The New South Wales Government is teaming up with Microsoft in a bid to commercialise its data analytics products.
The government’s Data Analytics Centre (DAC) will initially work with Microsoft on a proof of concept machine learning neural network to categorise how the state’s $30 billion annual procurement budget is allocated each year.
Under a non-exclusive memorandum of understanding, announced today, DAC data scientists will use Microsoft Azure and a range of Azure cognitive services to build the solution which they hope will be commercialised, along with other products, within a year.
“The NSW DAC is an employer of some of the best data scientists who are spearheading data analytics inside of government. 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,” said NSW Minister of Finance, Services and Property, Victor Dominello.
“The DAC will leverage Microsoft’s deep engineering expertise with the goal of commercialising within a year,” he added.
The aim of the proof of concept is to validate what the state is spending money on – based on 8 million transactions annually – and then confirm whether it’s getting value for money.
“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,” said DAC CEO and NSW’s chief data scientist Dr Ian Oppermann.
“The learning capacity of the system is impressive. It’s been training itself over the last weeks and we have already seen improvements in its accuracy,” he said.
The DAC was established in 2015 to facilitate data sharing between agencies to inform “more efficient, strategic, whole-of-government evidence based decision making” and to “overcome the silos and duplication” across government. It sits within the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation.
Microsoft said that the DAC would not be required to provide Microsoft with any government or citizen data as part of the agreement, and all data exchanged would be subject to NSW and Commonwealth privacy laws.
“This really has the potential to shift the dial on data analytics for government and private enterprise,” said managing director of Microsoft Australia Steven Worrall.
“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. NSW is a genuine trailblazer,” he added.
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