The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and QUT have entered a first-of-its-kind partnership that aims to develop a world-leading program of research in data science.
This program will be based at the QUT Centre for Data Science and will focus on understanding areas of opportunity for state-of-the-art data science in order to shape, develop and transform established areas of government statistics.
ABS Chief Methodologist Anders Holmberg said the partnership will provide new opportunities to connect government, academic research and undergraduate education, to solve real world problems.
“PhD researchers from QUT will be able to collaborate with ABS specialist teams on joint projects that provide industry experience and put research into practice,” he said.
“Initial projects will include developing a model or algorithm to identify the geographical boundaries of Australia’s labour markets, and developing a production process to combine agricultural survey data with administrative data using deep neural networks.”
Dr Holmberg said the partnership with the QUT Centre for Data Science will enable a range of projects that will benefit students, academic researchers and the ABS.
“This partnership creates benefits all round. These projects will enable QUT researchers to sink their teeth into real world problems, and the ABS will build data science capabilities that modernise current operations.
“Through data science innovations, we can continue our progression from a substantial reliance on sample surveys to making better use of the vast array of data that already exists via other sources.”
Led by internationally-renowned statistician, Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen, QUT’s Centre for Data Science applies rigorous scientific oversight to generate evidence-based insights and predict trends. The Centre is also the lead node of the Australian Data Science Network.
“By working together, we can use data to inform decisions and make a real difference to government services,” Professor Mengersen said.
“Our research is at the centre of developing new statistical and computational methods to solve complex problems, including food security, business and government processes as well as social challenges.”
The partnership will establish an ABS Chair comprising co-leads of both ABS and QUT to coordinate a team of PhD candidates, with three PhD scholarships to be offered initially.
QUT’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) ARC Laureate Fellow Professor Christopher Barner-Kowollik said the university prioritises partnerships with focus on the real-world difference our research can make.
“I believe the societal impact of this project will be considerable with contributions from both established QUT scientists and particularly from our next-generation researchers,” he said.
“Our research vision is to provide research excellence with relevance. The partnership with ABS is a brilliant example of when we put our research and expertise into practice.”