Objective 7 — Advanced technologies will improve decision-making and be transparent and auditable

Objective status
In progress

Emerging technology is allowing us to create more convenient and accessible services. We will make decisions about how we use advanced technology in a way that is open and inclusive, with the goal of making services simpler, clearer and faster. As we begin to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) and assistive technologies, like machine translation, it will be easier for people to engage with government when and how they choose. We are working alongside industry and academia to make the most of these opportunities. We are also managing the risks associated with the use of greater technology. This includes creating national frameworks and safeguards to address ethical and privacy concerns, and to protect our systems and national security from any external threats.

20+ innovation hubs

We are supporting over 20 innovation hubs across our work, including the ‘Services Australia Augmented Intelligence Centre of Excellence’. The Centre brings together experts from across government, academia and industry to lead the development and transition of new technologies and ways of working across the public service.

80+ community of practice members

Virtual assistants can help you to find the information and services you need with greater ease and speed. There are over 80 members of the Virtual Assistants Community of Practice, who are building virtual assistants to make it easier for you to access information and services when it is convenient for you.

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We will make decisions about how we use advanced technology in an open and inclusive way to make services simpler, clearer and faster.

Case studies

Industry Ethics Framework

AI has the potential to provide social, economic, and environmental benefits – boosting Australia’s economic growth and making direct improvements to people’s everyday lives. To realise these benefits we’re developing an AI ethics framework to make the most of AI and keep your safety as our top priority. In November 2019 the Government released a set of AI ethics principles, to help guide businesses and governments seeking to develop or use AI systems in Australia. The next steps include developing and sharing guidance to help organisations apply the principles to real world situations.

Data 61’s AI Technology Roadmap – Artificial Intelligence, solving problems, growing the economy and improving our quality of life – released in November 2019, is an important input to the government’s AI policy agenda going forward. It highlights Australia’s world-leading capabilities in AI and details some of the areas where AI is already being applied by Australian businesses and by government. It identifies opportunities to advance the development and adoption of AI in Australia highlights potential areas of specialisation that build on Australia’s existing strengths and capabilities.

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and Data61

Services Australia Augmented Intelligence Centre of Excellence

The Augmented Intelligence Centre of Excellence (AI CoE) develops public sector augmented intelligence solutions. For example, augmented intelligence allows us to improve services to customers where language is a barrier to accessing digital services. To overcome the need for the customer to access external language translation services, the AI CoE created customised neurol machine translation on the ‘Payment and Service Finder’. Currently the service converts text to simplified Chinese with other languages being considered.

Services Australia

Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants are making it easier for you to access the information and government services you need 24 hours a day.

The Australian Taxation Office’s virtual assistant, Alex, has had more than 4.3 million conversations with clients. IP Australia’s virtual assistant uses artificial intelligence capabilities to answer your questions about intellectual property rights, patents, trademarks and designs. As Australians are flying drones in record numbers, we’ve introduced a virtual assistant to answer your drone related questions about topics like where you can fly your drone or whether you need a licence.

Our virtual assistants will learn and adapt as they answer your queries. The ATO’s Alex has resolved enquiries on first contact 87% of the time, making it simpler and faster to meet your tax and superannuation obligations and understand your entitlements. 88% of customers are highly satisfied with the help that IP Australia’s virtual assistant has provided. Since July 2019, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s virtual assistant has had more than 2,300 conversations and resolved more than 1,900 of those enquiries on first contact so you can operate your drone safely and lawfully.

IP Australia, Australian Taxation Office, Civil Aviation Safety Authority

Automated Biosecurity Screening

We’re using emerging technology to protect Australia’s borders. We’re using innovative 3D x-ray technology to automatically alert officers to potential biosecurity risks in baggage and mail items. The technology has proven to be four times more effective than current detection technologies and allows border agencies to process goods and people at the border faster and more efficiently.

Department of Agriculture

Solar Panel Validation

We want to support Australian consumers and small business make the most out of the rapidly growing solar industry, while protecting the integrity of the Commonwealth entitlements. We are supporting the solar supply chain sell on quality, while increasing consumer confidence.

The Solar Panel Validation (SPV) solution provides homeowners and installers an easy and reliable way to make sure they are installing genuine products.  The solution was co-designed with industry to address the problem of sub-standard solar panels in the Australian market.  The SPV uses a mobile device to scan serial numbers and check them against a database of genuine, approved solar panels. The SPV has made it easier to access entitlements in the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, lowered compliance costs, delivered faster certificate validation, with no legislative change. It can be expanded to other products. 

Clean Energy Regulator

Cibo Labs

When it comes to a better understanding of pasture productivity and land conditions across Australia, we’re using remote sensing and AI, combined with on-farm knowledge. Cibo Labs combines datasets with Digital Earth Australia on-ground data and machine learning techniques, for the MyFarm platform. This provides primary producers with information about their farms, to make easier decisions with lower risk, improved environmental sustainability and more profitable farming.

MyFarm focuses on the red meat and livestock industry, that contributed $18.4 billion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016-17, and $13.3 billion in export revenue to more than 100 global markets. By preparing satellite data for Australian conditions and making it freely available, Digital Earth Australia is reducing up-front costs to allow firms like Cibo Labs to concentrate on innovation and value-adding for their clients.

Geoscience Australia

ATO Community

Tax and super can be confusing. People need a place to safely discuss questions. The ATO Community is the world’s first government digital forum. We provide a moderated platform for the public to anonymously discuss answers to tax and super questions. With more than 300% annual growth and 4 million visitors so far viewing around 11.5 million solutions, this is a valuable channel we will continue to invest in and grow.

Australian Taxation Office