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 Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) has launched nine satellites, including eight nanosatellites, into space from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh.
The 44-metre-long rocket’s primary payload is the Earth Observation Satellite-6 (EOS-6) or Oceansat-3, a third-generation satellite to monitor oceans. It is a follow up to OceanSat-1 or IRS-P4 and OceanSat-2 launched in 1999 and 2009, respectively. Oceansat-3 will provide data about ocean colour, sea surface temperature, and wind vector data for oceanography, climatology, and meteorological applications.
The Oceansat-3 was placed in the polar orbit at a height of about 740 kilometres above sea level. While it weighs approximately 1,100 kilogrammes, which is only slightly heavier than Oceansat-1, for the first time in this series, it houses three ocean observing sensors. These include an Ocean Colour Monitor (OCM-3), Sea Surface Temperature Monitor (SSTM), and Ku-Band scatterometer (SCAT-3). There is also an ARGOS payload, a press release mentioned.
The OCM-3, with a high signal-to-noise ratio, is expected to improve accuracy in the daily monitoring of phytoplankton. This has a wide range of operational and research applications including fishery resource management, ocean carbon uptake, harmful algal bloom alerts, and climate studies. The SSTM will provide ocean surface temperature, which is a critical ocean parameter to provide various forecasts ranging from fish aggregation to cyclone genesis and movement. Temperature is a key parameter required to monitor the health of the coral reefs, and if needed, to provide coral bleaching alerts. The Ku-Band Pencil beam scatterometre will provide a high-resolution wind vector (speed and direction) at the ocean surface, which will be useful for seafarers, including fishermen and shipping companies. Data regarding temperature and wind is also particularly important for ocean and weather models to improve their forecast accuracies.
ARGOS is a communication payload jointly developed with France and it is used for low-power (energy-efficient) communications including marine robotic floats (Argo floats), fish-tags, drifters, and distress alert devices valuable in search and rescue operations.
The Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh, stated that ISRO will continue to maintain the orbit of the satellite and its standard procedures for data reception and archiving. Major operational users of this satellite include Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoEs) institutions such as the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) and the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF).
INCOIS has also established a state-of-the-art satellite data reception ground station within its campus with technical support from the National Remote Sensing Centre (ISRO-NRSC). Singh asserted that ocean observations such as this will serve as a solid foundation for India’s blue economy and polar region policies. A representative from MoES noted that the launch of Oceansat-3 is significant as it is the first major ocean satellite launch from India since the initiation of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (UNDOSSD, 2021-2030).
The Indian Space Research Organisation is the national space agency of India, headquartered in Bengaluru. It operates under the Department of Space, which is overseen by the country’s Prime Minister.
Astronomers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have completely automated the classification of 1,000 supernovae using a machine-learning (ML) algorithm. The Zwicky Transient Facility, or ZTF, a sky survey instrument located at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory, collected data that the algorithm was then used to analyse.
“We needed a helping hand, and we knew that once we trained our computers to do the job, they would take a big load off our backs,” says Christoffer Fremling, a staff astronomer at Caltech and the mastermind behind the new algorithm tagged as SNIascore.
A year and a half after SNIascore classified its first supernova in April 2021, they are approaching the pleasant milestone of 1,000 supernovae. Every night, ZTF scans the night sky for alterations known as transient events. This covers everything, from asteroids in motion to recently devoured stars by black holes to exploding stars known as supernovae.
ZTF notifies astronomers worldwide of these transient events by sending out hundreds of thousands of alerts each night. Other telescopes are then used by astronomers to monitor and learn more about the nature of the shifting objects. Thousands of supernovae have so far been found thanks to ZTF data.
Members of the ZTF team cannot organise all the data on their own due to the constant flow of data that comes in every night. According to Matthew Graham, project scientist for ZTF and research professor of astronomy at Caltech, “the traditional notion of an astronomer sitting at the observatory and sieving through telescope images carries a lot of romanticism but is drifting away from reality.”
Instead, to help with the searches, the team has created ML algorithms. SNIascore was created to categorise potential supernovae. There are two main categories of supernovae: Type I and Type II. In contrast to Type II supernovae, Type I supernovae are devoid of hydrogen.
When material from a companion star flows onto a white dwarf star, causing a thermonuclear explosion, a Type I supernova is produced. When a massive star collapses due to its own gravity, a Type II supernova happens. Type Ia supernovae, or the “standard candles” in the sky, can be classified by SNIascore. These are dying stars that explode with a steady-state thermonuclear blast.
Astronomers can gauge the universe’s expansion rate thanks to Type Ia supernovae. Fremling and colleagues are currently expanding the algorithm’s capabilities to classify additional types of supernovae soon.
Every night, after ZTF has recorded sky flashes that may be supernovae, it sends the data to the SEDM spectrograph at Palomar, which is in a dome a short distance away (Spectral Energy Distribution Machine).
