Australian giant Downer has a 30-year contract with the New South Wales government to manage and maintain its fleet of 78 Waratah trains that operate in the greater Sydney metro area. With 2041 not approaching any time soon, the company recognised a perfect opportunity to maximise technology to make the most of its data and plan for proactive, rather than reactive, maintenance of Sydney's trains. In December 2016, the NSW government ordered 24 Waratah Series 2 trains under its Sydney Growth Trains Project and in February 2019, announced the decision to order 17 more trains. The new trains are touted as providing passengers with improved safety and comfort, fitted with air-con, more CCTV cameras, and improved accessibility. Downer general manager of Digital Technology and Innovation Mike Ayling said his company saw this as the perfect opportunity to leverage additional sensor data from the fleet.
Technological advancements in the medical field are vital to improving the way patients receive care. In many cases, there is a need for more resources to be directed towards patient care. But the current reality for many patients, especially children with chronic illnesses, is that medical professionals and families are often forced to carry a heavy load in caring for them. To address this need within the healthcare sector, there has been an uptick in the size of Australia's medtech startup community, with the NSW government expecting the industry to create 28,000 jobs and add AU$18 billion in gross domestic product to Australia by 2025. Among the medtech startups in Australia is ikkiworks, which developed a companion robot that helps soothe and monitor the vital signs of children with chronic illness while they are away from the hospital.
The New South Wales government has announced funding a new initiative aimed at getting university students engaged with quantum computing. The AU$15.4 million Sydney Quantum Academy (SQA) initiative will see the University of Sydney (USyd), University of New South Wales (UNSW), Macquarie University, and University of Technology Sydney (UTS) encourage students to work with each other and train across the four universities. It is expected the funding will also be used to link students to industry through internships and research; support the development of quantum technology startup businesses; and promote Sydney as a quantum computing hub. The NSW government funding, combined with current university and future industry support, sees the total investment in the SQA pinned at around AU$35 million. "Our new investment will secure a pipeline of highly skilled quantum engineers, software experts and technicians to build and program these incredible machines as the technology becomes reality," Deputy Premier John Barilaro said.
Falling under the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, IP Australia administers intellectual property rights and legislation relating to patents, trademarks, registered designs, and plant breeders' rights in Australia. The agency was stood up in 1904 as the Australian Patent Office. Despite its age, IP Australia started down its digital transformation path a lot earlier than its other government peers, even before the Digital Transformation Office cum Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) was formed. The government entity went from having around 12 percent digital transactions available in 2012 to 99.6 percent currently, and is now working on bringing the last possible 0.2 percent online. Speaking at Criterion Conferences' Improving the Customer Experience across Government event in Sydney on Tuesday, IP Australia director of Digital Services, Innovation and Technology Craig Stokes said that despite the abundance of digital transactions available, there is still a call centre, and it is vitally important to the business.
The New South Wales government's Department of Finance, Services, and Innovation (DFSI) has announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Microsoft Australia. Reimagining business for the digital age is the number-one priority for many of today's top executives. We offer practical advice and examples of how to do it right. It is expected the MOU will "kick-start" brainstorming sessions, with the intention of progressing digital transformation across state government departments and the public service. "If we are really going to achieve our ambition of transforming the citizen's experience with government, we need to work across agencies ... across NGOs, across research organisations," NSW government chief information and digital officer Greg Wells told journalists on Tuesday.
The Australian Human Rights Commission is conducting a project on Human Rights and New Technology (the Project). As part of the Project, the Commission and the World Economic Forum are working together to explore models of governance and leadership on artificial intelligence (AI) in Australia. This White Paper has been produced to support a consultation process that aims to identify how Australia can simultaneously foster innovation and protect human rights – as we see unprecedented growth in new technologies, such as AI. The White Paper complements the broader issues raised in the Commission's Human Rights and Technology Issues Paper. The consultation conducted on the Issues Paper and White Paper will inform the Commission's proposals for reform, to be released in mid-2019. The White Paper asks whether Australia needs an organisation to take a central role in promoting responsible innovation in AI and related technology and, if so, what that organisation could look like.
The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has blasted the execution of Australia's Biometric Identification Services (BIS) project, labelling it deficient in almost every way. The BIS project, awarded to NEC Australia, kicked off before the July 2016 creation of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission's (ACIC), which was formed following the merger of the CrimTrac agency, the Australian Crime Commission (ACC), and the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC). All the big questions answered on Australia's encryption laws answered. It had an initial budget of AU$52 million. The project, ANAO said, was meant to replace the existing National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) and provide facial recognition capabilities to enhance law enforcement's biometric capabilities.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has awarded another contract to Fuji Xerox Businessforce to provide a ballot scanning system to be used for the country's elections. A spokesperson for the AEC told ZDNet that Fuji Xerox will carry out the scanning of, and data acquisition from, postal-vote applications for the 2019 federal election. The AU$1.9 million contracts follows on from work done by the company for the 2016 federal election, which involved the scanning of postal-vote applications (PVA). The company in March last year was also awarded a two-year AU$27 million contract for the supply of technology and equipment that will be extended for use by state and territory electoral commissions. At the time, an AEC spokesperson said the new arrangement would see the company provide a "very similar" solution to the one used for the 2016 federal election, which the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) previously called out for lacking on the security front.
The South Australian government has launched a six month trail of a new autonomous bus and smart transit hub in Adelaide. The trial involves a driverless shuttle, known as Olli, and two transit hubs, called Matilda. Olli will drive from Mosely Square in Glenelg to the Broadway Kiosk, and back, with a statement from SA Minister for Transport, Infrastructure, and Local Government Stephen Knoll pointing to the trial as showing how technological developments could improve the state's transport system and customer experience. Transportation is about to get a technology-driven reboot. The details are still taking shape, but future transport systems will certainly be connected, data-driven and highly automated.