Australia’s top scientists will use data from the National Broadband Network to assess and  accelerate digital transformations across several industries.

NBN CO and the CSIRO today announced a new partnership for several research projects, beginning with an examination of Australians’ use of digital channels during the pandemic.

Initially the CSIRO’s digital research arm Data61 will analyse aggregated and de-identified NBN broadband traffic data, along with other information to establish “a baseline hypothesis for the digital maturity and resilience” of various sectors, business activities, jobs and households.

Researchers hope to show how the groups have shifted to digital channels as COVID-19 hit, how their activity evolved, as well as their ability to recover post pandemic.

More projects will follow under the agreement and are expected to include research on energy reliability and efficiency, data privacy and security, agriculture automation, and digital health.

Regulators say the National Broadband Network has held up relatively well under increased daytime traffic during the pandemic as millions of workers and students stayed home.

But avoiding congestion required temporary allowances from NBN Co for retailers and a significant upgrade to the network will occur over the coming years as more fibre connections are rolled out.

“The world is an increasingly connected place, and so much of our research in areas ranging from robotics to healthcare is now predicated on being able to share and compute data via broadband networks,” said CSIRO CEO Dr Larry Marshall.

“This collaborative agreement facilitates the generation of new insights into how we are adopting digital technologies, to help solve meaningful issues and shape the future in many areas of society. Working with NBN Co, together we can deliver a unique national outcome.”

NBN Co CEO Stephen Rue said the current challenges facing Australia means innovative approaches to recovery are needed.

“By working together with CSIRO, we can transform underlying national broadband traffic data into high-value insights to inform how Australia can drive and retain innovation, help ensure our industries are as productive as they can be, and to build resilience in our economy.”

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