, making Derby a safer place for the community and visitors.
Horizon Power will also work in partnership with Derby Health Services to co-design a large-scale solar panel and battery solution.
This will significantly contribute to the reduction in Derby Health Services’ annual power costs and enable more of the State’s funds to be redirected into other essential services across the region.
Around $2.5 million of the project’s cost is expected to be spent in the region, creating local jobs, supplier and contractor opportunities.
Horizon Power will invest $3.81 million to upgrade the electrical infrastructure in remote Aboriginal communities across the Kimberley to improve power reliability and create jobs on country.
The communities include Joy Springs, Loanbun, Karnparrmi, Gillarong, Emu Creek, Mud Springs, Bell Springs, Munthanmar and Koongie Park.
The McGowan Government also announced today that Horizon Power will establish a Customer Experience Centre in Broome.
The Centre will create 10 new local jobs and provide Horizon Power with more opportunities to engage with its customers, and understand their energy needs and challenges.
Horizon Power will commence relocating its existing customer services, which has been operated by Computershare in Melbourne since 2009, to the new Broome Centre from November 2020.
The McGowan Government will invest a further $10 million towards the Clean Energy Future Fund, adding to the $9.3 million initially invested. Clean energy innovators can apply for funding of between $250,000 and $2 million for each clean energy project.
The state’s Premier noted that the significant investment as part of a comprehensive WA Recovery Plan will deliver a range of infrastructure projects that will help reduce energy costs, provide better energy efficiency to the community and create a pipeline of work across the Kimberley region.
A range of job, supplier and contractor opportunities will be created to support the production, installation, commissioning and ongoing maintenance of the new systems.
These projects have been brought forward to support local jobs, businesses and our regional economies to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
The region’s Energy Minister stated that the Government is committed to increasing its renewable energy footprint. The additional nine Battery Energy Storage Systems will integrate renewable energy, enabling more people living in regional WA to enjoy the benefits of rooftop solar.
The deployment of 50 additional SPS units across regional WA will deliver improved power reliability, quality and safety to some of our more remote, end-of-grid customers.
The NSW Government and the NRMA will deliver at least 20 additional electric vehicle fast chargers to the existing regional network along NSW’s major highways.
The first two charging stations will be installed in Wagga Wagga and Yass in September 2020. This will help complete the rollout of charging stations on both the Sturt and Hume highways.
Electric vehicle drivers will be no more than 150 kilometres from a charging station once the regional network is completed by 2020. This will allow people to travel to Broken Hill, Moree and Bourke, and link up to major routes in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.
The Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Minister stated that the additional charging stations will open regional NSW up to electric vehicle owners.
He noted that the extended network will help further support the regional tourism economy and promote local investment in regional centres along the Newell, Barrier, New England, and Kamilaroi highways.
Growing the demand for electric vehicles in Australia
According to another article, an Australian listed public energy company will provide and install 150 smart chargers to incentivise new and existing EV owners to participate in the trial.
The smart chargers will be installed across residential, commercial and industrial premises of EV owners and fleets, where they will be remotely monitored and controlled via software. The smart chargers will also be integrated into the company’s existing platform for managing distributed energy.
The $2.9 million trial will look to evaluate the benefits of and barriers to controlled smart charging, including improving our understanding of EV driver behaviour, willingness to accept third party control and what incentives are needed to encourage future participation in charge management programs.
Smart chargers will allow control of EV charging in order to avoid negative impacts on the grid, and maximise the use and value of renewable energy.
The trial will help to demonstrate how the Australian electricity grid can successfully integrate higher numbers of EVs while limiting costly network expansion.
As the uptake of EVs increases, it will be important to efficiently manage the charging of vehicles, to avoid potentially costly impacts on peak demand, associated network charges and grid security issues.
Smart charging enables charging at times when demand is lowest and electricity is cheapest, which reduces the burden on the network and the cost to the customer.
The company’s Executive General Manager of Future Energy and Technology said that he hoped the trial will help them better understand how they can maximise the benefits to customers by offering products that reduce their EV charging costs, as well as manage EV charging in a way that helps with grid and network stability.
The firm has developed a leading artificial intelligence orchestration platform, with a wide range of distributed assets, such as storage, residential air-conditioning systems, pool pumps and industrial coolers, already connected and continuing to grow.
The platform will enable the capability to remotely switch chargers on and off, or higher or lower, in response to changes in wholesale prices, with benefits for customers in terms of lower charging costs and the NEM as we can more efficiently manage demand and supply in the system.