To determine which supernovae are likely Type Ias, SNIascore collaborates with SEDM. As a result, the ZTF team is working quickly to compile a more trustworthy data set of supernovae that will allow astronomers to conduct additional research and, ultimately, learn more about the physics of the potent stellar explosions.
“SNIascore is incredibly precise. We have observed the performance of the algorithm in the real world after 1,000 supernovae” says Fremling. Since the initial launch in April 2021, they have found no clearly misclassified events, and they are now planning to implement the same algorithm with other observing facilities.
According to Ashish Mahabal, who oversees ZTF’s machine learning initiatives and is the centre’s lead computational and data scientist at Caltech, their work demonstrates how ML applications are maturing in near real-time astronomy.
The SNIascore was created as part of the ZTF’s Bright Transient Survey (BTS), which is currently the most comprehensive supernova survey available to the astronomical community. The entire BTS dataset contains nearly 7000 supernovae, 90 per cent of which were discovered and classified by ZTF while the remaining 10 per cent were contributed by other groups and facilities.
The Victoria University of Wellington’s division of Science, Health, Engineering, Architecture, and Design Innovation (SHEADI) will inaugurate a Centre of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence in the first half of 2023.
According to a statement from the University, the centre will offer areas of expertise in modelling and statistical learning; evolutionary and multi-objective learning; deep learning and transfer learning; image, text, signal, and language processing; scheduling and combinational optimisation; and interpretable AI/ML learning.
These technological themes will be applied across a wide range of areas including primary industry, climate change and environment; health, biology, medical outcomes; security, energy, high-value manufacturing; and social, public policy, and ethics applications. On top of traditional research, the centre will also establish a pipeline of scholarships/internships for Maori students, train early career researchers, and focus on industry, intellectual property, and commercialisation.
The centre will build on the current success and international leadership in this space at the University, the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the division, Ehsan Mesbahi, stated. The institute is continuing to grow its national and international partnerships to create local and global value. The centre will provide a distinctive identity for the growing excellence and innovation in data science and AI research at the University, capabilities which domestic and global partners are increasingly demanding across a vast array of application domains.
In May, the University announced it would offer the first undergraduate major in Artificial Intelligence in the country. It provides students with knowledge of AI concepts, techniques, and tools. They learn how to apply that knowledge to solve problems, combined with programming skills that will enable them to build software tools incorporating AI technology that will help shape the future.
Students studying AI at the University are taught by academics from its internationally renowned AI/ML research group, which is one of the largest in the southern hemisphere. The major is designed to open doors for graduates to opportunities nationally and around the world. There has been an increase in the adoption of AI technologies globally, and a growing demand for people who can apply AI techniques to address a wide range of problems, which the University aims to address.
After completing their degree, graduates will have a wide variety of career options, such as AI scientist, business consultant, AI architect, data analyst, machine learning engineer, and robotic scientist among others. They will also have the option to further their study through the University’s Master of Artificial Intelligence.
OpenGov Asia reported earlier that New Zealand’s Education Technology (EdTech) is set to become one of the country’s key industries. Worth NZ$ 173.6 million in 2020, EdTech software is poised to grow to NZ$ 319.6 million by 2025. At the heart of the digital transformation of education technology has been the pandemic. COVID-19 is seen as the driving force behind the digital transformation of learning, permanently changing the way education is consumed and delivered — right from preschool through post-tertiary education and lifelong learning. The global EdTech market size was valued at US$ 254.8 billion in 2021. Experts believe the market will reach US$ 605.4 billion by 2027.
The Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW recently unveiled Our Vision for Regional Communities – a new strategy to ensure regional NSW remains an ideal best place to live, work, play and raise a family.
He noted that the release is a vision for the regional NSW we are building with local communities, backed by real action that will make a real difference in people’s everyday lives. Over the past decade, billions have been invested in the infrastructure NSW needs and in growing regional economies.
The vision shows how the Government plans to build on that foundation and ensure regional communities have access to the education and health services they deserve and attract the workforce needed to deliver these services. It will ensure families can find a home by tackling housing pressures and delivering the infrastructure and services they need in their local community, he added.
The strategy’s launch was also used to announce:
- A new welcome experience to be piloted across eight regional locations to support key workers to relocate to the regions and put down roots;
- An AU$5 million investment in scholarships to upskill existing health workers and attract new staff to regional communities;
- A trial of contactless payments on regional bus services in Dubbo and Bathurst to make services easier to use
Our Vision for Regional Communities is backed by a detailed three-year action plan that outlines key initiatives that will bring the vision to life. Initiatives already underway under the plan include:
- An AU$2.4 billion investment in strengthening the regional health workforce including innovative approaches to training and incentives;
- An AU$174 million investment in key worker housing that will deliver hundreds of new homes for teachers, police, and health workers over the next four years;
- An AU$98 million investment in a new AU$250 travel card for regional apprentices and university students to ease the cost of travel for training and classes;
- An AU$160 million investment in social and sporting infrastructure, and community programs like bike paths, playgrounds, and community centres through the Stronger Country Communities Fund;
- An AU$59 million investment in the next generation including $40 million for local initiatives shaped by youth for youth.
