The Benefits of AI in Government

Artificial Intelligence in Australia can take government agencies to a new era.

Our world is advancing at a rapid rate: Better quality data is available in real-time, endless technological possibilities are emerging, and the automation to provide decisions and insights is now mainstream.

In short, the AI train has taken off and it’s gaining momentum at an exponential pace. And while jumping on it may seem daunting, for Australian government agencies the benefits on micro and macro levels are enormous.

In this article – the first of a three-part series – we look at the many AI opportunities presented to government, what we’re already doing, and the benefits of asking What could be?


Artificial Intelligence Is Already Around Us

AI is making work and life easier – it’s just not obvious.

Artificial Intelligence may be in its infancy for some, but it’s increasingly changing our world – from chatbots to traffic regulation, medical diagnostics and cloud computing.

In fact, within the coming decade most industries and utilities will be supported by AI. While that prospect may frighten some, we must ask if it’s only due to fear of the unknown?

Would the average person feel the same way in 10 years time, once there’s a deeper understanding of AI applications for the greater good?

At Data Ability we believe that once ethical and trust issues are dealt with, best practice principles will further improve and AI will become commonly accepted.

For Australian government agencies, that provides an opportunity to plan for better service offerings, cost savings and time efficiencies right now. That said, reliable data, clear analysis and informed architectural solutions must be first off the rank.

How Artificial Intelligence Currently Enhances Society

From the internet of things to the interconnection of big data – AI brings people and governments together.

Where do we get reliable data from? It’s generated everywhere: smart phones, social media, digital assistants, web searches, wearable devices, smart home devices and many offline experiences.

This Internet of Things brings together large amounts of data which can be segmented for customer insights, population movements and trends, experiences, attitudes, service opportunities… the list goes on.

Naturally, the more effectively the data is sourced and mined, the more reliable it will be for making important decisions. Because as they say: Rubbish in. Rubbish out.

But what about consent of use? This is a complex subject on its own and will be covered in the next article. But in short, Big Brother syndrome seems to be a double edged sword among consumers – with a large majority opting to hand over information in exchange for valued services. (Consider social media use, for example.) That said, integrity and transparency will remain the key to consumer trust.

Benefits For Australian Governments.

Better processes and planning are just the start.

Many government agencies around the world are already implementing exciting initiatives for the benefit of humanity and the planet.

Here in Australia, it’s predicted that the AI industry will be worth A$315 billion to the economy by 2028.

Considering what AI can achieve in weeks – as opposed to months of work by dedicated teams – it’s little wonder.

Also, thanks to machine learning, the productivity story just keeps getting better. AI uses existing data and tests new data to improve content accuracy and speed of processes, saving (in some cases) millions of dollars. And with predictive analytics, future risks can be identified and planned for without the costly risk of human error.

What Are We Already Doing?

Current aI applications in australian government

The Australian Federal Government is well aware of the benefits AI offers and has many initiatives in the pipeline – as outlined in the Australia’s Artificial Intelligence Action Plan.

The CSIRO has also developed an AI Road Map for the Australian Government addressing Natural Resources and Environment, Health Aging and Disability, Cities, Towns and Infrastructure.

For industry, the Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy relies on AI to create a more competitive business environment, increase employment, build systems to scale and boost supply chain resilience.

AI is also transforming Australia through partnerships with private enterprise, educational establishments and government agencies. Instances of this include:

Clean Energy: Engineering business, Synengo, develops ‘digital copies’ of existing infrastructure – allowing government and enterprise to evaluate business decisions for existing bricks and mortar assets. This allows management to project the cost effectiveness of their decisions and ultimately save thousands in energy.

Conservation: The Federal Government has partnered with Conservation group BirdLife Australia to help bring the Eastern Bristlebird back from the brink on the coastal heathland of NSW/Victorian border. After the devastating Black Summer fires, there was little hope for this elusive species – which tend to be heard but rarely seen. To find them, AI listening applications are zeroing in on their unique calls (amid a cacophony of other bird calls) and helping to map their exact locations for field scientists.

Emergency Services: Spark is a CSIRO module that provides end-to-end processing, simulation and analysis of bushfires. This is a flexible, customisable bushfire prediction tool that estimates events and how they will unfold. It gleans details from fuel and vegetation information, weather data, climatic change and physics-based modelling. The application is being rolled out nation-wide and is openly available for all government agencies, emergency services, researchers, planners and more.

Environment: AI and science are being combined with Indigenous knowledge to solve complex environmental management problems in Kakadu National Park – allowing rangers to survey large areas that are difficult to access and eliminates the need for thousands of hours of video review. The Healthy Country AI partnership also offers an end-to-end solution for adaptive species and land management – solving difficult environmental problems, creating jobs and protecting significant species.

Infrastructure: Transport for NSW, in partnership with Sydney University Technology, the International Road Assessment Program and geospatial data experts, Anditi, have launched a project that takes raw road data and converts it to a standardised 5-star road safety rating system. This allows safety assessments to be done across the state’s road network annually – saving years of maintenance identification.

The initiative provides rapid, scalable and repeatable methods of road data extraction and will open up existing and emerging data sources for network-level road safety assessments around the world.

Medicine: Brisbane based digital health business, Coviu, is running trials for an AI powered tool that measures a patient’s range of motion over video telehealth systems – freeing up both public and private hospital beds and assisting physios in conducting remote area consultations.

Recycling: Researchers at the University of Sydney are working alongside industry partners to develop a unique method of recycling soft plastics. A smart, automated robotic system uses AI to identify and sort recyclable waste into separate waste streams. In doing so, it maintains the purity of soft plastics for recycling.

Surgery: Project Sagasu is a collaboration between Fujitsu, GE Healthcare, Macquarie University and Radian Network. Together, they’ve created an AI solution that detects and monitors brain aneurysms on scans quickly and efficiently – enabling radiologists to make early and potentially life-saving diagnoses.

Utilities: VAPAR is maintaining aging water and sewage pipes in the country using AI models that analyse video footage and grade pipe damage; an error-prone activity that normally takes hours to do manually. Already, there’s been 15% more defects identified since the adoption.

For more initiatives like these, see How AI is transforming
Australia and ITVibes.

A World Of Artificial Intelligence Opportunities

Further opportunities for Australian government agencies.

As with all emerging technology, AI only requires vision to identify opportunities. These include, but are not limited to: 

Emergency: AI can help to automate emergency call lines and triage requirements.

Environment: We can map disaster scenarios and predict climatic impact on specific areas in the future – helping with urban planning and risk mitigation.

Healthcare and medicine: Applications can predict outbreaks, map disease spread and help researchers understand diseases. Even new ways of treating disease and using bionic organs are being developed.

Legacy systems: Endless opportunities exist to take existing systems and adapt them to save money, down time, improve functionality and reporting.

Smart Cities: These are being developed around the world to facilitate traffic flow, temperature control, functionality of systems, building requirements, urban planning and more.

Social Welfare: AI can help to identify areas of need, individual circumstances and assist in program creation that’s more individually based. 

Transport: Opportunities exist to create seamless, efficient transport systems with less down time and risk of human error. Autonomous vehicles are just the start.

What’s Next?

Overcoming barriers to AI adoption.

Now that we’ve explained the vast opportunities Artificial Intelligence presents to government of all levels, we’ll look at what may get in the way of implementing such measures and how to overcome the hurdles in our next article. 

Data Agility provides you with end-to-end data analytics solutions, from strategy development to implementation to achieving highly reliable data – which is essential for AI architecture and rollout. Contact us today.


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