The company aims to push people to think about EVs as more than just cars and saving on petrol, they will double as battery storage in the home and be connected to virtual power plants or used for grid stabilisation, all of which will significantly reduce payback periods and improve the economics of EV ownership for many Australians.
Australia and Singapore yesterday signed a Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) to harness digital transformation and technology to expand trade and economic ties in the region. Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham and Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing signed the DEA digitally via videoconference.
The SADEA is the second Digital Economy Agreement that Singapore has signed, following the signing of the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) with Chile and New Zealand in June this year.
At a time of global uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the signing of the DEA demonstrates Australia and Singapore’s recognition of the value of digital trade in forging a path to a post-COVID economic recovery.
Mr Chan said, “The signing of the Singapore-Australia Digital Economy Agreement marks a milestone in the long standing and multi-faceted partnership between our two countries. The SADEA will facilitate digitalisation of trade processes and make it easier and more cost effective for Singapore companies to engage in cross border business activities with Australia.
“As COVID-19 forces businesses to consider innovative ways to reach customers and adapt to a new way of doing business, agreements like the SADEA will allow our companies to take advantage of opportunities in the digital economy and tap on new technologies to create new digital products and services.”
Singapore and Australia enjoy strong bilateral trade and investment flows and the SADEA builds on this foundation to enhance economic opportunities in the digital realm. With the SADEA, Singapore and Australia aim to create a seamless digital trading environment which is crucial for businesses during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Enhancing economic opportunities in the digital realm
It will also enable trusted cross-border data flows without unnecessary and costly requirements such as data localisation, while protecting consumers’ privacy and businesses’ proprietary information.
Australia and Singapore have agreed to set new rules to prevent unnecessary restrictions on the transfer and location of data, improved protection for software source code, and ensure compatibility between e-invoicing and e-payment frameworks.
Importantly, the DEA will also feature rules for enhanced business and consumer trust in digital trade and cooperation in creating a safe online environment, and protecting personal information and consumer rights.
The Digital Economy Agreement is further supported by MoUs on data innovation, artificial intelligence, trade facilitation, e-invoicing, e-certification for agricultural exports and imports, personal data protection and digital identity
The signing today follows the conclusion of negotiations by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Lee Hsien Loong on 23 March 2020. The DEA will now undergo Australian treaty-making processes, including tabling in Parliament and consideration by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties prior to ratification. When the DEA enters into force it will amend the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement to replace the existing Electronic Commerce chapter with a new Digital Economy chapter.
PHOTO CREDIT: dfat.gov.au
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted governments around the world to respond quickly and decisively to protect their people and economies.
In Australia, the country’s state and federal governments have come together in a unified response, listening to advice from experts, and working together to limit the spread of the virus.
Apart from ramping up adoption of technology and use of cutting-edge innovations, many countries are exploring energy self-reliance / independence.
This global change is occurring as countries move to implement policies, such as net-zero emissions by 2050, in line with Paris Agreement goals.
Australia is playing its part in the global challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is committed to Kyoto era climate targets.
By June 2020, the nation’s targets we comprehensively beat by around 80% of a full year’s emissions.
Australia also has a clear plan to meet and beat the Kyoto 2030 Paris target and become a global player in renewable and alternative energy.
In May this year, the Australian government launched its Technology Investment Roadmap Discussion Paper, aiming for “a strategic and system-wide view to future investments in low emissions technologies”.
The paper lays out a framework to accelerate low emissions technologies and discuss strategies and solutions for Australia’s energy landscape.
The Technology Investment Roadmap will help inform Australia’s first Low Emissions Technology Statement and will be a critical input to Australia’s Long Term Emissions Reduction Strategy.
Technology will drive a successful shift to secure, more affordable energy and lower emissions. Deploying the right technology when and where it is needed will allow Australian industry to capture new opportunities from rising global demand for lower emissions products and services.
Australia has enormous opportunities, including shipping wind and solar power in the form of hydrogen or hydrogen-based synthetic fuels.
Hydrogen is the lightest element in the periodic table and the most abundant chemical substance in the universe.
But two factors have historically stood in the way of hydrogen as a viable option- the expense of manufacturing clean hydrogen and the durability of the equipment.
However, with dramatic reduction cost of wind and solar power, it is now possible to make cost-competitive, zero-emissions green hydrogen.
Models show that if Australia could produce 200% of their electricity needs by 2050, exporting the surplus as hydrogen or other energy-intensive products, they could lower the cost of electricity which would, in turn, benefit the larger economy.
