Although it missed the official deadline, the Federal Government today released the Intergenerational Report, which emerges every five years and attempts to project what Australian society (and its associated finances) will look like for future generations. One trend the report is keen to embrace? Big data.
Statistics image via Shutterstock
A key paragraph on future technology trends reads as follows:
Government policy development is heavily reliant on available data. There is huge potential to modernise and better manage Australia's national data infrastructure, with appropriate data sharing and access arrangements that take advantage of new technologies, and make the best use of existing data and scarce resources. Improved data quality and the ability to respond more quickly to emerging trends and issues will better inform policies for the benefit of all Australians.
So far, so big data. What form this modernisation might take isn't specified in detail, but we have seen some recent activity in this area -- notably the suggestion that the Australian Census might not be conducted so often. How that qualifies as "responding more quickly" remains to be seen, though the Australian Bureau of Statistics says it could conduct tri-monthly surveys instead.
One challenge any government big data project would face is accessing staff, which is a problem for business users as well -- data scientists are hard to come by. The Coalition favours farming government activity out to the private sector whenever possible, but that's tricky when the resources are already scarce, and doubly so when dealing with confidential citizen information.