NSW, Microsoft partner for rich data solutions

By Jonathan Nally
Tuesday, 12 June, 2018

NSW, Microsoft partner for rich data solutions

The NSW Government and Microsoft have signed a non-exclusive memorandum of understanding (MoU) to commercialise the DAC’s expertise in data science.

The first step is a proof of concept in which data scientists with the NSW Government’s Data Analytics Centre (DAC) are using Microsoft’s Azure services to build a machine learning neural network that can analyse government spending.

The NSW Government has a $30 billion annual procurement budget, involving 8 million transactions. It is hoped the neural network will help fine-tune the way that money is allocated each year.

“The NSW Data Analytics Centre is an employer of some of the best data scientists who are spearheading data analytics inside of government,” said NSW Minister of Finance, Services and Property Victor Dominello.

“Our partnership with Microsoft will allow the NSW DAC to go a step further, servicing not just NSW Government agencies, but governments and corporates around the world. The DAC will leverage Microsoft’s deep engineering expertise with the goal of commercialising within a year.”

According to Steven Worrall, Managing Director of Microsoft Australia, the deal will demonstrate the sorts of solutions that can now be produced rapidly and deployed globally.

“This allows DAC’s leading data scientists to blend their expertise with the rich analytics capabilities of the Azure stack, our array of cognitive services and then leverage the trusted and high-performing global Azure cloud, so that DAC can scale its solutions rapidly and make them available in other geographies,” Worrall said.

“This really has the potential to shift the dial on data analytics for government and private enterprise,” said Worrall. “NSW is a genuine trailblazer.”

Dr Ian Oppermann, NSW’s Chief Data Scientist and DAC CEO, said it is hoped that adopting a more data-driven approach will bring clarity and insights that can optimise decision-making and ultimately, policy.

“In the case of this particular project what we’re looking at is using some very sophisticated artificial intelligence techniques to analyse and categorise New South Wales’ procurement spend with the big picture goal of helping the people who are working to reform procurement,” Oppermann said.

As far as the learning capacity of the neural network system goes, “It’s been training itself over the last weeks and we have already seen improvements in its accuracy,” Oppermann added.

To ensure the security of the data used, the MOU requires that NSW and Commonwealth privacy laws are followed. Furthermore, the DAC will not be required to give Microsoft access to any data held by the NSW Government.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/vege

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