This is will also create an influx in jobs, export industries, general welfare, productivity, and environmental sustainability
With increasing energy demand and proportionately increasing carbon emissions, this is the time to harness the opportunity to transition to a net-zero emissions global economy.
The value of the global market for clean technologies is projected to almost double between 2016 and 2025, and then continue to expand at an increasing pace to 2050.
The Australian government is looking to quickly to take advantage of this transition. Australia also has a comparative advantage as the world transitions to renewable energy because of its exceptional and complementary wind and solar resources.
Australia could be an important source of supply in global markets for the low cost of production could offset transportation costs because of Australia’s geographic distance from trading partners.
Equally, Australia is well-placed in terms of available geological sites for carbon sequestration together with a very significant capacity to sequester carbon in soils. This is also the key to Australia adopting a world-leading position with negative emissions.
Technology or knowledge development made by universities or researchers can contribute to reduction in emissions. However, predicting the future path of technology and its practical application is always difficult.
Researchers at the Energy Transition Hub say that an ambitious approach to the development of hydrogen and energy-intensive exports sectors is better than a cautious one.
OpenGov Asia hosted its third installment of its Virtual Breakfast Insight: Powering Smarter Data and Resilient Government with Advanced Analytics on 29th July 2020.
This audience comprised of senior digital executives from the Indonesian public sector. The session once again witnessed a 100% turnout with delegates from 16 different government agencies in attendance.
The session was opened by Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor- in- Chief at OpenGov Asia.
Mohit shared that the whole world came to a sudden shut down when the COVID – 19 hit us. Everyone was shocked and scared by the magnitude of its impact. However, governments didn’t get a chance to slow down.
In fact, they were the ones who kept nations going by ensuring all necessary services were provided as uninterrupted as possible.
During this process governments collected a lot of data about their citizens’ needs and requirements.
Mohit emphasised that it is imperative for the governments to extract relevant insights from this data to identify services that are more in demand than others and how to provide them.
Times like these, he stressed, require strong leadership. Leaders who can recover and respond to the current crisis and also plan for a better future.
He concluded his presentation by highlighting the importance of working with the right partners (both internal and external) who can help recognise the opportunity amid crisis and make the best of it.
Joseph Musolino, Global Sales & Strategy Consultant, Fraud and Security Intelligence for SAS shared his insights with the audience.
He began by sharing an interesting stat that 61% of the organisations in the last year picked Machine Learning and AI as the most significant tools for the next year.
Joseph then elaborated on the numerous challenges that organisations face in making AI and Analytics a part of their current working paradigm.
He then expounded on the various SAS Analytical capabilities that can help agencies and organisations overcome the afore mentioned challenges and adapt analytics tools quickly.
To validate this, he shared actual examples of the various areas where governments are deploying analytics in serving citizens better: customs, healthcare, taxation and judicial issues.
Dr. Ian Opperman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Data Scientist, the New South Wales Data Centre took over to share his learnings on Data sharing during COVID-19.
He began by highlighting privacy concerns as the major issue when it comes to sharing data, especially between government organisations.
Ian further emphasised the importance of source and context in which the data is being analysed, i.e. data from open source or in a closed and controlled environment.
He shared an actual example of how his agency gained insights from open data sources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ian also shared how powerful and useful insights were, if carefully extracted from various open data sources and shared with various concerned parties.
After Dr. Opperman’s presentation the session went into a more interactive time with the polling questions addressed to the audience.
On the question of the biggest impact of the COVID-19 had had on an organisation, a majority of the audience voted for increased demand for services with rising expectations from citizens (45%). Another major section voted for disrupted sectors looking to the government to provide innovative policies and processes (35%).
A senior executive from the Ministry of Health shared that there has been an increased demand from the government to transform digitally and serve citizens better. So the major focus and challenged has been digital transformation of the government.
On the next question of how the pandemic has changed the functioning of agencies / departments, delegates responded with several interesting reflections.
Pertinent to the topic of discussion, a majority of the audience were of the view that they have become dependent on data and analytics to make decisions (40%).
A delegate from the Ministry of Finance shared that he voted for the above option as a result of what he has personally experiences.
He elaborated that he is heavily involved in policy development to overcome the challenges during COVID-19. In so doing, he has realised that data is of paramount importance when it comes to making well informed decisions. And analytics is a powerful tool for drawing useful insights from data.
On the question, “have advanced analytics and AI become a higher priority for your organisation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic”, the audience was equally split between strongly agree (45%) and agree (45%).
A delegate from the Ministry of Education and Culture shared that there is an urgent need to make analytical tools a higher priority. During critical times like a pandemic, making the right choice of what is best for the citizens and students can be hard. Analytics can play a vital role in evaluating the various options and choosing the best out of them.
