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Speeches

South Australian Launch of Data to Decisions Cooperative Research Centre

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

I’m delighted to be here this evening for the South Australian launch of the Data to Decisions Cooperative Research Centre.

Now, more than ever, national security is at the forefront of the community’s mind. On a daily basis the media is inundating us with frightening incidents from across the globe and reminding us that threats exist within our own backyard.

So, while many sectors face great challenges from an increasing deluge of data, without a doubt the Defence and national security sectors face the most serious, imminent and complex challenges.

Timely and accurate intelligence is a powerful and essential weapon in the fight against national security threats – making the work of everyone involved in this CRC so critical. The intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sector is growing exponentially. It offers unprecedented opportunities and indeed benefits if, as your name suggests, we can extract the value from data, and use it to drive decisions.

South Australia is the undisputed centre of Australia’s Defence ISR capability. We are home to the:

  • AP-3C Orions, one of Defence’s key airborne ISR assets
  • Jindalee over the horizon radar network, collecting vast amounts of data
  • joint electronic warfare operational support unit, and the RAAF’s information operations warfare Squadron, both based at the Edinburgh Superbase
  • Defence’s recently established interim Distributed Ground Station, that processes, exploits and disseminates data collected by many Defence capabilities, including the Heron unmanned aircraft system and Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft, and
  • a strong industry base supporting these capabilities.
And in the future, South Australia will be home to Defence’s P-8A Poseidon aircraft, and Triton unmanned aircraft systems – key ISR platforms. The addition of the D2D CRC to South Australia’s landscape strengthens the state’s position as a national hub for ISR, and establishes the state as a significant international big data player.

I understand over five years the Centre will employ around 40 full-time staff, support 48 PhD students and produce more than 1000 data scientists – equipped to tackle big data challenges of the future.

Sanjay, I have no doubt that you and your team of highly skilled experts will play a critical role in helping defence and national security agencies to extract useful intelligence from big data. And while your primary focus is national security, the advances expected will bring benefits to other sectors that grapple with big data issues, such as health and mining.

The CRC represents an investment of $92 million into Australia’s big data research effort over the next five years, kickstarted by a $25 million grant from the Commonwealth and backed by cash and in-kind support from a number of companies, academic institutions and governments.

The State recognises the importance of the CRC’s work and is providing $600 000 over three years from the Premier’s Industry Research Fund. This is a collaborative venture, bringing together over twenty research institutions, government, industry, and universities throughout Australia. Collaboration is, of course, essential to solving complex issues.

It is great to see so many of the key players here today, and we thank them for their participation. Hopefully the Centre will continue to grow and attract new partners, which will only swell the output of the Centre and aid its long-term prospects. Congratulations to Tim, Sanjay and the team on your achievements to date.

South Australia stands ready to support you in your pursuits, and is committed to becoming a national and indeed international exemplar in this important area.