Australian police forces may soon adopt a system originally developed to allow the online exchange of health and patient information between individuals and health-care providers, to assist them in exchanging voice recordings and biometrics information.
And the newly appointed Research Director for Distributed Systems Technology Centre (DSTC) in Queensland Rob Cook says the technology, which was developed by DSTC, is also likely to find a range of uses in other areas of government, including Defence and Education.
Cook says Electronic Health Records was developed to further plans for an Australian national health information network, HealthConnect, which is intended to eventually provide patients direct access to their own health information via the internet.
Developed by DSTC’s Titanium research team, Electronic Health Records is an information infrastructure that uses XML and Web Services to support the sharing of clinical data in a way that is cost effective and that ensures interoperability, sustainability, data quality, medico legal safety and confidentiality. The project is expected to be one of the Cooperative Research Centre’s biggest success stories. Several projects implementing Electronic Health Records are already underway in various areas of the health sector. Now police departments across Australia are showing high levels of interest in the technology.
Cook says the breakthrough is achieved by abstracting the form that records take and representing that into a model which can be interfaced into different systems to allow records to be extracted and transformed into a uniform format.
“And of course the nice thing is that we’ve applied that to health systems because [the health sector] had a huge interest in being able to do this, but once you’ve done that you can start thinking about other forms of system.
“And one we’ve been looking at recently is one for police systems, where the police have records of individuals in the form of voice recordings and mug shots, held in various public safety departments all over this country and in other countries, and all in different formats. We’ve been looking at supplying the technology that we developed for the health systems to be able to look at biometric information on faces and voices and so on, and unify those so that the if the police here are interested in someone and the records are in NSW or Victoria, or the US, they’ve got a chance of being able to identify the people and match records.”
Cook was hired to boost DSTC’s ability to capitalise on IT research in the commercial arena. He has extensive experience in the setting up, financing, and running of technology-based software companies, both in Australia and overseas, and is a respected IT strategist sought after by government bodies, a Fellow of the ACS, and Board member of the TeleManagement Forum. Recently Cook has been the founding Director for Commercialisation at Griffith University, building the Office for Commercialisation and promoting several venture-capital financed spin-offs.
He was also chairman of the Queensland Government Information Technology Review and sat on the Information Policy Board which was formed following the review.
He says DSTC has been running for 10 years now and has developed some “very interesting technology” in a number of areas within the company.
“Now we have started to focus on specific areas of application like health and defence, and we’ve got quite a good idea now of what the sort of problems that can be solved by distributed software systems.”
He says his early impressions in his new role are that there are many individual areas within government departments and enterprises that are capable of making a great deal more use of the technology that’s produced by organisations like the DSTC. As is the case in the Health Records Department, he predicts these areas will find they can save a lot of money and become a lot more effective by using the technology that is being developed by CRCs and other research organisations.
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