Our vision recognises that regional communities are diverse and need local solutions that work for them. Our Vision for Regional Communities and Action Plan 2023-2025 is a future-focused strategy with key priorities across healthcare, education, communities and places and regional homes.
Connectivity is the main pillar of the vision. Through the Vision, the Government will support high-quality physical and digital connectivity to enable access to quality services, delivered more efficiently, and with greater equity.
The global smart infrastructure market size was US$77.66 billion in 2020; it is projected to grow from US$97.20 billion in 2021 to US$434.16 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 23.8% during the 2021-2028 period. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the smart infrastructure market witnessed a negative demand shock across all regions.
Smart infrastructure projects require funding from public and private resources. These advanced infrastructure models use ICTs services to communicate or optimise resources. Due to constant interaction, big data plays a vital role in developing and building a smart infrastructure.
With the introduction of its Kooha Version 2.0 during the recently held 2022 National Science and Technology Week celebration, the Department of Science and Technology-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI) showered photo enthusiasts with helpful tips on interactive smartphone photography.
Kooha is a photo-sharing app derived from the Filipino word “kuha,” which means “to take.” It capitalises on the Philippines’ status as “the selfie capital of the world,” with thousands of photographs shared on various social media platforms every day.
With the help of the camera app Kooha, users may take pictures that go beyond simple snapshots. Multiple sensors are embedded into mobile devices; Kooha uses these sensor data while users snap pictures and embeds them in the image.
Users will be able to quickly learn the location where the photo was shot, the background noise when they shoot a selfie, the network provider’s signal strength, the device battery level, camera settings, environment sensor data, motion sensor, and more. All the photographs captured by the app are shared on Kooha Community. Users’ photos become more than just images when they post them to the community; they become contributions.
When the sensor data from the images is combined with the large pool of sensor data from other users, the data becomes societally important. The data can assist data scientists in generating insights and fresh knowledge that can be used by decision-makers across the country. Kooha is a free app that can be downloaded from Google Play.
According to the DOST-ASTI, Kooha uses the built-in sensors of a mobile device to gather real-time data like sound level, temperature, and humidity and embeds it into a snapshot, making it particularly valuable in research operations across industries thanks to the fresh knowledge it produces.
It added that even more useful Kooha features include the ability to contribute images to the community section, rate shared photos based on “awards” from other users, map the locations of pinned photos, and unlock “badges” by completing specific “achievements.”
As a useful tool application, Kooha reflects the reality that science and the arts may collaborate effectively to produce meaningful results. In addition, the DOST- ASTI’s Quality Management System (QMS) was recertified in accordance with the ISO 9001:2015 standard.
Director of DOST-ASTI Franz A. de Leon stated that the ISO recertification demonstrates the DOST-ASTI’s dedication to continuously enhance its operations and assure successful service delivery – bringing science and technology closer to the people.
He added that their partners and stakeholders can be confident that the institute will constantly offer high-quality products and services because they adhere to the quality policy of developing relevant, timely, and impactful ICT- and electronics-based innovations.
The ISO certificate was the result of the DOST-ASTI management and staff’s collaborative efforts to expand its technologies and ensure the smooth execution of its mandate and functions. Reviewing and improving processes is critical to achieving the agency’s purpose of contributing to the achievement of national development priorities and the growth of Philippine firms through the provision of creative solutions centred on ICT and electronics technology.
This is DOST-ASTI’s second recertification since transitioning to the ISO 9001:2015 standard in 2018. Subject to regular surveillance assessments, the certificate is valid until November 2025.
Cleveland train users will be the next to benefit as the rollout of the Smart Ticketing system continues. Customers travelling from Central station and Cleveland station will have access to the system from 30 November 2022. Queensland’s Minister for Transport and Main Roads stated that the AU$ 371 million project continued to gather pace, with Cleveland line customers now having more ways to pay.
He said that delivering better public transport services for Queenslanders is not just about acquiring more trains or buses but about making it easier for people to use the trains without barriers. This trial allows adult customers to use their credit card, debit card, smartphone, or smartwatch to pay for their train journey – meaning you do not need to think before hopping on a train, you can just tap and go.
The Member for Capalaba stated that the system would put Queensland on par with major cities like London, Singapore, and New York. He said that record levels of investment in the region mean that commuters can get home safer and sooner, spending more time with family and friends.
Meanwhile, the Member for Lytton encouraged commuters to use the new system. She said that there is no doubt this trial is proving to be immensely popular with public transport users. She looks forward to seeing the rollout extend onto local buses, which is set to take place next year.
