Tuesday, 13 October 2020 09:26

NBN Co and CSIRO sign new agreement to enhance future digital capability Featured


Wanting to work together on national research projects that combines the expertise and resources of both organisations, NBN Co and CISRO will strengthen research and planning for Australia's needs in the post-COVID digital age.

The NBN network Australia had in place by the time the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns were in full swing, along with the 40% boost in capacity that NBN Co still has in place for Internet providers, was thankfully more than enough to cope with the massive surge in traffic that resulted.

But what of the future? Australia's digital needs won't be slowing down anytime soon, and with NBN Mark 1 complete, and with the next stage of the NBN underway bringing fibre directly free of charge directly to homes that want higher NBN plans which will create 25,000 jobs across the economy in two years, the future is coming, and fast.

Well, with NBN Co’s "deep knowledge of broadband traffic patterns across its national network and CSIRO’s expert analysis and modelling capability", we're told that "the two organisations will develop data insights to support the development of the future digital capability needs of the nation".

Set to be formally announced at a CEDA event today at 4pm entitled "Strengthening national resilience - data, science and tech", and featuring Dr Larry Marshall, CEO of CSIRO, Stephen Rue, CEO NBN Co and Michelle Price, CEO AustCyber, the event will examine what role innovation will play in shaping Australia's future success, how the right sort of data will spark innovation and much more.

NBN Co and CSIRO's joint media release tells us that "the first research project under the collaboration aims to improve our understanding of the skills, infrastructure and support needed by industries to accelerate their digital transformation.

"By analysing aggregated and de-identified nbn broadband traffic data, combined with other economic, demographic and geographic inputs, CSIRO’s data and digital specialist arm, Data61, will examine how households and businesses across Australia have used digital channels to access work, social connection and entertainment during COVID-19.

"The initial analysis will serve as a baseline hypothesis for the digital maturity and resilience of different sectors, business activities, jobs and households, and their ability to recover in the post-pandemic environment.

"The project will assess how businesses and households across different regions, industries and occupations moved their activities online as COVID-19 hit, and how this activity evolved as the pandemic, and associated restrictions, tracked over subsequent months. This could highlight the relative success of industries in adopting technology, adapting to an evolving work environment, and provide a perspective on productivity under COVID-19.

"Future collaborations are expected to explore how data insights can inform and improve energy reliability and efficiency, data privacy and security, agriculture automation, and digital health."

NBN Co’s Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Rue, said: “The challenges facing our nation are significant, which is why we must find innovative ways to support Australia’s resilience and recovery.

"By working together with CSIRO, we can transform underlying national broadband traffic data into high-value insights to inform how Australia can drive and retain innovation, help ensure our industries are as productive as they can be, and to build resilience in our economy.

"Embracing accelerated digitisation of the economy and making the most of the benefits of fast and reliable broadband will be crucial as we recover from the impacts of COVID-19.”

CSIRO’s Chief Executive, Dr Larry Marshall, said: “The world is an increasingly connected place, and so much of our research in areas ranging from robotics to healthcare is now predicated on being able to share and compute data via broadband networks.

"This collaborative agreement facilitates the generation of new insights into how we are adopting digital technologies, to help solve meaningful issues and shape the future in many areas of society. Working with NBN Co, together we can deliver a unique national outcome.”

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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