Thursday, 06 June 2019 23:44

Swinburne and AWS team up to use data for social good

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Swinburne University of Technology has established a cloud innovation centre dedicated to social good, in conjunction with Amazon Web Services.

The centre brings together five existing institutes at Swinburne. It joins existing AWS cloud innovation centres around the globe and is the first within the Southern Hemisphere.

Professor Aleksandar Subic, Swinburne’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Development, explained that Swinburne had a research strategy vision around social impact, and it is this vision that brought about its ecosystem of five institutes working with external stakeholders to create impact. “In particular, social impact,” he said.

Swinburne noted AWS had a network of innovation centres and saw a set of shared values in using digitisation and data for the betterment of society. This was the catalyst for Swinburne to approach AWS and make the case for the global cloud provider to partner in establishing a new centre with Swinburne.

The centre has two co-directors, one employed by AWS and one by Swinburne. The two are co-located, working in partnership, working full-time on the programs of the centre.

Vincent Quah, APAC Regional Head for Education, Research, and Not-For-Profit at Amazon Web Services, explained that AWS saw a long-term partnership in the Swinburne cloud innovation centre powered by AWS.

“It is a public and private collaboration, serving as a hub to drive innovation, to drive building capacity to solve challenging problems. We recognise this is not something an individual organisation can do but requires coming together of different expertise. AWS brings cloud computing expertise and the range of its service portfolio along with education programs so students get training and content with the AWS platform and cloud-computing,” he said.

The centre is recruiting and preparing for its physical launch. Its activities are yet to unfold through projects, but are already working with a range of stakeholders through Swinburne’s existing ecosystem partnership. These partners include the Baker Diabetes Institute and Medibank, developing virtual tools to support an ageing platform in bespoke digital information regarding medication occurrence, lifestyle modification and daily routines.

Another partnership is the Red Cross, seeking to use huge amounts of data to provide insights in medical and health support, which in turn will drive real-time solutions.

The centre’s value, Professor Subic said, was in the insights it created, and the actions and interventions it would implement. These outputs would be available immediately to the external stakeholders – councils, cities, companies, banks, institutes, healthcare providers, hospitals, human services organisations or others, all who will be able to implement solutions from the centre’s work.

The centre was announced at the recent AWS summit in Sydney, while the physical launch on campus is planned for early August.

In the meantime, the centre is putting out a call for challenges – problems with a research and innovation component that requires research and intervention with an inter-disciplinary team, that has outcomes which will create social impact and social good.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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