Oceania Government


Government blunders stall rollout of NDIS virtual assistant: Report

ZDNet

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has put its virtual assistant rollout on hold, with the ABC reporting those working on the project are concerned issue-plagued technology-based initiatives from the government have "taken their toll" on Australia's appetite for risk. NDIA first announced the development of its virtual assistant Nadia in February, touted as providing National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants with a better service. The NDIS contact centre fields about 6,000 calls a week from a client base of 32,000 clients, costing AU$25 every call, with the ABC saying the number of NDIS participants will grow to 460,000 over the next three years. The Centrelink robo-debt debacle has plagued the agency since the summer break, with its data-matching system automatically comparing the income people declared to the Australian Taxation Office against income declared to Centrelink.


NBN launches Tech Lab to collect data and resolve connection issues

ZDNet

Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) company has announced its new Tech Lab, which will utilise big data, graph technology, and machine-learning capabilities to help solve and map end-user connectivity issues. "While for the majority, the installation experience is positive, when faults do occur, NBN's Tech Lab will help the team determine whether a fault can be dealt with remotely and immediately, or whether a field technician needs to visit an end-user home to resolve the fault," NBN explained on Thursday morning. McInerney said NBN expects to see "significant improvements" in customer experience by simplifying and speeding up the fault detection and resolution process. NBN has expressed an increased focus on end-user experience of late, earlier this week it announced trials of a new diagnostic tool aimed at remotely finding out whether a premises has copper wiring faults.


Labor criticises NBN rollout as ramping up too quickly without considering consumers

ZDNet

Under Labor's original fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) plan, Rowland said the NBN would have reached 27,000 premises each week and maintained that level until its 2021 completion, while the current NBN plan sees the number of premises connected each week top 70,000. Rowland defended the contentious NBN pricing model created by Labor that sees retail service providers (RSPs) charged to access the network and then further charged for bandwidth under the connectivity virtual circuit (CVC) charge, saying it was well suited for an FttP network. In many of these cases, poor wiring caused download speeds to degrade by more than 50 percent," NBN acting CTO Carolyn Phiddian said. "Thankfully, there can be a relatively simple fix for homes suffering from speed degradation caused by poor wiring," she said.


Explainer: What is artificial intelligence? - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

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Based on those inputs, among others, the "intelligent" computer system controls the car by deciding, like a human would, when to turn the steering and when to accelerate or brake. "We now have the compute power, the data, the algorithms and a lot of people working on the problems," Professor Walsh said. "Many of the problems that are stressing our planet today will be tackled through having better decision making with computers" that access and analyse vast troves of data, he said. The recent push into AI came from big US tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple.


Automated vehicle security must be addressed: House of Reps committee

ZDNet

Issues around data ownership and security, safety ethics, legal liability and insurance, and the future of employment need to be addressed before Australians will be comfortable with automated vehicles, the House of Representatives Industry, Innovations, Science and Resources Committee has said. After conducting a six-month enquiry into the social issues relating to land-based automated vehicles, the committee has announced its 10 recommendations, with an emphasis on data security. The Industry, Innovations, Science and Resources Committee also recommended continued funding of automated vehicle trials with a public transport application in both metropolitan areas and regional locations. The national body or cross-agency taskforce, once established, would address concerns around data security, safety ethics, legal liability and insurance, transport accessibility, and the impact of automated vehicles on employment.


Queensland unveils new digital strategy centred on people

ZDNet

In Digitalist: Advancing our digital future - the Queensland government digital strategy for 2017-2021, the state government says focusing on the potential of digital services and thinking primarily about customer service channels, technology, standard operating environments, software as a service, and cloud computing is not enough. Under the banner of connectivity, the state government wants to provide access to citizens living outside of metro areas by building better connections and digital infrastructure. Digital hospital initiatives, small business grants, and STEM initiatives that build on the state's AU$240 million Advance Queensland program are also flagged for the 2017-20 strategy. The strategy states that the government will soon develop a Digital Infrastructure Plan, place sensors in high-traffic areas, and invest in cybersecurity initiatives in partnership with the federal government's Joint Cyber Security Centre program.


EnergyAustralia launches system for customers to optimise energy use

ZDNet

The Redback Smart Hybrid System, developed by Brisbane-based startup Redback Technologies, combines a solar inverter, battery enclosure, and cloud-based energy management software into a unit that can be mounted inside or outside the home. The Redback Smart Hybrid System has a 5-kilowatt power output and can store up to 13.2 kilowatt hours of electricity, which EnergyAustralia claims is enough to meet 75 percent of the average household's daily energy needs. A household that consumes 8,000 kilowatt hours per year could save AU$1,500 annually using the Redback Smart Hybrid System, EnergyAustralia claims. Under an agreement with the South Australian government and French renewable energy company Neoen, the Neoen Hornsdale Wind Farm in Jamestown will be paired with Tesla's 100MW/129MWh battery, which will be installed by the end of the year.


Internet of incarceration: How AI could put an end to prisons as we know them - RN - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

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Professor Hunter's team is researching an advanced form of home detention, using artificial intelligence, machine-learning algorithms and lightweight electronic sensors to monitor convicted offenders on a 24-hour basis. "We are at the point now where we can fundamentally rethink the way in which we incarcerate people," Professor Hunter says. For criminologist and prison reform advocate Yvonne Jewkes, the Cameron reform package represented an opportunity. American reform advocate Doran Larson argues the strength of such facilities is that they offer a reintegration environment for offenders.


Automated English visa test struggles to understand English

Engadget

An Irish veterinarian's application for an Australian visa has been rejected after she failed to pass an automated English proficiency test, despite completing it in her native language of... English. Despite acing the reading and writing parts of the test she didn't score highly enough on oral fluency, as it seems the machines couldn't understand her accent. The Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic is an automated system that asks applicants a number of questions and records their vocal responses which are analyzed and scored. Speaking to The Guardian, Kennedy -- who is now considering other options for staying in the county -- said: "There's obviously a flaw in their computer software when a person with perfect oral fluency cannot get enough points."


Australia's NCI gets supercomputing systems from IBM for AI and analytics

ZDNet

The National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), Australia's national research computing service, has purchased four IBM Power System servers for high performance computing in a bid to advance its research efforts through artificial intelligence, deep learning, high performance data analytics, and other compute-heavy workloads. Turnbull's agile struggle is all glitz and no grunt Australian government to continue focus on digital delivery in 2017 Australian ISPs to block piracy sites from the pocket of content owners TPG outbids MyRepublic to snag Singapore's fourth telco license Turnbull's agile struggle is all glitz and no grunt Friday's announcement follows a development process NCI undertook with the IBM Australia Development Laboratory and its Linux and Open Technology team. According to NCI, the development lab provides OpenPower development capability and locally develops IBM's Power System firmware, with the decision to purchase the new servers strongly influenced by its direct access to the local IBM Power development team, NCI said. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced last year that the government would be providing AU$1.5 billion over 10 years for the NCRIS, committing AU$150 million each year for 2015-16 and 2016-17, with funding of AU$153.5 million to be provided in 2017-18 and on an ongoing basis, indexed for inflation.