Elementary, Watson: ‘cognitive computing’ for IP efficiency

By The Mandarin

Monday February 23, 2015

They’ve tried redundancies, travel restrictions and efficiency dividends. But could cognitive computing technology be a new tool in improving efficiencies in government?

Commonwealth agency IP Australia is trialling a system from IBM called Watson — software that promises to analyse disparate data and provide responses with intelligent reasoning. The system has worked in the medical research sector, finance and banking, international education and travel and hospitality services.

IP Australia, the administrator of IP rights legislation, wants to keep up with the innovators it’s engaged with by enhancing online service offerings. Some 97% of all customer transactions with the agency are performed online.

“IP Australia is committed to promoting best practice online solutions for innovators,” director-general Patricia Kelly said, calling it a “journey into the field of cognitive computing”.

“… we can lead the global IP economy in a revolutionary digital transformation to develop a world-leading IP system …”

“It is exciting for IP Australia to explore these opportunities to improve how we deliver efficient, timely and high quality services to the public. By exploring new opportunities, we can lead the global IP economy in a revolutionary digital transformation to develop a world-leading IP system that builds prosperity for Australians.”

The agency will consider different applications over a 12-week engagement, developing a working protoype of a user scenario to demonstrate how the tool can benefit the working environment.

Watson learns from its interactions with people, creating a profile of the user based on state, observed and inferred preferences and experiences.

It’s the latest innovation to government services, including new mandates around the use of cloud computing and a new Digital Transformation Office within the Department of Communications to drive the myGov platform across different departments and expand online service offerings. A “small team of developers, designers, researchers and content specialists” will leverage myGov and work on other projects focusing on “end-user needs in developing digital services”.

IBM isn’t the only private firm investing in the government market: last year SAP announced a new $150 million data centre in Canberra to support government agencies in digital engagement.

SAP said the centre, to open in the second quarter of next year, will “support federal, state and local agencies in Australia in executing on their cloud-first policies, as well as in their initiatives to eliminate waste and duplication of services, improve overall efficiency and effectiveness of government-delivered services and provide more value to taxpayers”.

Human Services Minister Marise Payne called SAP’s plans a “big win for the government sector in Australia” at the November announcement.

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