The session concluded with closing remarks by Febrianto Sibaro. He expressed his gratitude towards the delegates for attending the event and sharing their insights.
The delegates acknowledged that they gained a lot more information about data analytics and how it can improve their day to day workings in serving citizens better
The Australian Government recently announced that it is investing AU$18.8 million to supercharge the discovery of better treatments for cancer, epilepsy, stroke, paralysis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, brain injuries, back pain and chronic middle ear disease.
Under round three of the Government’s AU$45 million BioMedTech Horizons (BMTH) program, 21 very promising projects will receive funding to help unlock some of the key health challenges facing the medical community today.
Successful applicants will use the funding to develop medical devices – including wearable devices – telehealth and telemedicine, and digitally-enabled personalised medicine.
The Government is supporting Australia’s world-class biomedical and medical technology sector for the benefit of all Australians while creating new jobs, growing expertise and building sustainable export markets.
Victoria-based Seer will receive AU$1 million to develop a real-time seizure forecasting system, through mobile and wearable monitoring, to empower people with epilepsy to regain control of their condition.
This project has great potential to save lives and improve the lives of people with epilepsy and their families.
Other projects include a 3D bioprinting system for regenerating skin and developing a smart brain biopsy needle for faster, safer neurosurgery.
The Australian Government provides funding for the BioMedTech Horizons program through its AU$20 billion Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), while the industry is backing these projects by matching contributions to the tune of AU$21.3 million.
The MRFF is a key pillar of Australia’s long term national health plan to build the world’s best health system.
MTPConnect, a not-for-profit organisation driving innovation, productivity and competitiveness in the medical technologies, biotechnologies and pharmaceuticals sector, delivers BioMedTech Horizons on behalf of the Australian Government.
The table below details the projects slated to receive funding for their innovations and research.
The New Zealand government has launched a set of standards designed to act as a guideline for government agencies on how to use algorithms.
The new Algorithm Charter is the first of its type. According to New Zealand’s Minister of Statistics, the charter will help to improve data transparency and accountability.
The Algorithm charter for Aotearoa New Zealand demonstrates a commitment to ensuring New Zealanders have confidence in how government agencies use algorithms. The charter is one of many ways that government demonstrates transparency and accountability in the use of data.
This is most notably observed when algorithms are being used to process and interpret large amounts of data.
Using algorithms for data analysation and decision making is a risky task. The charter will help determine whether the algorithms are being used in a fair, ethical, and transparent way.
So far, 21 agencies have signed the charter. This includes the Department of corrections, Ministry of Education and the ministry for the environment.
In it, departments pledge to be publicly transparent about how decision-making is driven by algorithms, including giving “plain English” explanations; to make available information about the processes used and how data is stored unless forbidden by law
By signing the charter these agencies have agreed to commit a range of measures such as explaining how decisions are informed by the algorithms; making sure data is fit for purpose by managing and identifying biases, ensuring that privacy, ethics and human rights are maintained.
The development of the charter was recommended by the New Zealand government chief data steward and chief digital officer who said that safe and effective use of operational algorithms required more attention and greater consistency across the New Zealand government.
The recommendation was presented after a call made to the New Zealand government about how the government agencies were using algorithms to analyse data.
There were claims that the New Zealand government agencies were potentially using citizen data collected through the country’s visa application process.
This was done to determine those who were breeching their visa conditions by filtering people based on their age, ethnicity, and gender.
A former New Zealand Immigration minister originally rejected the idea, stating that immigration looks at a range of issues such as those who have made and have had rejected multiple visa applications.
He said that it looks at people who place the greatest burden on the health system, people who place the greatest burden on the criminal justice system and uses that data to prioritise those people.
It is important that the integrity of New Zealand’s immigration system is protected and that that immigration resources are used as effectively as possible.
Departments committed to the charter included New Zealand’s accident compensation scheme – which was criticised in 2017 for using algorithms to detect fraud among those on its books – and the corrections agency, which has deployed algorithms to determine an inmate’s risk of reoffending. The immigration agency, found in March to be profiling applicants by algorithm, is also a signatory.
The New Zealand government added that the algorithm charter would evolve and will be reviewed next in 12 months to make sure that it has achieved its intended purpose without creating unnecessary burden or halting progress.
Agencies must also consider te ao Māori, or Indigenous, worldviews on data collection and consult with groups affected by their equations. In New Zealand, Māori are disproportionately represented in the justice and prison system.