Australian government launches push to harness benefits of big data

By on 27/06/2017
Public feedback will help to address questions around whether the right data is being collected to support service innovation.

The Australian government is inviting citizens to give their views on how it uses ‘big data’ to improve services while safeguarding individual privacy.

A newly launched website invites public feedback on the work of a cross-party ‘data task force’, which is leading the government’s efforts to make better use of data in service delivery.

The task force was launched following the publication last month of a report from Australia’s Productivity Commission on data use and availability. Among its findings, the commission concluded that Australia could do more to harness the benefits of big data but would need to strengthen consumer privacy rights.

“Extraordinary growth in data generation and usability has enabled a kaleidoscope of new business models, products and insights,” the commission said. “Data frameworks and protections developed prior to sweeping digitisation need reform. This is a global phenomenon and Australia, to its detriment, is not yet participating.”

Launching the website, Australia’s minister for digital transformation Angus Taylor said public feedback on the commission’s report would inform the work of the task force. He said the task force itself would seek to address questions around whether the right data is being collected to support service innovation, and whether the necessary privacy measures are in place to protect consumers.

“Improving the way we use data will lead to significant economic benefits,” Taylor said. “We will achieve these benefits through driving innovation and competition with new and unanticipated business models, and empowering citizens as they seek the improved products and services they deserve.

“However, we cannot do this without the community’s trust. This is vital for the successful rollout of any reforms to Australia’s data system.”

The new site gives an overview of the commission’s main findings and allows the public to provide comments directly to the task force.

The task force is expected to finalise its response to the commission report by the end of 2017.

“We are not going to miss this chance. Improving the way we use and share data will improve delivery of government services, and deliver greater choice and outcomes for us all,” Taylor added.

The commission report and task force form part of a wider e-government push by Australia. The overall effort digital transformation programme is being handled by the Digital Transformation Agency, launched last year to coordinate ICT policy across government.

You can find the new website at http://dataavailability.pmc.gov.au/

For up to date government news and international best practice follow us on Twitter @globegov

See also:

Australian agency wins award for ‘big data’ prospecting tool

Global Government Summit report; part 1

Michelle Fitzgerald, chief digital officer, City of Melbourne: interview

About Ben Willis

Ben Willis is a journalist and editor with a varied background reporting on topics including public policy, the environment, renewable energy and international development. His work has appeared in a variety of national newspapers including the Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Times, as well as numerous specialist business, policy and consumer publications.

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