Office for Data Analytics Executive Director, Peter Worthington-Eyre, shares insights about several initiatives where government data use is more collaborative.

Peter Worthington-Eyre

Data analytics - the science of analysing raw data in order to make conclusions about that information - has proven integral to the understanding of market opportunities, identification of production efficiencies and the innovation of new products or services.

Across government, there are many opportunities to gather, analyse, store and interpret data in meaningful ways to deliver better services to South Australians.

Since the Department of the Premier and Cabinet’s Office for Data Analytics was formed under the Public Sector (Data Sharing) Act 2016, we’ve seen government data used much more effectively and collaboratively, enhancing the public sector’s responsiveness and agility. Principally, we provide across-government stewardship on data governance, information sharing and data analytics.

All too often, the analysis undertaken prior to decision-making goes unacknowledged, so I’m pleased to highlight some exciting public sector data initiatives.

Our most recent SA Business Research Environment project integrated business datasets from several state government sources, enabling us to better understand employment and industry performance. The project assessed the feasibility of Return to Work SA, Revenue SA and the former Department of State Development as an evidence base to inform economic policy development on the patterns and characteristics of industry growth in the state. Datasets were linked and provided as an integrated file to the Business Longitudinal Analysis Data Environment, hosted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This is now used to study how businesses fare over time and the factors that drive performance, innovation, job creation, competitiveness, and productivity.

Two key enduring data assets for the South Australian Government are currently in development to complement the existing geospatial data asset – Location SA, developed by the Department of Transport and Infrastructure. These new social policy and economic data assets will enable the development of a new data strategy for the state, which will provide a strong governance framework for how data should be used, and how it can contribute to more effective and fair government services.

We are also contributing to building and testing the National Disability Data Asset to consider pathways from education to employment for disabled persons and to support better outcomes for them. The South Australian test case aims to centralise disability-related data currently kept by agencies across state and national jurisdictions, including the Office for Data Analytics, Department of Human Services, Department for Education, SACE Board, Commonwealth agencies, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

This collaborative effort will assist the development of an enduring data asset, which will paint a more holistic and vivid picture of the service needs of Australians living with disability. It will also inform the development of potential indicators for early intervention initiatives, as well as the new National Disability Strategy in 2021.

Data analysis is informing service delivery, policy, programs and research and development. Our collaborative approach with agencies, industry, research partners, community organisations and the education sector is behind some great outcomes, including:

  • The Energy 4 Life joint project with SA Health, SA Power Networks and Australian Red Cross. This project built an automated system that sends notifications to SA Health when power dependent, critical care patients – such as those on dialysis machines at home – will be affected by a power outage of 12 hours or more. This will enable more efficient activation of Australian Red Cross support for power-dependent people during long outages.
  • A new emergency management dashboard that enables more informed and effective decision-making during bushfires. The dashboard will present real-time information and historical analysis of fires from a range of data sources to support the State Emergency Centre as they work to preserve life and protect property and infrastructure. Work will continue to enable the dashboard to support other types of emergencies beyond fire, including storms, flooding, earthquakes and biohazards.
  • Supporting the government’s COVID-19 response.

In line with community expectations, we will continue to ensure data is stored securely, used appropriately and treated ethically. Public sector data sharing is governed by trusted access principles that set the conditions for sharing, storage, analysis, use and disclosure of public sector data in a way that protects the privacy and security of South Australians.

We are connecting with the education sector to strengthen our collective data analytics capability and build the future workforce of our state. By supporting the tertiary sector through data sharing and research collaboration, we are helping to improve policy and program design. Discrete data projects are also generating internships for university students and secondment opportunities for government employees.

By building a broader knowledge base through our leadership of across-government data projects, we are demonstrating how data collection and analysis can help deliver the right services to the right people at the right time.

South Australia is well on its way to being a world leader in data-driven government, one that uses innovation to improve public sector efficiency and make better-informed decisions for the people it serves.

Stay up-to-date with the Office for Data Analytics’ latest projects via our website.

Peter Worthington-Eyre
Executive Director, Office for Data Analytics