The project will replace 1300 fixed devices and 12,000 onboard readers to bring 18 different payment systems across the regional bus network together under one Smart Ticketing umbrella. Whether commuters are visiting family and friends in Cairns, Bowen, Rockhampton or Bundaberg, there will be one seamless way to pay.
The Member for Bulimba praised the success of the trial, which had already clocked up more than two million trips. She said that commuters and tourists alike are finding it easy to use, and we’ve seen incredible numbers tap on and off using the system since it began.
The region will continue to develop the system to bring concession card holders onboard while also encouraging those who travel at a discounted rate to continue using the go card for the time being.
The Member for Greenslopes noted that the expansion added new destinations to the Smart Ticketing map, adding that this is another crucial step toward rolling out the system across the South East Queensland heavy rail network, following on from trials already underway.
Next, the South Brisbane and South Bank transport hubs will begin the rollout of the Smart Ticketing system. This will connect the area to the hospital and health precinct as well as South Bank businesses.
Smart Ticketing is already operational on the Ferny Grove, Ipswich/Rosewood, Springfield Central, Sunshine Coast/Caboolture, Redcliffe Peninsula, Doomben and Shorncliffe train lines. Next, it will launch at the Airport, Beenleigh, and Gold Coast lines, enabling customers to interconnect from the Gold Coast Light Rail through to Brisbane CBD and the airport, with buses and ferries set to follow next year.
Train users who prefer to pay with their go card will be able to continue doing so. Customers travelling on a child or concession fare should continue to use their go card for now, as should customers travelling to or from destinations not yet using the trial, or anyone using a connecting bus or ferry service.
What is smart ticketing?
Smart Ticketing is an innovative ticketing technology that enables more ways to pay for public transport across Queensland. Over time, more Queenslanders will be able to pay for travel with contactless payment methods using a Visa, Mastercard and American Express debit card, credit card, smartphone, or smart device. As a long-term project, the aim is to have more Queenslanders tap on and off to conveniently pay for everyday travel on train, tram, bus, and ferry.
The Second Minister for Trade and Industry, Tan See Leng, and the Republic of Korea (RoK) Minister for Trade, Dukgeun Ahn, have signed the Korea-Singapore Digital Partnership Agreement (KSDPA).
Under the agreement, the two sides will work to establish digital trade rules and norms to promote interoperability between digital systems. This will enable more seamless cross-border data flows and build a trusted and secure digital environment for businesses and consumers. A government press release wrote that KSDPA will also deepen bilateral cooperation in new emerging areas such as personal data protection, e-payments, artificial intelligence, and source code protection.
The Ministers also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Implementing the Korea-Singapore Digital Economy Dialogue, which will act as a platform to promote digital economy collaboration between industry players and academic experts from both sides. The MoU is part of bilateral efforts to develop cooperative projects to implement the KSDPA. Key features of the KSDPA include:
Facilitating end-to-end digital trade
Electronic Payments (e-payments): The two sides will adopt transparent and facilitative rules (e.g. encouraging open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)) to promote secure cross-border e-payments.
Paperless Trading: Singapore and RoK will accept electronic versions of trade administration documents to support the digitalisation and seamless exchange of key commercial documents.
Open Government Data: Both countries will ensure that government data will be publicly available in a machine-readable and open format, with easy-to-use and freely available APIs.
Enabling trusted data flows
Cross-border Data Flows (including for financial services): Businesses in Singapore and RoK will be allowed to transfer information, including those which are generated or held by financial institutions, across borders if the requisite regulations are met and with adequate personal data protection safeguards in place.
Prohibiting Data Localisation: The two nations will establish rules against data localisation requirements so that businesses can choose where their data is stored and processed, and their cloud technology of choice.
Facilitate trust in digital systems and participation in the Digital Economy
Artificial Intelligence (AI): The countries will promote the adoption of AI governance and ethical frameworks that support the trusted, safe, and responsible use of AI-based technologies.
Cryptography: Neither country will require the transfer of or access to private keys and related technologies, as a condition of market access.
Source Code Protection: To ensure software developers can trust the market within which they operate and ensure that source code is protected, neither country will require the transfer of, or access to, source code as a condition of market access. This includes the algorithm expressed in the source code.
Online Consumer Protection: The two sides will adopt laws that guard against fraudulent or deceptive conduct that causes harm to consumers engaged in online commercial activities.
Small and Medium Enterprises Cooperation: Singapore and RoK will promote jobs and growth for SMEs. They will also encourage their participation in platforms that help link them with international suppliers, buyers, and other potential business partners.
Digital Identities: The countries will promote interoperability of digital identity regimes, which can lead to reliable identity verification and the faster processing of applications. This will enable businesses and consumers to navigate the digital economy with ease and security.