CSIRO’s Data61: A global inspiration for digital innovation

By Jackie RangeApril 18th, 2019

Which policy approaches best promote adoption of digital technologies and collaborative innovation? The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has highlighted CSIRO’s Data61 as a global blueprint for digital and open innovation.

In a case study released with its “Digital Innovation: Seizing Policy Opportunities” report, the OECD pointed to Data61’s unique capabilities, ambition and network model.

“CSIRO’s Data61 is a good example of a research and innovation centre – it promotes multidisciplinary teams combining strong data and field-specific expertise, which are much needed in the digital age,” Mr Dominique Guellec, Head of the Science and Technology Policy Division at the OECD said.

The OECD provides independent, evidence-based analysis to help improve economic and social well-being. The Data61 case study is part of its Digital and Open Innovation project. This looks at how digital transformation is affecting innovation across the economy and pinpoints the best ways to foster vibrant innovation ecosystems.

Digital innovation drives rapid change

For both Australia and the wider world, digital technologies and platform business models are shaking up economies, labour markets and industries, spawning a host of opportunities and challenges.

Digital innovation is seen as potentially delivering AU$315 billion in gross economic value to Australia over the next decade. But by ushering in a globally competitive market for new networked, distributed services and knowledge-based work, technologies and trends in data and other innovations threaten the loss of 40% of traditional Australian jobs in the next 15 years.

“This new global and local reality is often referred to as “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” or “The Data Economy,” the case study said.

With such seismic movements afoot, Australia is harnessing the power of knowledge to create opportunities. For now, the emerging data economy is still little understood by traditional business leaders and policy makers.

“Australian policy leaders recognise there is an urgent national imperative to gain a deep understanding of the new data-driven economy,” the case study said.

“In order to both grow the economy and create jobs fit for quality of life for existing and new generations entering the new world of work, there is a need to modernise and scale existing industries and create new ones, in line with the new laws and mores of the data-driven global economy,” it said.

The world around us is changing, fast. Every sector of the global economy has been re-defined by digital disruption.

Now more than ever, mission-driven digital innovation is critical for continued progress the world over.

At Data61, we believe the future of research and development is through open innovation and a global partnership model.

We are Australia’s leading digital innovation network, part of CSIRO, the country’s national science agency.

We do research and development differently. Our network model allows us to assemble teams from universities, government and industry partners to work together on the world’s greatest challenges.

With expertise in artificial intelligence, robotics, cybersecurity, data analytics, blockchain and more, our science and technology is establishing new industries and transforming existing ones.

As part of CSIRO we combine our deep technology expertise with over a century of domain know-how across manufacturing, energy, environment, health and biosecurity, agriculture and food, space many other sectors to create cutting-edge solutions.

We are creating Australia’s data-driven future.

Other nations to emulate Data61 approach

Data61 is helping Australia’s economy and society navigate this new world, the case study said.

“Now more than ever, mission-driven digital innovation is critical for continued progress within Australia and across the world,” Adrian Turner, CEO at Data61 said.

“Our model is about bringing the best R&D capabilities together, breaking down institutional boundaries and building global partnerships to drive digital innovation at speed and scale, for the benefit of Australia,” he said.

“Several other countries are looking to establish their own versions of Data61, modelled in whole or in part, on our approach,” he said.

A showcase for Data61’s exciting projects

The case study gave Data61 an opportunity to demonstrate its global data science excellence and talk about some fascinating, high impact projects.

Regulation as a Platform, or RaaP, is one of these. It targets compliance checking and audit, which costs the Australian economy AU$250 billion a year. Data61 is working with government and industry in this space, including the Department of Industry and the Australian Taxation Office.

The RaaP platform technology relies on world leading processing and understanding of logic.

“Conversion of English-language legal text into machine-readable logic is an enormous challenge. The law is incredibly tangled with different acts, policies and regulations built on each other, applying in different contexts or different types of entities. Further complexity arises with the added requirements of protecting private and sensitive data,” the case study said.

Data61’s “Parse-It” web-based application takes legislation, reads its content, understanding some 50% to 80% of its intent, and translates it into pure maths logic. To ensure the algorithm accurately conveys the legislation’s intent, Data61 researchers and developers collaborate with policy experts to review and endorse new logic-based sets of rules, which are stored in a database and feed different applications.

“It is not unrealistic that in the future, legislation may be written as logic even before it is written in English. Data61 is working on a new application called, “Write-IT” which allows regulators to draft and write future rules in logic first, which also feed the database,” the case study said.