Nbn co and CSIRO have signed a new agreement to combine expertise and resources to boost research and planning for Australia’s digital needs. 

With nbn co’s knowledge of broadband traffic patterns across its national network and CSIRO’s expert analysis and modelling capability, the two organisations will develop data insights to support the development of the future digital capability needs of the nation.

The first research project under the collaboration aims to improve 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.

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.”

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.

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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