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Conroy urges big data in government, better ICT education

The federal government should use big data "to improve its delivery of services to the public, the community and businesses," communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy said this morning at the Navigating Big Data summit in Canberra.

"We should be tailoring services so that Australians' interaction with government is more personalised and streamlined," Conroy said. "Big data has the potential to provide insights in policy development and more effective service design.

"Lost data that was previously unusable or unwanted now has real and unrealised value," he said. "It is a mine of important information able to be tapped."

Big data has even been credited with helping US President Barack Obama winning re-election in 2012, Conroy noted.

However, Conroy said that big data analysis must be done "in a transparent way that respects privacy and has the confidence and trust of citizens". He said the government and industry must work together to create a framework for the use of big data that protects people's privacy and personal information.

In order to reap the benefits of big data in the long term, Conroy said more skills development and education in this area are needed.

"Industry, the tertiary sector and government must work together to ensure we are developing the specialised skills Australia needs to be globally competitive, developing a sustainable pipeline of highly ICT skilled workers is critical for the digital economy and a priority for this government," he said.

"The government has been working closely with the sector and tertiary educators to find the best way forward.

"There is high demand for new, unique and highly specialised skills" to support big data, including software engineering, working across different storage systems and analytical skills, he said.

Conroy said he supports making government data available to the public.

"Governments also collect, generate and use a lot of data, so making this information open and accessible means the business and community can use it to innovate and develop new ideas."

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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